Industry stakeholders have called for extra time to file comments on the GRAS status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), prompting the FDA to extend the deadline.
The FDA has extended the comment period by 60 days to March 8, 2014 from its initial deadline of January 7.
“This extension is being provided in response to numerous stakeholder requests to provide additional time for comments,” the FDA said in a statement.
The FDA’s decision to review the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed food – was initially made on November 8.
The agency made a preliminary determination that PHOs are not GRAS and called for comment to determine a reasonable timeframe for a phase out before making a final determination as well as possible alternative approaches and the technical challenges such a decision would provoke.
Attorney: More time needed for something so complex
Venable LLP Food and Drug attorney Dr John Moore previously told sister site FoodNavigator-USA that an extension was to be expected because the move would likely attract “a lot of comments from industry and public interest groups”.
“60 days is not very long to respond to something this complex,” he said.
It is also likely that many firms will push for an alternative to a ban on PHOs such as changes to labeling or perhaps setting a maximum threshold for trans fats, he added.