Statement of CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie

All Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, want safe food. That’s why the Food Safety Modernization Act passed with broad bipartisan support.  Make no mistake: The Trump administration is today undermining that landmark legislation by indefinitely delaying enforcement of the rules that would put it into effect.  The announcement is a rotten anniversary present, given that FSMA was signed into law on this very day seven long years ago.

FSMA was intended to cover the entire food chain, from farm to fork, and the Trump administration’s new guidance would create a gap in that safety chain by exempting, at least for now, some of those who harvest, package, and hold food produced on farms.  In addition, the guidance would eliminate the written company-to-company food safety assurances required under the final FSMA rules that identify dangerous pathogens that should be addressed by downstream processors.  Undoing those aspects of the rules threatens to expose consumers to hazards like Salmonella and E. coli.

Notably, when these same food safety rules were created, and then delayed for a finite period of time under the Obama administration, the rules were subject to public notice and comment before being published.  During that period, industry had adequate opportunity to raise the very concerns used by FDA today to justify today’s announcement.  But under the Trump Administration, these indefinite delays are being unveiled in a surprise final guidance without public input.