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Top Food Safety Stories of 2011: No. 9

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was the 9th most important food safety story in 2011.  When Congress adopted the measure in 2010, it was the most important story. The new law remained important this year because of work underway on rule making and funding.

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No sooner had President Obama signed the FSMA into law than work began on two fronts.   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began the detailed implementation work and food safety advocates in Congress went after the additional funding FDA is going to fulfill the new law’s mandates.

The FDA must complete 50 rules, guidance documents, reports and studies called for in the new law under specific time frames.  

Mike Taylor, deputy FDA commissioner for food, now oversees a giant implementation structure that must give every outside interest group and organization its say. There are implementation teams for preventive controls, inspection and compliance, imports, federal/state integration, fees, and more.

FDA’s implementation website includes an area just for tracking the various dockets that are open for comment, and those that have already closed. Only once all these steps are accomplished does FDA gain all the new powers granted to it by the new law.

In Congress, work to fund FSMA continued through the close of the year. The best possibility appears to be a $50 million bump for the FDA that Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, has worked to secure.

FDA cannot implement the FSMA without the additional money, unless it cuts back in some other area of its responsibilities.”Without additional funding, FDA will be challenged in implementing the legislation fully without compromising other key functions,” the agency says.

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