The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two draft guidance documents intended to assist industry in complying with certain FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations regarding fresh produce. The first document is for farms covered by the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The second document is for facilities subject to FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rule and that manufacture, process, pack, or hold fresh-cut produce. The deadline for comments on both guidance documents is April 22, 2019.

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Two consumer groups have sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking to compel the agency to implement the traceability provisions in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Specifically, the plaintiffs want FDA to meet its obligation under FSMA to establish and publish a list of high-risk foods and engage in rulemaking setting forth additional traceability record keeping requirements for facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold those foods. The lawsuit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by the Center for  Food Safety (CFS) and Center for Environmental Health (CEH).

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On September 26, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. on FDA’s commitment to disclose retailer information for certain food recalls to improve consumer safety. Additionally, on September 27, 2018, FDA published a Federal Register Notice announcing availability of a draft guidance on the Public Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees to Effectuate Certain Human and Animal Food Recalls. Publication of the Draft Guidance is the second of a series of policy steps the agency is taking as part of a broader plan to improve oversight of food safety and the recall process.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will engage in a pilot program to evaluate the benefits of two-tier inspections for some aspects of the Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Through a Notice to Industry, FDA is inviting food companies with multiple facilities that implement centrally developed supply-chain programs and recall plans to apply to participate in two-tier inspections. FDA plans to limit initial participation in the program to five businesses. FDA will consider the results of the two-tier inspections pilot to determine the feasibility of employing the two-tier approach to inspections on a broader scale. This post summarizes the program and FDA’s criteria for participation. Interested companies must notify FDA of their desire to participate no later than October 31, 2018.

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On August 1, 2018, two consumer groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Bruce Summers for failing to meet the statutory rulemaking deadlines for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS). The suit was filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Center for Environmental Health in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. 1/ On September 6, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment requesting that the court order USDA to issue the rule within 60 days.

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Key considerations for food companies considering a package refresh or new product launch – an integrated legal team approach

Launching a new food product? Revising your label? On September 13, the Hogan Lovells Food and Beverage team will offer a free webinar on key considerations for food and beverage packaging and labeling.  Food regulatory partners Maile Hermida and Elizabeth Fawell will be joined by trademark partner Julia Matheson to discuss what you need to know if you are refreshing your product’s packaging and labels – either on your own initiative or to comply with new labeling requirements – or launching a new product.

Maile and Elizabeth will discuss key labeling considerations facing food companies, including new nutrition labeling requirements, GMO disclosures, and class action litigation.  Julia will provide an overview on trademark, trade dress, and unfair competition claims.

Topics for this one hour webinar include:
•           Labeling hot issues
•           False advertising claims
•           Trademark
•           Trade dress
•           Unfair competition

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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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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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