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WSWA Asks FDA to Extend Food Facility Registration Deadline to Help Firms Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Temporary regulatory relief would ease burden of recovery, WSWA CEO says

(WASHINGTON)—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should consider extending its deadline for wine and spirits industry firms who must register as food facilities to ease the burden these companies and their employees face in recovering from Hurricane Sandy. That was the message of a letter from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America President and CEO Craig Wolf sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of thousands of residents, businesses and government offices remain without power, without internet access and face extensive cleanup and recovery operations. Storm impacted areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast include scores of facilities and offices operated by members of WSWA. Many of these areas remain without power while their employees face losses and storm damage in their own homes, the letter said.

In light of these business disruptions, please consider extending the filing deadline and waiving late registration penalties for food facilities and food facilities with employees located in areas declared a Major Disaster by the President, as well as for food facilities and food facilities with employees that can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA that recent floods or related events directly affect their ability to timely register their facility, WSWA CEO Wolf wrote.

“It is WSWA’s belief that the appropriate course of action for FDA would be to extend its own filing deadline. Doing so would minimize the need to adjudicate potential disputes between businesses and the FDA over any Sandy-related late filing and ensure regulated businesses can wholly focus their time, energy and resources toward recovery,” Wolf said.

He indicated that such action is not unprecedented, and pointed out that another wine and spirits industry regulatory agency, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, had provided preliminary relief by indicating its intention to waive penalties and fees for certain late excise tax filings as a result of complications due to Sandy.

The FDA’s biennial food facility registration period was to have opened October 1 and run until December 31. This year, however, the FDA was unable to accept registrations until October 22. “Given this delay and the significant and ongoing storm-related impact, we believe the agency would be prudent in exploring some type of relief to ease the regulatory burden facing affected businesses and better facilitate their prompt recovery,” Wolf said.

A copy of Wolf’s letter to Dr. Hamburg is available here.

WSWA is a national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With more than 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the administration, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America.