Free-manureFederal officials have extended the comment period for the second time for those wishing to provide information about a risk assessment of foodborne illnesses associated with pathogens from fresh produce grown in fields with raw manure. The extension, which allows comments to be filed through July 19, is the second extension granted by the Food and Drug Administration on this topic. The first was at the request of stakeholders and the second is because of planned maintenance on the Federal eRulemaking portal on the internet. As of Wednesday, 28 comments had been filed on the official topic, “Risk Assessment of Foodborne Illness Associated With Pathogens From Produce Grown in Fields Amended With Untreated Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin; Request for Scientific Data, Information, and Comments.” To file comments electronically, go to Docket No. FDA-2016-N-0321. Mail, hand deliver or send via courier to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. “We have already provided for certain ways that raw manure can be used as a soil amendment in compliance with the produce rule, such as if it is applied in a manner that prevents contact with the crop before and after application,” according to FDA’s statement. “We will seek public comment on any eventual proposal to establish a time interval(s) for other untreated BSAAO (untreated biological soil amendments of animal origin)  application methods allowed under the rule. “There are important public health concerns that we have a responsibility to address, but at the same time we recognize that the use of raw manure is an extremely complex and important issue. There are differing views and strong beliefs. We take those seriously.” (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)