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Snack Food Association calls on FDA to formalise safety enforcement deadlines

By Oliver Nieburg , 14-Jun-2012

The Snack Food Association and other industry bodies have urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to communicate in writing the deadlines for enforcement of new provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act.

A recent letter to the FDA from Snack Food Association president and CEO Jim McCarthy said the industry was becoming anxious over the FDA’s unclear stance.

The FDA’s  claims to be the most sweeping reform of food safety in the US for over 70 years. It aims to shift the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

The Act will take effect on 3 July 2012, but the Snack Food Association and other bodies including the National Confectioners Association (NCA) are unsure when the FDA will begin enforcing provisions.

Informal agreement insufficient; put it in writing

McCarthy said in a letter addressed to the seen by BakeryAndSnacks.com: “We understand the agency has stated informally that the FDA will not enforce these new requirements until the agency issues final regulations and allows time for implementation by the food industry. “

“That makes perfect sense, but because of the way the law is drafted, it is essential that the Agency state, in writing, that this will be its enforcement posture,” he said.

According to McCarthy, the industry’s concerns had been compounded by the fast approaching enforcement date.

“Although our industry supported passage of this legislation, it was with the understanding that there would be an orderly transition from the old system to the new one,” he said.

Small business definition

Under the new Act, preventative controls provisions will not take effect for small and very small businesses until the FDA has defined the meaning of ‘small’ and ‘very small’ businesses and issues final regulations on the requirements for preventative controls.

The FDA has not yet taken such measures as the Act takes effect in little under six weeks to the industry’s dismay.

“In the absence of such a definition, many of our members who believe themselves to be small (or very small) businesses are left without the ability to know for sure when the new provision becomes effective with respect to their facility. That situation is simply not tenable,” said McCarthy.

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