Modernizing USDA’s Food Label Approval: The Meat of the
In an effort to modernize and
streamline government, the idea of a wide-reaching generic
label approval process for USDA-regulated food is upon us.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the branch of
USDA that is charged with label approval for products
regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the
Poultry Products Inspection Act. FSIS's role is to safeguard
consumers so that products distributed to them are safe,
wholesome, not adulterated, and properly marked, labeled and
FSIS began the process of
streamlining label approvals over 20 years ago. In 1992,
the idea of generically approving all labels was floated in
an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM). The
outcome of that rulemaking activity was the 1995 final rule
in which generic label approval was allowed for a broad
set of circumstances.
Now an even more expansive set
of circumstances for generic label approval sits before us.
FSIS is accepting comments on a new
proposed rule through the end of the day today, February 3, 2012. In this
proposal, all labels for meat and poultry products
would be generically approved except for product labels that
fall into four main categories:
Claims and special statements to appear on labels.
Examples include claims related to nutrient content,
health, organic, natural, animal production methods
(e.g., grass-fed, cage-free, naturally-raised), and
those undefined by regulation (e.g., gluten-free).
Labels for temporary approval. An example is an
existing label for pepperoni pizza that has a slight
deviation in ingredient order due to a minor
Labels for products produced under religious
exemption. For example, a label for chicken produced
under Buddhist exemption.
Labels for products to be exported with labeling
deviations. For example, a label for "beef
intestines" produced for export to China where the
product is identified as "beef casings."
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Food Label Community
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