June 4, 2015
TO: JPA Members
FROM: Patricia Faison
JPA Regulatory Update
(1) FSMA Public Meeting Transcripts Available
(2) Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Food Labeling Online Survey
(3) FDA Publishes Draft Guidance on Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
(4) AOAC Calls for Arsenic Test Methods
(5) EWG Report on BPA in Canned Foods
FSMA Public Meeting Transcripts Available
JPA has been providing updates regarding the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) efforts to implement the provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). JPA members were previously notified of the Agency's plans to host a public meeting, "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Focus on Implementation Strategy for Prevention-Oriented Food Safety Standards" on April 23 - 24, 2015. The FDA recently announced that the recording, transcript, and photos from the public meeting are available on the Agency's website and can be accessed here.
Canadian Food Inpsection Agency's Food Labeling Online Survey
In July 2014, JPA members were notified that the Government of Canada had announced proposed revisions to the nutrition labeling regulations, including the Nutrition Facts table as part of the country's Food Labeling Modernization initiative. JPA subsequently submitted comments to Health Canada regarding the proposals. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently announced it is seeking comments on proposed options to revise food labels, and an online survey, available here, has been established to collect feedback from the public. According to CFIA's News Release, available here, the survey is the second phase of consultations regarding the food labeling initiative. The online survey will be available until June 30, 2015.
FDA Publishes Draft Guidance on Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
FSMA requires the FDA to establish a Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP), "a voluntary, fee-based program for the expedited review and importation of foods into the U.S. from importers with a proven track record." Today, the FDA issued a Constituent Update, available here, announcing publication of the "Draft Guidance for Industry: FDA's Voluntary Qualified Importer Program." The draft guidance, available here and presented in a question and answer (Q & A) format, provides guidance on:
- the benefits of the VQIP for importers,
- the eligibility criteria for participation in VQIP,
- instructions for completing a VQIP application,
- conditions that may result in revocation of participation in VQIP, and
- criteria for reinstatement following VQIP revocation.
According to the draft guidance, the FDA will announce the amount of the nonrefundable user fee to participate in the program on or before August 1 of each year, once the program is finalized.
The public comment period regarding the draft guidance will be open for 75 days following publication in the Federal Register. According to the Constituent Update, once the guidance is finalized, the VQIP is expected to be open for applications in January 2018 to allow sufficient time for a facility to be certified under the FDA's Accredited Third Party Certification program.
AOAC Calls for Arsenic Test Methods
AOAC International recently issued a press release, available here, inviting interested stakeholders to submit methods for the quantitation of arsenic species in foods and beverages by July 24, 2015. AOAC notes arsenic species include: arsenite (As(III)), arsenate (As(V)), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), dimethylarsinic acid, (DMA), arsenobetaine (AsB), and total inorganic arsenic (I-As). Fruit juice (apple juice and grape juice) is mentioned among the applicable foods.
As you may recall, the FDA has published a test method for the determination of arsenic species in fruit juice.
EWG Report on BPA in Canned Foods
JPA staff has been providing periodic updates regarding Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance used in the manufacture of some plastics and can linings for food and beverage products. Some concerns have been raised regarding BPA's possible effects to human health.
According to an article recently published on FoodSafetyNews.com, available here, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer advocacy organization, has published a list of 78 brands that use BPA in the lining of the canned products. The list of brands is available via the EWG website here. The EWG notes 252 canned food brands were analyzed mostly between January 2014 and August 2014. According to the EWG report available here:
- Thirty-one (31) brands (12 percent) used BPA-free cans for all canned products.
- Thirty-four brands (14 percent) used BPA-free cans for one or more of their canned products.
- Seventy-eight brands (31 percent) used BPA-lined cans for all products.
The EWG acknowledged that the FDA continues to support the use of BPA linings in canned foods, and noted the Agency's safety assessment published in December 2014 stated "BPA is safe at the current levels occuring in foods." The EWG also stated, "FDA's December announcement was a particularly bizarre move, considering the abundance of studies currently pending completion."
EWG provides a number of recommendations to consumers, food companies and can suppliers as well as policy makers.
Please contact me with questions or comments.
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