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FDA To Further Amend Draft Rules Implementing FSMA

Yesterday, FDA Deputy Commissions for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Michael Taylor, announced that FDA would further amend the draft rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food, which were originally published in draft form in January 2013.  Acccording to Mr. Taylor’s statement:

[W]e believe that significant changes will be needed in key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers. These provisions include water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms. We have heard the concern that these provisions, as proposed, would not fully achieve our goal of implementing the law in a way that improves public health protections while minimizing undue burden on farmers and other food producers.

As FDA considers the changes to be significant, it will once again accept comment only on

FSIS Publishes Final Rule on Generic Labeling

December 5, 2013

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In November, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service published a final rule relating to generic labeling of meat and poultry products regulated by the USDA.  Unlike labeling for food regulated by FDA, labeling for meat and poultry products regulated by the USDA has historically been reviewed and approved by USDA.  This rule, which will be effective on January 6, 2014, was designed to provide generic approval for certain types of labeling. Once effective, only certain types of labeling will need to be submitted to FSIS for evaluation and approval.  These types of labeling are: (1) temporary approvals; (2) labels for export only that bear labeling deviations; (3) religious exemption labeling; and (4) labels bearing special statements and claims.  Special statements and claims that must be reviewed include third party certifications, animal production claims (e.g., relating to use or non-use of certain foods, hormones or antibiotics), breed claims, certified claims, gluten free claims, health or

FSIS Releases Salmonella Action Plan

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released today a strategy to reduce Salmonella exposure.  According to FSIS, Salmonella in meat and poultry products is “the most pressing problem it faces,” with an estimated 1.3 million illnesses attributed to Salmonella each year.  The plan seeks to reduce Salmonella illnesses by establishing priorities for future rulemaking, industry guidance and public education relating to Salmonella, including modernizing the poultry slaughter inspection system, enhancing sampling and testing programs, developing guidance for sanitary dressing in hogs, establishing new performance standards, and improving Salmonella-related education and outreach.  A copy of the action plan can be found here.

 

 

FDA Extends FSMA Rule Comment Periods

Today, FDA extended the comment periods for four pending rules designed to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. These rules, and the new due dates for comments, are:

(1) Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Foods (new due date is November 22, 2013)

(2) Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (new due date is November 22, 2013)

(3) Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits and to Issue Certifications (new due date is January 27, 2014)

(4) Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (new due date is January 27, 2014)

For information on these rules and how to comment, see FDA’s website.

Are “Natural” Food Claims Whithering Away?

Despite recent victories by industry over “all natural” plaintiffs, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some food companies are abandoning the “all natural” and similar claims in the face of mounting litigation and lack of clarity from FDA over the definition of “all natural” claims.  As reported in the Wall Street Journal, food and drinks labeled “natural” were responsible for $40 billion in retail sales in 2012.  However, “[o]nly 22.1% of food products and 34% of beverage products launched in the U.S. during the first half of 2013 claimed to be “natural,” down from 30.4% and 45.5%, respectively, in 2009 …. Though many Americans still want natural products, … only 47% view the claims as trustworthy.”

Food And Supplement Class Actions Are On The Rise

November 8, 2013

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Class actions against food industry defendants are on the rise, as evidenced by a report recently published by Bryan Cave LLP.  This report, which analyzes class action filings, demonstrates that “complaints concerning food and dietary supplements continue to dominate civil class action complaint filings for the third quarter in a row.”  Nearly 50% of class actions filed in the third quarter of 2013 related to food (35%) or dietary supplement (15%) industries.  Complaints against the food industry were up 8% over the second quarter of 2013.  As described in the report:

The vast majority of [unfair and deceptive acts and pratices]class action complaints filed during the period related to food labeling and/or nutrition content (22%), followed by claims related to a product’s performance (20%).  Closely following in third were complaints regarding claims that a product was ‘natural’ (17%).

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