On January 11, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration issued its 2018 Strategic Policy Roadmap (the Roadmap) in an effort to provide transparency about the FDA’s policy undertakings. The Roadmap outlines key priorities that the Agency will pursue in 2018 to advance its public health mission. The Roadmap covers all FDA-regulated product areas and includes the following priorities related to food:

  • Empower consumers to make better and more informed decisions about their diets and health; and expand the opportunities to use nutrition to reduce morbidity and mortality from disease
  • Strengthen FDA’s scientific workforce and its tools for efficient risk management

FDA notes that there are areas of overlap both between all priorities mentioned as well as with other aspects of work at FDA. Importantly, for food regulation, FDA outlined how it will continue to focus on implementing the new Nutrition Facts Panel and menu labeling regulations and associated guidance, as well as continuing to implement FSMA and the associated field realignment that now
has a dedicated cadre of food (and feed) inspectors. Other noteworthy inclusions on the nutrition and labeling side are revisions to the “healthy” claims regulations, updating food standards to promote public health, providing new opportunities to make ingredient information more helpful to consumers, and advancing guidance on dietary sodium reduction. On the food safety side, FDA will
continue to build its pathogen database networks and, under FSMA, implement preventive controls rules and pay particular attention to implementing the produce safety rule through increased training and collaboration with the states.

We provide an overview of FDA’s priority areas, and the corresponding goals and action items, most relevant to food policy.

Click here to read our overview.

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission issued a notice on the impact of Brexit for food products originating from the UK. The Commission confirmed that, in the absence of a transitional agreement, the UK will become a ‘third country’ from the date of its withdrawal from the EU. This will impact a number of key areas of EU food regulation, including:

  • Food labelling: changes will need to be made to labels of food products originating from the UK. An EU-based importer must be named on the product, and mandatory references to the origin of products will need to be changed from “EU” to “UK” or “non-EU”.
  • Food composition, contaminant levels and food contact materials: UK-produced food sold in the EU will remain subject to EU rules including requirements for certain ingredients to be authorised by the Commission (e.g. additives and flavourings and novel foods), maximum permitted levels of contaminants and residues in foodstuffs, and rules on food contract materials. These apply to all foods placed on the EU market, irrespective of the place of production.
  • EU establishment requirements and submission of EU authorisations: some products such as genetically modified food must have a food business operator, authorisation holder or a representative that is established in the EU. Establishments in the UK will no longer comply with this requirement. The Food Standards Agency, the UK’s competent authority, will also no longer be able to accept applications for EU authorisations such as for the cultivation and placing on the market of genetically modified materials, and for use of new materials in food contact materials.
  • Food of animal origin: the import of food of animal origin from the UK into the EU will be prohibited, unless certain requirements are met. These include:
    • the UK must be listed by the Commission as an approved third country for the export of each category of food of animal origin. The Commission has not addressed whether the UK will automatically be approved post-Brexit or whether the UK will need to apply for authorisation as a third country;
    • the establishment from which the food is dispatched and obtained or prepared must further be approved for the export of the specific category of food of animal origin;
      the imported food satisfies all EU food hygiene requirements; and
    • the product will be subject to mandatory border checks and must enter the EU through approved border inspection posts of a remaining Member State.
  • Organic products: UK-originating organic foods will be subject to the same regulation as organic foods entering the EU from other third countries. In particular, all consignments of organic products must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection on import to the EU. These certificates can be issued by an authorised EU organic control body or authority or a non-EU control body or authority recognised as having equivalent standards as the EU. Certificates issued by UK bodies will no longer be valid.

The full notice published by the Commission is available here. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Draft Guidance on public warning and notification of recalls under 21 C.F.R. Part 7, and has announced steps to release recall information more quickly. The Draft Guidance provides recommendations to industry and FDA staff regarding the use, content, and circumstances for issuing public warnings and public notifications, and also discusses the parties responsible for issuing public warnings.  The document’s recommendations apply to all voluntary recalls, including both firm-initiated and FDA-requested recalls, and covers food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics (and other FDA-regulated products). Importantly, the Draft Guidance discusses the release of retail consignee information as a part of public warnings of recalls and signals that there may be more to come from FDA in this area. In addition, FDA issued a blog post, reflecting the Draft Guidance, announcing that the agency has adopted a new policy to release recall information in FDA’s weekly Enforcement Report, even when the recall has not yet been classified.

Click here to read more.

On January 4, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced through Guidance that it does not intend to enforce particular provisions of the Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF), Preventive Controls for Animal Food (PCAF), Produce Safety, and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) regulations issued under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This post provides an overview of the situations in which FDA will exercise enforcement discretion, specifically:

  • Written assurance provisions in all four rules related to the downstream control of identified hazards or microorganisms that are a potential risk to public health;
  • FSVP requirements for importers of food contact substances (FCS);
  • PCAF requirements for certain manufacturing/processing activities performed on human food by-products for use as animal food; and
  • Certain facilities that are similar to farms, but that do not meet the “farm” definition.

Click here to read more.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued Draft Guidance on its interpretation of what constitutes a refusal of inspection by a foreign food establishment or foreign government. Though the target audience is foreign food establishments and foreign governments, the Draft Guidance provides insight into FDA’s perspective on the legal obligations that apply to all food facility inspections. In particular, FDA describes refusal to permit photography during an inspection as a refusal of inspection. We provide an overview of the Draft Guidance, including the various actions FDA considers to constitute a refusal of inspection and the repercussions when foreign food establishments or foreign governments refuse inspection. FDA requests that comments on the Draft Guidance be submitted by February 26, 2018.

Click here to read more.

FDA recently shared information regarding a number of ongoing FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation issues. This post summarizes updates and developments regarding the following matters:

1. The written assurance requirements under several FSMA regulations;
2. Industry concerns regarding the Intentional Adulteration regulation;
3. Regulation of human food by-products for use as animal food when these materials are further processed to facilitate storage and distribution;
4. Various initiatives regarding implementation of the Produce Safety rule; and
5. Compliance with the Sanitary Food Transportation rule.

Click here to read more.

The Proposition 65 Interim BPA warning regulation that allows companies to rely on a generic warning posted in California retail establishments will sunset on December 30, 2017. Food and beverage companies that have BPA containing packages in California and that have been relying on the interim BPA warning regulation for compliance should reassess their Proposition 65 warning obligations prior to December 31, 2017.

By way of brief background, effective May 11, 2016, OEHHA started requiring warnings for consumer products containing BPA under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (also known as Proposition 65 or Prop 65). Due to the high percentage of the canned and bottled food and beverages that were packaged with BPA-containing materials in California at that time, OEHHA adopted an emergency regulation that allowed the temporary use of a standard point-of-sale warning message (e.g., posting of warnings at checkout stands in retail stores) for BPA. In July 2016, OEHHA proposed an interim rule that essentially extended the temporary regulation through December 30, 2017. The interim regulation also required food companies that exercised this option to provide OEHHA with a list of all food products in which BPA was intentionally used in the manufacture of the can lining or jar or bottle seals.

As of today, there are a total of over 23,000 entries of canned or bottled food products listed in the publicly-accessible OEHHA database for products packaged with BPA-containing materials. The sheer number of listed products in the database suggests that many food and beverage companies have been relying on the interim BPA warning regulation for compliance. On December 31, 2017, those food and beverage companies with products listed in the OEHHA database that have not phased out the use of BPA in their packaging should assess their options for compliance with Proposition 65. Companies should consult with legal counsel when assessing whether they will have an obligation to provide a Prop 65 warning and if so, the type of warning that should be required.

Click here to read more.

The UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published draft Regulations setting out further details on the new UK ‘Soft Drinks Industry Levy’, which will apply from 6 April 2018.

The new levy applies to all soft drinks packaged in or imported to the UK that contain added sugar and at least 5 grams of sugar in total (both naturally occurring and added sugar) per 100ml of prepared drink (“chargeable drinks”). A levy of 18p per liter will apply, rising to 24p per liter for chargeable drinks containing 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml.

Click here to read more. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) recently issued a guidance document entitled “Supply-Chain Program Requirements and Co-Manufacturer Supplier Approval and Verification for
Human Food and Animal Food: Guidance for Industry.” This guidance is directed toward participants in “co-manufacturing” agreements in which a brand owner arranges for a second party
(the “co-manufacturer”) to manufacture food on its behalf and, as explained below, will affect contracts between brand owners and co-manufacturers, and brand owners and suppliers.

Click here to read more.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is consulting on its proposals to amend the Feed Law Code of Practice and Practice Guidance. The Code and Guidance have to be taken into account by local authorities when enforcing feed law requirements in England (there are separate documents for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

The FSA is developing an innovative “whole system strategy” to feed law control and enforcement. The proposed amendments to the Code and Guidance aim to improve consistency of enforcement and reduce the regulatory burden for feed businesses, while maintaining a high level of public and animal protection.

Click here to read more.