07/15/2012 - Last year President Obama signed a law hailed as the most sweeping overhaul of food safety in 70 years. Fast forward 17 months, and major portions have yet to be implemented.
The Food Safety Modernization Act moves the Food and Drug Administration away from its traditional role of responding to adulterated food to a more modern one of requiring companies to stop contamination before it happens. It allows the agency to issue mandatory recalls and hire more food-safety inspectors. The act passed with bipartisan support and broad backing from the food industry and consumer and public health groups.
The law will touch the vast majority of foods Americans eat. FDA oversees most of the nation's food supply, except for meat, poultry and processed eggs, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But the new law hasn't gotten out of the starting gate. Regulations implementing the law are awaiting approval by the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for evaluating their effectiveness and making sure they are consistent with administration policies.
Food-safety advocates and industry groups are frustrated.
"There is no good reason for this delay," says Erik Olson, director of food programs with the Pew Health Group, a part of the Pew Charitable Trusts. "What's important is that these new protections of our food supply be put into place as soon as possible to protect all Americans from getting sick from contaminated food."
Read the full article, Delays in New Food-Safety Regulations Cause Frustration, on USA Today's website.