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Judge places FDA on court-ordered schedule for FSMA rules

WASHINGTON — The Food & Drug Administration must issue final produce safety and preventive controls regulations no later than June 2015, and propose other key food-safety regulations by Nov. 20, 2013, according to a court order handed down by a federal judge after two consumer groups sued FDA over its delay in releasing FDA Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

The Center for Food Safety and Center for Environmental Health sued FDA last August for not meeting the deadlines Congress established in FSMA. Only two major regulations were proposed by FDA in January, while other proposals have been undergoing final White House review for months.

The FDA argued in the case that the law’s requirement for multiple public meetings, resource constraints and the complexity of the issue made it nearly impossible to adhere to the Congressional mandate.

But U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton sided with the groups in April, and after the FDA and the consumer groups could not reach a mutually agreed-upon timetable for the FSMA rules, she set her own timetable in a three-page court order issued June 21.

Under the new schedule, FDA must finalize the produce safety and preventive controls proposals by June 30, 2015, and propose all remaining regulations, including the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, third-party accreditation, preventive controls for animal foods and intentional contamination, by Nov. 30, 2013.

The public comment period cannot go later than March 31, 2014, and all final rules must be released by June 30, 2015, said the court.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Judge places FDA on court-ordered schedule for FSMA rules

WASHINGTON — The Food & Drug Administration must issue final produce safety and preventive controls regulations no later than June 2015, and propose other key food-safety regulations by Nov. 20, 2013, according to a court order handed down by a federal judge after two consumer groups sued FDA over its delay in releasing FDA Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

The Center for Food Safety and Center for Environmental Health sued FDA last August for not meeting the deadlines Congress established in FSMA. Only two major regulations were proposed by FDA in January, while other proposals have been undergoing final White House review for months.

The FDA argued in the case that the law’s requirement for multiple public meetings, resource constraints and the complexity of the issue made it nearly impossible to adhere to the Congressional mandate.

But U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton sided with the groups in April, and after the FDA and the consumer groups could not reach a mutually agreed-upon timetable for the FSMA rules, she set her own timetable in a three-page court order issued June 21.

Under the new schedule, FDA must finalize the produce safety and preventive controls proposals by June 30, 2015, and propose all remaining regulations, including the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, third-party accreditation, preventive controls for animal foods and intentional contamination, by Nov. 30, 2013.

The public comment period cannot go later than March 31, 2014, and all final rules must be released by June 30, 2015, said the court.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Two Food Rules

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize two pending food safety rules.

DeLauro wrote to OMB director Shaun Donovan Monday, expressing her concern that if the mechanically tenderized beef rule and a rule regarding added solutions in meat and poultry products are not completed before the end of the year, they will be delayed until at least 2018.

There is concern that mechanically tenderized beef products are more likely to cause foodborne illness than whole cuts if not cooked properly, so food safety advocates are calling for mechanically tenderized beef to be labeled so that consumers can take extra precautions.

The concern behind the second rule DeLauro referenced is that solutions added to raw meat and poultry products to enhance flavor or texture may lead to higher sodium levels and changes to other aspects of nutritional content.

“Any delay in finalizing these important rules will deprive consumers of accurate information about these products so they can make informed purchasing decisions and prepare these products safely,” DeLauro wrote.

She noted that it has been over a year since the proposed mechanically tenderized beef rule was published and over three years since the proposed added solution rule was published.

“I urge you to publish and implement the final rules quickly so American consumers will no longer be left in the dark,” DeLauro wrote. “Thank you for considering the public health and economic impacts that will occur if USDA fails to implement these rules before the end of the year.”

Food Safety News

Produce groups urge the FDA to change off-farm packinghouse rules under FSMA

WASHINGTON — Different standards for packinghouses under the Food Safety Modernization Act based on their location will cause confusion within the industry and are not science-based, produce industry groups told officials at the Food & Drug Administration during a Thursday public meeting on FSMA changes.

Under the FDA’s current interpretation of FSMA, on-farm packinghouses would need to meet produce safety standards, but off-farm operations, which must register with the FDA, would have to meet more extensive and costly preventive control requirements.

Registered facilities that only handle raw agriculture commodities and don’t conduct further processing should be covered under the produce safety rule, Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, argued during the meeting held in College Park, MD. Food safety and public heath benefits are likely to be best served by a single rule, he said.

“The current regulation as proposed will result in confusion in the produce industry by requiring those actually subject to registration to establish an independent food-safety program for raw agricultural commodities rather than those established by the produce rule,” he said, adding that all the additional recordkeeping, staffing and testing requirements for off-farm operations based “only on the physical location of the operation is not practical.”

David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association, urged the FDA to add language to the FSMA rules that would allow off-farm facilities that meet produce safety requirements to automatically satisfy preventive controls.

FDA staff acknowledged the issue has not been put to rest by the latest fixes to its farm definition.

“We’re considering [this issue] ourselves,” Rebecca Buckner, the FDA’s implementation manager, said during the day-long meeting.

But the issue is not easy to resolve because the statute requires facilities registered with the FDA to meet preventive controls, said Jenny Scott, senior adviser at the Office of Food Safety at the FDA. Only farms and retail operations are exempted from registering with the FDA as facilities.

“We are looking at all those definitions and what can and can’t change,” said Scott. “We certainly appreciate your thoughts of how a facility that has to register could be moved into the produce rule that applies to farms.

“I’m sure that’s an area where you have your legal counsel looking at very carefully,” she quipped.

Gombas also urged the FDA to back off product testing as a verification tool for raw agricultural commodities.

“You test one strawberry or apple, you’ve tested one strawberry or apple,” he said. “The results tell you nothing about the rest.”

He also proposed a simpler, modified approach to water testing and urged the FDA to move away from its complicated testing standard in the produce safety rule.

In other comments, consumer groups urged the FDA to scrap its current proposed small business definition of less than $ 1 million in annual food sales for the preventive controls rule, suggesting the large number of exempted processors and foreign suppliers will put consumers at risk.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Produce groups urge the FDA to change off-farm packinghouse rules under FSMA

WASHINGTON — Different standards for packinghouses under the Food Safety Modernization Act based on their location will cause confusion within the industry and are not science-based, produce industry groups told officials at the Food & Drug Administration during a Thursday public meeting on FSMA changes.

Under the FDA’s current interpretation of FSMA, on-farm packinghouses would need to meet produce safety standards, but off-farm operations, which must register with the FDA, would have to meet more extensive and costly preventive control requirements.

Registered facilities that only handle raw agriculture commodities and don’t conduct further processing should be covered under the produce safety rule, Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, argued during the meeting held in College Park, MD. Food safety and public heath benefits are likely to be best served by a single rule, he said.

“The current regulation as proposed will result in confusion in the produce industry by requiring those actually subject to registration to establish an independent food-safety program for raw agricultural commodities rather than those established by the produce rule,” he said, adding that all the additional recordkeeping, staffing and testing requirements for off-farm operations based “only on the physical location of the operation is not practical.”

David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association, urged the FDA to add language to the FSMA rules that would allow off-farm facilities that meet produce safety requirements to automatically satisfy preventive controls.

FDA staff acknowledged the issue has not been put to rest by the latest fixes to its farm definition.

“We’re considering [this issue] ourselves,” Rebecca Buckner, the FDA’s implementation manager, said during the day-long meeting.

But the issue is not easy to resolve because the statute requires facilities registered with the FDA to meet preventive controls, said Jenny Scott, senior adviser at the Office of Food Safety at the FDA. Only farms and retail operations are exempted from registering with the FDA as facilities.

“We are looking at all those definitions and what can and can’t change,” said Scott. “We certainly appreciate your thoughts of how a facility that has to register could be moved into the produce rule that applies to farms.

“I’m sure that’s an area where you have your legal counsel looking at very carefully,” she quipped.

Gombas also urged the FDA to back off product testing as a verification tool for raw agricultural commodities.

“You test one strawberry or apple, you’ve tested one strawberry or apple,” he said. “The results tell you nothing about the rest.”

He also proposed a simpler, modified approach to water testing and urged the FDA to move away from its complicated testing standard in the produce safety rule.

In other comments, consumer groups urged the FDA to scrap its current proposed small business definition of less than $ 1 million in annual food sales for the preventive controls rule, suggesting the large number of exempted processors and foreign suppliers will put consumers at risk.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WTO Rules Against Country-of-Origin Labeling on Meat in U.S.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in an ongoing dispute with the United States over country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on meat.

The latest U.S. labeling rules, put into effect in 2013, require meat sold in grocery stores to indicate the country, or countries, where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

According to a WTO report released on Monday, the labeling rules unfairly discriminate against meat imports and give the advantage to domestic meat products. But the WTO compliance panel also found that the labels do provide U.S. consumers with information on the origin of their food, countering Canada and Mexico’s assertion that the labels do not serve their intended purpose.

Back in November 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the WTO should have the final say on COOL, suggesting that the U.S. might give in to whatever the WTO compliance panel determined.

This is the second time the WTO has ruled against the U.S. in this dispute. After passing mandatory COOL rules in 2008, the U.S. amended COOL in 2012 following an earlier WTO ruling against them.

The Canadian cattle and hog industries say that COOL has cost them combined losses of more than $ 900 million USD. If the COOL rules persist, the Canadian government has threatened to place tariffs on U.S. meat imports, along with products such as wine, potatoes and orange juice.

The U.S. beef industry has strongly opposed COOL, while organizations representing consumers say that grocery shoppers deserve to know where their meat originates.

“COOL is a failed program that will soon cost not only the beef industry, but the entire U.S. economy, with no corresponding benefit to consumers or producers,” said Bob McCan, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in a statement. “… We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue, avoiding retaliation against not only beef, but a host of U.S. products.”

In a joint statement, the North American Meat Association and the American Meat Institute also lauded the WTO’s decision.

“USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meat packers and processors, it does not bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations,” the joint statement read. “By being out of compliance, the U.S. is subject to retaliation from Canada and Mexico that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.”

The consumer group Food & Water Watch called the ruling a threat to consumers’ right to know.

“The WTO’s continued assault against commonsense food labels is just another example of how corporate-controlled trade policy undermines the basic protections that U.S. consumers deserve,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter in a statement. “The United States should appeal the ruling and continue to fight for sensible consumer safeguards at the supermarket.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) also spoke out against the ruling and urged the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives to appeal the ruling.

“Accurate information is essential in a competitive, free market and COOL provides consumers with essential information about the origin of their food,” DeLauro said in a statement. “If this ruling stands, U.S. ranchers will not be able to differentiate their products with a U.S. label and consumers will not have the information they need at the point of purchase.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives said that all options were being considered, including the possibility of appealing the ruling.

“A negotiated solution, not further litigation at the WTO, is the most realistic path to getting this issue resolved in the near term,” said a spokesperson for the office. “Allowing this case to wait for resolution in Geneva will only prolong the market uncertainty we’ve seen on all sides of this issue.”

Food Safety News