Neil Mermelstein

Neil H. Mermelstein

New uniform compliance date for labeling regulations set
The Food and Drug Administration has established Jan. 1, 2004, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations issued between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2002. Jan. 1, 2002, is the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations issued between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2000. The agency establishes uniform compliance dates to minimize the economic impact of label changes. Details are in the Federal Register of Nov. 20 (65 FR 69666-69667). For more information, contact L.B. Brock at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-4273).

Shell egg labeling and storage requirements established 
 FDA is requiring (1) a safe handling statement on cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella microorganisms and (2) that retail establishments store and display shell eggs under refrigeration at 7.2ºC (45ºF) or less. FDA is taking these actions because of the number of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and deaths caused by Salmonella enteritidis associated with the consumption of shell eggs. Details are in the Federal Register of Dec. 5 (65 FR 76091-76114). For more information, contact G.A. June (phone 202-205-4561) regarding labeling provisions or N.S. Bufano (202-401-2022) regarding refrigeration provisions, both at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204.

UV irradiation of juice products allowed
FDA is allowing use of ultraviolet irradiation to reduce human pathogens and other microorganisms in juice products. Details are in the Federal Register of Nov. 29 (65 FR 71056-1058). For more information, contact W.J. Trotter at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3088).

Trans fatty acids proposal comment period reopened
FDA has reopened the comment period for its Nov. 17, 1999 (64 FR 62746) nutrition labeling proposal regarding trans fatty acids. FDA proposed to require 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 wherever saturated fat limits are placed on nutrient content claims, health claims, or disclosure or disqualifying levels, the amount of trans fatty acids be limited as well. FDA also proposed to define the nutrient content claim “trans fat free.’’ It is also asking whether it should define “reduced trans fat’’ and “reduced saturated and trans fats.’’ Deadline for comments is Jan. 19. Details are in the Federal Register of Dec. 5 (65 FR 75887-75888). For more information, contact S. Thompson at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-5587).

How best to market biotech crops and other crops?
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is seeking comments on how it can best facilitate the marketing of grains, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, and nuts in a market that includes both crops derived through biotechnology and other crops. This action is part of the Administration’s biotechnology initiative announced last May. Its purpose is to lend order to the development of voluntary identity preservation and product segregation procedures emerging from the private sector. Deadline for comments is Feb. 28. Details are in the Federal Register of Nov. 30 (65 FR 71272-71273). For more information, contact M. Plaus at USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W, Washington, DC 20250-3650 (phone 202-690- 3460).

On-line reprocessing of contaminated poultry proposed
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has proposed to allow the on-line reprocessing of pre-chill poultry carcasses if significantly lower pathogen reduction standards for Escherichia coli and Salmonella are met. Poultry carcasses contaminated with digestive tract contents will be allowed to remain on the main processing line for removal of the contamination, rather than having to be moved off the main line. Voluntary adoption of this on-line reprocessing approach will be coupled with requirements for the reduction of E. coli and Salmonella on raw poultry below the present performance standards. This proposed change should help reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens from cross-contamination by decreasing the handling of contaminated carcasses to off-line reprocessing. Deadline for comments is Jan. 30. Details are in the Federal Register of Dec. 1 (65 FR 75187-75196).For more information, contact P.F. Stolfa at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250 (phone 202-205-0699).

by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN
Senior Editor

About the Author

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