United Fresh announced this week the association has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to extend the comment period on certain provisions in the proposed Produce and Preventive Controls Rules, the drafts of which were released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for comment last month. Several provisions currently face a comment deadline of February 15, noted the group in a press release. “The extension is necessary to provide sufficient time for the industry to examine and respond to the complex and substantial changes proposed for the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, as well as all other food industries in the United States.” “United is in the midst of a very exhaustive review process with our members,” said Dr. David Gombas, United’s senior vice president of food safety and technology. “The proposed rules are part of a larger suite of rules that are all interrelated and will have far reaching effects on the industry. The request is consistent with the time needed to properly respond, especially given that three additional proposed rules, on Foreign Supplier Verification, Preventive Controls for Animal Feed, and Accredited Third-Party Certification, are scheduled to be released in the near future and will also impact the industry.” The association has launched “member-driven working groups” and has held several calls and webinars to help gather to feedback on the two proposed rules. United Fresh said the working groups will also meet in coordination with FDA’s public FSMA hearings February 27 in Washington, DC, March 13 in Chicago, and March 26 in Portland, Oregon. “United Fresh has consistently supported mandatory, enforceable, commodity-specific food safety practices based on the best available science, applicable to both domestic and foreign produce,” said Tom Stenzel, United’s president & CEO. “That support continues through this rulemaking process. We ask that the comment period for those provisions be extended so that United Fresh and other interested parties can have a reasonable opportunity to provide FDA with meaningful input on these important initiatives.”