Category Archives U.S. Government and Regulatory Agencies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's September 14, 2018, remarks delivered at the Pew Charitable Trusts on the issue of antimicrobial resistance, including the effects of antibiotics in animals raised for food production. Gottlieb indicated that the agency will release "a draft strategy, likely as a new guidance for industry, by the end of fiscal year 2020" to advise companies on "ensuring that medically important antimicrobials are labeled with appropriately defined durations of use." In addition, FDA's Science Board will hold a public meeting on October 22, 2018, to hear the Center for Veterinary Medicine's response to the board's recommendations on the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System. The board will also discuss "potential hazards and nutritional considerations in the production of food derived from animal cell culture technologies."

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed Rep. Vern Buchanan's (R-Fla.) Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018, a bill that would prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for the purpose of human consumption. The bill would also prohibit the knowing sale or donation of a dog or cat to a person who would slaughter it for consumption. The bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement providing an update on how mandated added-sugar labeling will affect honey and maple syrup. "We recognized that this new labeling information on 'packaged as such' products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are 'added sugars' listed on the label," Gottlieb notes. FDA previously proposed the use of an additional disclosure for honey and maple syrup products, but "the more than 3,000 comments we received on the draft guidance indicate that there are further opportunities to update our proposed approach," according to the press release. Gottlieb indicated that final guidance will be released in 2019. "This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient 'packaged as such' products that does not involve the standard 'added…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced a joint public meeting to discuss "the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry." The meeting, which will be held October 23-24, 2018, will focus on "the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labeling" of the product category. Following a conference hosted by the Good Food Institute, cell-based meat brand representatives reportedly agreed to "abandon[] the term 'clean meat' in favor of cell-based meat." "We discussed the pros and cons of the term 'clean meat,' and decided to shift our label to 'cell-based meat,'" a conference attendee reportedly told Food Navigator. "Traditional meat companies can be our biggest ally if they want to work with us. We can help them transition from industrial animal agriculture to cell-based meat. Cell-based meat is a better label to bring them on board."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the intention to establish a 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and has solicited nominations for membership. The committee will consist of 13 to 20 members and will begin meeting in late 2018 or early 2019. The U.S. Codex Office will hold a public meeting on September 26, 2018, to receive public comments on U.S. positions for the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have introduced legislation that would providing funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct environmental sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can be used in food packaging. According to the senators' press release, "There are more than 3,000 chemicals containing PFAS but less than 30 of these substances can be detected using current technology. The data collected by the USGS could be used to better assess the likely health and environmental impacts of exposure to PFAS chemicals and determine how to address contamination moving forward."

Leaf Brands, which manufactures and sells Hydrox cookies, has reportedly filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging anti-competitive practices by Mondelez, which produces Oreos. In a social media post, Leaf Brands alleges that Mondelez has been "undertaking a national program to damage our brand and stop us from competing," including "trying to make it hard to find our cookies in stores nationally, in hopes of lowering sales volume and having us discontinued." Leaf Brands alleges that when Mondelez employees stock grocery stores shelves, they move Hydrox cookies to less noticeable areas on the shelf. "We hope the Federal Trade Commission will start the investigation very soon," the post states. "We understand there is already case law on this issue and we hope to utilize it in our case against Mondelez."

The U.S. Department of the Interior has reportedly withdrawn a 2014 memorandum prohibiting the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in National Wildlife Refuge areas. "There may be situations [] where use of GMO crop seeds is essential to best fulfill the purposes of the refuge and the needs of birds and other wildlife as described above. A blanket denial of GMOs does not provide on-the-ground latitude for refuge managers to work adaptively and make field level decisions about the best manner to fulfill the purposes of the refuge," a memorandum from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan states. "Therefore, by this memorandum, I am withdrawing the July 17, 2014 memorandum in full, thereby reversing the decision to universally ban the use of genetically modified crops on refuges."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has lowered the age requirement for poultry carcasses to be classified as "roaster chickens." The previous standard required chickens to be eight weeks old and weight 5.5 pounds; according to a petition from the National Chicken Council, this standard prevented companies from labeling and marketing chickens as "roasters" even if they "met all the physical attributes apart from the minimum age requirement." Because of "continuous improvements in breeding and poultry management techniques," producers are able "to raise chickens with the characteristics of roasters in under 8 weeks," AMS has determined. The change took effect on August 6, 2018, the notice's publication date.

Following his related statements at a conference, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has announced that the agency will review the standardized identities of dairy products and products marketed as their substitutes, including beverages made from almonds, rice or soy. The announcement suggests that allowing the plant-based substitutes to be labeled as “milk” has caused confusion among consumers and led to detrimental effects on children. “We’re going to have an active public process for reviewing our standard and how consumers understand the use of terms like milk on both animal-derived and plant-based products," Gottlieb said in the announcement. "We want to see if the nutritional characteristics and other differences between these products are well-understood by consumers when making dietary choices for themselves and their families. We must better understand if consumers are being misled as a result of the way the term milk is being applied and…