VI Regulatory Update

March 15, 2013

VI Regulatory Update

TO: All VI Members
FROM: Patricia Faison


VI Regulatory Update
(1) FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
(2) Pennsylvania Legislation Introduced to Require Labeling of GE Foods
(3) April 11 Declared “Read Your Labels Day”
(4) BRC Guidance on EU Food Allergen Labeling Regulation

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

VI has been providing updates regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) efforts to implement the provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  (Additional details are available via the VI Communications Archive located on the Members Only section of the VI website:  www.versatilevinegar.org.)  Below are highlights of recent FDA activity.

FDA FSMA Public Meetings

VI members were previously notified that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned to hold a series of public meetings to discuss the two proposed rules recently issued by the Agency pertaining to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The meetings are also designed to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the proposed rules.  The first meeting was held February 28 – March 1, 2013 in Washington, DC with other meetings scheduled in Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon.  The FDA recently published the presentations made by FDA officials during the meeting held in Washington, DC.  The presentations can be accessed here.

FDA’s Michael Taylor Answers Questions Regarding Next FSMA Rules

Food Safety News recently interviewed Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner of Food and Veterinary Medicine, regarding the yet-to-be-released proposed rule on foreign supplier verification. Mr. Taylor did not provide a date for release of the foreign supplier verification or the accredited third-party certification proposed rules.  In the article, he noted that the foreign supplier verification program rule is closely connected with the produce safety and preventive controls proposed rules and as such, it important for “people to see these together.” Mr. Taylor indicated that the Agency is eager to release the foreign supplier verification proposed rule as soon as possible.

FDA Draft Qualitative Risk Assessment

On January 16, 2013, the FDA issued a Federal Register notice (78 FR 3824) requesting comments on the Agency’s “Draft Qualitative Risk Assessment of Risk of Activity/Food Combinations for Activities (Outside the Farm Definition) Conducted in a Facility Co-located on a Farm.”  The draft risk assessment is available here.  The draft risk assessment is mentioned in the FDA’s preventive controls proposed rule and provides certain exemptions for farms that are small or very small businesses engaged in specific types of on-farm manufacturing, processing, packing or holding activities that are considered low-risk.  For example, the following activities are considered low/risk and thus exempt from the preventive controls requirements if conducted by farms that are small or very small businesses: (1) making hard candy, fudge, taffy, toffee; (2) making cocoa products from roasted cocoa beans and (3) making honey.  The complete list of the low-risk farm activities is available in the preventive controls proposed rule.  February 15, 2013 was the initial deadline to comment on the draft risk assessment.

The FDA recently published a notice in the Federal Register (78 FR 15894; March 13, 2013) announcing that the comment period has been reopened, and the new deadline is May 16, 2013. The Agency received a number of requests for an extension to the comment period.

VI will continue to monitor FDA’s efforts to implement the provisions of FSMA and provide updates, as information becomes available.

Pennsylvania Legislation Introduced to Require Labeling of GE Foods

VI has been providing updates regarding state initiatives to require the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). (Additional details are available via the VI Communications Archive.)  According to a recent article posted on PennLive.com and available here, State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County) has introduced legislation in Pennsylvania that would require the labeling of foods containing GE ingredients.  Senate Bill 653 would become effective 18 months after the legislation is enacted. Senator Leach’s press release containing additional details is available here. At this time, a copy of the legislation has not been made available to the public.

VI will continue to monitor and provide updates, as information becomes available.

April 11 Declared “Read Your Labels Day”

In February 2013, VI members were notified that Citizens for Health, a consumer advocacy group, had launched the “Read Your Labels” campaign to raise awareness about the “Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid.”  This week, Citizens for Health issued a press release, available here, declaring April 11, 2013, “Read Your Labels Day” to encourage consumers to read food and beverage labels to determine if the products contain the following ingredients that the group says should be avoided: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), aspartame, monosodium glutamate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), partially hydrogenated oils, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, artificial colors, autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein.  Citizens for Health is requesting that consumers take photos of the products that contain these ingredients and share the photos on Instagram using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels.

Additional details regarding the campaign are available via the Food Identity Theft website.

BRC Guidance on EU Food Allergen Labeling Regulation

VI has previously provided updates regarding new food labeling regulations in the European Union to require the prominent declaration of allergens, gluten and sulfites on food labels by December 13, 2014. (Additional details are available via the VI Communications Archive.)   In part, the Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC), available here, also requires the mandatory declaration of certain information on food labels, including nutrition declaration, country of origin labeling for certain meats and poultry, minimum font size for mandatory information, and the declaration of vegetable origin for vegetable oils.

According to a recent article posted on Foodnavigator.com, available here, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has published a guidance to assist the food industry with implementation of the EU allergen labeling regulation.  The BRC is the trade association for the retail industry in the United Kingdom.  The BRC guidance, available here, provides examples of the following: allergen declaration, allergy advice statements, cross-contamination statements, sulfite declaration and “contains” statements.

The BRC acknowledges that the information in the guidance is not the only way to comply with the allergen labeling requirements and notes the European Commission and Government Departments could publish other guidance.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Headquarters with questions or comments.

Patricia Faison
(404) 252 – 3663
[email protected]