Produce industry groups seek FSMA comment period extension

April 11, 2013

A group of 89 international, national, state and regional fresh fruit and vegetable groups has requested an extension of the May 16 deadline on the comment period for the proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The request was made in an April 11 letter sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The letter noted, “it would be impossible for any interested party to meaningfully comment on these two proposed rules when they represent such a substantial overhaul of the structure of food safety regulation, the sheer size of the regulations has lengthened the time necessary for analysis.”

The letter requests a minimum of an additional 180 days after the proposed rules for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Preventive Controls for Animal Food and Accredited Third-Party Certification have been issued, to allow time to analyze and comment on the anticipated interactions between the rules.

The letter also notes the challenge in completing a full analysis in the given 120-day comment period due to the length of the proposed rules and the associated reference documents. In addition, some of the more than 100 questions posed by FDA when the proposed rules were issued require thorough scientific and economic analysis, a process in which stakeholders are currently engaged, according to the letter.

“The fresh produce industry has long supported mandatory, enforceable, commodity-specific food safety practices based on the best available science,” said Tom Stenzel, CEO of United Fresh, one of the signatories. “We have been engaged throughout the entire rulemaking process and continue to mobilize stakeholders to review and comment on the proposed rules. The additional comment period is necessary to ensure that these rules are effective, efficient, and serve the interests of the entire supply chain and our consumers.”

The letter and full list of signatories can be found here.

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