The International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) on July 22 petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exempt facilities that are "solely engaged in the storage of packaged foods that are not exposed to the environment" from compliance with Section 418 of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. That provision requires food storage facilities to conduct hazard analyses and specifies a host of preventive controls to address such hazards as food contamination, adulteration, and deterioration. The petition was jointly submitted by IWLA, a trade group representing third-party warehouse operators, and seven other associations representing food manufacturers and the grocery industry.
The associations argued that applying Section 418 to warehouses that store only packaged foods would impose unnecessary costs and administrative burdens with no public health benefit. Such facilities already comply with warehouse-specific food safety practices mandated under 21 CFR §110.93, they said. Furthermore, most of the potential hazards and preventive controls specified in Section 418 are appropriate for manufacturing and packaging operations but are not relevant to already packaged foods, they argued. "The responsibility for Section 418 is properly and best shouldered by the food manufacturer," the petitioners wrote.
The groups asked FDA to modify Section 418 so that warehouses storing only packaged foods would satisfy that provision through compliance with 21 CFR §110.93.
Applying Section 418 to warehouses and storage facilities that only handle packaged food would raise costs for those operators and ultimately for their customers and consumers, the associations said. "Certainly, [FDA's and industry's safety compliance] resources would be put to better use in controlling the risks that arise before the product leaves the manufacturing facility," they wrote.
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