The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has commended the Food and Drug Administration for announcing that it has effectively delayed inspections for animal food facilities to be in compliance with some parts of the animal food rule within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) until fall 2018.

Dr. Steve Solomon, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, told an audience of roughly 400 industry officials participating in the Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) annual meeting, being held in Bellevue, Washington, of the change yesterday and the agency later followed up by posting clarification on its website.

The FDA stated that the phase-in compliance inspections for the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls portion of FSMA, previously slated to begin this September 2017, will not begin until fall 2018. This also means that the animal food inspections for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program final rule will not begin until fall 2018 as well. Both extensions will be granted to large — over 500 employees — businesses only.

"Producing safe, nutritious food in compliance with the law is the animal food industry's number one priority,” said Richard Sellers, AFIA's senior vice president of public policy and education. “However, given FSMA's far-reaching and expensive regulatory impact that extends into all areas of our members' business operations, we have been asking the administration and congress to provide a reasonable time frame so that our members can conduct the necessary actions they need and dedicate new resources to come into full compliance with the law. We feel that by providing a more reasonable deadline, FDA and its field staff will be able issue guidance documents that fully address our members questions so that, no matter the size of the facility, the industry will understand their responsibilities in preparing for compliance. We appreciate the FDA recognizing the industry's concerns of the amount of work that must be done and look forward to continuing to work together to achieve compliance."