Federal Judge Phyllis Hamilton has sided with the Center for Food Safety again and told the FDA that there can be no more extensions of rules in the Food Safety Modernization Act. The rules should have been completed last July, but there have been delays at the Office of Management and Budget, and the FDA has extended comment periods several times.
The Center for Food Safety filed suit against the FDA last year when the original deadlines were not met. Judge Hamilton ruled that the FDA violated the law in a decision released April 2013. Last month the FDA moved for reconsideration or a stay of the injunction, but the Judge denied that motion.
George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, “this ruling is clear. FDA must step up and protect public health as it has been directed by Congress. Postponing these rules unnecessarily only endangers more lives. The Center for Food Safety is pleased by today’s ruling and will continue to work to ensure consumers have a safe and healthy food supply.”
Judge Hamilton said in her ruling, “the court understands the FDA’s position, and is in sympathy with it, but remains of the opinion that the dispute here is between the FDA and Congress. This court is unwilling to grant extension after extension, or to permit the FDA to continually delay publication of this rule, in the face of clear Congressional directive that this be a closed-end process.”
Every year, 1 in 6 Americans gets food poisoning. More than 128,000 people are hospitalized from those infections, and 3,000 people die. The rules in FSMA that were delayed include the produce safety rule, imported food rules, good manufacturing practices, and pilot programs to track food from farm to fork.