Constituent Update - November 1, 2013
FSIS Announces New Generic Labeling Rules and Guidelines
Today, FSIS announced the latest step in its efforts to streamline and improve the approval process for meat and poultry product labels and to implement value-added business practices that support the overall food safety mission. The agency is expanding the circumstances in which labels may be considered "generically approved." Under the revised generic labeling rule, statements on labels that are defined in FSIS’ regulations or the Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book will not require prior approval. Revising this rule to include such statements allows companies to create and use new labels for meat and poultry products more quickly and efficiently, while still ensuring consumers have truthful information available to them as they make decisions when shopping for food. Moreover, the use of generic labeling will help products get to retail shelves faster, and it also helps FSIS’ staff focus on more difficult food labeling or food safety issues.
Labels bearing special claims such as "vegetarian fed" or "no added antibiotics" will still need to be submitted to FSIS for approval. Once such labels are approved by the agency, the company does not have to resubmit the label to the agency for approval if the company later adds statements that are defined in FSIS’ regulations (e.g., a defined nutrient content claims, such as "low fat"). FSIS’ inspection personnel will continue to verify some aspects of labels in plants, including comparing the ingredients list against a product’s formulation, as they were doing before this final rule.
Companies still need to submit labels bearing certain claims, such as organic, natural or animal-raising, as well as labels for temporary approval; products produced under religious exemption; and export-only that bear labeling deviations. Other examples of special claims that need to be submitted for approval include:
- Gluten free: certified and non certified;
- Implied nutrition claims: Heart Smart; Baked not Fried; and Made without Butter;
- Natural claims: All Natural; and 100% Natural;
- Negative claims or free claims: no animal by-products; no MSG; no MSG added; and no preservatives.
Expanding provisions for generic labeling reduces the number of labels that need to be submitted to FSIS for review. FSIS inspectors will continue to verify that all labels are accurate, not misleading, and in compliance with all labeling requirements. The agency will provide extra guidance and instructions for its inspectors to continue in-plant labeling verification activities.
FSIS will present a series of webinars and will provide new guidance online to help the industry, especially smaller producers, take advantage of this time- and cost-saving measure. This new rule follows the May 2012 release of an online Label Submission and Approval System (LSAS), which 1) makes it possible for food manufacturers to submit label applications electronically; 2) flags application submission errors that could delay the approval process; and 3) allows users to track the progress of their submissions.
FSIS encourages industry to embrace both generic label approval and LSAS as means to get approved labels on their products more quickly. To learn more about the generic labeling rule, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/interim-and-final-rules. The compliance guide is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/bf170761-33e3-4a2d-8f86-940c2698e2c5/Comp-Guide-Labeling-Evaluation-Approval.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
Get Answers at askFSIS
AskFSIS is a web-based technology and policy question-and-answer forum on topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.
In addition, askFSIS offers Really Simple Syndication feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit http://askfsis.custhelp.com/ to view recently posted topics.
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following areas:
- Hong Kong
Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products.
FSIS Policy Update
FSIS issues notices and directives to protect public health. All notices and directives are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations. The following policy updates and directives were recently issued:
- Notice 70-13, Specified Risk Material (SRM) Control Verification Task
- Notice 71-13, Unsplit Sternum of Livestock Carcasses in Slaughter Establishments
- Directive 2450.2, Revision 1 Government Paid Parking For Non-Bargaining Unit Employees
- Directive 6100.8, Instructions for Verification of IMPROVEST® Hogs
Update: FSIS Testing for E. coli
FSIS posts biweekly updates for the agency’s raw ground beef E. coli sampling program. Included are testing results of raw ground beef component samples for E. coli O157:H7 and STECs from FSIS routine and follow-up sampling programs. Also featured is data for non-O157 STECs by each non-O157 STEC serogroup.
Follow Us On Twitter
Find food safety information for at-risk people, along with tips and resources to keep consumers and other interested groups informed of the latest agency news and events. Follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USDAFoodSafety.
Also Tweet en Español
The FSIS Spanish language Twitter feed keeps consumers and other interested communities informed of the latest agency news and events and provides useful food safety tips. Follow FSIS’ Spanish Twitter account at www.twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.