WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 – More than 270 organizations, food businesses and farms today asked the federal government to extend the comment period for two proposed food safety rules.
In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, the groups asked for an extension from May 16 to Sept. 13 to assess the 1,200 pages of rules.
The rules - one dealing primarily with produce, the other affecting most food handlers - are the result of a two-year review process mandated by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The proposed rules were released Jan. 4.
The first rule, which will primarily affect farmers, proposes a number of safety standards for the production of fruits and vegetables.
The second rule will require food producers to “develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illnesses.” Producers will also have to create contingency plans for correcting any problems that arise during the manufacturing process.
The groups cited the “sheer volume and complexity of the proposed rules and the timing of the comment period during spring planting among the reasons to lengthen the comment period.”
“Hundreds of thousands of family farmers and family-scale food producers will be subject to extensive new regulations,” said Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “FDA took two years to develop the proposed rules, and our members need more than 120 days in order to understand all of the implications and submit substantive comments.”
The letter also noted that many farmers, including those of Amish faith, do not have easy access through the internet to FDA documents or information on the proposals.
“Many of our members, in rural areas across the country, rely on the good old-fashioned snail mail," said Mark A. Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “After finishing our analysis we have to mail information about the proposed rules to our members, and they, in turn, must mail their comments to the FDA.”
The full text of the letter is available at:
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