September 6, 2012

Are Food Safety Rules Being Delayed Until After the Election?

Editor’s Note:  The story below brings to mind a recent quote from a former senior career OIRA official who explained, “If you have a real real significant rule that comes over six weeks before the election, and you see there’s going to be a big controversy, I always tried to read it — but slowly, Tozzi said.”

From: Science 2.0

Is Obama Delaying Food Safety Rules Until After The Presidential Election?

By Hank Campbell

Is food safety a contentious election issue?  The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health say changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have been held up in review, much like the administration did with the Keystone XL project from 2009-2011, in hopes of delaying new rules until after the November election. And they are suing over it.
President Obama signed FSMA into law in January 2011 but 4 of the central regulations have been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And they don’t seem to be exiting review any time soon.

Why the hold up?  Well, they are more job-killing regulations and Obama knows he will only have a few days to bask in Bill Clinton’s glow so he’d rather not have get bad press for crushing business right now, but the food groups are suing to put the administration on the record regardless of the fact that he signed the law in the first place.

The new rules involve more preventative controls for food facilities, more preventive controls for animal feed facilities, a foreign supplier verification program and more produce safety regulations – the lawsuit is following on the heels of more Salmonella outbreaks, including imported mangoes. Multi-millionaire food illness lawyers Marler Clark have already filed a lawsuit to capitalize on the illnesses, hoping to add to their $600 million in settlements.

“If the Obama Administration has lost the political will to make FSMA a reality, we’re here to help them find it,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “It’s a disgrace that a crucial, lifesaving law sits idle while the bureaucracies of FDA and OMB grind along without a hint of results. The American people shouldn’t have to wait another second for safer food policies that are already law.”

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