Posted on March 22, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

USDA expands use of ‘healthy’ claim to meat, poultry labels

Agency wants consistency with FDA regs on 'healthy' claims for food products

The USDA said Friday it will allow establishments to use the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” on labels of meat and poultry products.

In a Federal Register notice, the USDA said the “healthy” claim – or related terms such as “health,” “healthful,” “healthfully,” “healthfulness,” “healthier,” “healthiest,” “healthily,” and “healthiness” – can be used on meat and poultry products which:

  • are not low in total fat, but have a fat profile makeup of predominantly mono and polyunsaturated fats
  • contain at least 10 percent of the daily value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of potassium or vitamin D

The USDA, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s commercial supply of meat and poultry products, said it made the decision “to maintain consistent requirements for food labels by allowing the same uses of the claim ‘healthy’ for meat and poultry products as are currently allowed for food products under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) jurisdiction.”

The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) said its Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS) has reviewed many proposed labels referencing FDA’s “healthy” notice, “and most have contained errors and needed correction.”

So, if a company wants to use the “healthy” claim, it will first need to submit at least one label sketch to the LPDS for approval.

See the FDA’s guidance to industry on the use of the term “healthy” in the labeling of food products. However, the FDA is currently re-evaluating the regulatory criteria for use of the “healthy” claim, among others, “in light of the latest nutrition science and the current dietary recommendations.”

In the meantime, the FDA said it would not enforce the regulatory requirements for products that use the “healthy” claim, as long as it meets the two conditions above.

The USDA’s FSIS said it will also follow the FDA’s lead on enforcement discretion until its own “healthy” regulations are amended through rulemaking.

FSIS is seeking public comments on the new “healthy” claim approval for 60 days.

Comments may be submitted – with the agency name and docket number FSIS-2019-0008 – online via the federal eRulemaking portal, or by mail sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, D.C., 20250-3700.

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