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Food Safety


Made-In-The-USA Food Labeling

The USDA/Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a rule (March 7) intended to improve consumer understanding about ‘what is’ US-produced food.

Specifically, FSIS is proposing to change current regulations to better define the conditions under which the labeling of meat, poultry, and egg products, as well as voluntarily-inspected products, may bear label claims indicating that the product is of United States origin – i.e. a “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”

Such labeling is voluntary, but if used can potentially be misleading to consumers. And, by law, food products cannot bear false or misleading labels, such as those which convey any false impression or that gives a false indication of origin. Current labling rules permit US-labeled products if, for example, animals were born and raised in another country but processed in the US.

The proposed new rules will permit use of either Product of USA or Made in the USA labels only if:

  • For single ingredient, FSIS-regulated products derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the US.

  • For use on multi-ingredient, FSIS-regulated products if all regulated components of the product are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the US; and, all additional ingredients, other than spices and flavorings, are of domestic origin (i.e., all preparation and processing steps of the ingredients are completed in the United States).

The proposed new rules will undergo a public comment period. The timeline for completion of a final rule including an implementation timeline is not publicly known.

(posted: 3-7-23)


FDA Baby Food Lead Standards

The FDA issued draft guidance (January 24) to industry on lead levels for processed foods–such as food packaged in jars, pouches, tubs and boxes–that are intended for babies and children under two years old.

The draft guidance recommends lead levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for fruits and non-root vegetables, as well as mixtures, yogurts, custards/puddings and single-ingredient meats. Higher lead levels would be appropriate for root vegetables and dry cereals (20 ppb). 

The FDA believes these levels, if followed by industry, could result in lead exposure reduction in these types of foods by as much as 24-27%. This measure follows FDA draft guidance in April 2022 targeting lead levels in juice.

It is important to note, however, that mere guidance by the FDA does not mean standards enforceable through regulation and law. It is not clear if, or when, lead standards will move beyond mere guidance to industry. It is likely that any regulatory action will need to first be preceded by legislative action in the Congress.

(posted: 1-25-23)


Weedkiller Carcinogenic Concern

A study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 80 per cent of the study’s urine samples contained a weed-killing chemical some believe is linked to cancer.

Of 2,310 urine samples, 1,885 had detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. The chemical is widely used by farmers.

The report notes that in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” In contrast, however, the European Food Safety Authority and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) have both said that glyphosate is unlikely to be a carcinogen. In addition, the EPA says that it continues to believe “that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label,” and “that glyphosate is unlikely to be a human carcinogen.”

(updated: 7-9-22)


FDA Decision on Phthalates & Food Packaging

The FDA decided (May 19, 2022) that it would not impose a total ban of phthalates used in food packaging. While the FDA banned twenty five phthalate compounds that it says the industry was dropping anyway, another nine will continue to be permitted in food contact applications. The FDA says that petitioners proposing a total ban on such chemicals “did not demonstrate the proposed class of phthalates is no longer safe for the approved food additive uses.” 

While studies have shown that these chemicals leak into food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the health effects on humans from exposure “are not as clear” and that “more research is needed to assess the human health effects.” The EPA is also looking at the phthalates issue.

(updated: 5-22-22)


Restricting Lead Levels in Apple Juice

The FDA announced (April 27, 2022) that it is taking steps to reduce lead in single-strength (i.e., ready-to-drink) apple juice and related juice blends. Specifically, the FDA is proposing guidance to industry of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for lead in single-strength apple juice and of 20 ppb for lead in all other single-strength juice types, including juice blends that contain apple juice. The

Toxic heavy metals such as lead and arsenic can be both naturally occurring and caused by fertilizers and pesticides. Levels that end up in juice can be addressed, among other means, through washing and filtration techniques.

FDA says it is targeting apple juice because it is the most commonly consumed juice that young children drink. The agency estimates that the guidancek, if achieved by agriculture and industry, would result in a 46% reduction in exposure to lead from apple juice in children. For all other fruit and vegetable juices, establishment of an action level of 20 ppb is estimated to result in a reduction of 19% in exposure to lead from all other juices in children.

(updated: 5-6-22)


Lawsuit on Phthalates

The organization EarthJustice filed a lawsuit (December 2021) on behalf of a group of environmental organizations to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban phthalates in food packaging and processing materials. The groups claim that the FDA has years of scientific evidence that phthalates are dangerous to human health. The EPA has also been concerned about phthalates and the impact on human health. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Food Safety Blueprint

The FDA released a "New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint"(October 2021). The Blueprint is built around four key elements: tech-enabled traceability of food; smarter tools/approaches for prevention and outbreak response; responding to new food retail business models and modernizing traditional food retail safety; and, strengthening home and business food safety culture. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Chemicals & Heavy Metals in Food

A number of proposed bills have been introduced into the current Congress with respect to the safety of food contents. For example:

  • Baby Food Safety Act (HR 2229, S 1019) - among other things, this legislation sets maximum levels in baby food for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. No action has been taken on the proposal.

  • Food Chemical Reassessment Act (HR 4694) - this legislation creates an "Office of Food Safety Reassessment" within the FDA to study every three years the safety of at least ten specific chemicals currently added to food. No action has been taken on this legislation.

  • Toxic Free Food Act (HR 3699) - among other things, this legislation would require the FDA to eliminate the so-called generally recognized as safe (GRAS) "loophole" which permits manufacturers to designate certain chemicals as GRAS without FDA review or approval. No action has been taken on this legislation.

No action has been taken on these proposals in the current (117th) Congress.

(updated: 2-2-22)


Connected Policies


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Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Use
Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Use

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Final Rule revoking all tolerance levels in food of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which effectively bans its use in the United States. Chlorpyrifos has been studied for the better part of a decade, particularly with respect to its impact on food and children.

Status: this Final Rule was issued on August 18, 2021.


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