“I see it as an issue,” said Ricardo Carvajal, director of the law firm Hyman, Phelps and McNamara, during the session on April 20. “Because obesity has financial implications for health, I would see either a Republican or Democratic administration work on the issue.”
Joseph Levitt, a partner in the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP, added that health care costs may be reduced if consumers make better decisions regarding nutrition.
“It’s an issue that will drive health care costs down,” he said. “The challenge is nobody knows what to do about it. Nevertheless, I don’t think anybody is going to be able to let that go.”
He noted that FSMA will be in its implementation stage and new initiatives by a new administration are likely to focus on nutrition.
Carvajal added that there may be an intersection between obesity and food safety that also may prompt a new administration and the FDA to focus on obesity.
“They [FDA] are looking at what are the foods the government is encouraging people to eat (like fruits and vegetables) and asking if the industry and government are doing a good job on food safety,” he said. “That’s an interesting dynamic.”
“I think the challenge on FSMA implementation is it is going to be like the seafood HACCP regulation, but on a broad scale,” Levitt said. “The seafood HACCP regulation was finalized in 1998. Fifteen years later FDA is still taking action against seafood processors for not having HACCP plans.
“We have to think about FSMA implementation and what will happen in year 1 versus 5 and 10. In years 5 and 10 it will be much different. In year 1 they [FDA] will want to know you are taking this seriously. Are you making serious mistakes? They will take action where a serious health threat occurs. Over time it is going to raise everybody to a common standard, but there are lots of companies and it does not happen overnight.”