The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) on Monday submitted comments on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) proposed rule for the registration of food facilities, which amends and updates current registration regulations as part of the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
AHPA's comments express support for FDA having accurate information to identify and locate food facilities to ensure FDA can efficiently conduct inspections and respond to a terrorist threat or other food-related emergency. However, AHPA strongly opposes FDA's proposal to require all food facilities to obtain a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number.
AHPA's comments outline why FDA's proposal to use DUNS (Dun & Bradstreet's (D&B's) copyrighted, proprietary means of identifying business entities on a location-specific basis) would be redundant and could have unintended negative consequences.
AHPA notes that DUNS numbers are unnecessary because food facilities are already required to register their location in FDA's online food facility registration portal. AHPA does not believe that having the same company complete a food facility registration process on FDA's online portal and through D&B to obtain a DUNS number would increase the accuracy of FDA's food facility registration database.
AHPA also expresses concern that D&B is a private corporation and is not obligated to ensure data accuracy, protect data privacy, or interact in an appropriate, prompt, and equitable manner with outside firms. Since D&B is a for-profit corporation, all data in its possession is used for its own commercial purposes, to the detriment of its competitors and potentially even to the detriment of the firms whose data D&B collects.
AHPA's comments stress that the resources required to obtain a DUNS number are not justified. Although D&B claims it is simple and (currently) free to obtain a DUNS number, in practice this is not the case. A free DUNS number requires up to 30 days for processing and it costs several hundred dollars to obtain the number within a few days. Furthermore, AHPA members have reported that the DUNS number website is not reliable. Since D&B is a private corporation, it is not obligated to continue to offer a DUNS number at a (purportedly) no cost registration.
"Obtaining and using a DUNS number provides no benefit to consumers, FDA or the industry," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "If this proposal is enacted, it will be a purely duplicative exercise because registration with D&B does not capture new information that would further FDA's objective of enhancing food safety beyond what is already required during the mandatory registration of a food facility with FDA."