Consumer Advocates, Industry Frustrated With FSMA Delays

Articles
May 10, 2012

Consumer Advocates, Industry Frustrated With FSMA Delays

Nearly half a dozen groups comprised industry associations as well as consumer advocates are expressing frustration with delays for key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act, also known as FIZMA, caused by the OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET’s (OMB) review of policy changes.

Nearly half a dozen groups comprised industry associations as well as consumer advocates are expressing frustration with delays for key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act, also known  as FIZMA, caused by the OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET’s (OMB) review of policy changes. The provisions were expected to be released in rapid fashion beginning in early 2011 but little progress has been made to date reports The Food Institute.

“There’s no explanation for the hold-up,” stated the director of food programs at the PEW HEALTH GROUP, which co-wrote a letter with the GROCERY MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION to the administration which noted, “Until this new package of safeguards is put into place, all the promise of the new food-safety law will not be met."

The OMB failed to review a draft rule on imports by January 4, while other provisions to be implemented are supposed to be finalized by July 4. OMB officials claimed the complexity of the regulations was responsible for the increased duration of the review, which was not unusual.

Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the PRODUCE MARKETING ASSOCIATION, wrote a letter to the Obama administration stating that “lengthy congressional debate over food safety combined with draft regulations that have missed the statutory deadlines create uncertainty and paralysis…It is much more difficult for companies to invest in additional food safety safeguards without knowing what the FDA rules will be."

Experts tracking the issue claimed the OMB’s OFFICE OF INFORMATION AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS (OIRA) raised questions about FDA’s analysis of the costs and benefits of the provision, which it routinely does. The delays are routine, but usually come at the behest of industry, according to Rena Steinzor, president of the CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE REFORM. While the analyst stated the proposals could have run into private objections from a company or other party, FDA officials claimed to have observed no signs of resistance in the hundreds of meetings it held with affected parties. Ms. Steinzor also conjectured the delays could be caused by OIRA itself, which is “hostile to the idea of regulation and they always have been, no matter which administration."

The Food Institute is offering an ongoing series of webinars on the new FSMA  provisions as they become available. For more information, go to www.foodinstitute.com. The next one will be on May 15.