After much prodding, groups last week succeeded in convincing the Food and Drug Administration to recall two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act on concerns that they were flawed on multiple grounds.
FDA said it would recall the proposed rules and re-work them by mid-2014 to address concerns raised in a comment period that was extended three times.
Specifically, groups were concerned that the rules infringed on conservation and environmental standards, and included "unintended consequences" resulting from stricter management standards for a variety of crops not typically involved in foodborne illness.
Other groups were concerned with the costs of the programs and said the proposal wasn't clear on what agency would be responsible for implementing the rules, and at what level – state or federal – they would be managed.
In response to the FDA's decision to roll the rule back and start again, groups again reiterated their priorities in the new arrangement.
Earl Garber, president of the National Association of Conservation Districts, said the group "looks forward to continuing to work with FDA throughout the extended rule-making process to ensure the final rules accomplish our shared goals of improving food safety."
However, Garber added, the new rules should ensure commitment to conservation – a concern that several groups brought up in the comment period that concluded in November.
NACD said special consideration should be given to agricultural water and biological soil amendments like manure. Previously, FDA limited the use of manure to fertilize food crops. NACD also supports the decision for FDA to perform an Environmental Impact Statement on this rule before implementation, the group said.