According to a judge in California, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broke the law when it didn’t implement food safety regulations fast enough.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said in her ruling that the FDA violated federal laws when it missed its July 4, 2012, deadline, established under the Food Safety Modernization Act, to implement to new rules. She ordered the agency to work with two public interest groups to speed up the process.

The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health sued the FDA last year for dragging its feet on implementing the new rules. The groups said in their suit that the FDA violated the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Administrative Act because it failed to meet the required deadline.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which passed in 2011, will require scientific controls of food and give the FDA power to address and prevent food hazards. But the FDA must issue and implement the new regulations for the law to take effect.

The FDA had argued that although it has been working diligently to implement the new rules, the “agresssive” timeline established under the Act proved to be unachievable.

“In matters involving rulemaking on complex scientific and technical issues, courts routinely refuse to intervene to compel agency action by a certain date,” the agency said in its brief.

Read more about this issue on Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel stories about the Food Safety Modernization Act, see:

Cheat Sheet: A guide to navigating two new federal consumer safety measures

FDA proposes new food safety rules

How to implement safe measures for food and consumer products

7 risk and compliance threats facing in-house counsel: Supply Chains

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