WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service plans to solicit more public comments to define the conditions under which it would permit the voluntary claim "natural" to be used in labeling meat and poultry products.

Comments are being sought to clarify and resolve issues surrounding the "natural" claim, including how best to coordinate F.S.I.S.' regulation of "natural" claims with the Agricultural Marketing Service’s voluntary "naturally raised" marketing claim standard. The agency believes the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (A.N.P.R.) will facilitate the emergence of consensus on the meaning of "natural" and will allow the agency to move quickly to a proposed rule.

F.S.I.S. policy currently states the term "natural" may be used in the labeling of meat and poultry products if the product does not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredients, chemical preservative or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient and that the product is not more than minimally processed.

For detailed description of these issues, refer to the A.N.P.R. posted on F.S.I.S.' Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/2009_Notices_Index/index.asp.