Co-authored by Brian Gross
The recently enacted Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, provides the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with increased power. The FSMA, which represents the culmination of more than a decade long effort to reform this country’s food safety oversight system, aims at limiting future occasions of foodborne illness by changing the FDA’s focus from reacting and responding when outbreaks occur to outright prevention. While the FSMA certainly gives the FDA additional authority to regulate the production of food throughout the farm to table chain, the question remains whether it will have the necessary resources to do so.
The FDA is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services which is responsible for overseeing an incredibly broad range of goods, including food, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, veterinary products, and cosmetics, amongst other things. The FDA’s food-related responsibilities include regulation and oversight of roughly 80% of our country’s food supply, namely, all food products with the exception of meat and poultry. The FSMA has given the FDA numerous new tools to perform its duties, a few of which will be discussed herein, including, mandatory recall, increased oversight and regulation of American facilities and those of foreign suppliers, and the implementation of a few small measures aimed at creating a more informed consumer.