A consent agreement filed in federal district court in Oakland, CA will set a new timeline for FSMA implementation. The agreement between FDA and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) ends the agency’s appeal of strict, court-imposed deadlines that were set as the result of a CFS lawsuit seeking a timeline for implementation. The earlier ruling by the US District Court of Northern California had required FDA to complete FSMA implementation by June 2015.

The consent agreement will push back several deadlines: for preventive controls for human food and preventive controls for animal food to Aug. 30, 2015; October 31, 2015for produce safety, the foreign supplier verification program and third-party accreditation; March 31, 2016 for sanitary transport; and May 31, 2016 for intentional adulteration. FDA agreed to drop its appeal of the original timeline as part of the agreement, according to CFS.

“This is a major victory for the health and safety of the American people. The first major update to our food safety laws since 1938 must now be implemented in a close-ended, timely fashion,” says George Kimbrell, CFS lead attorney. “This is the best possible result, because it provides for robust public participation in the process, yet ensures certainty for its timely conclusion.”

“The FDA is committed to fully implementing the FSMA and to putting in place the modern, preventive framework envisioned by the law that will help to prevent foodborne illnesses and protect public health,” says an FDA spokesperson. “The agency is working as quickly and expeditiously as possible to meet our deadlines for the final rules, while also ensuring that we get these rules right.”