- President Donald Trump has set forth a hiring freeze and paused new regulations for the Food and Drug Administration that could negatively impact food safety efforts, according to Food Safety News.
- Trump’s hold order will not affect rules and regulations that have already been published in the Federal Register. Additionally, the hold order does not cover guidance documents, such as the draft sprout guidance the FDA published last week.
- The hiring freeze will delay results on pathology samples submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service.
With President Trump making sweeping changes to just about every facet of the U.S. during his first weeks in office, it should come as no surprise that he’s also altering the food industry.
His decision to freeze hiring and programs at the FDA and USDA could be problematic to food safety measures. Delays in lab tests for products such as meat, poultry, processed egg products and catfish are expected through at least March 3. That could put the health of American consumers at risk, as food contaminants may not be discovered for several weeks, endangering shoppers.
In August, a report from Stericycle ExpertSolutions showed a spike in recalls. The FDA had recalled more than 80 times more food units in Q2 than in Q1, and the USDA had recalled more than 45 times the amount of food in the same time frame. But this spike, many said, was not necessarily due to more unsafe food. More rigorous testing through the Food Safety Modernization Act — a large portion of which took effect last year — may have raised more warning flags for more preventive recalls.
While there are no executive orders that can have an immediate impact on FSMA's tenets, slowing down the testing and warning procedure could roll back the advances the new law makes. Instead of being proactive, at least for a short while, recalls could again be driven by people actually getting sick from contaminated products.