The U.S. FDA is examining its approach in using dairy food names like “milk,” “cheese,” or “yogurt” for labeling plant-based foods and beverages. The agency is considering whether to modernize standards of identity, which are regulations that set requirements for the content and sometimes the methods used to produce certain foods. The regulations were established under the foods’ common names, such as “milk,” “yogurt,” and “cheddar cheese.” These names are recently appearing on the labels of plant-based products as part of the statement of identity. Some examples include “soy milk” or “almond milk” and “vegan mozzarella cheese.” FDA has concerns that the labeling of some plant-based products, which can vary widely in their nutritional content, is leading consumers to believe that those products have same key nutritional attributes as dairy products. The agency wants to ensure labeling plant-based products with names that include dairy foods is not misleading. Over the next year, the FDA will be looking at next steps, which will include issuing guidance for industry.
In addition, FDA recently published a Federal Register notice announcing the fees the agency will assess for issuing new export certification for certain foods. The new export certification and fees were authorized by FSMA amendments to the FD&C Act, which allow the agency to collect up to $175 for export certification for food. On October 1, the agency began issuing and collecting fees for two new types of food certificates in accordance to this new FSMA authority: the Certificate to a Foreign Government and Certificate of Exportability. Exceptions include dietary supplements, medical foods, and foods for special dietary use. CFSAN will continue to issue a Certificate of Free Sale for dietary supplements, medical foods, and foods for special dietary use. FDA does not charge a fee for Certificates of Free Sale.
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USDA’s trade mitigation package is aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to trade retaliation by foreign nations. Producers of certain commodities can sign up for the Market Facilitation Program, which provides payments to cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of traditional exports. The sign-up period runs through Jan. 15, 2019, with information on www.farmers.gov/mfp. The USDA’s AMS is also administering a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities targeted by the retaliation. USDA’s FNS will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. In addition, the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program will help American farmers find and access new markets for their products. In total, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with World Trade Organization obligations. Funding will be allocated to eligible participants in early 2019.
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GS1, the global information standards organization, has ratified a new global Web standard and guideline to help industry optimize the online shopping experience. As businesses begin to deploy solutions leveraging the new standard, called GS1 Digital Link, brands and retailers can web-enable barcodes and provide consumers with a direct link to brand-authorized product information and content including product images, expiration dates, nutritional data, warranty registration, troubleshooting instructions, discount offers, and more. Additionally, the GS1 Mobile Ready Hero Images guideline standardizes the combination of product images and information viewed on mobile devices.
General Mills Changing Nature Valley Labels After Pesticide Claim
As reported by Reuters, General Mills Inc. agreed to stop calling the oats in its Nature Valley granola bars 100% natural to settle a lawsuit by three consumer groups that said the bars contained small amounts of the pesticide commonly known as Roundup. Beyond Pesticides, Moms Across America, and the Organic Consumers Association on August 23 said the settlement calls for General Mills to remove the phrase “Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” from Nature Valley labels. The groups said independent tests showed that the granola bars contained 0.45 ppm of glyphosate, and that oats were the “most likely” source of the pesticide. While this was below the maximum 30 parts per million that the EPA recommends, the groups said General Mills’ label was deceptive and that “no reasonable consumer” would expect the bars to contain anything unnatural.