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FSIS Issues Interim Final Regarding Generic Approval for Country of Origin Labeling

Thursday, August 28, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued an interim final rule (IFR) allowing for generic approval of changes to meat and poultry product labeling necessitated by mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL). To be consistent with the COOL statute and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) IFR published on August 1, 2008, the FSIS IFR also will become effective on September 30, 2008, and its provisions do not apply to covered commodities produced or packaged before September 30, 2008.

Because many meat and chicken products are covered commodities under COOL, FSIS is amending its regulations to 1) provide that adding country of origin labeling statements to comply with the AMS IFR will be considered to be generically approved and 2) require that a country of origin statement on the label of a meat or poultry product that is a covered commodity to be sold by a retailer must comply with the AMS’ interim final rule.   

Generically approved labeling is labeling that “complies with the following: (1) Labeling for a product …which does not contain any special claims, such as quality claims, nutrient content claims, health claims, negative claims, geographical origin claims, or guarantees, or which is not a domestic product labeled in a foreign language.”  FSIS is amending the generic approval regulations to create an exception by including a provision that adding country of origin statements in compliance with the AMS COOL interim final rule will be considered to be generically approved. However, other types of geographic or origin claims are not affected by this IFR and in the preamble FSIS states that making country of origin statements on meat or poultry products that are not covered commodities pursuant to the AMS rule “generally are not generically approved labeling.”  The FSIS IFR also amends the labeling provisions pertaining to false or misleading labeling or practices such that a product bearing an origin statement that does not satisfy the provisions of AMS IFR could be deemed to be misbranded.

To view this rule in its entirety, click here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5070926

Comments must be received on or before Sept. 29, 2008, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/, by mail to: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 2534, South Building, Washington, D.C. 20250. All comments must identify FSIS and the docket number FSIS-2008-0027.

Comments will be available for view on FSIS' Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/2008_Interim_&_Final_Rules_Index/index.asp

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