Two consumer groups have sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the delay in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Four critical regulations have been delayed at OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for more than eight months, making the Act “unlawfully delayed for more than a year and a half,” according to the complaint.
FSMA was signed into law in January 2011, but the FDA has failed to put seven food safety regulations into effect. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court on Thursday, August 30, 2012 by the Center for Environmental Health and the Center for Food Safety. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, “if the Obama administration has lost the political will to make FSMA a reality, we’re here to help them find it. It’s a disgrace that a crucial, lifesaving law sits idle while the bureaucracies of FDA and OMB grind along without a hint of results.”
FSMA was established to update the food safety laws in the United States. The FDA was given the power to require preventive controls in the food supply, to inspect food producers, and ensure imported foods meet U.S. safety standards. Meanwhile, two major outbreaks linked to imported foods have occurred this year. The Salmonella Bareilly outbreak in tuna imported from India, and the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak in Mexican mangoes, have sickened hundreds of Americans.
This is not the first time groups have pressured the White House to release the delayed rules. In April 2012, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the White House to implement the regulations. And in March 2012, the Consumer Federation of America urged the Obama administration to release the proposals.
The lawsuit seeks a court order to impose a deadline to require the FDA to enact FSMA regulations and prevents the OMB from delaying the FDA’s compliance. Charles Margulis, Food Program Director at Center for Environmental Health said, “this unreasonable and dangerous political food-dragging on FSMA has to stop now. While illness outbreaks continue and Americans question the health and safety of their food supply, FDA issues excuses instead of new regulations.”