Jenni Spinner / Packaging Digest
USDA proposes streamlined generic-label approval
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a new rule that will allow establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to FSIS for approval, should it become final. Under the proposal, FSIS will continue to verify that labels are accurate, not misleading, and in compliance with all labeling features. This rule is expected to benefit consumers because it will get new products into the marketplace sooner while still ensuring that they are not misbranded. Also, by making the label approval process more convenient and cost-effective, the industry, especially smaller producers, is expected to benefit from the rule.
"It is important that we make the labeling process more effective and efficient, while still ensuring consumers have the best information available when shopping for food," says Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the Department of Agriculture.
The rule proposes to modify the agency's generic label approval process. Under the proposal, the generic label approval process would allow companies to use new labels or modify labels without first submitting such labels to FSIS. Under the proposed generic approval process, all mandatory label features would still need to comply with FSIS regulations.
The proposed rule was posted today on the FSIS website and soon will publish in the Federal Register. The comment period will end on Feb. 3, 2012 and must be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, OPPD, RIMD, Docket Clearance Unite, Patriots Plaza III, Rm. 8-164, 355 E Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20024-3221. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2005-0016.