The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposed rule which, if finalized, would benefit both consumers and the food industry by enabling manufacturers of heat-processed low-acid canned foods to modernize their equipment by using alternative temperature-indicating devices (TIDs).
Under the proposal, these devices, which are the state-of-the-art equipment for measuring and recording temperatures, may be used instead of, or in addition to, conventional mercury-in-glass thermometers (MIGs).
If finalized, the proposed rule would amend FDA's current regulations for the processing of low-acid canned foods such as beans, corn, peas, and potatoes, and clarify such requirements as recordkeeping and the rules for measuring and recording temperatures during processing. The proposal also includes metric equivalents of avoirdupois (U.S.) measurements.
"This proposal is designed to benefit both consumers and the food industry," said Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D., director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. "It enables manufacturers to rapidly adopt technologically advanced temperature-indicating devices. And we believe that the proposed rule, after being finalized, would ensure that these devices are accurate."
The agency will allow low-acid canned food manufacturers who follow the proposed rule to change immediately from the currently required MIGs to alternative TIDs. Although these TIDs remain out-of-compliance until the proposal is finalized, FDA will consider, on a case-by-case basis, exercising its enforcement discretion if the new devices are used in a manner consistent with the proposed rule. Processors who choose this option must comply with any revised requirements when the final rule becomes effective.
FDA is providing a 90-day comment period on the proposed rule. Interested persons can submit comments electronically to http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments or in writing to the Division of Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), 5630 Fishers Lane, room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submitted comments should be identified by Docket Number 2007N-0026.