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Food Importers Must Ensure Food Meets U.S. Safety Standards Under FDA’s Food Supplier Verification Program

Requirements take effect this week under the FDA’s new Food Safety Verification Program (FSVP), which makes retailers and other businesses that import food into the United States responsible for verifying that the food has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. safety standards.

FSVP is one of the seven foundational rules of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

A central tenet of the FSVP is that the same preventive food safety standards should apply to all food consumed in the U.S., regardless of where the food is produced. The FSVP therefore requires that importers have a program in place to verify that their foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that

New Federal Law Will Require Disclosure of GMO Content in Food

A new federal law will require food makers to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

The law, which was recently signed by President Obama, will require such food products to be labeled with text, a symbol, or an electronic code readable by smartphone indicating the presence of GMOs. Small businesses will also have the option to label food products with a telephone number or Internet website directing customers to additional information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to draft regulations concerning which products require such disclosure, and additional details concerning what food makers must do to comply. After the regulations are finalized, food makers will have at least another year before the law takes effect.

Law preempts state and local GMO labeling laws.

The federal law preempts a similar Vermont law, Act 120, that took effect in July, as well as any other state or local

FTC Takes Action Against Personal Care Product Companies for Making False All-Natural Claims

“Natural” claims aren’t just for the food industry – the Federal Trade Commission recently approved four final consent orders against companies that allegedly misrepresented their personal care products as “All-Natural” or “100% Natural,” despite the fact that they contain man-made ingredients. For more information, see the alert posted here.

FDA Proposes Draft Guidance on Mandatory Recall Authority

One key element of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act was the Act’s grant to FDA of powers to force a product recall.  Prior to FSMA, FDA had no such authority, and was required to use other authorities to “lean” on companies to conduct a recall.  Now, FDA may force a recall where it finds that there is a reasonable probability that food is adulterated or misbranded and the use of or exposure to the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.  In addition to satisfying this fairly substantial threshold, the responsible party must refuse to voluntarily conduct a recall.  The result is that FDA has initiated its mandatory recall authority only a couple of times, notably with respect to Kasel Associates Industries, Inc.’s pet treats and dietary supplements manufactured by USPLabs.

FDA recently issued draft nonbinding guidance regarding its mandatory recall authority.  The draft

WTO Rules on Country of Origin Labeling

WTO Rules on Country of Origin Labeling

October 23, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

You may recall prior Digest posts regarding the World Trade Organization’s evaluation of the validity of the US Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) law.

On Monday, the WTO decided against the United States and has held that the COOL violates international fair trade rules. This is the third time the WTO has found COOL to be unfairly discriminatory and it is instigating Canada and Mexico to prepare to impose trade sanctions on US products such as wine and chocolate.

Consumer groups have also voiced their disappointment about the recent decision. Renee Hunt, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, an organic advocacy group, said: “It comes at the expense of consumers and American livestock farmers…Consumers want to have the choice of where their meat comes from, but, instead, Big Ag’s interests are protected.”  Chris Waldrop, policy director at

USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

July 31, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

Yesterday, a D.C. Circuit decision came down upholding the country of origin labeling requirements (“COOL”). COOL is the law that requires retailers licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act to, among other things, label certain meat products with information regarding where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

In yesterday’s ruling, the Court took an expansive approach to the Zauderer standard and held that, at least in the context of meat labeling, the government can compel commercial speech for reasons beyond preventing deception.

Included in those reasons the court cited to were: “the context and long history of country-of-origin disclosures to enable consumers to choose American-made products; the demonstrated consumer interest in extending country-of-origin labeling to food products; and the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.”

Dissenting Judge Janice Rogers Brown criticized that the ruling means “a business owner no longer has a

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