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FDA Issues Guidance on “Gluten Free” Labeling

FDA issued a final rule today on the voluntary use of “gluten-free” on food labels, as directed by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.  In summary, FDA set a threshold for gluten of less than 20 parts per million in foods that are labeled “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten.”  Food manufacturers will have one year to bring their labeling into compliance with the new regulation.  After that one year implementation period, any food labeling “gluten-free” or a similar claim with gluten more than 20 parts per million will be considered misbranded.  A threshold of 20 parts per million was selected because that is the lowest level of gluten that can currently be detected with validated methodology, and, as stated by FDA, “some celiac disease researchers and some epidemiological evidence suggest that most individuals with celiac disease can tolerate variable trace amounts and concentrations of

Meat Industry Sues USDA over Country of Origin Labeling

On July 8, 2013, a number of meat industry trade organizations filed suit against the USDA in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia challening USDA’s new country of original labeling (“COOL”) regulations.  A copy of the complaint can be found here.  In May of 2013, USDA issued immediately-effective revised COOL regulations requiring, among other things, that meat labeling make a distinction between where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.  These regulations were issued in response to a World Trade Organization dispute between the United States, Mexico and Canada over then-existing COOL regulations in the United States.  Mexico and Canada have asserted that the May 2013 regulations only exacerbated the dispute.  More background on the WTO dispute can be found here.

Plaintiffs assert three causes of action.  First, they argue that the COOL regulations violate the First Amendment because they compel certain commercial speech

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