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Volume 10, Number 6 - June 2009


About Food Consulting Company

" I have received your newsletter for several years and I have always found it very interesting and helpful in the work I do. Thank you for doing it."

Janet Lilleberg
University of Minnesota

Dear Readers, This month begins the fourth year of Food Label News Reader Q&A Spot. Read Service Tip to learn about this free service.

Q.  My products are syrups and fruit toppings; what determines if the label should use 'fluid ounces' or 'net weight' to declare net quantity of contents?

            H.J., Food Manufacturer, GA


A.  The Code of Federal Regulations says that the 'net quantity of contents' statement shall be in terms of fluid measure if the food is liquid, or in terms of weight if the food is solid, semisolid or viscous, or a mixture of solid and liquid. Read more.

Submit a question for Reader Q&A (no charge).

MEAL Act - Restaurant Labeling Bill in Congress

The Menu Education and Labeling Act (MEAL Act,) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives (Congress) May 14, 2009. As written the bill would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to extend the food labeling requirements of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) to food served, processed, or prepared in a restaurant that is part of a chain. This is the fourth time MEAL has been introduced in Congress since 2003.

The 2009 MEAL Act is the second restaurant labeling bill introduced in Congress in 2009. The Labeling Education and Nutrition Act of 2009 (LEAN Act) was introduced March 2009, and reported in the Food Label News April issue. LEAN was supported by the National Restaurant Association and this was also reported in the April Food Label News.

In part MEAL requires:

  • a statement on menus that is adjacent to each standard item that reports the amount of calories, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrate and sodium per serving

  • information provided in a prominent location on the menu explaining the significance of the per-serving information in context of a total daily diet

  • menu boards, including drive-through menu boards to report the calories per item adjacent to each item

  • calories per food item/beverage sold at a salad bar, buffet line, cafeteria line, or similar self-service facility to be reported adjacent to each food offered

Read bill - search bill numbers S1048 and H2426

Commentary: Besides the recent efforts to establish federal laws to require restaurant labeling, several cities, counties and states have passed or are working to pass such laws. Food Consulting Company helps restaurants provide all types of nutrition and allergen information to meet customer needs and demands, including calories and other nutrition information for individual items and meal combinations. More Information or Contact Us.

Agendas Inform on Status of Food Labels Rules

The May 11, 2009, Federal Register contained the semiannual regulatory agenda for agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.)  FDA is one of eleven agencies in HHS. The agenda is a forecast of rulemaking activities that the agencies expect to publish as proposed rules or final rules within the next 12 months. FDA's food labeling activities in the agenda are:

  • Long-Term Actions: Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing, Labeling, or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements

  • Pre-rule: Safe Handling Statements, Labeling of Shell Eggs; Refrigeration of Shell Eggs Held for Retail Distribution

  • Final Rule: Label Requirement for Food That Has Been Refused Admission into the United States

  • Completed: Cochineal Extract and Carmine Label Declaration. Final Rule and Guidance for Industry issued.

  • Completed: Review of sections 101.9 and 101.12 nutrition labeling and serving size regulations. Conclusion: These regulations retained without change.

Supplementary information to the agenda states that due to the statutorily dictated timing of the Agenda the actions listed do not necessarily reflect the policy perspectives of the Obama Administration; however, the timing of the October 2009 Agenda will provide HHS with an opportunity to set out a regulatory agenda that does reflect policy directions of the Obama Administration.

See HHS Agenda.

Commentary: See January 2009 Food Label News for a report on the last HHS regulatory agenda for 2008.

Cochineal / Carmine Required on Food Labels

FDA has issued 'Guidance for Industry-Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives.' FDA published a final rule in the January 5, 2009, Federal Register that amended its regulations to require the declaration by name of the color additive. The guidance document restates in plain language the legal requirements of the final rule. The final rule is effective on January 5, 2011; all affected products introduced into  interstate commerce on or after this date must fully comply.

Read Guidance

Commentary: Food Consulting Company can review formulations and product labels  and help companies comply with proper labeling for color additives. See services; place orders.

At Your Service:  Since June 2006, Food Label News has provided 36 free answers to questions submitted by readers such as the 'net quantity of contents' question above; see Reader Q&A page. Submit your question for consideration in an upcoming issue. The top three questions during 2009 (in terms of value and broad appeal to Food Label News readers) will be acknowledged with a $25 thank you check to the submitters in January 2010.               

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