WASHINGTON – A new rule that will allow establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to Food Safety and Inspection Service for approval, should it become final, was proposed by FSIS.

Under the proposal, FSIS will continue verifying labels are accurate, not misleading, and in compliance with all labeling features. The rule will benefit consumers because it will get new products into the marketplace sooner while still ensuring they are not misbranded, FSIS said. And by making the label approval process more convenient and cost-effective, industry, particularly smaller producers, is expected to benefit from the rule.

“It is important that we make the labeling process more effective and efficient, while still ensuring consumers have the best information available when shopping for food,” said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, undersecretary for food safety at USDA.

Under the proposal, the generic label approval process would allow companies to use new labels or modify labels without first submitting such labels to FSIS. Under the proposed generic approval process, all mandatory label features would still need to comply with FSIS regulations.

The proposed rule is posted on the FSIS website and soon will publish in the Federal Register. The comment period ends on Feb. 3. All items submitted must include the agency name and docket number FSIS-2005-0016.