Category Archives Legislation, Regulations and Standards

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced that it sent warning letters to three companies selling "oils, tinctures, capsules, 'gummies,' and creams containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant." The announcement notes that the letters warn the companies—which have not been identified—that "it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims." The agency states that each company marketed its CBD products as able to "treat or cure serious diseases and health conditions," such as relieving "even the most agonizing pain" or treating autism, anorexia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injuries and other conditions. "In the letters, the FTC urges the companies to review all claims made for their products, including consumer testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The letters also warn that selling CBD…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Consumer Reports have petitioned the Food Safety and Inspection Service, requesting the agency "clarify the labeling of processed meats." "Specifically, we ask that the agency cease requiring that such products be labeled 'Uncured,' and/or 'No Nitrate or Nitrite Added' when they have been processed using non-synthetic sources of nitrate and nitrite, such as celery powder, rather than traditional synthetic sources, such as sodium nitrite." The petition asserts that both "synthetic and non-synthetic nitrites and nitrates may cause cancer," and the petition coincided with the release of a Consumer Reports investigation purportedly finding that "consumers are confused by the 'No Nitrate or Nitrite Added' statements, which are currently accompanied by a fine-print disclaimer on product labels identifying the non-synthetic source of nitrates or nitrites." "We therefore urge the agency to stop requiring, and instead prohibit, the 'No Nitrate or Nitrite Added'…

Denmark has reportedly passed a law that will ban per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from cardboard and paper used for food packaging. "These substances represent such a health problem that we can no longer wait for the EU," Denmark's food minister is quoted as saying. Recycled paper may continue to be used if the PFAS compounds are separated from food with a barrier. PFAS compounds have come under scrutiny in both the United States and Europe as agencies research the effects of consuming the substances.

Mississippi's bill restricting the use of animal-derived food products to describe plant-based foods, which has been in effect since July 2019, has reportedly received proposed amendments that would allow food companies to use such words if they are modified by vegetable-associated qualifiers, such as "veggie," "meatless" or "plant-based." The updated regulation would also allow food establishments to keep animal-derived and plant-derived products separate "provided that such non-meat products comply" with the naming regulations "and do not contain any false or misleading consumer disclosures."

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has conducted a study on how "use by" and "best by" dates on food products could be improved to reduce food waste. The agency examined actions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and concluded with the recommendation that "USDA and FDA develop a mechanism to facilitate coordination with relevant nonfederal stakeholders on actions related to date labels," according to the agency. "USDA and FDA agreed with our recommendation and are planning actions to implement the recommendation."

The Coconut Coalition of the Americas has announced an effort to revise 2006 guidance interpreting the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act "to remove coconut from the list of 'tree nuts' identified as a major food allergen," according to a press release. "The fact is coconut is not a major food allergen nor is it a nut," the organization asserts. It cites the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to argue that coconut is a fruit rather than a tree nut, and although "allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut."

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Memet Beqiri had pleaded guilty to "a charge related to his meat processing business's falsification of numerous E. coli test results," according to a press release. Beqiri, owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing LLC, allegedly prepared and submitted falsified documents indicating that the company had sent carcass swabs and ground beef samples to a certified laboratory, which purportedly had found no E. coli. "In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory," the press release states. The charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; Beqiri will be sentenced in November 2019.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a public meeting to discuss the agency's "effort to modernize food standards of identity (SOI) and provide information about changes we could make to existing SOI, particularly changes that could be made across categories of standardized foods (i.e., horizontal changes), to provide flexibility for the development of healthier foods." The meeting will be held September 27, 2019, and comments on the subject will be accepted until November 12.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold a public workshop to consider "Made in USA" product claims on September 26, 2019. In advance, FTC is requesting comments on several questions, including: (i) "What rationales underlie consumer preferences for products made in USA?"; (ii) "When consumers see product advertisements or labels stating or implying that products are 'Made in USA' or the equivalent, what amount of U.S. parts and labor do they assume are in the products?"; and (iii) "Do firms that advertise their products as 'Made in USA' charge higher prices than their competitors whose products are not advertised in this way?"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued the first warning letter enforcing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Final Rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals. The letter targeted a company importing tahini that was recalled after purportedly causing a Salmonella outbreak. "Moving forward, the FDA will take more steps to ensure compliance with FSVP, including reinspecting importers that had deficiencies in previous inspections and by acting immediately when FSVP deficiencies are found that pose an imminent public health risk," the agency's announcement stated.