Following several courtroom losses, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials announced Thursday they would settle a lawsuit brought against them by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) regarding the much-delayed rollout of the Food and Safety Modernization Act.
The agency will implement the following final rules: preventative controls for human and animal food (Aug. 30, 2015); imported food and foreign suppliers (Oct. 31, 2015); produce safety (Oct. 31, 2015); food transportation (March 31, 2016); and intentional adulteration of food (May 31, 2016).
“This is a major victory for the health and safety of the American people. The first major update to our food safety laws since 1938 must now be implemented in a close-ended, timely fashion,” said George Kimbrell, CFS senior attorney, in a prepared statement. “That means safer food for American families.”
The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed to combat the epidemic of foodborne illnesses affecting one in six Americans annually. Under the original guidelines, Congress ordered the FDA to create new safety standards within 18 months.
After the agency failed to meet the deadlines, CFS sued The FDA argued that it could take as long as it saw fit to issue the regulations.
In 2013, the federal court repeatedly rejected that position and ruled in CFS’s favor, maintaining that the FDA had violated the law.
“The FDA is committed to fully implementing the FSMA and to putting in place the modern, preventive framework envisioned by the law that will help to prevent foodborne illnesses and protect public health,” an FDA spokesperson told Food Safety News. “The agency is working as quickly and expeditiously as possible to meet our deadlines for the final rules, while also ensuring that we get these rules right.”
A federal court will maintain supervision to ensure FDA compliance with the agreement.