FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor issued a statement Dec. 19 saying FDA will come forth with a second round of draft rules concerning key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act and seek additional public comments.

Of the new proposed rules, Taylor said, “To achieve this goal, we believe that significant changes will be needed in key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers. These provisions include water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms.

"We have heard the concern that these provisions, as proposed, would not fully achieve our goal of implementing the law in a way that improves public health protections while minimizing undue burden on farmers and other food producers.”

FDA plans to publish revised proposed rule language by early summer 2014, and will accept additional comments on those provisions at that time.

September 24, United Fresh, a produce industry trade association, urged FDA to issue a second set of proposed rules, saying it was appropriate for FDA to study all public comments and then issue a revised proposed rule for comment before issuing a final rule.

"We are encouraged that FDA took seriously the extensive input they received from produce farmers and others in the agricultural sector with respect to the proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls rules," said David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology with United Fresh. "We appreciate FDA's willingness to rethink these provisions and propose requirements that are more science and risk based. It is critical that FDA gets these FSMA rules right, and we believe this is a step in the right direction."