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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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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There have been several recent developments regarding implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The below post summarizes the following topics:

  • Guidance on application of the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) regulation to the importation of certain live animals;
  • Draft Guidance on the definition of “small business” for purposes of the Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) and Preventive Controls for Animal Food (PCAF) regulations;
  • A letter to the winegrape and hops growing industries regarding possible modifications to written assurances in the Produce Safety Rule; and
  • A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) scrutinizing FDA’s progress and implementation of key food safety-related activities.

Also, as a reminder, March 19, 2018 was the compliance date for supplier verification under the PCHF (Subpart G) and FSVP regulations when a supplier is a “small business” required to comply with the PCHF regulation. Additionally, April 6, 2018 is the compliance date for small businesses for the Sanitary Food Transportation regulation.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released an Excel file that lists all general inspection citations included on every FDA Form 483 (Inspectional Observations) issued for almost the past ten years, from October 2008 through February 2018. The information is specific to each establishment that has been inspected by FDA across all areas of the agency’s jurisdiction, including food facilities. We encourage all food companies to review their data so that they are aware of the information that is now readily available for review by the public.

The release of these inspection citations is connected to the Open Government Initiative issued by President Obama on January 21, 2009. Pursuant to this initiative, the agency’s stated purpose for now releasing this data set is to “improve the public’s understanding of how the FDA works to protect the public health, provide the public with a rationale for the Agency’s enforcement actions, and to help inform public and industry decision-making.” Pursuant to this initiative, the data set provides information on general inspection citations under all areas of FDA jurisdiction.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently posted a document on its website that lists all importers that have been identified at entry in connection with the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) regulation. As discussed in the link below, this posting is a statutory requirement under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The list simply provides all of the FSVP importer names that have been declared at entry, which means that some companies are listed multiple times with slight variations in their name. We expect the list is too general to help most companies determine whether there are any entries for which they have been declared as the FSVP importer without permission. However, the list could be helpful to companies that have never knowingly been declared as an FSVP importer so they can become aware they were declared and therefore may be subject to an FSVP inspection.

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Join us in London for a food seminar, “New U.S. food manufacturing, labeling, and inspection requirements – What you need to know to export foods ”

On 19 April, Hogan Lovells will offer a seminar on recent developments in U.S. food law that affect all food companies exporting food to the U.S.

U.S. partners Maile Hermida and Elizabeth Fawell will be visiting London from Washington, DC to discuss the latest U.S. food law developments that affect foreign companies that sell food in the U.S. This session will address recent changes for food safety, nutrition labeling, import filings, and facility inspections, addressing what these developments mean for exporters and how they are affected by the political climate in the United States. Both Maile and Elizabeth have extensive experience helping companies navigate these new requirements and developing effective business solutions for managing compliance.

Topics for this two hour seminar include:
— New U.S. Food Safety Requirements (FSMA)
— New Nutrition Labeling Rules
— Impacts from and Forecast for Trump Administration
— Inspections and Enforcement

 Click here for more information and to register.

On February 9, 2018, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) submitted a petition requesting the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to establish labeling requirements that would exclude synthetic products made from alternative proteins and lab-grown meat from animal cells from being marketed as “beef” and/or “meat.” The petition requests that new regulations be adopted limiting the term “beef” to describe the tissue or flesh from animals born raised, harvested, and processed in the “traditional” way, and limiting the term “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the “traditional” manner.

Read the update.

Today, the European Commission published a new Regulation tightening the restrictions on the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials.

BPA is used in a number of food contact applications, such as polycarbonate plastic produced for articles that are intended to be reused, such as water dispensers, kitchenware, plastic bottles, etc.  BPA is also used to manufacture coatings for food and drink cans.  BPA can migrate into food from the material or article with which it is in contact, resulting in exposure to BPA for consumers of those foods.

Currently a prohibition on the use of BPA in the manufacture of polycarbonate infant feeding bottles is in place in the EU on the basis of the precautionary principle.  The new Regulation extends this ban by also prohibiting the use of BPA to manufacture infant cups as well as the migration of BPA from coated materials containing food intended for infants and children 0–3 year olds.
Based on an updated review of exposure data carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the new Regulation lowers the regulatory limit (specific migration limit or ‘SML’) for BPA and extends this restriction to coating materials, which are used to line food and drink cans.  A specific migration limit of 0,05 mg of BPA per kg of food (mg/kg) has been set for the migration into or onto food of BPA from varnishes or coatings applied to materials and articles. In addition, the new Regulation provides that no migration of BPA is permitted from varnishes or coatings applied to materials and articles specifically intended to come into contact with infant formula, follow-on formula, processed cereal-based food, baby food, food for special medical purposes developed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of infants and young children or milk-based drinks and similar products specifically intended for young children.

The new Regulation will apply from 6 September 2018.  As from that date, business operators will have to ensure, among other, that varnished or coated materials and articles are in compliance with the new rules and are accompanied by a written declaration of compliance containing:

  • details on the business operator issuing the declaration of compliance;
  • details on the business operator which manufactures or imports the coated material or article;
  • details on the varnished or coated material or article itself;
  • confirmation that the varnish or coating applied meets applicable restrictions; and
  • specifications on the use of the coated material or article (e.g., the type of food with which it is intended to be in contact, the time and temperature of treatment and storage in contact with food, the highest food contact surface area to volume ratio for which compliance has been verified).

At the present time, no total ban on the use of BPA applies as there is insufficient information on replacement substances and more assessment would need to be carried out on their safety and effectiveness before BPA could be fully replaced.  At the same time, the European Commission has mandated EFSA to undertake a full re-evaluation of BPA again on the basis of the results of anticipated new studies and scientific data to address the remaining uncertainties. This work is due to start in spring 2018.  Upon completion,  the Commission will decide what if any further action is necessary to protect consumers as regards BPA in food contact materials.