Consumer watchdog groups say the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed delay in enforcing the water testing component of the produce safety rule will cause more foodborne illness and death.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Center for Food Safety, are criticizing the proposed delay.
The FDA in September proposed extending the deadline for water testing compliance by growers for two years. The proposal sets compliance for the largest farms in January 2022. Small farms and very small farms would have until January 2023 and January 2024.
Produce industry leaders welcomed the news at the time, believing the water testing requirements did not provide enough flexibility and need more work. In September, the FDA promised to convene an “agriculture water summit” in early 2018 to discuss the agency’s approach to water testing for the produce rule.
The consumer groups said in mid-November the delays may result in more foodborne illnesses.
“The Trump Administration is willing to put Americans’ health at risk to appease Big Ag and food companies,” George Kimbrell, legal director at Center for Food Safety, said in the release. “This shameful delay could literally cost Americans their lives.”
“Americans deserve to know that their produce wasn’t grown or rinsed in water contaminated with animal feces,” CSPI deputy director for legislative affairs Sarah Sorscher said in the release. “Testing water that is used to grow and harvest produce for E. coli will save both lives and money. Consumers should be outraged that the Trump administration intends to defy Congress by delaying enforcement of these safeguards for many years more.”