FDA delays next step in food safety rule; liberal lawmaker smells something rotten

“It is shameful that in a country as wealthy and prosperous as ours, with all the scientific and technological knowledge we possess, parents still have to worry if ground beef, cantaloupe, spinach, or any other number of foods, will send their children to the hospital, or possibly even their death,” DeLauro added.

The FDA’s proposed rules reflect the largest expansion of federal food oversight since the 1970s. They were announced on Jan. 4, and trumpeted as a major federal shift in focus from responding to food contamination to preventing it.

In a notice published in the Federal Register, the agency requested public comments by Friday. But on Friday, the FDA announced it was lengthening the comment period “in response to requests for that extension, in order to allow interested persons additional time to submit comments.”

The new deadline is May 16.

DeLauro, who helped write the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act that requires the new rules, suggested outside forces may be behind the extension.

“I am deeply concerned that special interests are pressuring the FDA to slow-walk this process and water down these rules that are supposed to protect people,” she said. “The FDA needs to implement these, and the other rules that are still bottled up in the regulatory pipeline, without further delay.”