NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a final rule on its controversial food additive approval process by August 2016 as part of a legal settlement, according to court papers filed on Monday.
Since 1997, FDA has operated under a proposed rule that allows food manufacturers to get new food additives onto the market by notifying FDA that they are generally recognized as safe. Consumer advocacy groups have said the rule falls short of what is needed to protect consumers from potentially unsafe food additives.
The proposed rule was never finalized. In February, the non-profit Center for Food Safety sued FDA, alleging that the agency failed to follow legal rulemaking requirements. On Monday, the center said it had reached a settlement agreement with FDA that includes a timeline for when the agency has to issue a final rule.
“For more than 17 years, FDA has imposed a lax regulatory system on consumers without affording them their right to participate in the rulemaking process,” said Donna Solen, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety, in a statement.
An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment. (Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)