Fed Sued by Groups Alleging US Failing to Protect Food Supply
Two groups brought a lawsuit against the federal government last week, alleging that it failed to issue new guidelines and regulations for food safety required in the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health filed suit requesting that the court order the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Management and Budget to start enforcing the new law immediately.
The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed to help prevent deaths that are caused by food borne illnesses, such as Listeria and Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control, food borne illnesses cause 3,000 deaths per year, and make as many as 48 million people sick every year.
The Food Safety Modernization Act became law in 2011. It required many changes to the law related to setting standards for food safety, and created mandatory deadlines for issuing final regulations. According to the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health, government officials have missed numerous deadlines, and our food system still operates under outdated laws. The new rules have been held up by the White House Office of
Management and Budget.
The lawsuit highlights several major deadlines the FDA has missed with regard to required changes to some very important food regulations. By July 4, 2012 the FDA should have already set certain standards for investigating hazards and implementing preventative measures, which it has not. The FDA has also failed to set standards for the safe harvest and production of some kinds of fruits and vegetables, which it was to do by January 4, 2012.
The fact that these groups are filing suit against the federal government highlights just how important food safety is, and the real danger of food borne illnesses. I don’t know what the court will rule in this case, but no matter what the outcome, this lawsuit has brought needed attention to the government’s shortcomings in enforcing new food safety laws. It’s important for the government to implement these required regulations to improve the entire U.S. food safety system.