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Article | October 31, 1996
Standards of identity
Modern technologies and processes are producing new versions of familiar food products that are tastier, more healthful or more nutritious. But because their composition may change significantly, these foods may not be called by their traditional names under current Standards of Identity (SI).
The federal government has decided to update these standards to reflect the latest scientific developments while still meeting consumer expectations when they see a name on a package. The FDA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for FDA-regulated foods in December 1995 and now USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published an ANPR for standards of identity and composition for meat and poultry products. FSIS proposed five alternatives to the current system: - percentage declaration of meat/poultry content in conjunction with standardized names; - general standards of identity for all meat and poultry products with deviations allowed as long as they're highlighted in the ingredient statement; - meat and poultry guidelines with different categories of meat or poultry products and recommended meat/poultry content based on consumer expectations; a product deviating from the recommended content would have to be labeled accordingly; - private certification of food products with certification based on consumer expectations; and - elimination of standards of identity and composition. Regina Hildwine director of technical regulatory affairs for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) said this was an excellent opportunity to revise and update existing standards eliminate erroneous and unnecessary provisions and reflect advances in technology. She warned however that "the review process should not be viewed as an opportunity for a wholesale attack on food standards."
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