The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to release a 'draft rule' on the new food safety rule in January. That has NOT happened and many growers are wondering what is the hold up.
The FDA's deputy commissioner for food, Michael Taylor commented on this back in April. To the Food Safety News he stated the reason for the delay as "simply due to the 'logistical challenge' of the volume of rule-making called for by the new food safety law". Once the draft rule is released, there is a comment period, which was to be 60 days. That time period is being doubled to 120 days. A longer comment period was requested by a grower group, but the reason given for the extension by the FDA was the length of the rule.
Behind the official statement it is unclear if the hold up is due to the presidential campaign. New regulations has been cited as hindering the economic recovery. There are four 'rules' that make up the Food Safety Modernization Act. In addition to the 'produce safety rule' are preventative controls for food facilities, foreign supplier verification, and preventative controls for animal feed facilities. The four rules have been pending under review by the Executive Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the past 6 to 7 months. OMB is a unit of the White House.
Once the rule is released, at least 3 public meetings in diverse geographical areas of the United States will be held to give individuals and groups an opportunity to comment. Additional opportunities may be provided and they can be found under the FDA's Meetings, Hearings, and Workshops website as they are scheduled. They will be announced by this newsletter if sufficient advance notice is possible.
REVISED: November 30, 2015