The Food and Drug Administration has backed away from a proposal that would have required food packaging plants and facilities making kitchenware to register with a government anti-terrorism initiative.
At issue was federal bioterrorism legislation from 2002 that required food processing plants to register with FDA, and whether packaging plants and others had to do the same. Under rules announced Oct. 9 by FDA, the agency said packaging plants and manufacturers of other products that could come into contact with food, like kitchen items, would not.
``We're extremely pleased that FDA heard our arguments and reacted in an appropriate way,'' said Ralph Simmons, a lawyer for the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. ``We got everything that we proposed.''
The agency is exempting anything that meets its existing definition of ``food-contact substances,'' which includes packaging and kitchen items like reusable containers and food wrap, said Simmons, who represents SPI's Food, Drug and Cosmetic Packaging Materials Committee.
The government said it wants the system so it quickly can notify the 400,000-plus facilities in the food supply chain if terrorists attack the food supply. But SPI argued that it would be burdensome to include packaging firms, and that it would not provide any additional security.
An earlier draft of the FDA rules, designed to implement the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, included food packaging firms. The FDA regulations will require both U.S. and foreign companies to register basic business information such as ownership, who operates a facility and what types of food it handles.