The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing a new rule that would allow establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to FSIS for approval. Under the proposal, FSIS will continue to verify that labels are accurate, not misleading, and in compliance with all labeling features.

The proposed rule would benefit consumers because it will get new products into the marketplace sooner while still ensuring that they are not misbranded. Also, by making the label approval process more convenient and cost-effective, the industry, especially smaller producers, is expected to benefit from the rule.

“It is important that we make the labeling process more effective and efficient, while still ensuring consumers have the best information available when shopping for food,” said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the Department of Agriculture.

Under the proposal, the generic label approval process would allow companies to use new labels or modify labels without first submitting such labels to FSIS. Under the proposed generic approval process, all mandatory label features would still need to comply with FSIS regulations.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register. The comment period will end on Feb. 3, 2012 and must be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail to the USDA, FSIS, OPPD, RIMD, Docket Clearance Unite, Patriots Plaza III, Rm. 8-164, 355 E Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20024-3221. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2005-0016.

Over the past two years, FSIS has announced several new measures to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat.

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Source: USDA