USDA Nutrition Facts Rule Placed on “Inactive” List
On January 19, 2017, USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) released a proposed rule to revise its nutrition labeling requirements for meat and poultry products to reflect current scientific research and dietary recommendations. FSIS indicates that the changes parallel FDA’s recently revised nutrition labeling requirements (see our previous blog coverage regarding FDA’s revised nutrition facts requirements here). On, February 22, 2017, FSIS announced that it had extended the comment period by 30 days, and the comment period finally closed on April 19, 2017. Notable comments by the meat and poultry industry included a request to remove cholesterol from the label, stearic acid from the saturated fat content and the requirement to label naturally occurring trans fat.
Last week, the Trump administration released its first Unified Agenda listing USDA’s nutrition facts rule as inactive. According to USDA, this means that the rule will not be a priority for at least six months.
This latest action follows on the heels of the compliance date for the FDA Nutrition Facts final rule – originally scheduled for July 18, 2018 – being delayed for an indefinite period of time. Many leading food companies have started to transition their FDA-regulated product labels to the new format required by the FDA Nutrition Facts final rule. But because USDA has not finalized its nutrition facts rulemaking, USDA regulated products do not bear the new USDA format – except to the extent that manufacturers of USDA-regulated foods are voluntarily using the new FDA format consistent with a USDA notice (from late last year) stating that until the USDA proposed rule is finalized, meat and poultry manufacturers may voluntarily use FDA guidelines on nutrition labeling.
The key implication for industry and consumers alike going forward is the potential for inconsistency between nutrition labeling of meat and poultry products and nutrition labeling of FDA-regulated products. We will continue to monitor developments on this issue as they unfold and report them to you here.