The Food and Drug Administration missed a Jan. 4 deadline to issue produce safety regulations, as mandated by sweeping changes to food safety laws.
The date marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing the Food Safety Modernization Act into law. Congress set the deadline for the FDA to issue updated good agricultural practices.
Despite some rumors that the FDA would make a big splash and introduce several regulations that day, the deadline came and went, although the agency released an update on food safety act work done in the last year.
“Once Jan. 4 passed, every day could be (that day),” said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association,
Chris Schlect, president of the Wenatchee, Wash., Northwest Horticultural Council, said Jan. 12 he’s heard that the FDA has submitted proposed regulations to the Office of Management and Budget, but that agency has not cleared the rules for publication.
Schlect said Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, is scheduled to speak Jan. 25 to the United Fresh Produce Association winter meeting in San Diego, Calif.
“I would think he would want to have a proposed rule he could talk about, a (rule) that has been published,” Schlect said.
In a year when Congress may not be able to accomplish much, the food safety regulations promise to be a significant focal point for produce advocates, Schlect said.
Produce safety rules for farms, packinghouses and foreign suppliers will all be closely watched, he said.
“It could be difficult for U.S. exports because other countries will probably mimic whatever the U.S. government does in terms of what they require of importers,” he said.