By Riëtte van Laack –
On December 1, 2016, FSIS announced its proposal to amend the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry. The proposed regulations contain few surprises and appear to be identical to FDA's regulations. In addition, FSIS proposes to remove minor existing differences, such as the option to label stearic acid (according to FSIS, companies rarely would choose to include stearic acid as a nutrient). Although FDA has since 2003 required the declaration of trans fat in nutrition labeling for FDA-regulated food, declaration of trans fat for meat and poultry has been voluntary. Now that it is revising the regulation, FSIS proposes to make trans fat mandatory. The alignment of FSIS requirements with FDA requirements is intended to create uniformity and should help prevent consumer confusion.
As FSIS has done when amending other regulations concerning poultry and meat, the Agency proposes to consolidate the regulations for meat and poultry and move them to a new section, 9 C.F.R. Part 413.
FSIS discusses various alternatives for compliance dates and appears to prefer alternative 2, which would provide all but small businesses two years after the issuance of the final rule to amend their label. Of course, since the FSIS proposal was published more than 6 months after FDA published its final rule, this compliance date would result in a significant period of inconsistency between nutrition labeling of meat and poultry products and nutrition labeling of FDA-regulated products. However, this may be mitigated somewhat by FSIS’s decision to allow use of the FDA Nutrition Facts format on meat and poultry products while FSIS is working on the amended regulations.
Comments to the FSIS proposal must be submitted within 60 days of the publication date.