[Federal Register: November 2, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 213)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 55601-55603]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr02no01-25]                         

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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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[[Page 55601]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 319

[Docket No. 01-018P]

 
Definitions and Standards of Identity or Composition: Elimination 
of the Pizza Standard

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to 
amend the Federal meat inspection regulations to remove the standards 
of identity for ``pizza with meat'' and ``pizza with sausage.'' The 
Agency has determined that these standards may be inhibiting 
manufacturers of federally inspected frozen pizzas from producing and 
marketing the new styles of pizzas that today's consumers demand. This 
proposed rule responds to a petition submitted to the Agency by the 
National Frozen Pizza Institute (NFPI).

DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 2, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Send an original and two copies of comments to:
    FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket #01-018P, Room 102, Cotton Annex, 300 C 
Street, SW, Washington, DC 20250-3700. Reference materials cited in 
this document and any comments received will be available for public 
inspection in the FSIS Docket Room from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday 
through Friday.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On February 4, 1999, NFPI petitioned FSIS to amend part 319 of the 
Federal meat inspection regulations to eliminate the standards of 
identity for ``pizza with meat'' and ``pizza with sausage.'' In support 
of the petition, NFPI submitted data to demonstrate that the current 
standards are restricting the development of new products by the frozen 
pizza industry, and that consumers' expectations of what is meant by 
the term ``pizza'' are broader that what is prescribed by the current 
standards. In the petition, NFPI also demonstrated that, because of the 
prescribed meat content and cheese requirement, the current pizza 
standards restrict the frozen pizza industry from developing and 
marketing products with reductions in constituents that may be of 
health concern to some consumers, such as cholesterol and saturated 
fat. The petition and supporting data are available for public viewing 
in the FSIS docket room.
    Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), a product is 
misbranded, in part, ``if it purports to be or is represented as a food 
for which a definition and standard of identity or composition has been 
prescribed * * * unless * * * it conforms to such definition and 
standards * * *'' (21 U.S.C. 601(n)(7)). The current standard for 
``Pizza with Meat'' requires that the product consist of a bread base 
with tomato sauce, cheese, and meat topping. The product must contain 
cooked meat made from not less than 15 percent raw meat (9 CFR 
319.600(a)). The current standard for ``Pizza with Sausage'' requires 
that the product consist of a bread base with tomato sauce, cheese, and 
not less than 12 percent cooked sausage or 10 percent dry sausage (9 
CFR 319.600(b)). Thus, if a product subject to FSIS jurisdiction fails 
to contain any of these components, its labeling can not bear the term 
``pizza.''
    Pizzas prepared by restaurants have not been required to meet these 
prescribed standards. In fact, in support of the petition, NFPI 
provided information to show that several national and regional 
restaurant chains sell pizzas that do not contain the four traditional 
components required by the Federal standards (i.e., meat, cheese, 
tomato sauce, and bread-based crust). The information provided by the 
petitioner also shows that these new styles of pizzas are popular with 
consumers.
    Under section 7 of the FMIA, FSIS is authorized to prescribe 
definitions and standards of identity or composition to protect the 
public (21 U.S.C. 607(c)). In general, standards of identity are 
intended to protect consumers from economic deception, i.e., from 
purchasing meat food or poultry products in which inferior ingredients 
have been substituted for more valuable ones. The meat pizza and 
sausage pizza standards were established several decades ago and 
reflect the common understanding at that time of what a food identified 
as ``meat pizza'' or ``sausage pizza'' should contain. Data submitted 
by the petitioner indicate that today's consumers accept a broader 
interpretation of what is expected of a product identified as 
``pizza,'' and that consumer expectations are largely driven by the 
restaurant and food service industries. According to information 
provided by NFPI, product innovation in the food service industry has 
broadened the traditional concept of pizza to the extent that consumers 
understand the product to be an open-faced crust that is topped with 
one or more of a variety of ingredients.
    Based on the information submitted by the petitioner, FSIS agrees 
that the current pizza standards may be inhibiting manufacturers of 
federally inspected pizzas from producing and marketing new styles of 
pizzas, including pizzas with less constituents, such as cheese or 
meat, that would be more consistent with nutritional guidance (e.g., 
lower fat). Based on the data submitted by NFPI, this is what today's 
consumers appear to demand. Furthermore, the Agency has determined 
that, because consumer expectations of what a product identified as 
``pizza'' should contain differ from what is prescribed by the current 
standards, the standards no longer serve their original purpose of 
protecting the public from economic deception. Therefore, the Agency is 
proposing to remove these standards of identity from the regulations.
    Under this proposed rule, federally inspected pizzas that are 
identified as a ``meat pizza'' or ``sausage pizza'' (e.g., ``pizza with 
bacon,'' ``pizza with pepperoni,'' and ``sausage and mushroom pizza'') 
will be permitted to reduce their minimum meat content from 12% cooked 
or 15% raw to 2% cooked or 3% raw, the level of meat

[[Page 55602]]

required for a product to be considered a meat food product and, thus, 
under USDA jurisdiction. The Agency believes that if a new product 
formulated with less meat or sausage, or without the other components 
that are currently prescribed by the standard (i.e., cheese, sauce, and 
crust), does not meet consumer expectations, consumers are not likely 
to purchase the product and it will fail in the marketplace. In the 
absence of regulatory standards of identity for pizzas, FSIS has 
tentatively determined that required labeling features, such as the 
product name, ingredients statement, and nutrition facts panel, will 
provide adequate information for consumers to make informed choices 
when purchasing federally inspected pizza products. In particular, the 
product name would become a descriptive feature to convey to the 
consumer the components of the product. FSIS requests comment on 
whether the product name should be required to include the percentage 
of meat or poultry in the product.
    The Agency proposes to amend title 9, part 319, subpart O, by 
removing and reserving section 319.600, Pizza. Removing the meat pizza 
and sausage pizza standards of identity, as proposed, does not mean 
that the names for these products will be completely unregulated. 
Sections 317.2(c)(1) and 381.117(a) of Title 9 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations require that the name of a meat or poultry product appear 
on the principal display panel of the product label. Under 
Secs. 317.2(c)(1) and 381.117(a), the name of the product is (1) a 
standardized name, if the product purports to be or is represented as a 
product for which a regulatory standard of identity or composition has 
been prescribed; (2) the common or usual name of the food; or (3) if 
the product has no common or usual name, a truthful, descriptive 
designation.
    The information submitted by NFPI evidences that, because of 
innovations in the restaurant and food services industries, to most 
consumers, the term ``pizza'' means an open-faced crust that is topped 
with any number of a variety of ingredients. Thus, if this proposal is 
issued as a final rule, and the standards of identity for meat pizza 
and sausage pizza are removed, FSIS has determined that ``pizza'' 
represents the appropriate common or usual name for the class of 
products that have been traditionally formulated with the components 
currently stipulated in the standard, i.e., tomato sauce, cheese, and 
meat topping, on an open faced crust. If this proposal is finalized, 
products that comport with the traditional product and contain a bread-
based crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and meat or poultry, may be 
identified as ``pizza'' together with the term that identifies the meat 
or poultry component, e.g., ``pizza with pepperoni.'' The names for 
other products purporting to be pizzas would need to be descriptively 
labeled to enable consumers to distinguish them from the traditional 
pizza, e.g., ``pizza--garlic sauce, tomatoes, reduced-fat cheese, and 
seasoned beef strips on a crust.''
    If this proposal is issued as a final rule, FSIS will eliminate or 
revise its informal labeling policies related to pizza products that 
contain meat or poultry. Although the regulations do not contain a 
standard of identity for pizza products that contain poultry, FSIS has 
treated these products as ``like products'' to pizza with meat or 
sausage, and the Agency's policy has been that these products contain 
at least 12% cooked poultry meat. If the standards of identity for meat 
pizza and sausage pizza are removed, as proposed, the policy that 
pizzas that contain poultry need to have a minimum poultry content will 
also be revoked.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. 
It has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866 
and therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB).

Effect on Small Entities

    Removing the standards of identity for pizza will have no effects 
on small entities. After the standards are eliminated, small companies 
may still produce these products and identify them by a common or usual 
name, or a descriptive term. Thus, if this proposal is adopted as a 
final rule, small companies could continue to produce these products 
and label them as a ``meat pizza'' (e.g., ``pizza with ham'') or a 
``sausage pizza'' (e.g., ``pepperoni pizza''). Small companies that 
choose to develop and market new styles of pizzas will incur the normal 
costs of product development, production, labeling, and marketing.

Executive Order 12988

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. This proposal: (1) Preempts State and local laws 
and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no 
retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings 
before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule. However, 
the administrative procedures specified in 9 CFR 306.5 and 590.320 
through 590.370 must be exhausted before any judicial challenge of the 
application of the provisions of this proposed rule, if the challenge 
involves any decision of an FSIS employee relating to inspection 
services provided under the FMIA.

Paperwork Requirements

    There are no paperwork or recordkeeping requirements associated 
with this proposed rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501-3520).

Public Notification and Request for Data

    FSIS requests information regarding the impact of this proposed 
rule on minorities, women, and persons with disabilities, including 
information on the number of minority-owned meat and poultry 
establishments, the makeup of establishment workforces, and the 
communities served by official establishments. Public involvement in 
all segments of rulemaking and policy development are important. 
Consequently, in an effort to better ensure that minorities, women, and 
persons with disabilities are aware of this proposed rule and are 
informed about the mechanism for providing their comments, FSIS will 
announce it and provide copies of this Federal Register publication in 
the FSIS Constituent Update. FSIS provides a weekly FSIS Constituent 
Update, which is communicated via fax to over 300 organizations and 
individuals. In addition, the update is available on line through the 
FSIS Web page located at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/
leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html &log=linklog&to= http://
www.fsis.usda.gov. The update is used to provide information regarding 
FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS 
public meetings, recalls, and any other types of information that could 
affect or would be of interest to our constituents/stakeholders. The 
constituent fax list consists of industry, trade, and farm groups, 
consumer interest groups, allied health professionals, scientific 
professionals, and other individuals that have requested to be 
included. Through these various channels, FSIS is able to provide 
information to a much broader, more diverse audience. For more 
information and to be added to the constituent fax list, fax your 
request to the Congressional and Public Affairs Office, at (202) 720-
5704.

List of Subjects in 9 CFR Part 319

    Food grades and standards, Meat inspection.


[[Page 55603]]


    For the reasons set out in the preamble, FSIS is proposing to amend 
9 CFR part 319 as follows:

PART 319--DEFINITIONS AND STANDARDS OF IDENTITY OR COMPOSITION

    1. The authority citation for part 319 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 450, 1901-1906; 21 U.S.C. 601-695; 7 CFR 
2.17, 2.55.

    2. Section 319.600 would be removed and reserved.

    Done at Washington, DC, on October 30, 2001.
Margaret O'K. Glavin,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 01-27542 Filed 11-1-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P