National organic foods program proposed
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing to prohibit use of genetic engineering, irradiation, and sewage sludge in production of organic foods and ingredients; create a list of substances approved and prohibited for use in organic production and handling; establish an accreditation program for certifying agents; and set standards for labeling and for livestock production. Deadline for comments is June 12. Details are in the Federal Register of March 13 (65 R 13511-13658). For more information, contact R. Mathews at USDA/AMS, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, DC 20090-6456 (phone 202-205-7806).
Egg safety comments requested
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and FDA are soliciting comments on the President’s Council on Food Safety’s Egg Safety Action Plan (see www.foodsafety.gov), designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of Salmonella enteritidis in shell eggs and egg products. Details are in the Federal Register of March 21 (65 FR 15119-15122). For more information, contact N. Bufano at FDA (phone 202-401-2022) or A. Thaler at FSIS (202-690-2683).
Trans fatty acids comment date extended
The Food and Drug Administration has extended until April 17 the deadline for comments on its Nov. 17, 1999, proposed rule on trans fatty acids in nutrition labeling, nutrient content claims, and health claims. FDA proposed to define the nutrient content claim “trans fat free’’ and require, among other things, that the amount of trans fatty acids present in a food or dietary supplement be included in the amount and percent Daily Value declared for saturated fatty acids and that the declaration of saturated fatty acids must refer to a footnote that states the number of grams of trans fatty acids present in a serving. Details are in the Federal Register of February 16 (65 FR 7806-7807). For more information, contact S. Thompson at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-5587.
Seafood HACCP guide available
FDA has announced the availability of its “Seafood HACCP Transition Guidance,’’ which describes the policies and procedures under which the agency may consider refraining from regulatory action. Details are in the Federal Register of February 2 (65 FR 4984-4985). For more information, contact Donald W. Kraemer at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3133.
Petitions submitted to FDA
The National Center for Food Safety and Technology has asked FDA to expand the conditions of safe use for X- radiation and electron beam energy sources for irradiation of prepackaged foods. Details are in the Federal Register of March 2 (65 FR 11320); for more information, contact M.A. Hepp at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3098). Bayer Co. has asked FDA to allow use of dimethyl dicarbonate in noncarbonated juices and juice beverages and to provide for a more descriptive term than “inhibitor of yeast.’’ Details are in the Federal Register of March 7 (65 FR 12014-12015); for more information, contact M.D. Peiperl (202-418-3077). Procter & Gamble Co. has asked FDA to no longer require the olestra label statement, “This product contains olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.’’ P&G contends that the weight of the scientific evidence collected since the 1996 approval establishes that the label statement contains inaccurate information and is not understood by consumers. Details are in the Federal Register of March 3 (65 FR 11585-11586); for more information, contact M.D. Ditto (202-418-3102). Kraft Foods, Inc., has asked FDA to allow use of sodium copper chlorophyllin to color citrus base dry beverage mixes. Details are in the Federal Register of March 14 (65 FR 13770); for more information, contact Aydin Örstan (202-418-3076). FMC Corp. has withdrawn its petition asking FDA to allow use of sodium stearoyl lactylate as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and texturizer in salad dressings and soups. Details are in the Federal Register of March 20 (65 FR 14983); for more information, contact M.E. LaVecchia at 202-418-3072.
FSIS asks about “other consumer protection” activities
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is considering whether it should revise its approach to verifying that meat and poultry products are not misbranded, economically adulterated, or otherwise unacceptable for reasons other than food safety concerns. Deadline for comments is June 15. Details are in the Federal Register of March 17, 2000 (65 FR 14486-14489). For more information, contact D. Engeljohn at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-720-5627).
Supplement manufacturers told not to make claims about pregnancy
FDA on Feb. 9 advised dietary supplement manufacturers not to make pregnancy-related claims on their products based on the agency’s recent structure/function rule and urged pregnant women to consult their health care provider before taking any dietary supplements or medication. FDA plans to issue further guidance in a forthcoming Federal Register notice.
by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN