For March 2003

FDA proposes trans fat labeling language

Food manufacturers are taking strong exception to FDA’s proposal to add a footnote on trans fat to the nutrition label on food packages. The government agency proposes a footnote that would say “trans fat intake should be as low as possible.” The National Food Processors Association argues that would be misleading.

“Consumers would be likely to avoid trans fats at all costs, with the strong potential of distorting dietary intakes in unhealthful ways. The net effect of the proposed trans fat Daily Value footnote is likely to be harmful,” said NFPA President Rhona Applebaum.

Applebaum said the average level of trans fatty acid intake is less than three percent of total energy. She said FDA has indicated it will review and revise its “daily values for nutrition” label language after a study by the Institute of Medicine, and should wait for the study before establishing a footnote.

Central American trade barriers improving

On the heels of successful trade talks between the United States and Chile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and ministers from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have launched negotiations on an agreement to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods, agriculture, services, and investment between the United States and Central America.

Late last year the USTR completed negotiations with Chile to remove trade barriers and open up markets for a wide range of products, including food products. The two countries expect to sign the pact in the spring, though it must be ratified by Congress and the Chilean Parliament.

Food facilities may be required to register with FDA

FDA is proposing regulation that would require domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. to register with the agency by December 12, 2003.

All domestic food facilities would be required to register whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce. The new regulation would apply to all facilities for all foods and animal feed products regulated by FDA, including dietary supplements, infant formula, beverages and food additives.