The Food and Drug Administration must publish all proposed Food Safety Modernization Act regulations by Nov. 30, according to a recent court ruling, and have all parts of the law finalized in mid-2015.
U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton set the deadlines June 21 in response to a Center for Food Safety lawsuit claiming the FDA wasn’t moving fast enough on releasing the rules.
Hamilton ordered the FDA to close public comment periods on all regulations by March 31, 2014, and to issue final rules for all of the regulations by June 30, 2015.
The deadlines are a compromise; Judge Hamilton also ruled that the Center for Food Safety’s suggested timelines on the food safety rules were too restrictive.
The Center for Food Safety filed the lawsuit in August, and Judge Hamilton in April told the two parties to agree on a timetable, but submitted plans differed. The FDA planned to release rules on Foreign Supplier Verification and Third Party Accreditation this summer, but rules on sanitary transport of food and intentional contamination were set to be published in spring 2014.
The Center for Food Safety’s timeline set deadlines for the final law in May 2014, but a spokesman for the group called the June 21 ruling a “critical victory for consumers, farmers, and the public health.”
“The Court’s decision will ensure FDA cannot unduly delay these life-saving measures any longer, while also ensuring all interested parties have a meaningful say in their outcome.” said George Kimbrell, a Center for Food Safety attorney.
Hamilton said she wouldn’t shorten public comment periods or eliminate required reviews set by the Office of Management and Budget.
The FDA is reviewing the order, said Cathy McDermott, spokeswoman for the FDA.