The FDA is in the midst of writing the critical regulations that will implement the Food Safety Modernization Act Congress passed last year with applause all around from the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans despite ferocious opposition from small-farm advocates. The sweeping new law gives the agency extraordinary powers to detain foods on farms. It also denies farmers recourse to federal courts.
On July 3, the agency will issue its new rule to detain any food it believes is unsafe, or, more critically, "mislabeled." In Allgyer's case, the entire FDA case rests on a technical violation of a ban on interstate commerce in raw milk and alleged mislabeling.
Before the new law, the FDA could only impound food when it had credible evidence the food was contaminated or posed a public health hazard. The detention powers are part of what Taylor described as a new agency focus on preventing food poisoning outbreaks rather than responding to them after the fact. Taylor described the new law as giving the agency "farm to table" control over food safety.
Taylor outlined an aggressive approach, saying he would seek a "high rate of compliance" with new food safety rules, touted the agency's "whole new inspection and compliance tool kit," including access to farm records, mandatory recall authority, and enforcement actions that can be accomplished administratively, "without having to go to court." He said the agency can now also revoke a farm's mandatory registration (also a new requirement under the law), meaning the FDA can put any farm it finds in violation of any food safety rule out of business.The regs, as you might guess, will crucify the small farms.
Produce regs are next.