The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to amend its inspection regulations to expand the circumstances under which FSIS will generically approve the labels of meat, poultry, and egg products.
FSIS is also proposing to cease evaluating generically approved labels submitted to FSIS for review.
FSIS employs a prior approval program for labels intended to be used on federally inspected meat, poultry, and egg products. These labels are mandatory and products may not be sold, offered for sale, or otherwise distributed in commerce without them.
Certain types of labels or label designs (aka “sketch labels”) must be submitted to FSIS for review and approval before use. However, certain labels that are fully in compliance with the Agency’s guidelines need not be submitted and will be considered by FSIS to be “generically” approved.
Under the reforms being proposed by FSIS, the following labels would no longer need to be submitted to the Agency for prior approval:
- Labels on products for export that deviate from FSIS requirements;
- labels that list ingredients in the ingredients statement as being certified “organic” (e.g., organic garlic) under the Agricultural Marketing Service National Organic Program;
- labels that display geographic landmarks, such as a foreign country's flag, monument, or map;
- labels that make “negative” claims identifying the absence of certain ingredients or types of ingredients (e.g., statements such as “No MSG Added” or “Gluten Free”);
- and labels of products that receive voluntary FSIS inspection (e.g., various wildlife and exotic species).
FSIS is also proposing to discontinue the practice it adopted some years ago of evaluating generically approved labels submitted voluntarily to it for review. An internal evaluation determined that this activity “no longer represents an efficient use of Agency resources.”
Comments from stakeholders and other interested persons should be submitted on or before November 13, 2020, and reference docket number FSIS-2019-0019. Submissions can be made via mail, courier, or online using the Federal eRulemaking Portal here.
Need More Information?
- FSIS Compliance Guideline for Label Approval
- Labeling 101 (Powerpoint Presentation)
- A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements For Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products