The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a guidance document that identifies eight ingredients that the agency has determined meet the regulatory definition of “dietary fiber.” Specifically, FDA has recognized the following ingredients as meeting the dietary fiber definition: (1) mixed plant cell wall fibers; (2) arabinoxylan; (3) alginate; (4) inulin and inulin-type fructans; (5) high amylose starch (resistant starch 2); (6) galactooligosaccharide; (7) polydextrose; and (8) resistant maltodextrin/dextrin. In this guidance document, FDA also announced that it intends to extend enforcement discretion regarding the declaration of these eight isolated or synthetic nondigestible carbohydrates (NDCs) as a dietary fiber on Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels pending completion of a formal rulemaking to revise the dietary fiber regulation to reflect these ingredients. In addition to the guidance document, FDA has also published a review of the scientific evidence on the physiological effects of these NDCs, and has issued responses to several citizen petitions requesting that certain NDCs be added to the “dietary fiber” definition.

This post provides a brief overview of FDA’s dietary fiber definition, and summarizes the key aspects of the guidance related to FDA’s determination that these eight ingredients meet the dietary fiber definition.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently released a guidance document to help companies determine whether their operations are exempt from the inspection requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). This guidance marks FSIS’s first significant attempt to articulate policy addressing the applicability of its retailer and restaurant exemptions to newer food distribution models, such as online retailers and home delivered meal services. In particular, the guidance confirms that online-only grocery stores and home delivery meal kit services are eligible for the retailer exemption from FSIS inspection.

This post focuses on new aspects of FSIS’s guidance that apply to operations such as online grocery stores, online markets, meal kit delivery services, and restaurants, although the guidance addresses other exemptions including custom slaughter operations.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made two notable announcements regarding implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). First, FDA released a tool to assist companies with meeting supplier verification requirements under FSMA. A new section of the FDA’s Data Dashboard will help companies that perform supplier verification under FSMA by functioning as a “one stop shop” for identifying compliance and enforcement information related to specific suppliers. Second, FDA announced that the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) will not launch until the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 benefit year—i.e., October 1, 2019. VQIP is a voluntary, fee-based program that offers expedited review and entry of food into the United States.

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently released the Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory Actions for federal agencies, which outlines the rulemaking actions currently under development in each federal agency. This post summarizes the major actions that may be of particular interest to the food industry that are being planned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). After highlighting the most significant priorities, we provide charts for each agency that provide additional details on their plans.

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Food product labels are under intense scrutiny from consumers, regulators, class action lawyers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Demands for more information, as well as changes to or prohibitions on labels’ use of certain terminology, are on the rise. But do label-reform advocates fully appreciate the legal and regulatory complexities and burdens food-labeling revisions impose on the industry, especially when those changes involve state-specific rules? Martin Hahn and Samantha Dietle discuss in the Washington Legal Foundation’s Legal Backgrounder.

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As the June 18, 2018 compliance date for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are no longer generally recognized as safe (GRAS) approaches, the food industry has undertaken efforts to obtain clarification and flexibility from FDA on several issues related to the compliance date, including (1) clarifying the regulatory status of PHO-containing products on the market after the compliance date, (2) requesting an extension of the compliance date to accommodate the time needed for the agency to respond to the pending food additive petition on PHOs, and (3) seeking enforcement discretion to use existing label inventory that declares PHOs as an ingredient after the ingredient has been removed from product formulations.

This post summarizes recent developments and statements from the agency on these issues.

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On May 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued its proposed rule implementing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) passed by Congress in July 2016. AMS is proposing a crop-based approach, where disclosure would be required when a food is or contains a crop, or a derivative of a crop, that is included on one of two lists to be developed by the agency. The first list would include crops that are commercially available in bioengineered (BE) forms where the BE form has been highly adopted, such as canola, field corn, soybean, and sugar beet. The second list would include list crops commercially available in a BE form but adopted at a rate of less than 85 percent, such as non-browning cultivars of apple, sweet corn, papaya, potato, and summer squash. In addition to the three disclosure options listed in the statute – text, symbol, or digital/electronic link – AMS proposes to allow use of a text message disclosure option.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule extending the compliance date for the final rules revising the requirements for the nutrition and supplement facts labels and the declared serving sizes and reference amounts customarily consumed (RACCs). The final rule extends the compliance date for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales from July 26, 2018 to January 1, 2020, and for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales from July 26, 2019 to January 1, 2021.

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On September 8, 2017, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. (Ocean Spray) originally submitted a health claim petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of a health claim tying together the consumption of cranberry products and the reduced risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in healthy women. More recently, on February 20, 2018, the FDA sent a letter to Ocean Spray stating that it is proceeding to review the petition as one for a qualified health claim. All of this information has now been posted in the agency docket. Comments on this qualified health claim petition will be accepted until May 7, 2018, and the FDA expects to issue a final decision on the claim by October 5, 2018.

This post summarizes Ocean Spray’s petition, the studies cited in support of Ocean Spray’s claim, the discussion concerning cranberry as an eligible “substance,” and the FDA’s response.

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On March 29, 2018, Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the agency) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., delivered a nutrition-related policy address. The Commissioner emphasized FDA’s role in helping Americans improve their nutrition as a step towards reducing chronic disease, with a particular focus on sodium reduction. The Commissioner’s address provides important insight into the shape that FDA nutrition and health policy can be expected to take in the next few years.

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