Category Archives Legislation, Regulations and Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced public meetings to discuss proposed positions for the United States to take at various Codex Alimentarius Commissions. A meeting on general principles and procedures is scheduled for February 25, 2019, for the March Codex meeting in Bordeaux, France. The U.S. Codex Office will also host a public meeting on April 1, 2019, to discuss positions on contaminants in foods and a public meeting on May 6, 2019, to discuss methods of analysis.

New York City's health department has reportedly ordered restaurants to stop serving products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) on the grounds that the compound has not been approved as safe for use in food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. City inspectors have apparently marked CBD products as embargoed during routine inspections but have not confiscated the products from the restaurants. Maine's state health authorities reportedly began a similar crackdown on edible products containing CBD in late January, informing retailers that the compound is an unapproved food additive. The health departments' actions do not affect CBD sold in non-food products such as in oil or lotion, according to Eater. Industrial hemp, CBD's source, has faced similar regulatory confusion following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which permitted the cultivation of industrial hemp as an agricultural product. An Idaho federal court has determined that when hemp can be transported between…

A group of members of Congress, led by Reps. John Joyce (R-Pa.) and Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), have urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce "regulations defining what may be labeled a dairy product, to combat the proliferation of imitation and substitute dairy products in the marketplace that undermine FDA regulations by using standardized dairy terms on non-dairy products." "Dairy product terms convey specific information for consumers on nutritional content and ingredient performance. Put simply, imitations and substitutes do not meet these standards, nor do they have any standardized requirements for nutritional content, composition, and processing, unlike the dairy products they seek to imitate. Most importantly, they are not sourced from cows or other lactating mammals as required by the standards we referred to up above," the letter asserts. "Giving this ongoing problem, we are pleased that FDA now plans to act. We urge you to make crystal…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the availability of "Public Warning and Notification of Recalls," final guidance that aims to "increase and expedite the appropriate and accurate use of public warnings and public notification and to increase public health protection by better informing the public about violative products being recalled." "We’re taking a new step to help ensure appropriate public warnings and notification of recalls when FDA-regulated products are involved," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "The final guidance we’re issuing today outlines circumstances when a company should issue a public warning about a voluntary recall, describes the general timeframe for companies to issue such a warning, discusses what information should be included in a public warning, and describes situations where the FDA may take action to issue its own public warning should a company’s warning be deemed insufficient."

A councilwoman has reportedly proposed to criminalize the sale of foie gras in New York City, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to examine California's force-fed foie gras ban. The bill would make the sale of foie gras a misdemeanor and allow the imposition of a one-year prison sentence and fines up to $1,000 for each offense. "Force-feeding a bird for the sole purpose of making it sick to create some bizarre delicacy is gruesome and inhumane. This may have been acceptable in 2500 BC but I think we know better now," a councilman who supports the bill is quoted as saying.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a report detailing its investigation into a 2018 outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce. The report describes the FDA traceback team's investigation into farms with potential links to the outbreak that culminated in a December product recall. "The FDA continues to recommend that leafy green growers, buyer/shippers and retailers be able to trace product back to the specific source in real time and make information about the source, such as harvest date and standardized growing regions, readily available for consumers on either packaging or point of sale signs, or by other means," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release. "We’re pleased to see many companies in the leafy green industry take voluntary steps to quickly respond to our previous recommendations. We believe this is the best approach to be able to inform consumers should there be any future…

The U.K. Food Standards Agency has opened a public consultation on labeling allergens on prepared food products. The consultation applies to foods “prepacked on the premises in anticipation of an order, before being offered for sale,” such as “fresh (uncooked) pizzas from the deli counter,” “boxed salads,” “hot foods such as rotisserie chicken or wedges,” and “foods that are pre-weighed and packed such as cheese or meats from a delicatessen counter or baked goods from an in-store bakery.” The consultation closes March 29, 2019. The New York Times also addressed food allergen labeling, asserting that regulations in the United States are incomplete. The author notes that label statements indicating the possibility of traces of allergens are unregulated, leading to inconsistent messages, and some common allergens are not noted at all, such as sesame.

The Lancet Commission has issued a report on “The Global Syndemic,” a combination of “three pandemics—obesity, undernutrition, and climate change.” The report was intended to focus on obesity as the Commission did in similar reports issued in 2011 and 2015, but the authors apparently found the roles of undernutrition and climate change to be key in understanding global obesity during the process of preparing the report and ultimately expanded its scope. The Commission’s recommendations to improve “The Global Syndemic” include implementing stronger laws at national and lower levels, strengthening accountability systems and “creating sustainable and health-promoting business models,” such as “eliminat[ing] or redirect[ing] subsidies away from products that contribute to The Global Syndemic.” The Commission also suggested that governments “reduce the influence of large commercial interests in public policy development … so that governments can implement policies in the public interest that benefit the health of current and future generations,…

Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood has reintroduced her bill to define "meat" as a product derived from animals following a withdrawal of her previous bill. The updated proposal would define meat as "any edible portion of any livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof and does not include insect-based, plant-based, or lab-grown food products." The bill would also include advertising or selling "an insect-based, a plant-based, or a lab-grown food product as meat" as a deceptive trade practice.

The European Union has requested a World Trade Organization consultation with the United States to address the imposition of tariffs on Spanish olives in August 2018. The United States reportedly applied countervailing and anti-dumping tariffs of 34.75 percent to the import of Spanish black olives on the grounds that Spanish growers receive benefits from the EU that are unavailable to other growers, such as those in California.

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