Foodservice Equipment Reports

Groups Question Enforcement Of Food Safety Act

Last week, full-page newspaper ads featuring victims of food contamination highlighted an outcry by 10 consumer-health groups that championed the landmark 2010 food safety law but now assert that enforcement delays could cost lives and money.

A consortium, which includes the American Public Health Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumer Federation of America, says the Obama administration is holding up the rules that would put the Food Safety Modernization Act into effect. The Act, which passed with broad bipartisan support, was the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety laws since the 1930s. The law aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. The rules were motivated, in part, by the growing globalization of the nation’s food supply, and it gives the agency, which is responsible for the safety of most of the country’s food supply, more control over food imports as well as broad new powers to prevent contamination of produce and processed food.

The FDA rules that are needed to carry out the law have been under review by the Office of Management and Budget in the White House since December. Before the rules become official, the FDA still has to circulate them for public comment, adding more months to the process. The rules for importers were expected in January and for domestic food processors in July, advocates said. Many food producers supported the law, seeing it as a way to avoid the expense of food recalls.

Approximately 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations are caused by food contamination every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.