WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 31 officially extended the comment period deadline on the proposed animal food rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). 

Animal feed and pet food industry trade associations previously had been made aware of FDA’s intent to do so, but welcomed the announcement of the extension in the Federal Register.

The announcement comes after the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), National Renderers Association (NRA) and the Pet Food Institute (PFI) submitted a joint request for extension to FDA on Nov. 22, 2013. The extension moves the comment period deadline from Feb. 26 to March 31. 

“Although the submission deadline could only be pushed back a few weeks due to a court- mandated timeline, the extension gives our organizations valuable time to continue to review the rule and develop comprehensive and substantive comments for submission to the agency,” said the AFIA, NGFA, NRA and PFI in a joint statement. 

The associations’ decision to request an extension was based on the significant scope and magnitude of the proposed rule for animal feed and pet food.  With the extension, the comment period on the animal food rule will be open only five months.  In contrast, the human food proposed rule, which animal food rule mirrored, was open for nine months.

“Our associations filed a request for extension due to the massive undertaking of assessing the rule given its requirements — some of which potentially are being implemented for the first time by some sectors of the industry, such as Current Good Manufacturing Practices — and undesirably short comment period.  Our extension request also noted we are wading through the animal food rule along with multiple other FSMA proposed rules,” said the four trade associations. 

In addition to the proposed animal food rule, officially titled “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals,” industry groups are reviewing separate rules on foreign supplier verification, third-party auditors and intentional adulteration.  In addition, FDA posted on its website its proposed rules implementing FSMA’s sanitary food transportation provisions, with official publication in the Federal Register due next week. 

The agency said it is unlikely to grant extensions for other FSMA proposed rules due to the strict timeline the agency is required to follow under court order. 

“Our organizations are still knee-deep in reviewing the proposed rules and crafting comments.  We will continue to work alongside FDA and collaboratively with one another as we move toward finalizing the most significant animal feed and pet food regulation proposed in the agency’s history,” the groups added.