Milk producers joined milk processors in supporting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed regulations on the safe shipment of food, saying the draft rules largely write into regulations what the dairy industry is already doing.
“Dairy foods are safely transported already, and there is no need to improve on current practices,” said Beth Briczinski, vice president for dairy foods and nutrition for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “As a result, we basically support what the FDA is proposing.”
Joint comments were submitted by NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) on the draft regulations issued in February. Despite general approval, the dairy organizations did note several areas where the proposal could be clarified or modified.
In particular, they urged expanding waivers from the regulation for dairy products if a shipper is licensed under the Grade “A” milk program. They urged including outbound shipments of finished products – such as yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream – as well as inbound shipments of unpasteurized milk under the waiver.
Other areas suggested for clarification included language regarding short or intra-company food shipments and the transportation of frozen dairy desserts. On the latter, the organizations said the final regulations should specify that ice cream and other frozen dairy desserts should not be included under the proposed regulations because when ice cream is temperature-abused it doesn’t present a food safety risk. Instead, it melts.
Feed transportation addressed
In separate comments, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) was also generally supportive in its submitted comments regarding FSMA rules covering transportation of animal food and feeds, but listed numerous points of difference.
In the rule, FDA proposed exemptions for farms and shelf stable products. AFIA suggested those exemptions be broadened to include intra-company shipments (when the company maintains control of the product), short haul transports (as defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation) and finished product or raw agricultural commodities transported from facilities to farms in dedicated vehicles.
"Covering these types of shipments under this regulation would place an undue burden on farms and feed facilities when any minimal risk via transportation is appropriately handled with internal standard operating procedures and dedicated vehicles," said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA director of ingredients, pet food and state affairs.
AFIA also took exception to a FDA proposal that carriers of bulk products provide information to the shipper on three previous loads.
While this may be standard practice in some segments of the food industry, AFIA said, it is not current practice across the entire food and animal food industry. Wilkinson recommended this section be changed to require identification of one previous load, which is more practical and would fit within a facility's food safety plan procedure more appropriately.
The organization also made note of the temperature control measures and hand washing facility requirements originally proposed are not appropriate across the animal food industry and would induce unnecessary cost on the industry without improving the safety of animal food products. AFIA urged these requirements to be removed for animal food.
"At the very least, FDA should revise the language in the final rule to make it clear that continuous temperature monitoring is not required for animal food," the comments stated. "Currently, temperature control shipments in the animal food industry do not involve the use of continuous time/temperature recording devices for most temperature-controlled shipments as the risk level for animal food safety does not require this practice."