On Tuesday, January 4th 2011 President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act into law. This is the first major food oversight reform for FDA since 1938. The law will give FDA mandatory recall authority and will allow for greater access to the records of companies whose products are deemed at high risk for causing potential adverse events. Additionally, FDA plans to step up the frequency of facility inspections, bringing the minimum up to once every 5-7 years instead of the previously mandated 8-10. Imported products will also face greater scrutiny, as the new law will require safety certification and supplier verification for all foodstuffs brought into the US. With some limited exceptions, the new legislation covers all food products, including dietary supplements. Supplement manufacturers and importers should consult with qualified legal counsel to fully understand how this will affect their business.
The legislation does not, however, include any significant increase in FDA’s budget, leaving many wondering how the agency will fund the new procedures it hopes to put into effect. Several members of the now Republican controlled House of Representatives have stated that they do not believe the overhaul is necessary and that they will not support the additional funding needed to make many of the new enforcement measures a reality. Nevertheless, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg remains optimistic; she has publicly stated that she believes FDA will be able to work with Congress to find the funding needed to realize the new law’s food safety objectives.