WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2013 – The FDA issued today a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for its proposed rule on standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption.
The proposed rule, released in January, seeks to establish science-based minimum standards for the overall handling of produce.
FDA said the proposed rule would help minimize the risk of “serious adverse health consequences or death” from bad produce.
“We expect that the proposed rule, if finalized as proposed, would reduce foodborne illness associate with the consumption of contaminated produce,” FDA said.
The standards, mandated as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, would not apply to produce that is rarely consumed raw, produce for personal consumption, or produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) said it was glad FDA is “finally” taking an environmental impact assessment on this proposed rule.
Ariane Lotti, NSAC assistant policy director, said, “Food safety and environmental goals should go hand-in-hand, and it is critical to make sure that the proposed new food safety regulations will not deplete natural resources or further contaminate the environment.”
NSAC said the proposed rule could conflict with farm conservation and environmental goals, including standards for water use on farms that encourage groundwater over-drafting, wildlife and grazing restrictions, and limitations on the use of manure and compost.
The public comment period will close on Nov. 15. Comments may be sent, identified by docket no. FDA-2011-N-0921 and/or regulatory information number (RIN) 0910-AG35, through the internet at http://www.regulations.gov.
Written submissions can be mailed to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, Md. 20852.
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