More than 250 groups ask FDA to extend comment period on FSMA rules

A plethora of groups is calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide more time to comment on proposed sweeping food safety rules.

In a letter sent to FDA last week, 277 groups ranging from farmers to food processors to industry groups implored the agency to extend the comment period on its produce rule and preventive control rules for another 120 days, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

The two rules, which were released in January, are the first to come from the massive 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rules are more than halfway through the current 120 day comment period, which ends May 16.

As of now, the current comment period will remain as is, an FDA spokesperson told the Dispatch.

The first proposed rule stemming from FSMA requires food producers, domestic or foreign, to have a plan in place for preventing their products from “causing foodborne illness,” and to have additional plans for corrective actions if issues do occur.

The second rule creates safety standards for produce that are science and risk-based. Large farms would have to be in compliance 26 months after the final rule is published with small operations being given extra time.

Other rules, including those for import oversight and third party audits, will be released soon, FDA has said.

In the letter, the groups cite the huge amount of material that makes up the rules – roughly 1,200 pages – and the “numerous points of intersection” between the two rules as reasons for their request. Additionally, spring is a busy time for farmers, making it difficult to find time to sift through the documents.

Read the full letter here.

For Neogen blogs FSMA coverage, click here.

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