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FDA Grants More Time for Comments on Imported Spice Contamination, Trans Fats

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Food and Drug Administration has extended from Jan. 3 to March 3 the deadline for public comments on its draft risk profile on pathogens and filth in spices, which covers the period Oct. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2009. This profile finds that imported spices, which make up the majority of those consumed in the U.S., tend to have a higher than normal occurrence of pathogens as well as higher concentrations of filth. The profile also states that failures in the food safety system potentially leading to adulteration of consumed spices generally arise from poor or inconsistent application of appropriate preventive controls, such as failing to limit animal access to the spice source plant during harvest or drying phases, failing to limit insect and rodent access to spices during storage, or failing to subject all spices to an effective pathogen reduction treatment or other lethality step. The FDA is requesting comments that can help improve the data and information used, the analytical analyses employed and the clarity and transparency of the profile.

The FDA has also extended from Jan. 7 to March 8 the period for comments on its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. If this determination is finalized, food manufacturers would no longer be permitted to sell PHOs, either directly or as ingredients in another food products, unless they could prove to the FDA that one or more specific uses are safe under the “reasonable certainty of no harm” safety standard. The FDA is seeking comments and additional scientific data and information concerning its preliminary determination, including whether this determination should be finalized, how long it would take producers to reformulate food products to eliminate PHOs, ways to reduce the burden on small businesses, and any challenges to the removal of PHOs from foods, such as products that may not be able to be reformulated.

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