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Animal Feed Safety System COMING from FDA

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Mar 2, 2005
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The second large public meeting on the Food and Drug Administration's Animal Feed Safety System (AFSS) was held in Omaha, Neb. Apr. 5-6. Its purpose was to take additional stakeholder comments on the agency's refined, draft framework document. FDA says AFSS is a risk-based, comprehensive feed safety system that will likely take the form of mandatory federal regulations in 2007. FDA is soliciting public input through these meetings and comments to the AFSS docket.

About half of the 200 attendees were federal or state employees with more animal producers and trade groups represented than previously. This provided FDA with much needed producer input, as FDA envisions this program including on-farm operations.

The meeting format contained an opening session with several of FDA's AFSS team of 21, including two state officials, providing presentation in several areas, including risk assessment. Twelve breakout sessions filled the second half of the first day, with reports given the next day.

Breakout questions were provided by FDA just prior to the meeting, not providing adequate time for well-reasoned input. AFIA had requested, both in its comments on the first AFSS meeting in September 2003 and at meetings with FDA before the Omaha meeting, that questions be provided in advance to allow interested stakeholders the time to discuss and prepare for the breakout sessions. FDA assigned attendees to breakout groups, which attempted to achieve a balance of producer, feed, ingredient, state and federal employees.

There were six pairs of breakout sessions with two sessions addressing the same questions, thereby addressing a total six sets of questions. Most of the questions revolved around FDA's four components provided in its draft framework document. Generally, the questions asked if each group agreed with FDA's approach, agreed with the "gaps" to address in each component, and if not, what should be done instead. There was some disagreement within the various groups, making it difficult to formulate a consensus or conclusion.

The four components discussed in the framework included ingredient approval, risk assessment, process control and regulatory oversight. AFIA will provide written comments in the near future on these and the other questions provided at the breakout sessions.

The next step is unclear, but FDA likely will assemble the comments, place them on the AFSS website, and refine its framework document. Based on comments at the meeting, AFIA believes regulation writing has begun. Such regulations would cover all aspects of ingredient, feed and pet food processing and manufacturing, including transportation.

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