According to Dennis Keefe, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Food Additive Safety (OFAS), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), the FDA will send letters of objection to submitters of food contact notifications (FCNs) for the duration of the U.S. staff furlough. The FDA is legally obliged to respond to FCNs within 120 days if it would like to object to the marketing of a food contact product. If the FDA does not issue an objection letter, a manufacturer may consider the substance as authorized after expiry of this period. The recent U.S. government shutdown due to a budget deadline expiry forced a large portion of federal staff into unpaid leave. As a consequence the FDA had to furlough 45% of its staff and now lacks personnel to keep the system operating. The reception of a letter of objection will force food contact manufacturers to re-notify the FDA after termination of the government shutdown. Keefe commented on the events during the 14th Annual Food Packaging Law Seminar organized by the legal consulting group Keller and Heckman’s on September 18, 2013 as reported on their news site.

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