Every year, a whopping 48 million Americans are struck by foodborne illness often caused by contamination and mishandling of food. President Obama fought to improve the safety and cleanliness of the nation’s food supply as he signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) last year. Although this act has had incredible support by food production companies, consumer health groups, and the government, it has yet to be fully approved. To date, America’s health is still at risk.
The intention of FSMA is to target food at the source and hold food suppliers accountable for distributing clean, safe food under stricter regulations. It will allow the Food and Drug Administration to hire more food-safety inspectors and issue mandatory recalls.
The Office of Management and Budget is responsible for making sure the new law is consistent with administration policies and giving it the final approval before it takes action. But it has been sitting on OMB’s desk for seven months now, and the approval date is unforeseen.
USA Today cites three very important rules that are waiting to be approved.
One of these rules discusses safety standards for sources of contamination, including irrigation water, manure, worker hygiene, and wildlife. Another rule requires foreign suppliers to undergo food safety verification programs to ensure that only safe food is entering the country. The third most important rule demands that food companies have a specific plan to identify and eliminate sources of contamination.
Politicians and food safety groups are outraged by the delay in approval and are pushing Obama to publish the rules. Many are frustrated and confused about the extremely lengthy approval process. But according to an OMB spokesperson, the approval has been delayed because they recognize the great importance of this regulation. They want a law of this gravity and complexity to be flawless.