USDA sets date for meat labeling changes

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food and drug administration, Food safety, Fsis

The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection
Service (USDA/FSIS) has said that January 1, 2010 will mark the
enforcement date of any new meat and poultry labeling regulations
announced over the next two years.

The rule, effective yesterday, is similar to the labeling approach employed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is designed to minimize the economic impact of label changes. This approach to labeling regulations was first adopted by FSIS in 2004, with the aim of making "orderly adjustments to new labeling requirements without unduly exposing consumers to outdated labels"."With this approach to effecting compliance, the meat and poultry products industry is able to plan for the use of label inventories and to develop new labeling materials that meet the requirements of all labeling regulations made within the two year period, thereby minimizing the economic impact of labeling changes,"​ said FSIS. The FDA, which regulates all non-meat food products, already implements two-year label changes compliance dates. By establishing a uniform compliance date that is the same as FDA's, FSIS said it is providing meat and poultry product manufacturers with a greater ability to adjust production plans to new labeling requirements across all of their product lines. The latest rule requires that all labeling regulations issued between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008 be implemented by January 1, 2010. This follows a final rule issued by FSIS in December 2004 announcing that it will adopt uniform compliance dates. At the time, it established January 1, 2008, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations issued between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2006. "Establishing a uniform compliance date for all future Federal food product labeling regulations affecting the meat and poultry industry that are issued by FSIS over a two year period will eliminate potentially burdensome requirements otherwise faced by the industry," said the agency. ​ FSIS will accept comments on the rule until April 4, 2007. It is especially seeking comments on whether the uniform compliance date established in this final rule should be modified or revoked.

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