FDA again extends food safety comment period

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2013 - FDA has again extended the comment period for two provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that were proposed in January. FDA originally said the comment period would close in May, but a first extension took that deadline into July. Now, producers will have until mid-November to comment on the rules.

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The extended proposals set guidelines for the regulation of fresh fruits and vegetables and food handlers.  

The agency says it has created the extension to allow stakeholders to consider “the interrelationships between” all four currently proposed FSMA provisions. The last two provisions, which deal with imported foods, were released last week.

This will be "final extension" of the comment period, FDA said in a press release.  

In August 2012, the Center for Food Safety sued FDA for dragging its heels on FSMA implementation. As a result, a federal judge ordered this June that FDA release all draft rules to the public by November 30, 2013 and finalize all rules by June 2015.

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in January of 2011 in an effort to update the country's food safety system, which has been in place since 1938.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness every year, hospitalizing 128,000 and killing 3,000.

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