[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 250 (Monday, December 31, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 76824-76825]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31398]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 317 and 381

[Docket No. FSIS-2012-0039]
RIN 0583-AD05


Uniform Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is establishing 
January 1, 2016, as the uniform compliance date for new meat and 
poultry product labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 
2013, and December 31, 2014. FSIS periodically announces uniform 
compliance dates for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations 
to minimize the economic impact of label changes.

DATES: This rule is effective December 31, 2012. Comments on this final 
rule must be received on or before January 30, 2013.

ADDRESSES: FSIS invites interested persons to submit relevant comments 
on this proposed rule. Comments may be submitted by either of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the 
ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this 
Web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.
     Mail, including CD-ROMs: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, OPPD, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 
Independence Avenue SW., Mailstop 3782, 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-
3700.
     Hand- or courier-delivered items: Send to Docket Clerk, 
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, OPPD, Patriots Plaza 3, 
355 E. Street SW., 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must 
include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2012-0039. Comments 
received in response to this docket will be made available for public 
inspection and posted without change, including any personal 
information, to http://www.regulations.gov/.
    Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, go 
to the FSIS Docket Room at the address listed above between 8 a.m. and 
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rosalyn Murphy-Jenkins, Director, 
Labeling and Program Delivery Division, Office of Policy and Program 
Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Telephone: 301-504-0879.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FSIS periodically issues regulations that require changes in the 
labeling of meat and poultry food products. Many meat and poultry 
establishments also produce non-meat and non-poultry food products that 
are subject to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration 
(FDA). FDA also periodically issues regulations that require changes in 
the labeling of products under its jurisdiction.
    On December 14, 2004, FSIS issued a final rule that established 
January 1, 2008, as the uniform compliance date for new meat and 
poultry labeling regulations issued between January 1, 2005, and 
December 31, 2006. The 2004 final rule also provided that the Agency 
would set uniform compliance dates for new labeling regulations in 2-
year increments and periodically issue final rules announcing those 
dates. Consistent with that final rule, the Agency has published three 
final rules establishing the uniform compliance dates of January 1, 
2010, January 1, 2012, and January 1, 2014 (72 FR 9651, 73 FR 75564, 
and 75 FR 71344).

The Final Rule

    This final rule establishes January 1, 2016, as the uniform 
compliance date for new meat and poultry product labeling regulations 
that are issued between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014, and is 
consistent with the previous final rules that established uniform 
compliance dates. In addition, FSIS' approach for establishing uniform 
compliance dates for new food labeling regulations is consistent with 
FDA's approach. FDA is also planning to publish a final rule 
establishing a new compliance date.
    Two-year increments enhance the industry's ability to make orderly 
adjustments to new labeling requirements without unduly exposing 
consumers to outdated labels. With this approach, the meat and poultry 
industry is able to plan for use of label inventories and to develop 
new labeling materials that meet the requirements of all labeling 
regulations made within the two year period, thereby minimizing the 
economic impact of labeling changes.
    This compliance approach also serves consumers' interests because 
the cost of multiple short-term label revisions that

[[Page 76825]]

would otherwise occur would likely be passed on to consumers in the 
form of higher prices.
    FSIS encourages meat and poultry companies to comply with new 
labeling regulations as soon as it is feasible. If companies initiate 
voluntary label changes, they should consider incorporating any new 
requirements that have been published as final regulations.
    The new uniform compliance date will apply only to final FSIS 
regulations that require changes in the labeling of meat and poultry 
products and that are published after January 1, 2013, and before 
December 31, 2014. For each final rule that requires changes in 
labeling, FSIS will specifically identify January 1, 2016, as the 
compliance date. All meat and poultry food products that are subject to 
labeling regulations promulgated between January 1, 2013 and December 
31, 2014, will be required to comply with these regulations when 
introduced into commerce on or after January 1, 2016. If any food 
labeling regulation involves special circumstances that justify a 
compliance date other than January 1, 2016, the Agency will determine 
an appropriate compliance date and will publish that compliance date in 
the rulemaking.
    In rulemaking that began with the May 4, 2004, proposed rule, FSIS 
provided notice and solicited comment on the concept of establishing 
uniform compliance dates for labeling requirements (69 FR 24539). In 
the March 5, 2007, final rule, FSIS noted that the Agency received only 
four comments in response to the proposal, all fully supportive of the 
policy to set uniform compliance dates. Therefore, in the March 5, 
2007, final rule, FSIS determined that further rulemaking for the 
establishment of uniform compliance dates for labeling requirements is 
unnecessary (72 FR 9651). The Agency did not receive comments on the 
final rule. Consistent with its statement in 2007, FSIS finds at this 
time that further rulemaking on this matter is unnecessary. However, 
FSIS is providing an opportunity for comment on the uniform compliance 
date established in this final rule.

Executive Order 12988

    This final rule has been reviewed under the Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. Under this final rule: (1) All state and local 
laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule will be 
preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; and 
(3) no retroactive proceedings will be required before parties may file 
suit in court challenging this rule.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and the Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order (E.O.) 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs 
and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This final rule has been reviewed under E.O. 12866. The 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that it is not a 
significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of E.O. 12866 and, 
therefore, it has not been reviewed by OMB.
    This rule does not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities; consequently, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required (5 U.S.C. 601-612).

Paperwork Requirements

    There are no paperwork or recordkeeping requirements associated 
with this policy under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501-3520).

E-Government Act Compliance

    FSIS and USDA are committed to achieving the purposes of the E-
Government Act (44 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.) by, among other things, 
promoting the use of the Internet and other information technologies 
and providing increased opportunities for citizen access to Government 
information and services, and for other purposes.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination 
in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, 
sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited 
bases apply to all programs.)
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for 
communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, 
etc.) should contact USDA's Target Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and 
TTY).
    To file a written complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office 
of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice and TTY).

Additional Public Notification

    FSIS will announce this rule online through the FSIS Web page 
located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/Interim_&_Final_Rules/index.asp.
    FSIS will also make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information 
that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and 
stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free 
electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, 
consumer interest groups, health professionals, and other individuals 
who have asked to be included. The Update is also available on the FSIS 
Web page. In addition, FSIS offers an electronic mail subscription 
service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food 
safety news and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Email_Subscription/. Options range 
from recalls to export information to regulations, directives and 
notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have 
the option to password protect their accounts.

    Done at Washington, DC, on: December 21, 2012.
Alfred V. Almanza,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-31398 Filed 12-28-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P