Stakeholders hoping to submit their comments on two Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules have been frustrated to find interrupted access to, the portal for commenting on pending rules from various federal agencies. Visitors to the site on Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 11 were met with a confusing message stating, “We are currently conducting planned system maintenance that began at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2013 and should be complete by 8:00 AM on August 6, 2013.” The outages this week and last are unfortunate timing since public comments on FSMA’s proposed rules for produce safety and preventive controls for human foods are due Friday, Nov. 15. U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) took notice on Nov. 6, tweeting: “My staff is wrking w/agencies 2get back up& running. Im frustrated my constituents cant access 2submit FSMA comments!” In light of the technical difficulties, the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has requested a 30-day extension of the rules’ comment period. “This is potentially disenfranchising thousands of farmers and consumers, and is flat-out unacceptable,” said co-director Will Fantle in a statement released Monday. Although Fantle referred to the issue as “the FDA’s food safety comment page screw-up,” is managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and it wasn’t just the FSMA pages that crashed. In a statement issued late Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was aware of the technical problems and that it has prevented some people from filing their comments electronically. “Be assured that if technical issues should reoccur and you are unable to file your comments electronically by Friday, November 15, we will find a way to ensure that your comments are received and considered,” FDA’s statement read.