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Newly released Obama regulatory plan shows slow progress on key initiatives

Food safety initiatives like the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection will see further delays in implementation.

June 11, 2014
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Newly released Obama regulatory plan shows slow progress on key initiativesThe Obama administration has released its “Current Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions,” detailing regulatory and deregulatory activities under development throughout the federal government including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration. The Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda are published semiannually and can serve as an outline for progress on food safety and other manufacturing issues.

The spring 2014 document reflects a series of missed deadlines for food-related regulatory action by both FDA and USDA. They include the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule (which would require the recording and reporting of distribution and sales information for antimicrobial agents used in livestock), the final rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef and more. The Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda also contain updates on components of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, including the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Controls, Produce Safety and Sanitary Transportation rules.

Other initiatives including the release of a list of potentially harmful pathogens and a proposed rule for updating nutrition and ingredient labeling on pet food, are also behind schedule.

In fall 2013’s Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda, the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule, then in its “final rulemaking stage” and deemed “economically significant” by FDA, was slated for roll-out in April, 2014. The new document says the rule will be implemented in July. The new inspection system for young poultry slaughter establishments is designed to facilitate public health-based inspection while allowing FSIS to revoke provisions allowing young chicken slaughter establishments to operate under the current streamlined inspection system or the new line speed inspection system.

Proposed regulations requiring the labels of raw or partially cooked needle- or blade-tenderized beef products to include the designation “mechanically tenderized” had been projected for implementation in June, but will be pushed to September. A proposed rule requiring antimicrobial animal drug products makers to submit an annual report to FDA detailing the amount of approved antimicrobial active ingredient in the drug for use in food-producing animals received the same treatment.

A rule establishing nutrition labeling requirements for standard items in chain restaurants that FDA expected to implement in February remains in the final rule making stage, despite designation as “economically significant.” Final action on the rule is now slated for June.

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