The FDA is guilty of breaking the law for failure to release regulations necessary to 2011's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), found a California U.S. District Judge earlier this week.
According to the Huffington Post, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the Center for Food Safety, which sued Margaret Hamburg, the FDA commissioner when the agency failed to release seven regulations by the FSMA deadline of July 2012.
"The Center for Food Safety asked the court to order the FDA to release the regulations in a timely manner. The FDA responded that the rules were complicated and technical, and that releasing them prematurely would compromise their efficacy," reported the Post.
Judge Hamilton ruled on Monday that the FDA "unlawfully withheld" the seven food safety regulations and that "the FDA has violated the FMSA and the [Administrative Procedure Act] by failing to complete the regulations by the statutory deadlines."
The FDA's food safety officials must now meet with representatives from the Center for Food Safety to draft a timeline and plan for the release of the regulations to be presented to Judge Hamilton by no later than May 20th.
George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety, told the Huffington Post, "It's literally life or death. One in six Americans contract a food-borne illness every year and, tragically, thousands of them die. Congress knew that when they passed the statute. It was their intent with the Food Safety Modernization Act to fix it. But without its regulations, the statute is an empty vessel, which is why I'm so glad the court decided in our favor."
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