Food, Farm Groups React Positively to FDA Produce Rule Decision

Groups support FDA decision to revamp produce and preventive controls rules under Food Safety Modernization Act

Published on: Dec 24, 2013

Produce group United Fresh also lauded the decision, noting that new requirements should be "more science and risk based."

"It is critical that FDA gets these FSMA rules right, and we believe this is a step in the right direction," said David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology.

The group, like many others, has long been supportive of the FSMA and re-vamp of food safety regulations, however it posed several concerns with the flexibility of the basic produce rule, and facilities regulated under the preventive controls rule.

Legislators, too, supported revising the rule. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, supported revising the rules on concerns that they were too restrictive, and a "one-size-fits-all" policy.

"We will have to wait and see what the rules look like next summer, but it's clear the FDA has heard what we've been saying and took it seriously," Pingree noted in a statement. "The farmers and consumers around the country who made their voices heard on this issue deserve a lot of credit for (FDA's) announcement."

A big concern for Pingree was the cost of the program. Her office noted that the FDA had estimated that a medium-sized farm with annual gross sales of $250,000 to $500,000 would spend $13,000 a year in compliance costs. For farms with sales over $500,000, that cost jumps to over $30,000 a year.

"The one-size-fits-all approach the FDA was pursuing was overkill for thousands of small farmers and would have put many of them out of business," Pingree argued." The size of the regulation just didn't match the size of the risk."

Pingree signed on with more than 75 Congress members to a letter to the FDA on Nov. 25 opposing the rule.

Another of the signatories, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the second draft of the rule will allow farmers to provide more input on the new rules and "alleviate the impact of these burdensome regulations on farm families in Missouri and nationwide."

FDA has not listed a final timeline for the release of the reworked rule, however, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor estimated an "early summer" availability.

Read more on FSMA:
Shades Of 'Obamacare,' FDA Food Safety Rule Webpage Crashes
Court Requires FDA To Determine FSMA Deadline
FDA Releases Proposed Food Safety Standards