Washington, DC — January 18, 2001 — The Clinton Administration is “rushing to release a flurry of food safety policies and rules immediately before his administration is to expire,” said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Hammonds was commenting on food safety initiatives that Clinton is releasing today and tomorrow.

“The administration is trying to accomplish in less than two days what it could not get done in eight years. It is rushing major new rules into effect — some final, some proposed — all rushed. Such a process will inevitably create problems for consumers, industry and the next administration."

“These actions will put the new administration in a very difficult position, asking President-elect Bush to implement major food safety policies that the current administration did not want to live with during its own tenure."

“The Clinton Administration has performed a major disservice to the public by depriving us of the careful, deliberative process needed to set policies in an area as sensitive and important as food safety."

“The supermarket industry will work closely with the new administration to help undo whatever damage may be caused by these proposals — with our foremost goals, as always, to ensure that they are based on sound science and provide consumers meaningful protection from foodborne illness.”

The proposals include:

  • A risk assessment and action plan to control Listeria bacteria.
  • A risk assessment plan for Vibrio bacteria in some shellfish.
  • Rules that require processors of fruit and vegetable juices to adopt a pathogen-reduction program based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.
  • A regulation mandating nutrition labels for meat and poultry.

“To be sure,” Hammonds said, “some of what is being put into place may benefit consumers and promote food safety in meaningful ways. But because of the rush to judgment, we do not yet know for sure what’s good and what’s bad, and neither do the authors. We need time to identify the good rules and policies and eliminate those that are unscientific, impractical, counterproductive and a waste of valuable government resources."

“At this point, there is only one reasonable course of action for the incoming administration. All these new rules and regulations should be pulled back for review. Sound science and sound policymaking require time for reasoned reflection, rather than a rush to judgment.”