The FDA has announced it will extend the comment period for the Food Safety Modernization Act’s produce safety rule beyond May 16, 2013. The deadline will most likely be extended for another 120 days. The extension is in response to multiple requests from interested parties. This is the second time the comment period has been extended from the original deadline of February 15, 2013. Earlier this month, the FDA also extended the comment period for pilot programs that trace food from farm to table.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told a U.S. Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittee hearing that “we appreciate that these are complex rules to go through and we do intgent to extend the comment period so we can go through all the concerns and address them fully. I think it’s a reasonable request.”
Groups that want the extension include the National Family Farm Coalition and United Fresh Produce Association. Food safety advocates have been waiting for the rule to be finalized for years. The rule was finally released from the Office of Management and Budget on January 4, 2013, one year late.
Last year the Consumer Federation of America criticized the Obama administration for delaying the release of FSMA rules. At that time, Director of CFA’s Food Policy Institute Chris Waldrop said, “the longer these proposals are delayed, the longer it will take to fulfill the promise of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is intended to better protect consumers from foodborne illness.”