FDA Closure of Peanut Butter Plant Welcome But Rules Still Need Finalizing
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
November 27, 2012
A 2009 outbreak caused by contaminated peanut products shocked the country and built momentum for reform that resulted in the landmark food safety legislation signed in 2011. So in a way it's fitting that the Food and Drug Administration is using that new law to halt operations at a separate Salmonella-infested peanut butter facility.
We hope food manufacturers take note—clearly the FDA is not going to hesitate to use its new authority to shut down plants that are churning out contaminated product and putting Americans at risk of illness or death.
But the key is to prevent contamination before it occurs, and before people get sick. The FDA and the Obama Administration need to finalize a number of important and long-overdue regulations that are aimed at doing exactly that. Regulations covering everything from preventive controls, produce safety standards, imports, and recalls have been unaccountably stalled, presumably because no one wants to issue new regulations during a campaign. But now that the elections are over the Administration should release these rules and bring the new food safety law into full force.