Joined by her counterparts in other states, Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba is asking Congress and the Food and Drug Administration to assure adequate due process before any adoption of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules. While Coba and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
(NASDA) strongly support the goals and eventual implementation of FSMA, they also believe Congress should allow FDA to postpone finalization of the currently proposed set of rules until a second draft can be published for public input.
“Since FDA’s release of the proposed rules earlier this year, NASDA members have been working diligently to review this necessary overhaul of America’s food safety regulatory system, but it is imperative we get this right" says Coba, who chairs NASDA's Food Regulation and Nutrition Committee. "These rules must be workable for agriculture and reflect the realities of food production”.
NASDA members believe that after FDA reviews public comments on the initial rule proposals and revises them in response to those comments, the rules will have changed enough that they should be released again for public review before they are finalized. In its recent annual meeting, NASDA members unanimously voted to ask for congressional action on FSMA rules because the current timeline may not allow FDA to craft a sound and operable food safety program.
“I have learned from conversations with my fellow NASDA members that they too are concerned about the ability to enforce rules that are unclear,” said Coba. “Growers in Oregon are concerned about the complexity of following multiple rules and feel some alternatives might be a better way to proactively regulate certain commodities. We want to work with FDA and other stakeholders to get the rules right.”
FDA has proposed rules dealing with produce safety, preventive control, imports, and third-party verification. The comment period for the proposed rules for produce safety and preventive controls ends November 15 and ends November 26 for the import and third-party verification rules. FDA is mandated to have final rules published by June 2015. ODA, which has been coordinating state response efforts to FSMA, urges all agricultural producers to examine the proposed rules, see how those rules might affect them, and provide feedback. More information on the Food Safety Modernization Act
Media contact: Bruce Pokarney, (503) 986-4559.PDF version