On Monday, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop delaying the implementation of a sweeping set of food safety measures passed more than two years ago. According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the Northern District of California signed a decision spurring the FDA into action on the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, a wide-ranging set of measures aimed at lessening incidents of food borne illness and death from contaminated food.
The FDA has argued that the measures are far-reaching and extremely complex, making them difficult to enact all at once. Judge Hamilton acknowledged that in her decision, but said that the agency must meet hard deadlines and cannot put the process of modernization off indefinitely. She asked for a list of new rules implemented by the agency by May 20.
The Center for Food Safety, a group concerned with keeping the U.S. food supply safe and untainted, sued the FDA in August of 2012, asking the court to prevent the agency from any further delays on implementing of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The regulatory body has missed almost all deadlines proposed in the bill so far.
The FDA has managed to implement two of the requirements set forth in the law. One measure made it easier for the FDA to halt shipment of domestically produced food that may be contaminated and the other requires importers to notify the U.S. if food coming into the country has been previously rejected by other countries.
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