FSMA Regulations Delayed

In January, anyone with an interest in food safety was watching their press releases from the FDA expectantly, figuring that the first in a series of regulations designed to implement the FSMA would be coming out at any moment. FSMA had mandated that several provisions of the act be implemented by Jan. 4, including some that deal with produce safety regulations, the foreign supplier verification program (FSVP), and preventive controls.

January has come and gone and there’s still no sign of the regulations. When can we expect them? In late January, it was reported that Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told a group of food safety attorneys that it would be months, not days, before they were issued.

But now the FDA seems to be walking that back a bit. Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods, recently told Food Quality: “There’s a high level of interest within the administration in getting the rules out as soon as possible. Publishing multiple rules all at the same time can be a bit of a logistical challenge, but we are working expeditiously to get them out there because they represent a significant step toward building a fundamentally better food safety system.”

No one can predict when the regulations will finally appear, said Michael Doyle, PhD, Regents Professor of food microbiology and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin. “I’ve heard all sorts of possibilities, but it seems like they never come true. I don’t blame the FDA for this; it’s out of their control, I think, as there is a lot of bureaucracy involved that requires the approvals of various agencies that have an interest in food safety.”

Dr. Doyle cautioned that what’s needed are appropriate regulations, not just any regulations. “We do have to make sure that the regulations are sound, enforceable, and practical; if not, we’d end up paying a lot more for food that might not be justified.”

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