Without a Senate-confirmed leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), target dates for ongoing rulemakings have apparently slipped in recent months. In January 2010, President Barack Obama (D) nominated Elisabeth Hagen to serve as USDA’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety, but the Senate has failed to act on the nomination.

According to USDA’s April 26, 2010, semiannual regulatory agenda, FSIS, which is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry and egg products, has completed only one rulemaking over the past six months, missing all 11 target dates set in its October 2009 agenda. Among the agency’s pending rules is a pathogen-reduction performance standard for all ready-to-eat and partially heat-treated meat and poultry products to control Listeria monocytogenes. It was initially proposed in 2001. See Federal Register, April 26, 2010; OMB Watch, April 28, 2010.