FDA Reconsiders “Healthy” Labeling Requirements

As a result of the KIND Healthy Snacks company petition, the FDA has reconsidered the term “healthy” for labeling on food and beverages.

Under the FDA’s current application of food labeling regulations, whether or not a food can be labeled “healthy” is based on specific nutrient levels, rather than its overall nutrition quality. The “healthy” labeling requirements tied to nutritional content have not changed.

What has changed is a company’s ability to label its products as “healthy” in a way that is clearly presented as a corporate philosophy, but not as a nutrient content claim. It cannot be labeled in the nutrition facts portion of the label.

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Contains Optional Labeling Provision

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 is a key piece of legislation. The bill would authorize $9.3 billion for improvements and maintenance for ports, coastal navigation channels, river channels, canals, dams, locks and levees, as well as funding for ecosystem restoration projects and financial assistance for public drinking water and wastewater systems.

WRDA contains a “voluntary” labeling fee provision for the right of a brand/customer to place a label on their packaging stating that they are contributing to the water infrastructure fund and supporting clean water – each label would require a 3 cent per unit contribution to the Fund.

The labeling provisions would be overseen by FDA, and although not specifically stated, would likely focus on food and beverage customers who wish to participate in the right to label their products. Fees collected would be used to pay for clean water infrastructure as well as port and marine related infrastructure.

The bill also expands the existing WaterSense labeling program, currently overseen by EPA, by adding products that may qualify to carry the label should they meet program requirements.

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee recently passed the bill out of Committee by a 19-1 vote. Senate Republican leadership is working for floor passage this summer. The FDA would undertake a rulemaking to determine label standards, including size, recyclability and other compatibility issues.

California BPA Warning Labeling

A sub-agency within CA has decided include BPA on the Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

 What’s next? After the level of BPA needed to trigger the warning is established, all consumer products that breach the established level will need to have their products appropriately labeled within 12 months.

Unlike other states, CA has demonstrated its ability to be very aggressive in enforcing issues related to statute, both with enforcement action (warnings, fines, etc.), as well as class action lawsuits against companies not in compliance, often led by trial attorneys trolling for business.

 Possible result? An influx of those companies that would be required to label, seeking the services of the label companies.

Click for a news article from Reuters on the matter.


Source – TLMI

FDA Targets Sugar Recommendations, Continues Moving Towards Revised Food & Beverage Label Requirements

At the end of July, the FDA issued a comment period related to individual food and beverage packaging labels, this time specific to sugar.  While sugar is already listed on food and beverage packaging, unlike other ingredients, it is not tied to an index based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

When the food and beverage packaging labeling are revised and finalized by the FDA, we believe that the amount of sugar recommended per day will be included.  The notice issued by the FDA for sugar is the first formal step in this regard, with a 75-day comment period that began at the Agency on July 27th.

Anticipated Compliance Date for Broader Food and Beverage Labeling – January 1, 2018

The FDA has stated that industry will need to be compliant of any regulations regarding food and beverage labeling finalized in 2015 or 2016, by January 1, 2018.

While the nutritional labeling has not yet been officially “finalized”, it is very likely to be so by the end of 2016.  Many in the industry are anticipating a final rule/decision on nutritional labeling by March 2016.

As drafted and issued by the FDA, the below image captures the latest proposal for changes to current labeling requirements.  Please note, while this image does not reference the “percentage” of sugar recommended, we anticipate that will be included in the final version.

FDA Image

If your company is interested in providing comments to the FDA on this and other proposed labeling requirements, please click here.

In addition the U.S. FDA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a web-tool kit for industry, so companies may ensure they are in compliance with all labeling for food and beverage products.  The Tool Kit breakdowns industry labeling requirements by category, and also provides information on “health” and other claims that may be legally permitted on products.

Source – TLMI

Food & Beverage Labeling Activity in DC

The most significant activity regarding food and beverage labeling occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives, with the House passing H.R. 1599, by a 275 to 150 margin. As highlighted in the state report, the legislation would not prevent companies from voluntarily labeling their food products as GMO-free, but would prohibit companies from being required to label that their food products contain GMOs. The legislation is now in the Senate Agriculture Committee, awaiting further debate and consideration.

Passage of this bill in the Senate will be much more difficult. Opponents of the legislation are making two cases against it. First, that the consumer needs to know if GMOs are in their food products, and that sates should be free to establish their own requirements with respect to food labeling laws. Consumer rights advocacy groups, as well as business-based coalitions have also stepped up ad and PR campaigns promoting their positions on the issue.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to hold hearings on the legislation this fall. In addition, 15 states are currently considering some form of GMO labeling for food. We anticipate that of the state legislatures scheduled to reconvene this fall, many will continue to consider bills pertaining to GMOs.

Source – TLMI

Final Ruling on Labeling of Added Solutions in Raw Meat & Poultry

On December 31, 2014, the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule requiring the use of descriptive designations as part of the product name on labels for raw meat and poultry products that contain added solutions and do not meet a “standard of identity”.  The descriptive designation must include the percentage of added solution as well as the individual ingredients or multi-ingredient components in the solution listed in descending order of predominance by weight.  FSIS is now prohibiting the use of the term “enhanced” in the product name, including the descriptive designation.  FSIS states in the ruling that in addition to “contains” or “containing”, the terms “for flavor”, “flavored with”, “basted” or “marinated” may be used.

The print for all words in the product name, including in the descriptive designation, must appear in a single “easy to read” type style and color on a single color contrasting background.  The print may appear in upper and lowercase type, with lower case letters not smaller than 1/3 the size of the largest letter.  The percent solution must appear as a number with the percentage sign (e.g. 20%) and may be declared with the word “containing” or “contains” among other terms specified in the compliance document.  The word “enhanced” is not permitted in the product name.  FSIS is also removing the standard of identity regulation for “ready to cook poultry products to which solutions are added”.  (Reference 9 CFR 381.169)

The ruling occurred in response to petitions from the public and encompassed passed experience in label reviews.  The ruling will impact both retail stores and official establishments.  General compliance date is January 1, 2016 although a separate date of January 1, 2018 has been set for the requirement that lower case letters not be smaller than 1/3 the size of the largest letter in the product name or descriptive designation.

The product name and the descriptive designation must be printed in a single “easy to read” type style and color and must appear on a single color contrasting background.  Upper and lowercase letters may be used for the product name and descriptive designation, however lowercase letters cannot be smaller than 1/3 the size of the largest letter.

The percentage of the added solution is the total weight of the solution ingredients divided by the weight of the raw protein (meat, poultry) without solution or any other added ingredients multiplied by 100.  The percentage of solution must appear as a number (such as 20, 25, 30) and the percent symbol “%”.

The rule applies to raw meat and poultry products containing added solutions.  This ruling INCLUDES MARINADES.  Meat and poultry products marinated in a retail establishment must be labeled or identified with signage in accordance with the rule.  FSIS has stated that retail signage for these products is covered by the regulation (example a sign posted near unpackaged product in a display case).  Retailers will be required to determine marinade absorption rates.  Meat and poultry products containing added solutions that are labeled by retailers must comply with the requirements of the regulation.

When the descriptive designation includes all ingredients in the solution, a separate ingredients statement is not required.  When the descriptive designation includes multi ingredient components and the ingredients of the components are not declared in the descriptive designation all ingredients in the product must be declared in a separate ingredients statement on the label.

In cases where existing labels are altered to comply with the new ruling, resubmission for approval may not be required.  FSIS published a final rule on November 7, 2013 that expanded the circumstances in which FSIS generically approves meat and poultry labels.  Labels for these products containing added solutions can be generically approved provided they display all mandatory features in a prominent manner in compliance with the regulations and are not otherwise false or misleading.

You can follow the USDA changes and other helpful information on twitter at this link.

Sample Label