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OMB should let new food safety rules move forward

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Consumers Union calls on OMB to let new food safety rules move forward
In letter to OMB, CU says recent salad greens recall highlights the need for action

WASHINGTON — Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to call on the agency to allow new food safety rules to move forward, citing Dole Fresh Vegetable’s recall this week of 756 cases of salad greens due to possible salmonella contamination.
“After deadly outbreaks of foodborne illness in ordinary foods like spinach and peanut butter, Congress passed a much needed food safety overhaul which the President signed into law in January 2011. Over the next 11 months, FDA developed new rules to implement this law. Yet for the last five months, since December 2011, these critical regulations have remained under review at OMB. We urge OMB to release the rules for public comment, so that implementation of this critical legislation can move forward,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that foodborne illness results in 48 million illnesses, 128 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), enacted in January 2011, was designed to give FDA tools to prevent food contamination, rather than simply order recalls after the fact.
Four major regulations implementing FSMA are currently pending at OMB. One will address prevention of contamination in produce.
“The deadline for issuing the new rules was this past January. We don’t want food safety reform halted in its tracks. We urge OMB to allow these rules to go out for notice and comment, so all stakeholders can have input on their content as soon as possible, ” Halloran said.
For a copy of the full letter from CU to OMB, contact Consumers Union’s David Butler at 202-462-6262 or dbutler@consumer.org