With a reminder that it was a key supporter of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made public a letter it sent Thursday to Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

The message to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner outlines what chamber media relations manager Bryan Goettel calls “a framework of principles” the organization hopes will guide the FDA as it sets rules under the new law.

Signed by members of the chamber’s Food Safety Working Group, the letter was delivered one day after FDA issued two new rules  — on detaining unsafe food and denying entry to unsafe imports — the first regulations announced since the agency’s powers were expanded under the new law.

Goetell said the fact that the FSMA was enacted thanks to business community efforts “sinks the narrative of certain advocacy groups that business and the chamber are reflexively anti-regulatory.” 

He added that business is “eager to collaborate with FDA and pleased that FDA seems genuinely interested both in what we have to say and in implementing the law in full accordance with Congressional intent.”

Among the points the letter emphasizes are that the FDA should:

— consider costs and seek the least burdensome approaches

— ensure that the new regs are scientifically sound and risk-based

— continue to seek input from the food industry and other stakeholders

— establish comment periods long enough for full evaluations

— eliminate redundant, inconsistent, overlapping food-ag regulations

— demonstrate that guidances and regulations result in measurable, sustained reduction in the incidence of foodborne illness

“FSMA grants FDA new legal authorities,” the letter concludes. “However Congress granted those authorities with the understanding the Agency will implement the law in a a common-sense manner that promotes innovation, flexibility and cost-effectiveness and with due regard for the protection of trade secrets and intellectual property.”

Goettel said the FSMA rule-making “will test whether this Administration is serious about regulatory reform” and, if so, the new law “could end up as a paradigm for a better and more effective regulatory approach.”


The Food Safety Working Group includes the American Bakers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Peanut Council, The Coca-Cola Company, Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States, Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, International Dairy Foods Association.

Also the International Association of Color Manufacturers, National Confectioners Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Grocers Association,

National Renderers Association, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Snack Food Association, United Fresh Produce Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.