On behalf of its members, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has submitted its comments to FDA on the four supplemental proposals under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on produce safety, preventative controls for human food, foreign supplier verification programs and preventative controls for animal feed.

“Our main priority is to assure that when these regulations are finalized and implemented they will best serve public health and our industry’s food safety needs,” said Jim Gorny, PMA vice president of food safety and technology. “These proposed FSMA rules will have profound business implications on every aspect of the global produce supply chain – they have to be right.”

FDA has proposed seven rules to implement FSMA since it was signed into law in 2011. The four updated proposed rules include: produce safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food and the foreign supplier verification program.

Gorny said PMA will focus on implementing the rules and what that means for the industry.

Until then, Gorny said industry members can visit PMA’s FSMA Resource Center on pma.com for the comments in their entirety, along with additional details on each of the proposed rules.

Based on member feedback, PMA said FSMA has been prioritized as one of the top focuses for the association. Termed ‘Issues Leadership,’ PMA’s approach to issues relies on the association’s strengths, and the strengths of its member leaders, to focus on areas where it can be most impactful.

Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner, has said FDA “believes these updated proposed rules will lead to a modern, science-based food safety system that will better protect American consumers from potentially hazardous food. We look forward to public comment on these proposals.”

FDA says it received thousands of comments on the proposed rules from farmers and those directly affected, and it based the new changes on this input. Because of these comments, the government agency says the rules are more flexible, practical and targeted.

Among the proposed FDA changes is a new definition of which farms would be subject to the produce-safety rule; it would not apply to farms with $25,000 or less in produce sales.

Other proposed changes include:

Produce safety: More flexible criteria for determining the safety of agricultural water for certain uses and a tiered approach to water testing.

Produce safety: A commitment to conduct extensive research on the safe use of raw manure in growing areas and complete a risk assessment. Pending these actions, FDA is deferring its decision on an appropriate time interval between the application of raw manure and the harvesting of a crop and removing the nine-month interval originally proposed. FDA also proposes eliminating the 45-day minimum application interval for composted manure that meets proposed microbial standards and application requirements.

Foreign supplier verification program: A more comprehensive analysis of potential risks associated with foods and foreign suppliers, and more flexibility for importers in determining appropriate supplier verification measures based on their evaluation of those risks.