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FDA extends comment period deadline for FSMA animal food rule

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the comment period deadline for the Food Safety Modernization Act's (FSMA) proposed animal food rule from February 26 to March 31, according to the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).

In November 2013, AFIA, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), National Renderers Association and Pet Food Institute submitted a joint letter to FDA requesting an extension on the comment period deadline for the animal food rule comment period. The associations' decision to request an extension was based on the scope and magnitude of the proposed rule for animal feed and petfood. With the extension, the comment period on the animal food rule will still be open only five months. In contrast, the human food proposed rule, which animal food rule mirrored, was open for nine months.

AFIA said the comment period deadline extension will give the organization valuable time to further review and submit comments to the agency. It is unlikely, however, that FDA will grant extensions for other FSMA proposed rules due to a strict court-mandated timeline.

"We'd celebrate this victory, but there's little time to do so with the work still ahead of us in preparing comments for these massive rules, the foreign supplier verification proposed rules and third-party certification proposed rules for which comments are due January 27," said AFIA senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, Richard Sellers. "In addition, FDA has published proposed rules for the veterinary feed directive program due March 11.

We're very appreciative that FDA granted our request and will continue to work alongside of the agency as we wade through the rules."

AFIA FSMA Working Groups met January 16-17 in Tampa, Florida, USA, to answer more than 40 questions presented by FDA in the proposed rules for the FSMA animal food rule. Eight sub-groups have been formed to focus on specific areas of the rule.

AFIA spokeswoman Miranda McDaniel said the expectation of the meeting was to address a majority of the issue areas in the rules and leave with a large number of them resolved or nearing resolution.

In addition, the appropriations bill report language supports FDA's decision to rewrite and seek public comment on aspects of its proposed FSMA regulations.

FDA is to be commended for its recent decision to revise language in proposed rules affecting farmers including changes to proposed regulations regarding water quality standards and testing, the use of raw manure and compost, mixed use facilities, and qualified exemptions, the report said.

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