FDA Friday released details on the final Food Safety Modernization Act rules for produce safety, a foreign supplier verification program and accredited third-party certification.
“The recent multistate outbreak of salmonella in imported cucumbers that has killed four Americans, hospitalized 157 and sickened hundreds more, is exactly the kind of outbreak these rules can help prevent,” Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a press release. “The FDA is working with partners across the government and industry to prevent foodborne outbreaks. The rules will help better protect consumers from foodborne illness and strengthen their confidence that modern preventive practices are in place, no matter where in the world the food is produced.”
FMI welcomed the rules but acknowledged there will be a lot of work to comply with the regulations.
“The final foreign supplier verification rule will significantly impact food retailers importing products into the United States. We believe the rule should be in line with other GFSI-benchmarked schemes, like FMI’s Safe Quality Food Institute program. FDA’s rule should support rather than supplant global food safety practices,” said FMI VP of food safety programs Hilary Thesmar.
“We are anticipating a long road ahead with FSMA implementation; we look forward to working closely with the agency and the food retail industry’s supply chain partners on implementing a consistent system that only strengthens the safest food supply in the world."
PMA also tempered its reaction with concerns about implementation of the rules.
“These final rules published today reflect many, but not all, of the amendments PMA and other leading food trade organizations have recommended in their comments to FDA in the last few years,” said Jim Gorny, PMA VP of food safety and technology. “We’re pleased that FDA considered the practical needs of the produce industry; however, we still have concerns and questions about some of the specific implementation details regarding these rules.”
“The publication of these FSMA rules is not an endpoint but rather a beginning, which now requires understanding, planning, implementation and verification by businesses. To that end, we’re pleased to learn FDA will also soon be issuing important companion guidance documents for these final rules that will provide more detailed information about coverage and compliance requirements.”
United Fresh president and CEO Tom Stenzel applauded the efforts of the FDA and the industry.
“The United Fresh Produce Association has long advocated for federal, risk-based and commodity specific food safety standards for all fresh produce, wherever grown, to assure consumers that all producers are growing and distributing the safest possible products,” said Stenzel. “The Produce Safety and Foreign Supplier Verification rules published today are the culmination of years of efforts by FDA and the fresh produce industry to develop reasonable, fair and practical standards for both domestic and foreign growers, based on the best available science. We will be reviewing the rules closely to make sure our industry and government officials have clear and common expectations in implementing these requirements. We are confident that the overwhelming majority of fresh produce brands that consumers enjoy today are already in compliance with these standards.”
GMA reacted favorably to the rules in a statement:
“FSMA ensures that prevention is the cornerstone of our nation's food safety strategy so we welcome today’s release of the final FSMA rules for produce safety, foreign supplier verification and third-party accreditation. These rules place new responsibilities on food and beverage manufacturers and provide the FDA with the regulatory oversight and authorities it needs to further strengthen our nation’s food safety net.”
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