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FDA, produce community continue FSMA collaboration

The Produce Marketing Association applauded the FDA’s release of revised supplemental proposals for the Food Safety Modernization Act around produce safety, and preventative controls for human food, animal feed and foreign supplier verification programs.

“PMA’s members on our Science and Technology committee, as well as staff experts, are pleased that FDA has provided a second opportunity for industry to comment on these supplemental proposals,” said Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA’s chief science and technology officer, in a media statement.

“We’re eager to review and assess them to assure that when these regulations are finalized and implemented they will best serve public health and our industry’s food safety needs.”

On Friday, Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for the FDA’s foods and veterinary medicine, led a call for the food industry to discuss the main components of the proposed rules.

Taylor pointed to the importance of ongoing discussions between the produce community and the FDA in developing the revised proposals and fact sheets.

“It’s all aimed at the goal that we have been very clear about throughout — that we want to implement this law in a way that makes a real difference for food safety, that meets those consumer expectations, but also do it in a way that is workable. That works across the diversity of the food system. That’s the goal that we’re all after,” said Taylor.

Some of the revisions would:

• Exempt small-farms making less than $25,000 in produce sales from the produce-safety rule.

• Exempt spent grains (leftover from alcohol brewing) from the animal food rule if the company is already following the human food rule.

• Change water testing provisions to “account for natural variations in water sources.”

• Allow more flexibility in foreign supplier verification.

PMA plans to hold a FSMA workshop with Taylor on the supplemental proposals at the Fresh Summit produce show in Anaheim, Calif. on Oct. 17.

The FDA comment period is 75 days after the rules are published on Sept. 29.

“We are on a very tight schedule to complete the rulemaking by court deadline that require us to issue final rules,” said Taylor.

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