December 15, 2011
USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a proposed rule to change its generic label approval process. This new rule would allow food processing establishments to use new labels or to modify labels on a broader set of products without first submitting the labels to FSIS for approval. FSIS will still verify that labels comply with regulations and provide accurate information.
If this rule becomes final, it is expected to benefit customers by allowing products to reach store shelves more quickly. Additionally, it is anticipated that the rule should benefit smaller producers by making the label process easier and less costly.
The public comment period on the proposed rule runs through February 3. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov or by mail to FSIS, Room 8-164, 355 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20024-3221.
A provision in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773, H.R. 3286) would take the intention of the proposed rule a step further. Under the provision of this bill, FSIS would be required to provide an electronic submission option for the meat label approval process and to create a searchable database of existing meat labels. Together, this system would allow meat processors to view, and if they wish, model their own meat labels after those that have previous approval from FSIS, thus saving time and money.