The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will propose revised rule language and open another comment period on two of the proposed rules affecting farmers under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
FDA plans to issue revised language for the proposed rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food by early next summer.
The changes will encompass water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and procedures used to withdraw the qualified exemption to these requirements for certain farms.
“We believe that this decision to change these proposed rules — in response to the careful consideration of many people involved in supplying our food — is critical to fulfilling our commitment to getting them right,” Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, wrote on the agency’s blog. “As we consider the comments we’ve received, we may decide to include other changes for public comment.”
FDA will again seek comments, but only on the revised sections of the rules. After all, the agency is still under court ordered deadlines for finalizing the rules.
After participating in more than 150 meetings and traveling to numerous farms to seek input on the rules, Taylor said, “We have heard concerns that certain provisions, as proposed, would not fully achieve our goal of implementing the law in a way that improves public health protections while minimizing undue burden on farmers and other food producers.”
“Thousands of sustainable and organic farmers and local food system entrepreneurs responded with deep concerns to the original proposed rules FDA issued to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA),” said National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Policy Director Ferd Hoefner. “We commend FDA for listening carefully to those concerns and coming to the proper conclusion that significant changes are needed … We look forward to working with FDA as they finish their review of the public comments and as they put together a second set of proposals on key issues for public comment.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who amended FSMA to protect small producers from onerous new regulations, also praised the announcement: “Small growers and producers selling straight to local consumers don’t require the same rules as large producers, and I’m glad the FDA is finally catching on. I look forward to making sure the new rules better protect the small producers who feed our families and deserve better than one-size-fits-all regulations.”© Food Safety News