OSHA Sets up Rules Against Retaliation for Food Safety

Just about every business owner knows that it sometimes take a long time before certain laws and regulations go into effect. This is certainly the case with the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act. Signed into law in 2011, it was possibly the first major steps towards taking a more preventative approach when it came to food safety instead of simply reacting to problems when they arose.

But as some of our readers might know because of their position within the food industry, the FDA seems to be taking its time when it comes to implementing laws and regulations associated with the FSMA, which may leave some industry players wondering when they will see the laws and when they will be enforced as well.

So that our readers aren't caught off guard, we wanted to let them know about the recent announcement made by OSHA in regards to the FSMA. According to a release this month on the United States Department of Labor's website, an interim final rule was published that establishes "procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints." Similar to other whistleblower laws, the interim will allow employees to disclose information about possible food-safety violations without fear of retaliation from their employer.

For those of our readers who fear that their employees may abuse this protection, it's worth noting that OSHA's interim also establishes who has the burden of proof when making claims and how the statute of limitations will affect each case.

As OSHA moves forward with implementing the final regulations outlined by the FSMA, it will be important for employers to receive notification about these changes, especially because they have just as much of a right to legal protection as employees do.

Sources: The United States Department of Labor, "OSHA announces interim final rule, invites comments on procedures for handling retaliation complaints under Food Safety Modernization Act," Feb. 19, 2014

Foodprocessing.com, "FSMA, GFSI Turn Small Processors Into Competitors," Tom Boyd, Jan. 27, 2014

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