CATCH THE BUZZ: FDA wants comments on exemptions

FDA plans to exempt Farm Markets, roadside stands and CSAs from registration. Comments wanted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced proposed regulatory changes that would explicitly exempt direct-to-consumer farm sales from federal registration requirements.

FDA rules currently require food processing, packing and storage facilities to register with the agency, but farms and restaurants are among those defined as “retail food establishments” that are exempt from the mandate.

The altered rule would specify that roadside stands, farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs are also exempt from registration requirements.

FDA officials estimated 71,000 farms sell food directly to consumers through those platforms alone, although the agency did not have data on how many are required to register under current regulations.

In addition, the proposed rule would implement provisions of the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, including requirements that food facilities renew their registration every two years. The renewals would also need assurances about activities at each facility and about FDA inspections.

The agency will begin accepting public comments on the proposal on Thursday, with a final rule to be announced following the comment period.