FDA extends FSMA comment period: The Food & Drug Administration announced a 120-day extension of the comment period for two proposed rules that were promulgated as part of implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The regulations — Current Good Manufacturing Practice & Hazard Analysis & Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food as well as Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing & Holding of Produce for Human Consumption — were published in the Jan. 16 Federal Register with a comment period originally scheduled to end on May 16. The deadline now will be Sept. 16. More than 120 industry organizations requested more time to evaluate the "substantial overhaul of the structure of food safety regulation." FDA has not yet released rules on a Foreign Supplier Verification Program, preventive controls for animal feed and accreditation of third parties to conduct food safety audits. Faegre BD Consulting noted that some parties would like to comment on the "suite" of rules already proposed and those not yet published. FDA also has to take into account an April 22 California federal court decision criticizing the agency for violating FSMA by not moving more quickly to issue all of the required rules. The court ordered FDA to come up with new deadlines for rules by May 20. However, given the complexity of the regulatory process, it is unclear how the court might force FDA to move faster, the Faegre BD Consulting update noted.
Federal GE labeling law introduced: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Cal.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which would require all genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled. Currently, the Food & Drug Administration requires the labeling of more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but not GE foods because, according to a 1992 policy statement, FDA said these foods are not "materially" different from other foods. The bipartisan legislation proposed in the Senate and House would require clear labels for GE whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards, a statement from Boxer's office said. Sixty-four countries already require labeling of GE foods, including the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. The GE labeling bill has the support of more than 100 organizations and businesses.
USDA announces Sandy disaster aid: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a package of disaster assistance valued at $209 million to help farmers, land owners and communities recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. The assistance will help rebuild and repair land damaged by flooding and other events in 12 states. USDA will offer up to $171 million through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) program will contribute $15 million to help producers remove debris from farmland, restore livestock fences and conservation structures and grade and shape farmland damaged by the natural disaster. The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) will provide $23 million in payments to eligible owners of non-industrial private forest land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by the natural disaster. USDA's Farm Service Agency has been collecting ECP and EFRP applications in anticipation of the funding becoming available and will begin providing assistance immediately to eligible landowners. Applications will continue to be accepted through May 31. Further information on eligibility requirements and applications may be found at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
Sulfuryl fluoride bill: Reps. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) and Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) introduced the Pest Free Food Supply Act (H.R. 1496), which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a proposed regulation to remove the authorized food uses of sulfuryl fluoride. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fumigant used in commodity and food processing facilities. If EPA's proposal is finalized, food production and pest management sectors will be left without a broad-spectrum fumigant and few viable pest control alternatives.
Fertilizer impacts: The North American fertilizer industry has pledged $7 million to fund a multiyear research effort aimed at measuring and evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts of "4R" nutrient stewardship (use of the Right fertilizer source at the Right rate at the Right time and in the Right place). The Fertilizer Institute, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute and the International Plant Nutrition Institute announced that the fund will support U.S. and Canadian projects in partnership with land-grant universities, watershed stakeholders and government agencies, as well as through industry initiatives. Results of research conducted under the auspices of the fund will help expand information and knowledge regarding specific nutrient best management practices (BMPs), as well as suites of BMPs, to help increase growers' adoption of these practices. The fund will operate under the umbrella of the Foundation for Agronomic Research and will be managed by a committee responsible for strategic decisions and final selection for research program expenditures. A technical advisory group consisting of industry, academic and government agency experts in agronomy, environmental sciences, sustainability, government relations and communications will also provide support to the management committee.
Pet food palatant: Kemin announced that it has launched its PALFRESH line, a patent-pending portfolio of palatability enhancers with additional antioxidant protection designed to address the palatability and stability challenges associated with low-fat pet food diets. Kemin explained that low-fat pet food diets have a unique stability challenge because they include less topical fat, which is where antioxidants are typically added to stabilize the kibble. With less topical fat, the kibbles are unevenly coated, leaving them susceptible to rapid oxidation. In addition, low-fat diets may have reduced pet acceptance, which can be further compromised by stability challenges. The PALFRESH line delivers a targeted antioxidant dosage through liquid application to evenly coat kibble and protect it from oxidation.
Oxygen barrier: Bruno Rimini Corp., maker of Silostop oxygen barrier film, has introduced its new Silostop Orange, which is strong and stretchy with both cling and barrier. Selecting the right covering and achieving the proper seal when putting up silage has a significant financial impact on an operation. Silostop total oxygen barrier film reduces dry matter loss, decreases visible spoilage, maintains feed quality, improves aerobic stability and saves labor, the company said. Silostop total oxygen barrier film is available in a range of sizes of up to 65 ft. x 1,000 ft., with larger sizes available by special order.