July 31, 2014

FDA Extends Comment Period For Food Safety Act Rule

In response to a number of requests, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to extend the comment period for a notice pertaining to a provision of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that requires pilot programs to explore new ways to track and trace food from farm table. Comments for the notice, ‘‘Implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act Provision Requiring FDA To Establish Pilot Projects and Submit a Report to Congress for the Improvement of Tracking and Tracing of Food,’’ which appeared in the Federal Register on March 5, are being extended until July 3.

FDA-logoThe provision to establish pilot projects is required under Section 204 of the FSMA.  Under a contract with FDA, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) conducted the projects, one for processed foods and one for produce, on September 7, 2011. The FDA released its final report on the projects March 5, 2013.

The purpose of the pilot projects was to find new ways to quickly track and traceback food and the report contains IFT’s recommendations on how to do that. The IFT made 10 recommendations which are as follows: The FDA should: establish “a uniform set of recordkeeping requirements” for all the food it regulates, require firms “that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold, or import food to identify and maintain records,” require each member of the food supply chain to develop, document, and use a product tracing plan;  encourage industry-led initiatives “or use other similar mechanisms to seek stakeholder input,” articulate clearly to food companies  the information it needs to conduct product tracing investigations; develop standardized electronic mechanisms for the reporting information; accept data tsubmitted through standardized reporting mechanisms and initiate investigations based on that data, request more than one level of tracing data, “consider adopting a technology platform that would allow efficient aggregation and analysis of data submitted in response to a request from regulatory officials,” and coordinate traceback investigations and develop response protocols between state and local health authorities, according to the FDA announcement of the final report. Comments can be submitted at  http://www.regulations.gov.

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