The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed Thursday that they will redraft controversial new food safety rules, and then seek additional public input, as requested last month by Vermont's congressional delegation -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I), and Congressman Peter Welch (D).
In a joint statement Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "We supported the Food Safety Modernization Act when it was adopted in 2011, but we also have serious concerns about FDA's first draft of rules to implement the law. In our view -- and in the view of the many Vermonters who have contacted us about the draft rules -- they could deal a crippling blow to Vermont's burgeoning local agricultural economy, while making only marginal gains in actual food safety outcomes. We are pleased that FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg and Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor listened to the concerns raised in our letter to the FDA last month, as well as to the thousands of farmers, food producers and food safety advocates who weighed in from Vermont and across the country. We look forward to working with the FDA and Vermont producers in refining the implementation of the law to truly protect consumers and build the Vermont brand, without burdening our producers with unnecessary rules, fees and paperwork. We recognize that these rules have been a major undertaking for the FDA, and we are cautiously optimistic that this decision to revisit these issues will help to ensure that they take the time to get this right, for the sake of our producers, processors and consumers."
Several aspects of the proposed new rule of particular concern to Vermont producers are identified by the FDA for further revision and comment, including irrigation water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, and the criteria for exempting some farms from the rules.