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Rule

Uniform Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is establishing January 1, 2012, as the uniform compliance date for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010. FSIS periodically announces uniform compliance dates for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations to minimize the economic impact of label changes.

DATES:

This rule is effective December 12, 2008. Comments on this final rule must be received on or before January 12, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this final rule. Comments may be submitted by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this Web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments.
  • Mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROMs, and hand- or courier-delivered items: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 2534, South Agriculture Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2008-0040. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, go to the FSIS Docket Room at the address listed above between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rosalyn Murphy-Jenkins, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700; Telephone 202-205-0623, Fax 202/205-0145 or 202/205-0271.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

FSIS periodically issues regulations that require changes in the labeling of meat and poultry food products. Many meat and poultry establishments also produce non-meat and non-poultry food products subject to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA also periodically issues regulations that require changes in the labeling of such products.

On December 14, 2004, FSIS issued the final rule that provided that the Agency will set uniform compliance dates for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations in two year increments and will periodically issue final rules announcing those dates. That final rule also established January 1, 2008, as the uniform compliance date for meat and poultry product labeling regulations that issued between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2006 (69 FR 74405). Consistent with the 2004 final rule, FSIS issued a subsequent final rule, on March 5, 2007, that established January 1, 2010, as the uniform compliance date for meat and poultry product labeling regulations that issued between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008 (72 FR 9651).

The Final Rule

This final rule establishes January 1, 2012, as the uniform compliance date for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, is consistent with the previous final rules establishing uniform Start Printed Page 75565compliance dates. In addition, FSIS' approach for establishing uniform compliance dates for new food labeling regulations is consistent with FDA's approach. FDA is also establishing January 1, 2012, as the uniform compliance date for new food labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010.

Two year increments enhance the industry's ability to make orderly adjustments to new labeling requirements without unduly exposing consumers to outdated labels. With this approach to effecting compliance, the meat and poultry industry is able to plan for use of label inventories and to develop new labeling materials that meet the requirements of all labeling regulations made within the two year period, thereby minimizing the economic impact of labeling changes. By establishing a uniform compliance date that is the same as FDA's, FSIS is providing meat and poultry manufacturers with a greater ability to adjust production plans to new labeling requirements across all of their product lines.

This policy also serves consumers' interests because the cost of multiple short-term label revisions that would otherwise occur would likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

It will remain FSIS' policy, however, to encourage industry to comply with new labeling regulations as quickly as feasible. Thus, when industry members voluntarily change their labels, they should consider incorporating any new requirements that have been published as final regulations up to that time.

The new uniform compliance date will apply only to final FSIS regulations that require changes in the labeling of meat and poultry products and that are published after January 1, 2009, and before December 31, 2010. In each of these regulations, FSIS will specifically identify January 1, 2012, as the compliance date. All meat and poultry food products that are subject to labeling regulations promulgated between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, will be required to comply with these regulations when introduced into commerce on or after January 1, 2012. If any food labeling regulation involves special circumstances that justify a compliance date other than January 12, 2012, the Agency will determine for that regulation an appropriate compliance date, which will be specified when the final regulation is published.

In rulemaking that began with the publication of a proposed rule on May 4, 2004, FSIS provided notice and solicited comment on the concept of establishing uniform compliance dates for labeling requirements (69 FR 24539). In the March 5, 2007, final rule, FSIS noted that the Agency received only four comments in response to the proposal, all fully supportive of the policy to set uniform compliance dates. Therefore, in the March 5, 2007, final rule, FSIS determined that further rulemaking for the establishment of uniform compliance dates for labeling requirements is unnecessary (72 FR 9651). Consistent with its statement in 2007, FSIS finds at this time that further rulemaking on this matter is unnecessary. However, FSIS is providing an opportunity for comment on whether the uniform compliance date established in this final rule should be modified or revoked.

Executive Order 12988

This final rule has been reviewed under the Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under this final rule: (1) All state and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule will be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; and (3) no retroactive proceedings will be required before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Executive Order 12866

FSIS has examined the impacts of the final rule under Executive Order 12866, which directs agencies to assess costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). This action has been determined to be not significant and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Establishing a uniform compliance date for all future Federal food product labeling regulations affecting the meat and poultry industry that are issued by FSIS over a two year period will eliminate potentially burdensome requirements otherwise faced by the industry.

The regulation also greatly limits the possibility of potentially conflicting compliance dates for labeling requirements developed for meat and poultry products and labeling requirements developed for non-meat and non-poultry products. It thus provides for an orderly industry adjustment to any new labeling requirements. Labeling changes in response to Federal regulations will likely be less frequent, and establishments will be able to plan for full utilization of their labeling stocks.

Need for the Rule

Establishing uniform compliance dates for food labeling regulations issued within specified time periods minimizes the economic impact of label changes for industry and may indirectly benefit consumers if cost savings are passed on in the form of lower prices.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

This rule does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Consequently, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The uniform compliance date does not impose any burden on small entities. The Agency will conduct regulatory flexibility of future labeling regulations if such analyses are required.

Paperwork Requirements

There are no paperwork or recordkeeping requirements associated with this policy under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

E-Government Act Compliance

FSIS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services for other purposes.

Additional Public Notification

Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this final rule, FSIS will announce it on-line through the FSIS Web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/​regulations_​&​_​policies/​2008_​Interim_​&​_​Final_​Rules_​Index/​index.asp. FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, consumer interest groups, health professionals and other individuals who have asked to be included. The Update is available on the FSIS Web page. Through the Listserv and the Web page, FSIS is able to Start Printed Page 75566provide information to a much broader and more diverse audience.

In addition, FSIS offers an e-mail subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/​news_​and_​events/​email_​subscription/​. Options range from recalls to export information to regulations, directives and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

Start Signature

Done at Washington, DC, on December 9, 2008.

Alfred V. Almanza,

Administrator.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E8-29485 Filed 12-11-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P