(UPDATED COVERAGE, May 21) The Food and Drug Administrative has extended the comment deadline on the proposed rule on the sanitary transportation of foods after United Fresh Produce Association and other groups said they needed more time.
The May 31 deadline is extended 60 days, according to a news release from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
“We’re gratified that FDA has allowed the extra time for comments on the proposed rule as we requested,” said Ray Gilmer, United’s vice president for issues management and communication.
“United Fresh and other organizations have been working to analyze the impact of this complex draft rule, and the additional time will allow a full examination and meaningful suggestions for improving the proposals. Of course, this comes as we’re also reviewing the other proposed FSMA rules.”
United Fresh, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, the American Trucking Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and 18 other groups wanted the comment deadline extended 90 days.
The proposed rule was published Feb. 5. It is the seventh and final major rule from the FDA in relation to the Food Safety Modernization Act. It covers trains and trucks that haul food, specifically addressing temperature control documentation and the cleaning of vehicles and containers. Documentation of previous loads would also be required under the proposed rule.
As with all of the FDA’s proposed food safety rules, the sanitary transportation rule does not apply to smaller operations that have less than $500,000 in annual sales.
“The proposed rule contains complexities that would affect the interrelated responsibilities of shippers, carriers and receivers that warrant careful examination,” according to the letter sent by United Fresh and other groups.
Comments can be made at www.regulations.gov with docket number FDA-2013-N-0013.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association already filed comments. As of May 19, there had been 73 comments filed; the GMA indicated it needs more time to review the proposed rule. The grocery group applauded FDA for not including packaged, shelf-stable foods in the rule.
However, the group raised questions about what requirements would be for foods that are subject to the sanitary transportation rule but are the property of a single entity that acts as shipper, carrier and receiver. The group suggests an intracompany supplier verification exemption.
The grocery manufacturers group also questioned the need for record keeping on foods that require refrigeration for quality purposes only, stating the costs associated with that documentation would not have a positive impact on public health.
Groups that joined in the deadline extension request are:
- Agricultural Retailers Association
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- American Feed Industry Association
- American Trucking Associations
- Corn Refiners Association
- Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
- Grocery Manufacturers Association
- Idaho Trucking Association
- Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
- National Barley Growers Association
- National Association of Manufacturers
- National Chicken Council
- National Cotton Council
- National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
- National Grain and Feed Association
- National Oilseed Processors Association
- National Renderers Association
- National Turkey Federation
- North American Millers’ Association
- Pet Food Institute
- Transportation Intermediaries Association
- United Fresh Produce Association