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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On March 1, 2018, Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the agency) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced new efforts to advance implementation of the new consumer Nutrition Facts label for foods, and with it a plethora of guidance documents on dietary fiber, Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs) for product categories, declaration of added sugars on honey and similar products, and proper labeling of honey and honey products. We briefly discuss each of the following guidance documents further below:

  • Final Guidance for Industry: Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed: List of Products for Each Product Category
  • Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion; Dual-Column Labeling; Updating, Modifying, and Establishing Certain Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed; Serving Size for Breath Mints; and Technical Amendments; Small Entity Compliance Guide
  • Final Guidance for Industry: Scientific Evaluation of the Evidence on the Beneficial Physiological Effects of Isolated or Synthetic Non-digestible Carbohydrates Submitted as a Citizen Petition (21 CFR 10.30)
  • Draft Guidance for Industry: Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products
  • Final Guidance for Industry: Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products

The deadline for submitting comments on the Draft Guidance concerning the declaration of added sugars for honey, maple syrup, and certain cranberry products is May 1, 2018. Comments should be submitted to Docket No. FDA-2018-D-0075. The other documents are Final Guidance, on which comments can be submitted at any time.

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As seen in news reports, two recent Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) memoranda address the role of guidance documents in civil enforcement actions. Taken together, the two memoranda greatly limit the Department’s use of DOJ and other agencies’ guidance documents to support civil enforcement actions, as guidance documents do not impose binding standards on private parties. However, for the reasons set forth below, the memoranda are not expected to have a significant impact on enforcement actions initiated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in food-related matters.

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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.

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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.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken two important steps to launch the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). First, FDA has started accepting applications for participation in VQIP, a voluntary, fee-based program which offers expedited review and entry of human and animal food into the United States. Second, FDA has recognized the first accreditation body under the voluntary Accredited Third-Party Certification Program created by FSMA, a step needed to implement VQIP. This post discusses both developments.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a formal agreement on January 30, 2018, intended to increase coordination and collaboration between the two agencies. The high-level agreement is limited on details, but includes commitments to developing interagency working groups for the following three “issues of shared concern.”

  • Dual-Jurisdiction Food Facilities: The agreement states that FDA and USDA share the goal of streamlining oversight of dual-jurisdiction facilities by identifying and potentially reducing the number dual-jurisdiction facilities. The agencies also aim to bring greater clarity and consistency to jurisdictional decisions under USDA and FDA’s respective authorities and decrease unnecessary regulatory burdens.
  • Produce Safety: FDA and USDA express their commitment to enhancing their collaboration and cooperation on produce safety activities, including the implementation of FDA’s Produce Safety regulation under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
  • Federal Regulation of Biotechnology Products: The agreement states that the agencies are committed to modernizing the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, as well as the U.S. agricultural biotechnology regulatory system to develop efficient, science-based regulatory practice by working in partnership with other federal agencies. Both agencies have commitments for improving the regulation of biotechnology that are outlined in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products and a recent Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report.

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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.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued five FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final and draft guidance documents relating to supplier verification under both the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and the Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rules, as well as draft guidance regarding the Preventive Controls for Animal Food (PCAF) rule.
We briefly summarize the issues addressed in each of the following documents:

  • FSVP Draft Guidance;
  • Chapter 15 (Supply-Chain Program) of the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food Draft Guidance;
  • Guidance on the Application of FSVP Regulation to Importers of Grain Raw Agricultural Commodities;
  • Considerations for Determining Whether a Measure Provides the Same Level of Public Health Protection as the Corresponding Requirement in 21 CFR part 112 or the Preventive Controls Requirements in part 117 or 507 Draft Guidance;
  • FSVP Small Entity Compliance Guide (SECG); and,
  • Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Animal Food Draft Guidance.

We encourage a close review of each of the documents, as they address important issues affecting compliance with the major FSMA regulations. Note that comments can be submitted at any time on guidance documents. FDA has established dates by when comments are requested to be submitted on the draft guidance document

Click here to read the summary.