IWLA asks FDA to step up food supply safety

By Freddie Pierce
The International Warehouse Logistics Association has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a rule that will allow warehouse operations...

The International Warehouse Logistics Association has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a rule that will allow warehouse operations to more effectively participate in assuring the safety of food products in their care.

The petition, filed July 22, 2011, also included the American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, International Bottled Water Association, International Dairy Foods Association, Peanut & Tree Nut Processors Association and Snack Food Association.

These associations jointly told the FDA that full application of the Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls Provisions included in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act to storage facilities for packaged foods would be redundant. It would impose unnecessary costs with no public health benefit. They also noted that Congress explicitly instructed the FDA to implement this part of the law in a manner that acknowledges the difference in risk posed by various operations, including exempting a wide variety of operations from the rules.

These exemptions from the full requirements of this part of the law "demonstrate Congress' intent to rely on existing safety standards, where possible, and avoid duplicative layers of regulation," the associations said. The petition also pointed out that most of the potential hazards and preventive controls in that section of the law are not relevant to facilities solely engaged in the storage of packaged foods not exposed to the environment.

In addition, the associations said these packaged foods already come under a number of other FDA requirements during their manufacture, packaging and storage in warehouses that help ensure their safety.

"Most notably, we are not aware of any significant food-borne illness outbreaks attributable to storage at such facilities," they told the FDA.

Application of this section of the law to thousands of warehouses and storage facilities "would undoubtedly dilute the focus and effort of both FDA and the affected industries, consuming resources that could be directed to higher-risk sources and facilities," the associations said.

"Certainly, these resources would be put to better use in controlling the risks that arise before the product leaves the manufacturing facility."

The associations added, "Accordingly, imposing extensive hazard analysis and preventive controls requirements on facilities solely engaged in the storage of packaged foods not exposed to the environment would create significant costs and administrative burdens without a corresponding benefit to public health."

Edited by Kevin Scarpati

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