05/22/2012 - Six months ago, the Food and Drug Administration met the deadline set by Congress to complete a set of proposed rules for implementing the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. It submitted those proposals to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. They haven't been seen or heard of since.
Consumer advocates, health-oriented research institutions, food industry trade associations and major food companies all want the rules released. All have written to the White House urging it to do so promptly. President Barack Obama needs to prod his regulatory overseer, Cass Sunstein, administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, to release the rules so that the long process of public comment and revision can get started.
The legislation, which Mr. Obama signed into law in January 2011, represents the first major revision to America's food safety system in 70 years. Its most significant change is shifting FDA's primary food focus to preventing contamination, rather than reacting when contamination sickens and kills people.
There's no denying the need for improvement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people suffered from food-borne illnesses in this country last year; 128,000 of them were so sick that they needed hospitalization. Three thousand people died.
Read the full editorial, OMB Should Release New Food Safety Rules, on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website.