February Food and Agriculture Regulatory Recap

OFW’s Food & Agriculture team regularly monitors announcements and policy issuances from FDA, USDA, and other agencies to keep our clients apprised of regulatory developments that may impact their business. Here are a few of the developments from February that should be highlighted. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

  • Cocoa Health Claims –On February 3, 2023, FDA announced it does not intend to object to the use of certain qualified health claims, as long as they do not mislead consumers, regarding the consumption of cocoa flavanols in high flavanol cocoa powder and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease for conventional foods. The letter of enforcement discretion can be found here.

  • Priority Guidance Documents – On February 23, 2023, FDA published a list of priority “Food Program Guidance Documents Under Development.” The list includes possible new topics the FDA Food Program is considering. Categories for guidance documents include: allergens, cosmetics, dietary supplements, food additives, food safety, FSMA, and labeling.

  • Plant-Based Milk Alternatives – On February 23, 2023, FDA announced the draft guidance, “Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements.” Once finalized, the draft guidance will provide the industry with (i) the FDA’s view on the naming of plant-based food products that are marketed and sold as alternatives to milk, i.e., “plant-based milk alternatives” (PBMA); and (ii) the FDA’s recommendations on the use of voluntary nutrient statements to inform consumers about nutritional differences between PBMA and milk.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Generic Labeling Expansion – On January 17, 2023, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a Final Rule to expand the situations under which meat, poultry, and egg product labels are generically approved. The Final Rule goes into effect on March 20, 2023. On February 23, 2023, FSIS hosted the first of multiple virtual webinars to discuss the Final Rule. Subsequent webinars will be hosted on March 1, March 7, and March 15 (more information here).

  • 2022 Achievements – On February 6, 2023, FSIS posted a list of the key achievements in 2022. These include the Agency’s efforts to reduce illnesses linked to Salmonella in poultry, support small and very small establishments, the result of the “Product of the USA” labeling survey, state inspection programs, collaboration, and fostering diversity, equity, and opportunity.

  • NARMS Report – On February 10, 2023, FSIS released the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) Multi-Year Report, which describes Salmonella serotypes and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) trends in select food animal species and products from 2014-2019.

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