• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

Food industry pushes back against FDA traceability rule

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Nov 16, 2022

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The National Grocers Association (NGA) and IMF – The Food Industry Association raise concerns about the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) recently published to reign, Requirements for additional traceability records for certain foods,” Which one is one of the last parts of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The rule is intended to establish additional traceability record keeping requirements for companies who manufacture, process, package, or preserve high-risk foods that the FDA has designated for inclusion in the Food traceability list. Specifically, the rule requires such entities to establish and maintain records containing key data elements associated with different Track critical events. The compliance date is January 20, 2026.

[Read more: ReposiTrak Waives Fee to Share Traceability Data]

NGA, the national trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, says that the new traceability rule will disproportionately affect small grocers.

“Grocers are a customer’s last contact, and often the face of our highly diverse food supply chain, and in turn, [this] makes product recalls an integral part of our members’ operations,” said Stephanie Johnson, vice president of government relations at Washington, DC-based NGA. “Having the safest food supply chain in the world is a common goal shared by stakeholders. However, while we appreciate the efforts of the FDA, this final rule unfortunately does not take an approach that provides flexibility to small operators as intended by Congress.

The NGA submitted comments to the FDA on the proposed rule and participated in hearing sessions to highlight concerns, including the proposed rule’s expanded scope and complexity, phase-in period, and requirements production of a sortable electronic spreadsheet within 24 hours. as foods, including cheese, eggs, nut butters, some fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and ready-to-eat deli salads, move through the supply chain.

“Smaller retailers will be disproportionately impacted by this final rule, as it will be costly to implement and require additional labor that many stores cannot spare,” Johnson said.

Further, the NGA believes the new rule is beyond the FDA’s statutory authority. The FSMA explicitly prohibits file-level tracking and electronic record keeping, both of which are included as requirements in this rule.

Based in Arlington, VirginiaIMF agrees with NGA.

“It is already clear that implementing the requirements of the rule will require enormous investments of time and resources across the food industry, and it appears that this rule significantly exceeds statutory authority, at the both written and planned, by Congress,” IMF said. VSSenior Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher. “IMF and our members are working every day to further strengthen the security of our food supply and the rapid and continued withdrawal of all affected commodities. This work must be done in the most efficient and consistent way possible across all elements of the food supply chain, with the least possible impact on food prices, the greatest impact on bottom line and consistency with the intent of the law passed in 2011. Based on our cursory review of this incredibly complex rule, it does not accomplish that.

Hatchery went on to explain that since the publication of the proposed rule, IMF has continually urged The FDA will issue an additional rule rather than jumping straight to a final rule, given the volume and complexity of the changes commenters have urged the FDA to make. “We believed an additional rule was an essential step to ensure that a final settlement is within the legal mandate and realistic in terms of the ability of businesses of all sizes to comply,” she said.

NGA and IMF have stated that theyre committed to ensure that consumers have 100% confidence that the products their members manufacture and sell are safe.

“NGA and independent community grocers across the country are fully committed to working collaboratively with industry partners and government to address lingering concerns and develop common sense solutions moving forward,” said Johnson.

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