The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a public meeting and comment period on the agency’s comprehensive multi-year Nutrition Innovation Strategy. This public meeting and comment period follows FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s unveiling of the Nutrition Innovation Strategy in a policy address on March 29, 2018 as a way to help Americans improve their nutrition as a step towards reducing chronic disease. This post details the proposed topics to be discussed at the meeting, as well as the logistics for the meeting and comment period.

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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 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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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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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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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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