In response to ABA’s and others’ request, on December 17, 2013, FDA extended the comment period by 60 days, to March 8, 2014, on its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. This extension allows ABA and several other stakeholders additional time to provide comments on this complicated issue. “ABA believes that our extension request and candid dialogue influenced the Agency’s decision allowing more time to develop thorough comments on this very complex issue. ABA is working with its membership to develop consensus comments,” said Lee Sanders, ABA Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs.
FDA is expediting publication of a notice in the Federal Register and will issue a Constituent Update when the exact publication date is known. Since ABA’s extension request was filed in early December, the association, along with other industry partners, met with FDA to voice concerns over the potential impact of the Agency’s preliminary determination. FDA published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its preliminary determination on November 8, 2013. FDA originally provided 60 days, until January 7, 2014, for interested persons to provide comments and scientific data pertaining to the notice, including specific issues that FDA sought comments on such as possible alternative approaches, time needed for reformulation, burden on small businesses, and other technical challenges to removal of PHOs from the food supply.