Groups urge action on food safety law

From the New York Times:

Ten consumer groups that helped promote a landmark food safety law passed in 2010 say the Obama administration is holding up the rules that would put it into effect, a delay they say could cost money and lives this summer, the peak season for food contamination outbreaks.

The Food Safety Modernization 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. 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 set standards to prevent contamination of produce and processed food.

The law was motivated, in part, by the growing globalization of the nation’s food supply. Food imports have more than tripled over the past decade — about 80 percent of seafood is imported, for example — and currently, the F.D.A. inspects less than one pound in a million of imported foods.

But the F.D.A. 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, and consumer health advocates say there has been no explanation for what they describe as a lengthy delay.

“It’s frankly a surprise to us,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which was involved in promoting the legislation. “The administration was proud of this accomplishment, and having these things just sit there is quite a juxtaposition.”

Read the complete story here.

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