Saturday, October 18, 2008

FDA above the law?

On 09/27/07 President Bush signed into law the FDA Amendments Act, known as FDAAA. Section 1002(b). It required the FDA to develop “Early Warning Surveillance Systems and Notification During Pet Food Recalls”. The deadline for these pet food safety measures was was not grey, but black and white with no room for interpretation: “Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish an early warning and surveillance system to identify adulteration of the pet food supply and outbreaks of illness associated with pet food.” That means, the deadline expired 09/27/08. What happened? This day has come and gone seemingly ignored by the FDA, which justifies this question: If the FDA can ignore the law, where does that leave 74 million US pet owners? Was the new law just another government act of pretending it is fixing problems, while actually really nothing changes?
The FDA has not developed the pet food surveillance system or recall notification system required by the new law. Are they working on it? It almost appears as if they are not. During the Animal Feed Safety System Public Meeting in Gaithersburg, MD back in May they only briefly mentioned briefly what needed to be accomplished and highlighted existing gaps in existing programs. Without any progress update. In August 2008 an update from the FDA mentions a few speeches given by the FDA; a 50 state meeting on food protection held in August 2008 and a reminder of a formerly discussed FDA Third party certification program for Food and Feeds safety. There was no mention in the FDA update regarding the upcoming deadline for a pet food surveillance system or pet food recall notification system. As of today there is no updated information on the FDA’s website regarding anything related to the new law.
The deadline has passed. The FDA has accomplished little to nothing in the year since Congress developed the Amendments Act and the President signed it into law. Who is holding the FDA accountable for ignoring the FDAAA mandated deadline? Pet owners and all consumers cannot afford for the FDA to ignore the law. How many more ill or even dead pets do we need to get the message across?

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