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Court Orders FDA to Introduce New Food Safety Regulations

29 April 2013

US - A US judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to work with the Center for Food Safety to start the implementation of he Food Safety and Modernization Act.

Congress passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011 and mandated that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enact new food safety regulations within 18 months.

When the deadline was missed, the Center for Food Safety, later joined by the Center for Environmental Health sued the FDA.

Now US District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ordered FDA to work with CFS to establish a new timetable to implement the critical food safety regulations.

“Today is good day for food safety and for consumers,” said CFS senior attorney George Kimbrell.

“Every day without the FSMA regulations is another day where consumers are at unnecessary risk. Because of this decision our food will soon be safer from e coli and other threats.”

FSMA was the first major overhaul of food safety laws since 1938 improving the FDA’s regulation and authority over food production in numerous areas, including new preventative controls and hazard analysis requirements for food production facilities, safer production of fruits and vegetables, and preventing contaminated food imports.

FSMA also granted FDA new authority to for the first time mandate food recalls and suspend facilities, as well as new inspection and enforcement powers. But FDA regulations implementing the statute’s mandates were needed before these improvements would take effect.

In her ruling, Judge Phyllis Hamilton held that “Congress signalled its intention that the process be close-ended, rather than open-ended. Thus, the court finds that imposition of an injunction imposing deadlines for finalisation of the regulations would be consistent with the underlying purposes of the FSMA.”

The Court then ordered FDA to meet with CFS and CEH and prepare a joint statement setting forth proposed deadlines by May 20, 2013.

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