February 12, 2013

United requests extension of time for FSMA comments

United Fresh has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget to extend the comment period on certain provisions in the proposed produce and preventive controls rules.

Several provisions relating to information collection currently face a comment deadline of Feb. 16, which United and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are requesting be extended to May 16. The extension is necessary to provide sufficient time for the industry to examine and respond to the complex and substantial changes proposed for the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, as well as all other food industries in the United States, according to United.

“United is in the midst of a very exhaustive review process with our members,” said David Gombas, United’s senior vice president of food safety and technology. “The proposed rules are part of a larger suite of rules that are all interrelated and will have far reaching effects on the industry. The request is consistent with the time needed to properly respond, especially given that three additional proposed rules, on foreign supplier verification, preventive controls for animal feed, and accredited third-party certification, are scheduled to be released in the near future and will also impact the industry.”

United Fresh member-driven working groups for the two proposed rules have held several calls and webinars to move the review process forward in preparation for submitting comments to FDA. The working groups will also meet in coordination with FDA’s public FSMA hearings Feb. 27 in Washington, DC, March 13 in Chicago, and March 26 in Portland, Ore.

“United Fresh has consistently supported mandatory, enforceable, commodity-specific food safety practices based on the best available science, applicable to both domestic and foreign produce,” said Tom Stenzel, United’s president and CEO. “That support continues through this rulemaking process. We ask that the comment period for those provisions be extended so that United Fresh and other interested parties can have a reasonable opportunity to provide FDA with meaningful input on these important initiatives.”

The 120-day time period to comment on the overall rules for produce and preventive control rules ends May 16.

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