NEIL H . MERMELSTEIN

Agencies to jointly review certain meat and poultry petitions
The Food and Drug Administration has amended its regulations to permit an efficient joint review by FDA and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service of petitions for approval to use a food ingredient or source of radiation in or on meat or poultry products. This rule became effective on Aug. 25, with certain exceptions regarding collection of information provisions. Deadline for comments on the collection of information provisions is Oct. 24. Details are in the Federal Register of Aug. 25 (65 FR 51758–51763). For more information, contact A.M. Beloian at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3082).

Health claim approved regarding plant sterol and stanol esters and reduced risk of heart disease
FDA has authorized a health claim regarding the association between plant sterol or stanol esters and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, in response to petitions filed by Lipton and McNeil Consumer Healthcare. Spreads and dressings for salad may bear the health claim if they contain at least 0.65 g of plant sterol esters per reference amount customarily consumed (i.e., per standard serving). Spreads, dressings for salad, snack bars, and dietary supplements in softgel form may bear the health claim if they contain at least 1.7 g of plant stanol esters per reference amount customarily consumed. The foods bearing the health claim must meet the nutrient content requirements for “low saturated fat’’ and “low cholesterol’’ but not the requirements for ``low fat.’’ Eligible foods may make claims such as “Foods containing at least 0.65 grams per serving of plant sterol esters, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of [name of the food] supplies ___ grams of vegetable oil sterol esters’’ or “Foods containing at least 1.7 grams per serving of plant stanol esters, eaten twice a day with meals for a total daily intake of at least 3.4 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of [name of the food] supplies ___ grams of plant stanol esters.’’ Deadline for comments is Nov. 22. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 8 (65 FR 54685–54739). For more information, contact S.A. Ross at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-5343).

Database on foodborne illness risk factors released, teleconference scheduled
FDA has announced the availability of its “Report of the FDA Retail Food Program Database of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors.’’ The report establishes a baseline to measure how effective industry and regulatory efforts are in changing behaviors and practices that directly relate to foodborne illness in the retail food industry. A public meeting will be held via an interactive satellite teleconference on Oct. 27. Satellite coordinates for the broadcast will be posted at www.fda.gov beginning Oct. 13. The meeting will discuss the methodology used for developing a baseline on the occurrence of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–identified foodborne illness risk factors in retail-level institutional food establishments, restaurants, and retail food stores and the data from the baseline inspections that were conducted by FDA Regional Food Specialists in 1998–99. The report is available at www.fda.gov. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 6 (65 FR 54056–54057). For more information, contact D.M. Buckmon or L.P. Abbey at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-8140).

Meat and poultry partial quality control programs rule corrected
FSIS has corrected its final rule, “Elimination of Requirements for Partial Quality Control Programs,’’ which was published in the Federal Register of May 30 (65 FR 34381). The final rule removes the remaining requirements pertaining to partial quality control (PQC) programs. A PQC program controls a single product, operation, or part of an operation in a meat or poultry establishment, whereas a total quality control (TQC) system controls all products and processes in an establishment. FSIS is removing the design requirements for PQC programs and the requirements for establishments to have PQC programs for certain products or processes. Removal of these requirements will make the meat and poultry inspection regulations more consistent with FSIS’s regulations on pathogen reduction and hazard analysis and critical control point systems and give inspected establishments greater flexibility to adopt new technologies and methods that will improve food safety and other consumer protections. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 5 (65 FR 53531–53533). For more information, contact D.L. Engeljohn at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-720-5627).

Use of acidified sodium chlorite solutions in meat and poultry processing requested
Alcide Corp. has asked FDA to allow use of acidified sodium chlorite solutions as (1) an antimicrobial agent on processed, comminuted, or formed meat products prior to packaging and (2) a component of a post-chill carcass spray or dip when applied to poultry meat, organs, or related parts or trim. Deadline for comments is Oct. 11. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 11 (65 FR 54855). For more information, contact R.L. Martin at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., ., Washington, DC 20204 (202-418-3074). 

Bottled water labeling study report available
FDA is publishing its final study report on the feasibility of appropriate methods of informing customers of the contents of bottled water, as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments. Details are in the Federal Register of Aug. 25 (65 FR 51833–51839). For more information, contact R.J. Buckner at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-4081).

by NEILH . MERMELSTEIN 
Senior Editor