Happy New Year! This blog entry will revisit and update the status of significant regulatory issues covered by the Well Done Blog in 2015 and assess 2016 FDA priorities in the food area.
- Office of Dietary Supplement Programs
On December 21, 2015, the FDA announced the creation of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP).1 The program was formerly a division under the Office of Nutrition Labeling and Dietary Supplements, now known as the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling. As discussed in our December 2, 2015 blog post, the Department of Justice brought a significant number of civil and criminal cases against the makers of dietary supplements in 2015. The creation of ODSP supports the mission of monitoring the safety of dietary supplements and taking action against entities that present a risk of harm to the consumer.
- “Natural” Label Claims
In 2015, the FDA received three Citizen Petitions asking that the agency define the term “natural” for use in food labeling. The term “natural” has been the subject of many food labeling lawsuits, as mentioned in our November 19, 2015 blog post. In direct response to requests from the public, the FDA has extended the comment period on the use of the term “natural” in food labeling to May 10, 2016.2 The Morgan Lewis FDA team is currently working on an analysis of the comments submitted to date. Please contact the FDA team if you are interested in submitting a comment.
- Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) Regulations
As discussed in our November 16 blog post, in late 2015, the FDA published three final rules under FSMA: the Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (Produce Safety rule),3 the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (FSVP rule),4 and the Accreditation of Third-Party Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits and to Issue Certifications (Accredited Third-Party Certification rule).5 These rules implement sections of FSMA geared toward protecting the US food supply. As discussed below, the FDA plans to take further action to implement sections of FSMA in 2016.
- Menu Labeling Requirements
As discussed in our blog posts of December 4, 2014 and July 13, 2015, FDA released its final rule on menu labeling in restaurants on December 1, 2014, and later extended the date for compliance from December 1, 2015 to December 1, 2016. The rule will require restaurants and similar retail food establishments that (1) sell “restaurant-type food,” (2) are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, (3) do business under the same name or slight variations of each other, and (4) offer for sale substantially the same menu items as the other business locations, to disclose calorie information on menus and menu boards.
- New York Sodium Warning
As discussed in our December 11, 2015 blog post, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Board of Health (Board of Health) Sodium Warning Label Rule went into effect on December 1, 2015. The Rule requires food service establishments in New York City with 15 or more locations nationwide to provide a warning for menu items that contain 2,300 mg or more of sodium. New York City is the first city in the United States to require chain restaurants to include sodium warnings on menus or menu boards. Chains with 15 or more locations have 90 days to comply with the new rule before they face a $200 fine. The rule elicited responses from the National Salt Institute and the National Restaurant Association. The National Restaurant Association filed suit against the Board of Health, claiming that it did not have the authority to require such a warning. We will monitor this lawsuit and provide updates in 2016.