On March 27, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) issued a statement praising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of a final guidance stating the agency’s intent to exercise enforcement discretion for the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, as they apply to entities growing, harvesting, packing and holding wine grapes, hops, pulses and almonds.

“FDA’s announcement to use discretionary enforcement while it reopens rulemaking to apply common sense and modernize classification of these commodities is welcome news for farm country,” said Newhouse, in a news release.

“I requested a science-based reclassification on behalf of food producers and the agriculture community. Reclassification would ensure food safety while recognizing the unique production circumstances of these commodities. I thank Commissioner Gottlieb for responding to these concerns, and I hope FDA continues to keep them in mind in future rulemakings.”

In a separate statement, the FDA announced the final guidance and explained that after reviewing data presented on the production of wine grapes, hops, pulses and almonds, the FDA recognized those commodities have unique production circumstances and intended uses that reduce the presence of foodborne pathogens and may qualify them for an exemption.

“We’re announcing today that we’re not expecting hops, wine grapes, pulse crops and almonds producers to meet the requirements of the rule currently,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “Given the nature of these specific commodities, and the low risk that these products pose because of the way that they’re processed and consumed, we do not expect producers of these commodities to comply with the Produce Safety Rule.”

By continuing to work closely with food producers, as the FDA continues to implement FSMA, “we can help ensure that the U.S. continues to have one of the safest food supplies in the world,” Gottlieb said.

To read the final guidance, go to https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm634248.htm.

—by Jonelle Mejica