Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FDA announces comment period on Internet survey on barriers to food label use

In 74 Fed. Reg. 42676 (Aug. 24, 2009), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced an opportunity for public comment on a proposed voluntary Internet survey to assess barriers to food label use by consumers. Analyses or previous surveys have shown a sharp decline in food label use between 1994 and 2002, especially among consumers younger than 35 years old. The purpose of this survey is to learn the reasons for this decline in label usage. “The study goals are to: (1) identify attitudes and beliefs among consumers toward health, diet and label usage; (2) determine relationships between those attitudes and beliefs, as well as demographics, with food label use and non-use; and (3) evaluate the relative importance of these attitudes between consumers of various age groups to determine whether barriers to label use differ between younger consumers and older consumers.” Comments on the proposed information collection should be submitted by October 23, 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't Eat That! Legal Issues in Food Safety

On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, a 60-Minute ABA Teleconference will held from 1:00 to 2:00 PM (eastern time), “Don't Eat That! Legal Issues in Food Safety.” The program description reads:

It seems that hardly a month goes by without a story about American food shoppers falling prey to another nasty pathogen lurking in the local supermarket. Several well-publicized outbreaks of food-related illness have created a rare political alignment. Angry consumers and a food industry haunted by the double specter of bad publicity and lawsuits both appear ready to embrace actions by the federal government to make the U.S. food supply safer, and the federal government has begun to take some of those steps.

In March, President Barack Obama announced the formation of a Food Safety Working Group to develop proposals for upgrading federal food safety laws and improving coordination among at least a dozen federal entities that share responsibility for the safety of the nation’s food supply. Some of the working group’s recommendations already are being put into effect.

Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would dramatically increase the oversight power of the Food and Drug Administration over much of the food sold in the United States, including imports. It appears certain that the legal framework for regulating food safety in the United States is going to change, and lawyers—especially those who represent companies in the food industry—are going to have to hustle to keep up.

What sorts of changes are likely and how effective they will be is currently being debated. While some see a consensus around the need for sweeping reform, others are concerned that proposals in the works are over-broad and will be detrimental to organic farmers and small producers among others.

Join our distinguished group of experts as they discuss the current situation of food safety law changes.

The Panelists are:

Neal D. Fortin, Director, Institute for Food Laws and Regulation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

James T. O'Reilly, Professor, University of Cincinnati, Chair, FDA Committee, American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, Cincinnati, OH

Stuart M. Pape, Managing Partner, Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC

Register by phone at: 800.285.2221 or online at: http://www.abanet.org/cle/connection.html.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FDA Guidance on Labeling of Certain Beer Products

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance on the labeling of non-malt This blog discussed some of the issues involved in When Beer is not Beer. Beer products beers that contain substitutes for malted barley—such as sorghum, rice or wheat—or are made without hops, fall under FDA rather than the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The guidance advises industry on how to label beers that are subject to the FDA's labeling requirements under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.

FDA's new draft guidance, "Labeling of Certain Beers Subject to the Labeling Jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration," specifies the mandatory information required on the labels of these non-malt beers. Manufacturers of non-malt beers are expected to comply with the FDA's labeling requirements by Jan. 1, 2012. The Federal Register notice (74 FR 41438) can be viewed on the GPO Access web site and the guidance can be viewed on the FDA website.