FDA extends comment period on trans-fat labeling
The Food and Drug Administration on March 1 extended the comment period for proposed rulemaking on trans-fat labeling until June 18 and scheduled a Food Advisory Committee Nutrition Subcommittee meeting for April 27 and 28. The outcome of this meeting may help determine the course of action for trans-fat labeling. For more information, see the Federal Register of July 11, 2003 (68 FR 41507) and April 19, 2004 (69 FR 20838-20839).

EU adopts new GM food regulations
The European Union’s Commission has adopted the Genetically Modified (GM) Food and Feed Regulation 1829/2003. The rules cover applications for authorization of new GM food and feed and how notifications of existing food and feed products should be prepared and presented. In addition, in products in which the presence of non-authorized GM material is unavoidable, the rules specify that the Commission will draw up a list with the GM material that is not authorized but has received a positive risk assessment. For a copy of the regulations, see http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2004/l_102/l_10220040407en00140025.pdf.

FDA requests comments on facility registration and prior notice
FDA has reopened the comment periods for 30 days on two interim final rules that appeared in the Federal Register of October 10, 2003: registration of food facilities and prior notice regarding imported food food. Both rules implemented the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Response Act of 2002. The interim final rule on the registration of food facilities required domestic and foreign facilities to register with FDA by December 12, 2003. The interim final rule on prior notice required the submission to FDA, by Dec. 12, 2003, of prior notice of food that is imported or offered for import into the U.S. For more information, see www.cfsan.fda.og/~lrd/fr04414a.html regarding registration of food facilities and www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr04414b.html regarding prior notice.

FDA appoints Schneeman to CFSAN
FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford has named Barbara O. Schneeman to lead the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements. Schneeman comes from the University of California, Davis, where she has served as a member of the faculty since 1976.

EU suspends sale of jelly mini-cups
The EU’s Commission has adopted measures to suspend the marketing in the EU of jelly mini-cups containing certain food additives derived from seaweed and/or certain gums. The products are considered a choking risk because of their consistency, shape, and form. Jelly mini-cups are marketed in the EU by different manufacturers as a single portion, pre-packaged sweet or confection, mainly intended for children. Some Member States have already taken measures at national level to temporarily prohibit the sale of such jelly mini-cups.

FDA warns about lead in Mexican candy
FDA is warning of a problem associated with lead contamination of some Mexican candy products being sold in the U.S. and is advising parents not to allow children to eat these products at this time. The agency has compiled information which indicates that candies and related products that contain significant amounts of chili powder may contain higher lead levels than other types of candy, such as candy that contains predominantly sugar. FDA will be working with the Mexican government and industry personnel to resolve this problem, as announced in a letter to manufacturers, importers, and distributors of imported candy on March 25. The letter is available online at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/pbltr.html.

TTB issues ruling on low-carb alcohol labeling
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has issued a ruling to provide guidance for advertising and labeling claims associated with the use of caloric and carbohydrate claims on alcohol beverages. TTB announced that there was a need for immediate guidance as a result of the recent trend in which industry members are seeking to use such claims in the labeling and advertising of their products. The ruling allows for the use of specific statements about carbohydrate and calorie content while prohibiting statements that are false or misleading or that imply that consumption of low-carbohydrate alcohol beverages may play a healthy role in a weight-maintenance or weight-reduction plan. For more information, see www.ttb.gov/alcohol/info/revrule/rules/2004-1.pdf.

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