Safer Food in Final Stretch as White House Reviews Final Rules


Consumers can look forward to a safer food supply now that the White House is reviewing final rules to implement key parts of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The Food and Drug Administration today sent rules to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget that require food manufacturers to take greater responsibility for assuring the safety of their products and require importers to guarantee their foreign suppliers are meeting the same safety standards as domestic companies. The White House now has 90 days to complete its review and publish the rules.

“The Food Safety Modernization Act is one of President Obama’s major legacies,” said David W. Plunkett, CSPI senior staff attorney for food safety. “It has the potential to prevent many of the 48 million illnesses caused by contaminated food, and that’s a benefit all Americans can applaud. We urge the Administration to move forward with its review quickly to give American families a safer food supply.”

President Obama came into office in the midst of the Peanut Corporation of America scandal in which a peanut plant in Georgia knowingly shipped contaminated products that caused nine deaths and sickened over 700 people across the country. In response, he called on Congress to improve food safety laws barely two months into his Presidency. FSMA passed in 2010 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of industry and consumer activists.

But the road to implementation of the new law has not always been smooth, according to CSPI, with much of the interference actually coming from the White House, which stalled progress for more than one year on the proposed regulations. It took a lawsuit to force their release and set firm dates for completing work on seven of the key rules to implement the new law.

“We are in the final stretch to the finish line for safer food,” Plunkett said. “Now all we need is for the President to keep the OMB staff from bottlenecking the process again.”