[Federal Register: May 18, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 96)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 28042-28043]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18my04-2]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 317 and 381

[Docket No.01-018E]

 
Definitions and Standards of Identity or Composition: Elimination 
of the Pizza With Meat or Sausage Standards

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule: extension of compliance date.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is providing 
additional time for manufacturers of packaged pizza products to comply 
with new regulations that require that the labeling of products 
identified as ``pizzas'' that contain a meat or poultry component as 
part of the product name, declare the percent of meat or poultry in the 
product in a parenthetical statement contiguous to the ingredients 
statement. The effective date for this final rule was October 22, 2003. 
The extension of the compliance date for the labeling requirement 
applies only to those manufacturers of packaged pizzas that have not 
changed the formulation of their products since the final rule became 
effective and that continue to use their current label designs without 
change. FSIS is taking this action to minimize the costs to small 
manufacturers of packaged pizza products to redesign and print new 
product labels.

DATES: The compliance date for 9 CFR 317.8(b)(40) and 9 CFR 381.129(f) 
is extended from October 22, 2003, to July 31, 2004, for manufacturers 
of packaged pizzas that can and do continue to use their current 
product labels without change.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert C. Post, Ph.D., Director, 
Labeling and Consumer Protection Staff, Office of Policy and Program 
Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250-3700; (202) 205-0279.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On July 31, 2003, FSIS published a final 
rule in the Federal Register to rescind the regulatory standards of 
identity for ``pizza with meat'' and ``pizza with sausage'' by removing 
9 CFR 319.600 from the Federal meat inspection regulations (68 FR 
44859). The effective date for the final rule was October 22, 2003. As 
a result of the final rule, products identified as ``pizzas'' that 
contain a meat or poultry component as part of the product name are no 
longer

[[Page 28043]]

required to contain a minimum amount of meat or poultry, provided that 
they contain a sufficient amount of these components to make the 
product subject to USDA jurisdiction.
    To allow consumers to become familiar with variations in the meat 
or poultry content permitted in meat or poultry pizzas as non-
standardized foods, the final rule requires that, for three years, the 
labeling of meat or poultry pizzas declare the percent of meat or 
poultry in the product in a parenthetical statement contiguous to the 
ingredients statement (9 CFR 317.8(b)(40) and 9 CFR 381.129(f)). This 
labeling requirement is a transitional step to allow consumers to 
understand the nature of the food. To minimize costs associated with 
the new labeling requirement, FSIS allowed pizza manufacturers to 
exhaust their remaining packaging inventories so that they would not 
have to discard any unused labels.
    However, according to the National Frozen Pizza Institute (NFPI), 
the ability to exhaust remaining packaging inventories may not provide 
enough flexibility for small pizza manufacturers. According to 
information that NFPI recently shared with the Agency, in an effort to 
minimize operating costs and maintain a sound cash flow, small pizza 
manufacturers generally do not keep large label inventories. To free 
resources, these companies keep a small inventory and order labels 
frequently. Hence, NFPI has explained that, for most small pizza 
makers, there is no ``stockpile'' of labels. Consequently, the 
requirement to change labels at the next printing will impact these 
companies within the next few months.
    Moreover, although FSIS requested comments on whether the Agency 
should require that the product name of non-standardized pizza products 
disclose the percent of meat or poultry in the product in the preamble 
to the proposed rule, the proposed text of the regulation did not 
include new labeling requirements. Therefore, because the labeling 
requirement in the final rule was not included in the proposed text of 
the regulation, most small manufacturers of pizza products did not 
budget for costs associated with ``label changes'' resulting from the 
final rule. The NFPI stated that, accordingly, label costs for the 
small pizza makers will be taken from company profits concentrated over 
a short time period. This is especially true for private label 
processors who generally cannot include the cost in existing contracts; 
have low profit margins; have the smallest amount of labels on hand; 
and have the largest number of individual labels affected.
    The recent data submitted to FSIS by NFPI explains that, because 
most small companies that produce packaged pizza products do not change 
label designs on a regular basis nor do they maintain large stocks of 
product labels, the costs for changing branded and private label UPC 
codes will be incurred more quickly than anticipated. Thus, to comply 
with the final rule, many small manufacturers of packaged pizzas that 
otherwise would not have modified their current label designs because 
they have not changed the formulation of their products, are required 
to redesign and print new product labels. NFPI suggested that an 
effective method to minimize the financial impact of the final 
regulation is to permit these companies to spread costs over a longer 
period of time. With a longer period to accomplish the label changes, 
the companies may spread costs over a longer period of time, thus 
enabling them to stretch the costs from profits over a longer period or 
to modify their pricing to incorporate the costs of the label changes. 
In response, in order to minimize the label redesign and printing costs 
to these small businesses, FSIS has decided to provide additional time 
to comply with the new labeling requirement.
    FSIS is extending until July 31, 2004, the date that manufacturers 
of packaged pizza products must comply with the meat or poultry 
labeling requirement in 9 CFR 317.8(b)(40) and 9 CFR 381.129(f) for 
those manufacturers that have not changed the formulation of their 
products since the final rule became effective and that continue to use 
their current product label designs without change. To ensure that 
consumers are not adversely affected by the extension of the compliance 
date, companies that take advantage of the extension must continue to 
use labels that include a declaration of the percent of meat or poultry 
in the product for three years from the date that such new labels are 
first applied to their products. All manufacturers must begin to comply 
with the meat or poultry content declaration requirement by the new 
compliance date.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to better ensure 
that the public, and in particular minorities, women, and persons with 
disabilities, are aware of this notice, FSIS will announce it on-line 
through the FSIS Web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov. The 

Regulations.gov Web site is the central online rulemaking portal of the 
United States government. It is being offered as a public service to 
increase participation in the Federal government's regulatory 
activities. FSIS participates in Regulations.gov and will accept 
comments on documents published on the site. The site allows visitors 
to search by keyword or Department or Agency for rulemakings that allow 
for public comment. Each entry provides a quick link to a comment form 
so that visitors can type in their comments and submit them to FSIS. 
The Web site is located at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and other types of 
information that could affect or would be of interest to our 
constituents and stakeholders. The update is communicated via Listserv, 
a free e-mail subscription service consisting of industry, trade, and 
farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied health professionals, 
scientific professionals, and other individuals who have requested to 
be included. The update also is available on the FSIS Web page. Through 
Listserv and the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a 
much broader, more diverse audience.

    Done at Washington, DC, on May 13, 2004.
Barbara Masters,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 04-11215 Filed 5-17-04; 8:45 am]