[Federal Register: December 12, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 240)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 75564-75566]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12de08-4]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 317 and 381

[Docket No. FSIS-2008-0040]
RIN 0583-AD05

 
Uniform Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is establishing 
January 1, 2012, as the uniform compliance date for new meat and 
poultry product labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 
2009, and December 31, 2010. FSIS periodically announces uniform 
compliance dates for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations 
to minimize the economic impact of label changes.

DATES: This rule is effective December 12, 2008. Comments on this final 
rule must be received on or before January 12, 2009.

ADDRESSES: FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this 
final rule. Comments may be submitted by either of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the 
ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this 
Web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://
www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.
     Mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROMs, and hand- or 
courier-delivered items: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Room 2534, South Agriculture Building, Washington, DC 
20250-3700.
    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must 
include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2008-0040. Comments 
received in response to this docket will be made available for public 
inspection and posted without change, including any personal 
information, to http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, go 
to the FSIS Docket Room at the address listed above between 8:30 a.m. 
and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rosalyn Murphy-Jenkins, Food Safety 
and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., 
Washington, DC 20250-3700; Telephone 202-205-0623, Fax 202/205-0145 or 
202/205-0271.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FSIS periodically issues regulations that require changes in the 
labeling of meat and poultry food products. Many meat and poultry 
establishments also produce non-meat and non-poultry food products 
subject to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 
FDA also periodically issues regulations that require changes in the 
labeling of such products.
    On December 14, 2004, FSIS issued the final rule that provided that 
the Agency will set uniform compliance dates for new meat and poultry 
product labeling regulations in two year increments and will 
periodically issue final rules announcing those dates. That final rule 
also established January 1, 2008, as the uniform compliance date for 
meat and poultry product labeling regulations that issued between 
January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2006 (69 FR 74405). Consistent with 
the 2004 final rule, FSIS issued a subsequent final rule, on March 5, 
2007, that established January 1, 2010, as the uniform compliance date 
for meat and poultry product labeling regulations that issued between 
January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008 (72 FR 9651).

The Final Rule

    This final rule establishes January 1, 2012, as the uniform 
compliance date for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations 
that are issued between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, is 
consistent with the previous final rules establishing uniform

[[Page 75565]]

compliance dates. In addition, FSIS' approach for establishing uniform 
compliance dates for new food labeling regulations is consistent with 
FDA's approach. FDA is also establishing January 1, 2012, as the 
uniform compliance date for new food labeling regulations that are 
issued between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010.
    Two year increments enhance the industry's ability to make orderly 
adjustments to new labeling requirements without unduly exposing 
consumers to outdated labels. With this approach to effecting 
compliance, the meat and poultry industry is able to plan for use of 
label inventories and to develop new labeling materials that meet the 
requirements of all labeling regulations made within the two year 
period, thereby minimizing the economic impact of labeling changes. By 
establishing a uniform compliance date that is the same as FDA's, FSIS 
is providing meat and poultry manufacturers with a greater ability to 
adjust production plans to new labeling requirements across all of 
their product lines.
    This policy also serves consumers' interests because the cost of 
multiple short-term label revisions that would otherwise occur would 
likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
    It will remain FSIS' policy, however, to encourage industry to 
comply with new labeling regulations as quickly as feasible. Thus, when 
industry members voluntarily change their labels, they should consider 
incorporating any new requirements that have been published as final 
regulations up to that time.
    The new uniform compliance date will apply only to final FSIS 
regulations that require changes in the labeling of meat and poultry 
products and that are published after January 1, 2009, and before 
December 31, 2010. In each of these regulations, FSIS will specifically 
identify January 1, 2012, as the compliance date. All meat and poultry 
food products that are subject to labeling regulations promulgated 
between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, will be required to 
comply with these regulations when introduced into commerce on or after 
January 1, 2012. If any food labeling regulation involves special 
circumstances that justify a compliance date other than January 12, 
2012, the Agency will determine for that regulation an appropriate 
compliance date, which will be specified when the final regulation is 
published.
    In rulemaking that began with the publication of a proposed rule on 
May 4, 2004, FSIS provided notice and solicited comment on the concept 
of establishing uniform compliance dates for labeling requirements (69 
FR 24539). In the March 5, 2007, final rule, FSIS noted that the Agency 
received only four comments in response to the proposal, all fully 
supportive of the policy to set uniform compliance dates. Therefore, in 
the March 5, 2007, final rule, FSIS determined that further rulemaking 
for the establishment of uniform compliance dates for labeling 
requirements is unnecessary (72 FR 9651). Consistent with its statement 
in 2007, FSIS finds at this time that further rulemaking on this matter 
is unnecessary. However, FSIS is providing an opportunity for comment 
on whether the uniform compliance date established in this final rule 
should be modified or revoked.

Executive Order 12988

    This final rule has been reviewed under the Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. Under this final rule: (1) All state and local 
laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule will be 
preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; and 
(3) no retroactive proceedings will be required before parties may file 
suit in court challenging this rule.

Executive Order 12866

    FSIS has examined the impacts of the final rule under Executive 
Order 12866, which directs agencies to assess costs and benefits of 
available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to 
select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including 
potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). This action has been 
determined to be not significant and, therefore, has not been reviewed 
by the Office of Management and Budget.
    Establishing a uniform compliance date for all future Federal food 
product labeling regulations affecting the meat and poultry industry 
that are issued by FSIS over a two year period will eliminate 
potentially burdensome requirements otherwise faced by the industry.
    The regulation also greatly limits the possibility of potentially 
conflicting compliance dates for labeling requirements developed for 
meat and poultry products and labeling requirements developed for non-
meat and non-poultry products. It thus provides for an orderly industry 
adjustment to any new labeling requirements. Labeling changes in 
response to Federal regulations will likely be less frequent, and 
establishments will be able to plan for full utilization of their 
labeling stocks.

Need for the Rule

    Establishing uniform compliance dates for food labeling regulations 
issued within specified time periods minimizes the economic impact of 
label changes for industry and may indirectly benefit consumers if cost 
savings are passed on in the form of lower prices.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    This rule does not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. Consequently, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The 
uniform compliance date does not impose any burden on small entities. 
The Agency will conduct regulatory flexibility of future labeling 
regulations if such analyses are required.

Paperwork Requirements

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

E-Government Act Compliance

    FSIS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to 
promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to 
provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government 
information and services for other purposes.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that 
minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this 
final rule, FSIS will announce it on-line through the FSIS Web page 
located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/2008_
Interim_&_Final_Rules_Index/index.asp. 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, and other types of information that could affect or 
would be of interest to constituents and stakeholders. The Update is 
communicated via Listserv, a free electronic mail subscription service 
for industry, trade groups, consumer interest groups, health 
professionals and other individuals who have asked to be included. The 
Update is available on the FSIS Web page. Through the Listserv and the 
Web page, FSIS is able to

[[Page 75566]]

provide information to a much broader and more diverse audience.
    In addition, FSIS offers an e-mail subscription service which 
provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news 
and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/
news_and_events/email_subscription/. Options range from recalls to 
export information to regulations, directives and notices. Customers 
can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to 
password protect their accounts.

    Done at Washington, DC, on December 9, 2008.
Alfred V. Almanza,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. E8-29485 Filed 12-11-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P