[Federal Register: May 24, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 100)]
[Page 29564-29565]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Food and Drug Administration

[Docket No. 2003P-0574]

Listeria Monocytogenes; Petition To Establish a Regulatory Limit

AGENCY: Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that a 
petition has been filed that requests that the agency establish a 
regulatory limit of 100 colony forming units per gram for Listeria 
monocytogenes in foods that do not support the growth of the 
microorganism. The agency is requesting comment on the petition. The 
agency is also requesting the submission of relevant data and 
information to assist it in evaluating and responding to the petition.

DATES: Submit written or electronic comments by August 9, 2004.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. 2003P-
0574, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 

Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Agency Web site: http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments. 

Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the agency Web site.
     E-mail: fdadockets@oc.fda.gov. Include Docket No. 2003P-
0574 in the subject line of your e-mail message.
     FAX: 301-827-6870.
     Mail/Hand delivery/Courier [For paper, disk, or CD-ROM 
submissions]: Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 
1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and Docket No. 2003P-0574 for this rulemaking. All comments received 
will be posted without change to http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments, 

including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions 
on submitting comments and additional information on the petition, see 
the ``Comments'' heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of 
this document.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments and/or 

the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, 
Rockville, MD 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Kvenberg, Office of Compliance 
(HFS-600), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug 
Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740, 301-


I. The Petition

    Fifteen trade associations (the American Bakers Association, the 
American Frozen Food Institute, the American Meat Institute, the 
Grocery Manufacturers of America, the International Ice Cream 
Association, the Midwest Food Processors Association, the National 
Cheese Institute, the National Chicken Council, the National Fisheries 
Institute, the National Food Processors Association, the National Milk 
Producers Federation, the National Turkey Federation, the Northwest 
Food Processors Association, the Snack Food Association, and the United 
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association) (the petitioners) submitted a 
citizen petition on December 24, 2003, requesting that FDA amend the 
regulations in part 109

[[Page 29565]]

Unavoidable Contaminants in Food for Human Consumption and Food-
Packaging Material (21 CFR part 109) to establish a regulatory limit 
for L. monocytogenes of 100 colony forming units per gram in foods that 
do not support growth of the microorganism.
    Petitioners assert that the requested regulatory limit would 
establish a science-based standard for the presence of L. monocytogenes 
in such foods, noting that their request is based on new and emerging 
evidence that consumer protection is a function of the organism's cell 
numbers in food, and not its mere presence. Petitioners further assert 
that a regulatory limit will permit FDA and the food industry to 
distinguish products for which increased scrutiny is prudent from those 
for which greater attention will not yield a corresponding benefit to 
public health. Petitioners state that a risk-based approach to L. 
monocytogenes is consistent with the comprehensive risk assessment 
undertaken by FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety 
and Inspection Service, in which the agencies concluded that ``targeted 
initiation of new or enhanced controls may be needed to achieve further 
reductions in the incidence of listeriosis.'' In addition, petitioners 
assert that there is general scientific agreement that low levels of L. 
monocytogenes are not uncommon in the food supply and that such low 
levels are regularly consumed without apparent harm.
    For over 15 years, FDA has been working with its Federal, State, 
and local food safety counterparts to reduce the incidence of foodborne 
illness in the United States, including illness caused by L. 
monocytogenes. The action requested in the petition directly bears on 
the safety of the food supply and FDA's longstanding effort. 
Accordingly, FDA is requesting public comment on the petition as well 
the submission of any relevant data or information that could assist 
the agency's evaluation of or its response to the petition.

II. Comments

    Interested persons may submit to the Division of Dockets Management 
(see ADDRESSES) written or electronic comments regarding the petition. 
Submit a single copy of electronic comments or two paper copies of any 
mailed comments, except that individuals may submit one paper copy. 
Comments are to be identified with the docket number found in brackets 
in the heading of this document. If your comments are based on 
scientific data or other evidence, please submit copies of such 
information with your comments. The petition and received comments may 
be seen in the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 
p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Dated: May 7, 2004.
Jeffrey Shuren,
Assistant Commissioner for Policy.
[FR Doc. 04-11597 Filed 5-21-04; 8:45 am]