James Giese

FDA outlines new strategic action plan
The Food and Drug Administration outlined a new strategic action plan on August 20, entitled “Protecting and Advancing America’s Health: A Strategic Action Plan for the 21st Century.” The action plan highlights some of the steps that FDA is taking to address new challenges facing the agency. For more information, see www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2003/NEW00934.html.

FDA to allow use of sucrose oligoesters
FDA is amending the food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of sucrose oligoesters (sucrose esters of fatty acids with an average degree of esterification ranging from four to seven) as an emulsifier or stabilizer, at a level not to exceed 2.0%, in chocolate and in butter-substitute spreads. For more information, see Federal Register of August 20 (68 FR 50069–50073).

FDA to offer trans fat labeling compliance guide
FDA has announced a new small-entity compliance guide for labeling trans fats. This guide, “Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrient Content Claims, and Health Claims,’’ is intended to help small businesses understand the trans fat final rule published in the Federal Register of July 11 and to set forth in plain language the requirements of the regulation. For more information, see the Federal Register of August 20 (68 FR 50155–50156).

FDA allows qualified health claims
FDA is allowing qualified health claims for foods. The claims are part of a new FDA program to make it easier for food companies to make claims about the health benefits of their products, even if the science supporting those claims isn’t conclusive. For more information, see the FDA Backgrounder at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/nuttfbg.html and the FDA Industry Guidance for Making the Claims at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/hclmgui3.html.

USDA creates New Technology Office
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food Safety Elsa Murano announced on August 12 the establishment of the New Technology Office to be based within the Food Safety and Inspection Service. FSIS reviews new technologies that companies employ to ensure that their use is consistent with Agency regulations and that they will not adversely affect product safety, inspection procedures, or the safety of FSIS inspectors. Murano said that one of the reasons that the New Technology Office was created was to streamline the implementation of new technologies in a plant’s operations and reduce the amount time it takes the agency to review safe new technologies.

HHS forms Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman on August 11 designated 13 professionals to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group responsible for reviewing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans report. A broad-based nutrition policy guide, the guidelines utilize the latest scientific and medical knowledge to advise the general public on ways to improve overall health through proper nutrition. The committee designees will meet in early fall to review and update the most recent scientific literature in preparation for the release of the 2005 version of the guidelines. First published in 1980, the guidelines are reviewed, updated, and released by HHS and USDA every five years and contain nutrition and dietary information and guidance for the general public. For a complete list of the professionals on the committee, see the USDA Press Release at www.usda.gov/news/releases/2003/08/0283.htm.

Olestra warning label dropped
FDA announced on August 1 a change in the labeling requirement for olestra—the zero-calorie fat substitute developed by Procter & Gamble Co. for use in certain snack foods—because FDA has concluded that the label statement is no longer warranted. As a result, manufacturers will not be required to display the 1996 label statement on products containing olestra. However, FDA will require manufacturers to continue adding vitamins A, D, E, and K to such products. This action is in response to a petition filed by P&G. The regulation became effective on August 5. For more information, see the Federal Register of August 1 (68 FR 46363–46402).

by JAMES GIESE
Internet Editor