Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Food Safety Proposals Will Not Apply to Wineries

By Cary M. Greene

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued proposed regulations last week that would implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011.  WineAmerica has been urging its members to register their facilities with FDA this winter and also reporting on why the registration requirements were a legislative victory for American wineries.  With FDA’s initial release of FSMA proposed regulations, the victory for wineries is becoming clearer.

FDA is proposing new Good Manufacturing Standards for most “food” producers.  Ordinarily, this would include wineries, but FDA’s proposal specifically notes that alcohol beverage producers, including wineries, are largely exempt.

FDA’s new proposed produce handling requirements, likewise only covers fruit and vegetables grown for raw consumption.  Produce that is not sold as a raw agricultural commodity is specifically exempted from the new standards.  This means that wineries will be completely free from the new handling requirements, assuming they don’t sell grapes for the fresh market, since wine is considered “processed” under FDA rubric.

These new proposals are a perfect illustration of the value WineAmerica can provide.  Our efforts to exclude wine from the FSMA are now ensuring that wineries can continue to do business without the regulatory confusion that would be created by the entry of FDA into wine regulation.

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