Regulatory Updates 5/24/18

May 24, 2018

FDA Denies Petition on Trans Fats
The Food and Drug Administration rejected a petition from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) that sought to permit some continued use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary source for industrial trans fatty acids.  GMA asked to continue using PHOs in some food manufacturing processes, but FDA is maintaining its decision to declare that PHOs are not “generally recognized as safe (GRAS*).”

FDA did extend its enforcement deadline, giving food companies more time for reformulation away from trans fats.  The foods included in GMA’s petition can legally be sold through January 1, 2020, if manufactured before June 18, 2018.  Foods outside the GMA petition can be sold until June 18, 2019.

Eggs have no trans fats and are labeled accordingly.  The health risks posed by trans fats are significant enough for FDA to revoke their GRAS status and also motivated a World Health Organization high-level panel to recommend that governments worldwide remove them from the food supply.

*Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) is an FDA designation that a substance added to food is considered to be safe.

Rottenberg Named FSIS Administrator
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently named Carmen Rottenberg as administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).  Rottenberg was previously deputy FSIS administrator and had been serving as deputy undersecretary as well.  In announcing her appointment, USDA said that “she has ensured that FSIS programs are customer-focused and delivered efficiently, effectively and with integrity.”

Perdue also named Paul Kiecker as deputy FSIS administrator, the agency’s number-two position.   Kiecker, a career FSIS employee, began as a food inspector.

Restaurant Menu Labeling Now Being Enforced
After several delays, calorie labeling for restaurant menus became mandatory for chains with 20 or more locations on May 7.  Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the regulation would help Americans, who value the nutrition information on food labels, but can’t always get the same data in restaurants.

The agency issued several guidance documents to help restaurants with the details of labeling.   The basic requirement is to show calories for each menu item.  No other information is required, and stand-alone restaurants are not covered by the rule.  Since quick-serve restaurants are an important market channel for eggs and egg products, several industry customers are directly affected by the labeling requirements.