USDA streamlining meat & poultry labeling process
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service launched a new web-based label approval system that will streamline the agency’s review process for meat, poultry, and egg product labels. The Label Submission Approval System (LSAS) will make it possible for food manufacturers to submit label applications electronically, will flag application submission errors that could delay the approval process, and will allow users to track the progress of their submission.
“This new system will expedite and simplify the review process for meat, poultry and egg product labels,” Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. “Reducing the review times for labels will enhance the agency’s ability to ensure that accurate information is applied to product labels and reaches consumers quickly.”
FSIS reviews labels on the products it regulates to ensure they are truthful and not misleading. LSAS will reduce the time and costs incurred by both the industry and the agency. Until the launch of LSAS, companies mailed or hand delivered paper applications to FSIS, and FSIS reviewed and corrected them before returning them in hard copy. The agency receives 150 to 200 label submissions daily, and it can take more than three weeks for a label to be reviewed. The web-based system will make approved or corrected labels immediately available to companies, saving time and mailing costs. The system also will allow companies to store labels and make changes electronically, removing the need to print and re-submit modified labels for review to FSIS each time a change is made.
Label submissions are reviewed on a first come, first served basis, and the agency will continue to review labels in the same manner using LSAS. If a company chooses to use LSAS to submit a label for approval, during the submission process, the system will notify the company if an application is incomplete through an error message. The system assigns each label a tracking number so the progress of its review can be tracked online. The system also includes an option to first see if the label qualifies for a generic approval before proceeding with a submission (generic approval means the label does not have to be submitted to FSIS for review prior to use).
More information about LSAS, including instructions on accessing the system using Level 2 USDA e-authentication, a user’s guide, agency contact information, and frequently asked questions is available on FSIS’ website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/label_Submission_Approval_System/.
FSIS strongly encourages companies to consult the LSAS User’s Guide before attempting to submit their first label(s) through the new system. Webinars about LSAS will be scheduled and announced in coming weeks.