Neil Mermelstein

Neil H. Mermelstein

Premarket notice for biotech foods proposed
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to require submission of a premarket biotechnology notice at least 120 days prior to commercial distribution of plant-derived bioengineered foods for human or animal consumption. Details are in the Federal Register of Jan. 18 (66 FR 4706-4738). Deadline for comments is April 3. For more information, contact L.S. Kahl at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3101).

Guidance on biotech labeling available
FDA has issued a draft guidance to assist manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label whether their food or feed has been made with or without the use of bioengineering or bioengineered ingredients. Details are in the Federal Register of Jan. 18 (66 FR 4839-4842) or at www.cfsan.fda.gov/dms/. Deadline for comments is March 19. For more information, C. Ferre-Hockensmith at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-4168).

Labeling of water content of meat and poultry required
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is limiting the amount of water retained by raw, single-ingredient, meat and poultry products as a result of post-evisceration processing, such as carcass washing and chilling, unless any water retained is an inevitable consequence of the process used to meet food safety requirements. The label must state the maximum percentage of retained water in the raw product. FSIS is also revising the poultry chilling regulations to improve consistency with the Pathogen Reduction/HACCP regulations. The rule is effective on Jan. 9, 2002. Deadline for comments is April 9. Details are in the Federal Register of Jan. 9 (66 FR 1749-1772). For more information, contact P.F. Stolfa at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-205-0699).

Mandatory nutrition labeling of raw meat and poultry proposed
FSIS is proposing to require mandatory nutrition labeling of major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products, either on their label or at point-of-purchase, and mandatory nutrition labeling on packages of all ground or chopped meat and poultry products, with or without added seasonings. The agency is also proposing to allow a lean percentage claim on labeling of a ground or chopped product that does not meet the criteria to be labeled “low fat,” as long as a statement of the fat percentage is also displayed. Details are in the Federal Register of Jan. 18 (66 FR 4969-4999). Deadline for comments is April 18. For more information, contact R. Post at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-205-0279).

Vibrio and Listeria risk assessments available for comment
On Jan. 18, FDA announced the availability of a draft risk assessment of the estimated public health risks associated with raw oysters containing pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Deadline for comments is March 20. Details are available at www.foodsafety.gov/~dms/fs-toc.html. Also on Jan. 18, FDA and FSIS released a draft risk assessment of the potential relative risk of listeriosis from eating certain ready-to-eat foods, as well as an action plan designed to reduce the risk of foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Deadline for comments is March 20. Details are available at www.foodsafety.gov, www.cfsan.fda.gov, and www.fsis.usda.gov.

Final rule on fruit and vegetable juice processing issued
On Jan. 18, FDA issued a final rule designed to improve the safety of fruit and vegetable juice and juice products. Juice processors must use HACCP principles for juice processing. They must achieve a 5-log reduction in the numbers of the most resistant pathogen in their finished products compared to levels in untreated juice. They may use microbial reduction methods other than pasteurization, including approved alternative technologies. Processors making shelf-stable juices or concentrates that use a single thermal processing step are exempt from the microbial hazard requirements. Retail establishments where packaged juice is made and only sold directly to consumers (such as juice bars) are not required to comply with the regulation.

FDA sets priorities for fiscal year 2001
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has issued its list of program priorities for fiscal year 2001. It includes an A list of more than 120 activities it plans to complete during the year and a B list of activities it plans to make progress on during the year but may not complete. The list is available at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cfsan101.html. The agency also issued a “report card” on its fiscal year 2000 programs. The agency had condensed implementation of the 2000 work plan into nine months and set as its goal to complete at least three-quarters of the A list activities. It exceeded this goal by completing 78% of the goals (84 out of 108 activities). It also completed 21 B list activities and made substantial progress on others. The report is available at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cfsand00.html.

by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN
Senior Editor

About the Author

IFT Fellow
Editor Emeritus of Food Technology
[email protected]
Neil Mermelstein