United, Industry Allies Request Extension on FSMA Comment Period


United Fresh and 88 international, national, state, and regional fresh fruit and vegetable groups have requested an extension of the comment period on the proposed produce safety and preventive controls rules under the Food Safety and Modernization Act. In an April 11 letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the signatories requested to extend the comment period beyond the May 16 deadline, noting, "It would be impossible for any interested party to meaningfully comment on these two proposed rules when they represent such a substantial overhaul of the structure of food safety regulation; the sheer size of the regulations has lengthened the time necessary for analysis."

"The fresh produce industry has long supported mandatory, enforceable, commodity-specific food safety practices based on the best available science," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. "We have been engaged throughout the entire rulemaking process and continue to mobilize stakeholders to review and comment on the proposed rules. The additional comment period is necessary to ensure that these rules are effective, efficient, and serve the interests of the entire supply chain and our consumers."

The stakeholders have requested a minimum of an additional 180-day period after the proposed rules for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Preventive Controls for Animal Feed and Accredited Third-Party Certification have been issued, to allow time to analyze and comment on the anticipated interactions between the rules. The letter also notes the challenge in completing a full analysis in the given 120-day comment period due to the length of the proposed rules and the associated reference documents. In addition, some of the more than 100 questions posed by FDA when the proposed rules were issued require thorough scientific and economic analysis, a process in which stakeholders are currently engaged.

The letter and full list of signatories, representing a broad spectrum of fresh produce industry associations, can be found here.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.