The interim final regulations set procedures and timeframes for handling retaliation complaints under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Interim Regs Issued for Food Safety Modernization Act Whistleblower Protection

The interim final regulations set procedures and timeframes for handling retaliation complaints under the act, including OSHA investigations.

OSHA is responsible for overseeing many whistleblower protection statutes and has now issued interim final regulations for the newest one, the whistleblower provision found at section 402 of FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act. The rule published Feb. 13 by the agency sets procedures and timeframes for handling such complaints for the agency's investigations of them.

It includes appeals to OSHRC administrative law judges.

The act was signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011. Section 402 ensures protection to employees against retaliation "by an entity engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding, or importation of food for engaging in certain protected activities" because they have reported or are about to report any violation of the act or are testifying in a proceeding about a violation.

The act's whistleblower provisions allow a "covered employee" to file, within 180 days of the alleged retaliation, a complaint with the secretary of Labor, after which the secretary must provide written notice to those named in the complaint alleged to have violated the act, after which the complaint is investigated.

To file comments about the interim final rule, visit www.regulations.gov and search for Docket No. OSHA-2011-0859.

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