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AGENCY:

Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION:

Notification of availability.

SUMMARY:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, Agency, or we) is announcing the availability of a final guidance for industry entitled “Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” Given the public health emergency presented by COVID-19, this guidance document is being implemented without prior public comment because FDA has determined that prior public participation is not feasible or appropriate, but it remains subject to comment in accordance with the Agency's good guidance practices. The guidance communicates the Agency's intention to exercise Start Printed Page 34509enforcement discretion, in the manner described in the guidance, regarding sales to qualified end-users when determining eligibility for the qualified exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption, due to disruptions to supply chains, for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

DATES:

The announcement of the guidance is published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time as follows:

Electronic Submissions

Submit electronic comments in the following way:

Written/Paper Submissions

Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2020-D-1386 for “Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, 240-402-7500.

You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

Submit written requests for single copies of the guidance to the Office of Compliance, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr. (HFS-607), College Park, MD 20740. Send two self-addressed adhesive labels to assist that office in processing your request. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the guidance.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Samir Assar, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr. (HFS-607), College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1636.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

We are announcing the availability of a guidance for industry entitled “Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” This policy relates to the supply chain disruptions caused by the public health emergency related to COVID-19, as declared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Given this public health emergency, this guidance is being implemented without prior public comment because FDA has determined that prior public participation for this guidance is not feasible or appropriate. This guidance document is being implemented immediately, but it remains subject to comment in accordance with the Agency's good guidance practices.

This guidance document concerns flexibility for the eligibility criteria for the qualified exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (part 112 (21 CFR part 112)) due to disruptions to supply chains due to COVID-19. A farm is eligible for a qualified exemption and associated modified requirements in a calendar year if during the previous 3-year period preceding the applicable calendar year, the average annual monetary value of food the farm sold directly to qualified end-users exceeded the average annual monetary value of the food the farm sold to all other buyers during that period, and the average annual monetary value of all food the farm sold during the 3-year period was less than $500,000, adjusted for inflation. In order to provide flexibility to affected farms during the COVID-19 public health emergency, under the circumstances described in the guidance FDA does not intend to enforce the criteria regarding the portion of sales that are made to qualified end-users in 2020 (and any subsequent years that are affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency). Specifically, Start Printed Page 34510for farms that either met the criteria for the qualified exemption in 2020 based on sales that were made in 2017 to 2019, or that did not have 3 years of sales prior to 2020, but that met the relevant requirements during the years they were in operation prior to 2020, FDA does not intend to enforce the criteria regarding the portion of sales that are made to qualified end-users in years that are affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance does not affect the status of farms who continue to sell a majority of their food to qualified end-users despite COVID-19 supply chain disruptions.

This guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation § 10.115(g)(2). The guidance represents the current thinking of FDA on “Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

II. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This guidance refers to previously approved FDA collections of information. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521). The collections of information in part 112 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0816.

III. Electronic Access

Persons with access to the internet may obtain the guidance at https://www.fda.gov/​FoodGuidances, https://www.fda.gov/​emergency-preparedness-and-response/​mcm-issues/​coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19, or https://www.regulations.gov. Use the FDA website listed in the previous sentence to find the most current version of the guidance.

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Dated: May 29, 2020.

Lowell J. Schiller,

Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy.

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[FR Doc. 2020-12109 Filed 6-4-20; 8:45 am]

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