The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to stall an order for a proposed food-safety rule, saying the government shutdown made it impossible for the agency to meet its Nov. 30 deadline.
In June, a California federal judge ordered the FDA to propose a new rule to protect the nation’s food supply against a terrorist attack as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, issuing the Nov. 30 deadline. The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit brought against the FDA by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health, which alleged the agency had missed its deadlines, set by Congress, to propose a series of food-safety rules.
The FDA filed an emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit, telling the court it “would be not only unsound but impossible” to propose a rule by Nov. 30. The agency argued that it needs to solicit input from the food industry before proposing a rule, and said it would take more than a year to come up with such a rule. The agency said in its motion that it didn’t have enough time to develop such a rule in the first place and that the 16-day government shutdown that furloughed thousands of FDA employees made the problem worse.
FDA regulators ague that industry members possess confidential information about the vulnerabilities of the food supply that it would need to consider before designing a sound rule. A hastily made rule would ultimately lead to proposing revised legislation and generate further delays, the agency said.
The FDA appealed the order to create the new rule in September, weeks before the government shutdown started. According to Law 360, the agency has proposed four of the seven food-safety rules and could possibly propose a rule to help animal food from being contaminated by Nov. 30. Another rule about the sanitary of transportation of food could be finished by Jan. 30, the agency said.