In late November, the White House released its “Current Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” for fall 2014, and it provides a helpful roadmap to 2015 food-safety regulatory actions. The first actions on Food Safety News’ radar are the five of the seven major Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules to be finalized by the end of 2015. The rules regarding preventive controls for human food and preventive controls for animal food will be finalized by Aug. 30, and the rules for produce safety, the foreign supplier verification program, and third-party accreditation will be finalized by Oct. 31. (The other two rules regarding sanitary transportation and intentional adulteration will be finalized by March 31, 2106, and May 31, 2016, respectively.) Another one we’re keeping an eye on is the Veterinary Feed Directive, which will require that the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in animal feed and water be under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The rule, proposed in December 2013, is slated to be finalized in April of next year. In March, FDA is also planning to make permanent interim measures to minimize human exposure to materials that scientific studies have demonstrated are highly likely to contain the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) agent in cattle infected with the disease. Additional FDA regulation:

Stage of Rulemaking Title RIN Date of Action
Proposed Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented, Hydrolyzed, or Distilled Foods 0910-AH00 Jan. 2015
Proposed Registration of Food Facilities: Amendments to Food Facility Registration Requirements 0910-AG69 March 2015
Proposed Updated Standards for Labeling of Pet Food 0910-AG09 April 2015

  In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is planning a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for new requirements for contamination control in cattle slaughter operations. The agency is proposing to amend its regulations to require that all establishments that slaughter cattle (including calves) develop, implement and maintain written procedures to prevent contamination of carcasses and parts by enteric pathogens (e.g., Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli) and fecal material throughout the entire slaughter and dressing operation. FSIS is also proposing to remove from the regulations the current regulatory Salmonella performance standards for beef carcasses and ground beef and the generic E. coli testing requirements for cattle. Also in July, FSIS is expected to finalize amendments to recordkeeping regulations to specify that all establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products for sale in commerce must keep records of the supplier of all source materials used and identify the names of those source materials. Additional FSIS regulation:

Stage of Rulemaking Title RIN Date of Action
Proposed Affirmation of Interim Final Rule With Amendments: Control of Listeria Monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products 0583-AD53   Feb. 2015
Final Electronic Export Application and Certification as a Reimbursable Service and Flexibility in the Requirements for Official Export Inspection Marks, Devices, and Certificates 0583-AD41   Feb. 2015
Proposed Requirements for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Veal Calves 0583-AD54   April 2015
Proposed Addition of Namibia to the List of Countries Eligible to Export Meat Products to the United States 0583-AD51   June 2015
Proposed Product Labeling: Use of the Voluntary Claim “Natural” on the Labeling of Meat and Poultry Products 0583-AD30   Sept. 2015

  Beyond the Unified Agenda, it’s difficult to predict what 2015 holds for food-safety regulation. Perhaps FDA will move forward on finalizing its rule for the process of determining food substances as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) or will announce plans to address caffeine powder, but the agency definitely has its hands full finishing regulations related to FSMA. The U.S. has filed an appeal of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) recent decision regarding country-of-origin labeling, but Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has said that there is no regulatory fix for COOL. The new Congress may ultimately decide to remove relevant elements of the COOL laws. And, speaking of the 114th Congress, we wouldn’t be surprised to see new versions of bills such as the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act, the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act, and the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act introduced next year.