Rewritten Food Safety Modernization Act sections coming soon

Certain aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be rewritten and rereleased for comment in the near future.

As many within the produce industry are aware, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) closed for comment on Nov. 22, 2013. Over 17,000 comments were posted to the National Register by the close of the comment period. In response to a large number of some specific comments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intent to rewrite and republish certain parts of FSMA

Areas that will be rewritten include the section on compost and raw manure, water testing standards, some rules regarding mixed use facilities (farms with post-harvest processing) as well as clarification and elaboration of how withdrawal of qualified exemptions will work. These rewritten sections will be published by early summer and only the rewritten portions will be open for comment.

There are a number of things Michigan State University Extension suggests you keep in mind when making comments on the rule in order to make them more effective. First, it is helpful to reference the section of the rule you have particular issues with. The regulation is broken up into individual chunks and labeled to easily reference a particular section. Referencing these sections reduces the confusion on what aspects of the rule you have an issue with. In addition, it frames the discussion and can improve the credibility of the comments.

Another component of an effective comment is being specific about the issue you are presenting. Disparaging the institution or the rule in total generally is ineffective in changing the content of the rule, despite possibly improving a commenter’s mood. By making specific comments about proposed produce safety practices, there is a greater likelihood that the content or scope of the rule will change in the commenter’s favor.

Finally, offering alternatives is an important way to create the most effective rule. As much as it is important to state the food safety recommendations that growers feel are untenable, it is important to share ideas that provide similar outcomes that would be tenable. It is also important to cite any scientific evidence that can support the alternative proposed.

These rules will become law and all growers, irrespective of size, will need to make at least some changes as a result of them. Taking the time now to become familiar with what is being proposed and commenting when necessary is the only way to shape the process.

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