Proposed Rule for Modernization of Food Standards of Identity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed rule to establish general principles to evaluate the creation, revision, or elimination of food standards of identity. Standards of identity mandate many specifics in food production, including how a product is formulated, prepared, and labeled. An FDA news release reports that the general principles will update existing standards, create new standards, and stimulate innovation, while allowing federal agencies involved in food safety to “better utilize resources to better protect public health.”

In 1995, FSIS and FDA began to review the requirements for food standards and related agency regulatory procedures. The agencies also published advanced notices of proposed rulemaking that outlined problems with existing food standards ― such as the potential of food standards to stifle innovation in food processing technology and improvements in the nutritional profile of standardized foods ― and offered alternatives to the existing food standards system. In response, the majority of comments from industry and consumers opposed revocation of food standards, instead favoring revisions to simplify the standards and make them more flexible. Several industry comments recommended revisions to food standards for jams, jellies, fruit preserves, milk chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. These may be the first to test the general principles when finalized.

Following the evaluation of different regulatory options and consumer research, the procedure for establishing, revising, or eliminating a food standard is proposed to amend 9 CFR 410 by adding section 410.1 and to amend 21 CFR 130.5 (Federal Register, (70) 97 p. 29214-29235). Comments to the proposed rule must be submitted by August 19, 2005.