Regulatory Update: April 1 – April 30, 2023

This update includes FDA updates, USDA updates, FDA warning letters, and other developments, including a proposed rule to reduce sodium intake, new education materials on GMOs for consumers, and more.

FDA Updates

FDA Amends Yogurt Rule, Denies Request for Public Hearing
April 13: FDA modified provisions of a 2021 final rule that revoked standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt and amended the standard of identity for yogurt. Under the 2021 final rule, FDA required that yogurt have a titratable acidity of not less than 0.7 percent, expressed as lactic acid, or a pH of 4.6 or less before the addition of bulky flavorizing ingredients. After the rule was finalized, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) filed a request for public hearing, objecting to these provisions of the rule. Under the modified rule, FDA will simply require products to have a pH of 4.6 or lower. Concurrent with the modification of the final rule, FDA denied IDFA’s request for a public hearing. The Federal Register notice can be found here.

FDA Issues Proposed Rule to Reduce Sodium Intake
April 10: FDA issued a proposed rule to amend standard of identity regulations that specify salt (sodium chloride) as a required or optional ingredient in standardized foods to instead allow for the use of salt substitutes, in order to reduce sodium content. FDA states that this rule, if finalized, would help support a healthier food supply by providing flexibility to facilitate industry innovation in the production of standardized foods lower in sodium while maintaining the basic nature and essential characteristics of the foods. More information can be found here. To assure consideration, comments must be submitted by August 8, 2023.

FDA Requests Information about Online Grocery Shopping Food Labeling
April 24: The FDA is requesting information on whether and how online grocery retailers, food manufacturers, and third-party online grocery providers are displaying nutrition, ingredient, and allergen information through online grocery shopping platforms. The purpose of this request is to obtain information on the content, format, and accuracy of food label information provided to consumers through online grocery shopping. Comments are due July 24, 2023.  More information can be found here.

Comment Period for Guidance on Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives Reopened
April 30: FDA reopened the comment period for the draft guidance entitled “Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements; Guidance for Industry,” which was published on February 23, 2023. The guidance will provide industry with recommendations that will result in clear labeling to help consumers make informed decisions and understand certain nutritional differences between plant-based milk alternatives (PBMA) products and milk. The FDA also recommends that PBMA products that are labeled with the term “milk” in their names, such as “soy milk” or “almond milk,” and that have a nutrient composition that is different than milk, include a voluntary nutrient statement that conveys how the product compares with milk. A copy of the draft guidance and a link for submitting comments can be found here Comments on the draft guidance are now due July 31, 2023.

“Feed Your Mind” Education Materials on GMOs for Consumers
April 19: FDA released new materials for consumers to provide science-based information on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “Feed Your Mind” is an educational initiative launched in 2020 to help consumers better understand GMOs. The new materials include information about genome editing, GMO benefits to the environment, farmers, and consumers, GMO regulations in the U.S., and videos from GMO growth experts. The “Feed Your Mind” materials can be found here.

FDA Warning Letters

Imported Food: Inspectors found an Illinois food importer was not in compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) for imported food.

Quick Frozen Shrimp: A Mississippi seafood freezing and processing facility received a warning letter for serious violations of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation. 

A database of warning letters can be found here.

USDA Updates

USDA Announces Funding Available to Expand Meat and Poultry Processing Options for Underserved Producers and Tribal Communities
April 19USDA announced the availability of up to $125 million through two new grant programs that will create more options for producers by investing in independent, local meat and poultry processing projects that increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain, including new capacity for indigenous meat processing to support tribal food systems. 

The new grant programs, the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program and the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program, are part of the $1 billion American Rescue Plan investment by the Biden Administration to expand processing capacity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors. More information is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local MCap webpage and here. Grant applications will be accepted through July 19, 2023.

Other Developments

Groups Oppose California Bill to Ban Unsafe Food Additives
Earlier this year, legislators in California introduced Assembly Bill 418, a bill that would prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of any food product in California containing red dye No. 3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, or propyl paraben beginning January 1, 2027. The Consumer Brands Association, the American Beverage Association, the American Bakers Association and The North American Millers’ Association are among a number of groups opposing the bill. The groups opposing the bill said California already has a process by which unsafe chemicals are removed from the market or mandated to include warning labels. The bill, which passed the Assembly and is currently in committee in the State Senate, would be the first in the nation to ban chemicals intentionally added to foods as preservatives or to enhance colors and flavors.

This Regulatory Update covers information for June 2023. Please contact Paul BensonTaylor Fritsch, or Leah Ziemba for additional information on regulatory issues that may affect your business. For access to articles and resources from our Premium Member law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, visit

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