Last week, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued a final rule that amended 7 C.F.R. Part 3201–“Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement.” The final rule added 12 product categories to the federal BioPreferred procurement program. Under this program, federal agencies are generally required to purchase biobased products if a product category has been

In response to a request from Senators Rockefeller, Snowe, Cantwell, and Inouye, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday addressing obstacles that FDA may face in implementing certain provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) designed to ensure the safety of food imports. The report identifies several obstacles to the implementation of a successful third-party accreditation system for foreign facilities and recommends that FDA minimize dependence on third-party accreditation by maximizing use of foreign countries’ existing regulatory and enforcement resources.

The GAO framed the objectives of the report as twofold: (1) identify the major actions FDA is to take to implement a system for accrediting third parties, as directed by FSMA, and the challenges, if any, FDA and others report will be associated with these actions, and (2) examine FDA’s approach for using its comparability assessments to leverage other countries’ oversight capacity and enforcement authority.
Continue Reading GAO Report on Safety of Food Imports Recommends FDA Revise Approach to Comparability Assessments of Foreign Governments

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a directive that provides instructions to personnel conducting meat and poultry inspections regarding how to perform the Hazard Analysis Verification (HAV) required under section 417.4 of USDA regulations.  9 C.F.R. 417.4(a)(2).  FSIS will initially implement the directive with regard to establishments producing comminuted poultry products, citing the “recent illness outbreaks related to Salmonella contamination in raw ground turkey products” as evidence of the need to prioritize thorough and effective HAV procedures in those facilities as a starting point. Implementation at 30 establishments producing comminuted poultry products will begin in October and FSIS will subsequently assess the effectiveness of the procedures in order to determine whether any changes to the directive should be made.
Continue Reading FSIS Issues Directive on Hazard Analysis Verification Program Required for Meat and Poultry Products

In January 2011, the FSMA amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to give the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authority to order the recall of all food products when a company fails to voluntarily recall the products. Until passage of this act, FDA could ask companies to voluntarily recall adulterated or misbranded food products, but could not order them to do so unless the product was infant formula. FSMA directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on issues associated with FDA’s new authority to order food recalls. Last week, the GAO published its report, entitled “Food Safety: FDA’s Food Advisory and Recall Process Needs Strengthening”.

According to the GAO, the report “examines key government entities having the authority to order product recalls and how FDA implements its authority; (2) examines the challenges FDA faces, if any, in advising the public about food recalls or outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and examines how FDA has addressed these challenges; and (3) identifies mechanisms that may compensate the food industry for erroneously ordered food recalls or erroneous food-related advisories.” The report notes far-reaching implications of FDA’s expanded food recall authority, including the substantial risk to the public and industry if advisories are issued erroneously. Specifically, the report notes that unwarranted food safety advisories and recalls “can trigger serious economic losses for the food industry and discourage the consumption of healthful food, such as fresh produce.”

To strengthen FDA’s process for ordering recalls, the report recommends that the Secretary of Health and Human Services direct the Commissioner of FDA to take the following actions:
Continue Reading GAO Report Encourages FDA to Strengthen Its Food Advisory and Recall Process

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service have released their strategic plan for national aquaculture research and development (Strategic Plan). The Strategic Plan has potentially significant implications for aquaculture companies, feed suppliers, and other stakeholders interested in seafood and related nutrition policy matters.

The Strategic Plan was

Last month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a report recommending that Congress consider repealing provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the Farm Bill) that would assign responsibility for catfish inspection to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”). The GAO report, entitled Seafood Safety: Responsibility for Inspecting Catfish Should Not Be Assigned to USDA, concluded that FSIS has not adequately demonstrated a human health concern relating to commercial catfish products that would necessitate the proposed catfish inspection program. In addition, according to GAO, the proposal would further fragment oversight of seafood safety, resulting in unnecessary expense and duplication of existing federal programs.
Continue Reading GAO to Congress: Repeal Farm Bill Provisions that Give Catfish Inspection Oversight to FDA

On May 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) published a Proposed Rule which would amend the USDA’s BioPreferred federal procurement program regulations to, in relevant part, (1) include “intermediate ingredient or feedstock” in the definition of “biobased product”; and (2) include the designation of complex assembly products within the scope of the BioPreferred federal procurement program. Prior posts on the BioPreferred Program can be found here and here.
Continue Reading USDA Issues Proposed Rule To Expand BioPreferred Program

On April 27, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) issued an interim final rule that will provide additional financial assistance to schools serving lunch and breakfast meals that comply with the updated menu planning and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch Program (“NSLP”) and the School Breakfast Program (“SBP”). The interim rule, which