FDA Reopening Comment Period on Standards of Identity

FDA Reopening Comment Period on Standards of Identity

With the developments in food and nutritional science, FDA is taking a new look at standards of identity as part of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy.

February 21, 2020

FDA is reopening the comment period on a 2005 proposed rule to establish a set of general principles for the agency to use when considering whether to establish, revise, or eliminate a food standard of identity. The original proposed rule was jointly published with USDA. 

The comment period is being reopened in order to receive new data, information, or further comments on only the FDA-specific aspects of the 2005 proposed rule, including 13 general principles for food standards modernization. The agency will continue to engage with USDA regarding standards of identity modernization principles and any potential future actions regarding finalizing the proposed rule.    

Food standards of identity are requirements related to the content and production of certain food products such as bread, jam, juices and chocolate.  “The FDA began establishing food standards of identity to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers shortly after the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted in 1938,” said FDA/CFSAN Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling Claudine Kavanaugh. “Standards of identity describe in detail what a food product must contain, how it must be proportioned and sometimes how it must be manufactured. For example, products like ‘milk chocolate,’ ‘bread’ and even ‘ketchup’ all have standards of identity.”

With the development of new types of food products and the most recent nutritional science, FDA is taking a fresh look at existing standards of identity as part of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which is designed to empower consumers by providing information to make healthy food choices and encourage industry innovation toward the production of healthier foods. The goals of food standards modernization are to protect consumers against economic adulteration; maintain the basic nature, essential characteristics and nutritional integrity of food; and promote industry innovation by giving manufacturers the flexibility to produce healthier foods.

At the public meeting on the Nutrition Innovation Strategy, held in July 2018, and in comments submitted to the public meeting docket, stakeholders expressed general support for FDA and USDA continuing their work to finalize the proposed rule. However, due to changes that have occurred in manufacturing, food technology, market trends, and nutrition science, stakeholders also indicated that FDA should solicit new information and data to inform this effort.

 “Given that many standards of identity are now 75 and even 80 years old, we feel the time is right to finalize general principles for when we will consider establishing, revising or revoking a food standard of identity,” Kavanaugh said. “We want to ensure that as we review these standards of identity, we do so in a fair and consistent manner. This effort is part of the FDA’s continuing plans to modernize food standards of identity as part of the agency’s comprehensive, multi-year Nutrition Innovation Strategy. Even as we reopen the comment period on this proposed rule, we are continuing our efforts to revoke or amend certain standards of identity – including those for frozen cherry pie, French dressing and yogurt – especially when the standard of identity is inconsistent with modern manufacturing processes or creates barriers to innovation.”

Submit electronic comments on https://www.regulations.gov/ to docket folder FDA-1995-N-0062. Written comments should be submitted to: Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days following the date of publication in the Federal Register.