The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced that it will solicit further public comment to define the conditions under which it would permit the voluntary claim "natural" to be used in the labeling of meat and poultry products. The agency made the announcement through the publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The Agency is seeking comments to clarify and resolve issues surrounding the "natural" claim, including how best to coordinate FSIS' regulation of "natural" claims with the Agricultural Marketing Service's voluntary "naturally raised" marketing claim standard. The Agency believes that the proposed rulemaking will facilitate the emergence of consensus on the meaning of "natural" and will allow it to move quickly to a proposed rule.

The current FSIS policy states that the term "natural" may be used in the labeling of meat and poultry products provided that the product does not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredients, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient and that the product is not more than minimally processed.

For detailed description of these issues, please refer to the ANPR, which is posted on FSIS' Web site.

Comments on the Proposed Rulemaking must be received by Nov. 13. Comments can be sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 5601 Sunnyside Ave, Room 2-2127, Beltsville, Md. 20705; or through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov .

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Source: FSIS