FDA seeks information on furan
The Food and Drug Administration is requesting the submission of data and information on furan, a heat treatment–related by-product that has been detected in certain thermally treated foods. FDA is seeking data on furan’s occurrence in food, sources of exposure other than food, mechanisms of formation in food, and toxicology, including mechanisms of toxicity. FDA will evaluate the available data and will develop an action plan. For more information, see the Federal Register of May 10 (69 FR 25911–25913).

EU sets policy on facilitating food and agriculture trade
The European Union’s European Commission has put in place clear food safety rules, as well as guidelines on agricultural trade with developing countries. The EC also finances technical assistance projects to help developing countries live up to the EU food safety standards. The guidelines are available in English, French and Spanish at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fvo/pdf/guide_thirdcountries_en.pdf.

FDA to modernize GMPs for food products
Noting significant changes in food production technology, as well as a better understanding of foodborne illness, FDA plans to modernize the good manufacturing practices that are a crucial part of controlling food safety problems. The agency will hold three public meetings this summer to solicit input on the modernization effort. For more information, see

FSIS to establish uniform compliance date
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to establish Jan. 1, 2008, as the uniform compliance date for new food labeling regulations that are issued between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2006, to minimize the economic impact of labeling changes. FSIS is establishing the uniform compliance date to be consistent with the approach that FDA has already established. For more information, see the Federal Register of May 4 (69 FR 24539–24541).

FDA seeks comments on nutrient claims
FDA is extending until July 6, 2004, the deadline for comments on its proposed rule, “Food Labeling: Nutrient Content Claims, General Principles; Health Claims, General Requirements and Other Specific Requirements for Individual Health Claims.” In that document, FDA proposed to amend its existing nutrient content claims and health claims regulations to provide additional flexibility in the use of these claims on food products. For more information, see the Federal Register of May 4 (69 FR 24541–24547).

FDA posts food safety program priorities
FDA has posted the program priorities for its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for fiscal year 2004 (Oct. 1, 2003, through Sept. 30, 2004). The work plan, based on input received from stakeholders as well as generated internally, is divided into four primary sections: Assuring Food Safety and Security; Improving Nutrition and Dietary Supplement Safety; Assuring Food and Cosmetic Safety; and Assuring Food Safety: Crosscutting Areas. For more information, see www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cfsan404.html.

Omega-3 powder fish oil is GRAS
An omega-3 powder fish oil ingredient produced by Ocean Nutrition Canada has achieved GRAS status, according to the company. Fatty acids in omega-3 fish oil, eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been reported to reduce cardiovascular disease by reducing levels of triglycerides. The GRAS approval opens the door for the use of omega-3 powder in a variety of food and beverage applications.

FSIS opens new bio-safety lab
FSIS has announced the opening of a new $1.65-million Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility in Athens, Ga., that will conduct analyses on a wide range of potential biological threat agents. Facilities with the designation BSL-3 use pathogens in research and diagnostic activities that could constitute a threat to either human health or productivity of the agriculture system. Laboratory personnel at BSL-3 facilities have specialized training in handling pathogens and toxins and are supervised by scientists experienced in working with these agents.

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