Speak Out Today!


THE FSMA PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS ENDED AS OF NOVEMBER 22, 2013. SIGN UP FOR UPDATES TO STAY INFORMED ON THE ISSUES AND LEARN ABOUT ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO FIX FSMA IN 2014.


How Do I Comment on the Rules?

THE FSMA PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS ENDED AS OF NOVEMBER 22, 2013. SIGN UP FOR UPDATES TO STAY INFORMED ON THE ISSUES AND LEARN ABOUT ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO FIX FSMA IN 2014.

Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork – but FDA’s new proposed rules as written will unfairly burden family farmers, target sustainable and organic farming, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities. Right now, we have a chance to tell FDA that this is unacceptable – and we need your help to do it.

Check out our comment action page for sample comments for both farmers and consumers!

Want additional help navigating the comment process? The Food and Drug Administration will accept comments submitted online or through the mail.  Download a printable PDF version of the instructions below.

FSMA commenting from Tilth Producers of Washington on Vimeo.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Commenting Online:

The best way to comment on the proposed rules is through the government website Regulations.gov, which hosts the proposed rules for viewing and a form the public can use to submit comments for consideration. The process can be a little bit confusing; these instructions will help you understand how it works:

  1. Do your homework! Check out our FSMA overview, issues page, and guidance on what to say. You don’t need to be an expert!
  2. Click on the appropriate commenting page in Regulations.gov – either the Produce Rule (FDA-2011-N-0921) or the Preventive Controls Rule (FDA-2011-N-0920). You can comment on both rules! If you’re not certain which issues apply to which rule, refer to our explanation of the rules and issues pages. Some issues affect both rules – this means you’ll have to submit a separate comment on each form for each rule if you want to comment on that issue – or you can submit the same set of comments to each rule if your comments address both rules. (Note: you can’t read the rules on the commenting pages. See the bottom of this page for reading links)
  3. Click on the “Comment Now!” button on the right-hand side of the page.
  4. Double-check that you are commenting on the correct rule – on the next page, if you are commenting on the Produce Rule, it will say: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Extension of Comment Periods. If you are commenting on the Preventive Controls Rule, it will say: Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food; Extension of Comment Periods.
  5. Enter your comments and personal and business information under Section 1, which is labeled “Your Information.”
  6. First up is the comment box where your FSMA comments will go. You can type them right into the box, paste them in from another document, or upload a separate file. Whatever you do, we strongly recommend you pre-draft and prepare your thoughts ahead of time using a word processor like Word or good old-fashioned pen and paper! Note that there is a 5000-character limit for the box – this is about one and a half pages of single-spaced typed text or around 700-750 words – but that if you attach a separate file it can be as long as you’d like. If you think you have more to say, you should UPLOAD a separate document with your longer comments instead and type “See attached file” in the box.
  7. Enter your first and last name (or opt to remain anonymous).
  8. (Optional) Click the box that says “I want to provide my contact information” and enter your ZIP code and email address. It’s a good idea to provide your contact information so that FDA can follow up with you if they have questions, and your contact information will not be made public.
  9. (Optional) If you are entering a comment on behalf of someone else, check the “I am submitting on behalf of a third party” box.
  10. Select which category you fall into. There are many options, including “Individual Consumer” and “Food Industry” (“Food Industry” is what you should choose if you are a farmer or food processor).
  11. Click the “Continue” link to preview your comments and ensure everything is accurate on the next screen, which will be labeled “Your Preview”. Note: you cannot edit your comment once you submit it – but if you see a mistake, you can click the “Edit” button at the bottom to go back and make changes.
  12. Click “Submit Comment” to officially submit your comment to FDA.
    • You did it! FDA will read every comment submitted. They may not respond to each comment individually but they will address the substance of these public comments publicly once the comment period has closed.
  13. A screen will appear with a confirmation number for your comment. Copy this down – you can use it later to ensure your comment was received. Your comment may not appear on Regulations.gov right away!
  • Having trouble? Check out the official Regulations.gov help page or contact the Regulations.gov help desk – they have both email and phone options (Phone: 1-877-378-5457).
  • Make a mistake? To make changes, submit another comment referring to your previous comment, correcting any errors and/or re-stating your position or opinion.
  • Want to submit additional comments? You can submit more than one comment – simply follow this process again!
  • Remember to keep a separate copy of your comment just in case! This way if you have a problem submitting it or need to reference it later, you’ve got a copy.

To Comment By Mail:

THE FSMA PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS ENDED AS OF NOVEMBER 22, 2013. SIGN UP FOR UPDATES TO STAY INFORMED ON THE ISSUES AND LEARN ABOUT ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO FIX FSMA IN 2014.

Type or hand-write your comments and mail them to this address, ensuring they are POSTMARKED by the deadline:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

All submissions received must include the following:

  • Your Name
  • Your Organization (if any)
  • The appropriate docket number:
    • For the Preventive Controls Rule: FDA-2011-N-0920 and RIN 0910-AG36
    • For the Produce Rule: FDA-2011-N-0921, and RIN 0910-AG35

If you want to comment on both rules, you can mail them together but must label your comments with BOTH of those docket numbers.

Note: FDA states that all comments received by mail may be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

 

What Should I Say?

Find our detailed comment templates and guidance on NSAC’s comment action page!  Here are some general guidelines to help your comment have its maximum impact:

  • Your story matters – be sure to share with FDA why this matters. Are you a farmer? Share how the rules might impact your farm. Are you a consumer? Make sure FDA knows the kind of food you like to buy from farmers and that you want to ensure these rules don’t unfairly burden those farmers.
  • Keep it polite and avoid profanity – remember that all comments will become part of the public record and will be read by FDA officials.
  • Make sure you have a clear “ask” for FDA – either about a specific issue or, broadly, about the importance of ensuring both safe food and thriving family farms.
  • Do not exactly copy someone else’s comment – for FDA to count your comment, it must be unique. You can make the same or similar points as another person, but you do need to add your own perspective as much as possible.
  • Looking for more tips on what makes a good comment? Check out this PDF from Regulations.gov.
  • What are we asking for, broadly? In short, FDA’s new food safety rules must:
    • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs.
    • Ensure that diversified and innovative farms, particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods, continue to grow and thrive without being stifled. 
    • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.
    • Again – tips and details are all available at our comment page.

How Else Can I Help?

THE FSMA PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS ENDED AS OF NOVEMBER 22, 2013. SIGN UP FOR UPDATES TO STAY INFORMED ON THE ISSUES AND LEARN ABOUT ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO FIX FSMA IN 2014.

  • MAKE A COMMENT!  Be sure your voice is heard!
  • READ THE RULES  They aren’t exactly beach vacation reading, but if you think you may be affected it is in your best interest to read and analyze them yourself! Farmers and processors who have a direct stake in these rules need to read them and start asking questions about what these rules might mean for their businesses.
  • SPREAD THE WORD It’s critical that farmers and processors know what’s going on and have a chance to weigh in.  Share this website with them – and encourage them to take action.
  • SHARE YOUR STORY are the new food safety regulations likely to substantially impact your business? We want to hear your story! Share it with us here.