The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is extending the comment period for the rule declaring six Shiga toxin-producing E. coli adulterants in certain beef products, according to the American Meat Institute.

AMI reported receiving a letter from FSIS Administrator Alfred Almanza with the news on Wednesday.

The new deadline to file comments is Dec. 21, 2011.  The March 5, 2012, launch date of the agency’s sampling program remains in place.

The group said it joined 11 other trade groups in requesting an extension. The groups also sought a delay in the effective date to give industry more time to prepare.

In the Nov. 15 letter, Almanza said, “FSIS is now in a position to carry out an enforceable program to control non-O157 STEC.”