Welcome to the final 2020 edition of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.’s monthly wrap up of food, beverage and supplement news, including regulations, guidances, events, and whatever else is catching our eye. Happy New Year, everyone.
Food & Beverage
- Make Every Bite Count: USDA and HHS just released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, rejecting an external scientific advisory committee’s recommendations (discussed in Karin’s July blog post) that men should cut back on alcohol and that all individuals should further limit their intake of added sugars.
- Eat Your Fruits & Veggies: The UN has declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, recognizing the “urgent need to raise awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption and to advocate for healthy diets through increased sustainable production and consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
- Losing Patience With Undeclared Allergens?: FDA sent a pointed warning letter to Whole Foods, indicating in a press release, “As part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to address undeclared allergens as the leading cause of food recalls, we have analyzed patterns of recalls, and this letter is part of that work along with other work to improve industry’s compliance with allergen labeling requirements and reduce undeclared allergen-related food recalls.”
- Not Quite 100%: The 7th Circuit revived a suit alleging that cheese misleads consumers by claiming to be “100% Grated Parmesan Cheese,” ruling that consumers aren’t obligated to scrutinize labels to ferret out ambiguities the way attorneys would in a courtroom. “How reasonable consumers actually understand” an ambiguous product name “is a question of fact that cannot be resolved on the pleadings.”
- More on Corporate Social Responsibility: With the Supreme Court pondering arguments made in the cocoa and Alien Tort Statute cases, note that Senate Democrats are focusing on CBP’s enforcement strategy to ensure that imports of palm oil made with forced and child labor do not enter the United States.
- Genomic Alteration: FDA had approved an intentional genomic alteration in animals for food uses or therapeutic uses, but not both – until this month, when FDA announced just such an approval of an alteration in a line of domestic pigs. See Ricardo’s post here. Just two weeks later, USDA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and request for comments on a new regulatory framework under which “USDA would in most instances provide end-to-end regulatory oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring for animals modified or developed using genetic engineering intended for use as human food.” Comments are due by February 26, 2021.
- Some Clarity on FUAs: FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine finalized guidance intended to help companies submit information for effective and efficient pre-submission consultations and preparation of an Food Use Authorization request.
- Just a Little Bit Longer: FDA has extended the comment period for Draft Guidance on Voluntary Disclosure of Sesame until February 25, 2021, and extended the comment period for the Food Traceability Propose Rule until February 22, 2021.
- Salt by any other name…: FDA issued guidance on their intent to exercise enforcement discretion for declaration of the name “potassium salt” in the ingredient statement on food labels as an alternative to the common or usual name “potassium chloride.” As we reported in 2019, in draft guidance, FDA had indicated that it did not think the name potassium salt was appropriate.
- Gottlieb on Cherry Pies: “Thanks to the hard work of my FDA team in 2018, the Federal government will no longer be regulating the contents of frozen cherry pie,” Gottlieb tweeted earlier in December. “The American people are free add extra fruit, sugar, and make the crust especially thick.” He did not claim credit for FDA’s proposal to do away with the standard of identity for French dressing.
- Red, Red Wine: TTB amended their regulations by adding some new standards of fill for wine and distilled spirits.
- FSIS Will Prohibit the Use of “Uncured” and “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” on Processed Products that Contain Nitrite/Nitrate from “Natural” Sources: In response to a Petition by CSPC (which we discussed here), FSIS has announced that it intends to conduct rulemaking to propose to prohibit the statements, “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” and “Uncured,” on products that have been processed using any source of nitrates or nitrites. Rather than requiring disclosure statements about the use of nitrate or nitrites on labels of meat and poultry products, FSIS intends to propose new definitions for “Cured” and “Uncured.” A proposed rule, tentatively scheduled for May 2021, will provide details.
- Distribution of SARMs leads to forfeiture: DOJ announced a guilty plea by the owner of a sport supplement company that distributed purported dietary supplements that contained Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) – “synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the effects of testosterone and other anabolic steroids.” In addition to pleading guilty to a felony charge, the owner agreed to forfeit $3.5 million in proceeds from sale of the products.
- Operation CBDeceit: The FTC cracked down on six sellers of CBD-containing products for making a wide range of deceptive and scientifically unsupported claims about their ability to treat serious health conditions.
- Imminent Enforcement: Enforcement for THC-related Proposition 65 warnings began January 3, 2021. Make sure that THC-containing products (including those derived from hemp) that are sold in California have appropriate labeling to comply with Proposition 65 labeling mandates.
- The Muddy Waters of Cannabis: For the first time, a chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives, voted to decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. See a blog post by our colleague Larry Houck here.