President Donald Trump recently issued a freeze on new or pending federal regulations that must now be reviewed and approved prior to enforcement.

In terms of food regulations, the memo--issued in the form of a Covington Alert--says the following:

From a food regulatory perspective, this means that the regulatory freeze will not impact the regulations that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2015 and 2016, nor will it impact the Nutrition Facts Label final rule, as the effective date for all of those regulations has already passed. The regulatory freeze will only impact any regulations that FDA or U.S. Department of Agriculture plan to send to the Office of the Federal Register in the next few months (including any currently under review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs), as well as any regulations that were recently published but not yet effective, unless those regulations are subject to statutory or judicial deadlines.

Some exceptions do apply. The freeze does not apply to:

  • Regulations that were already set to be sent to the Office of the Federal Register
  • Regulations received by the Federal Register but have not yet been published
  • Regulations published in the Federal Register but have not yet taken effect

The alert goes on to explain that the freeze on new or pending federal regulations will not:

  • Instruct federal agencies to cease work on new regulations
  • Impact currently open comment periods
  • Stop agencies from viewing and considering previously submitted comments
  • Impact regulations that have already taken effect

The memo indicates that no food-related regulations were located that have been sent to the Federal Register but have not yet been published. However, officials have identified the following anticipated and recently issued food-related regulations that could potentially be impacted by the regulatory freeze:  

  • USDA Final Rule adding new requirements to the National Organic Program for livestock handling and avian living conditions (published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017; effective date March 20, 2017)  
  • FDA Proposed Rule to remove GRAS affirmation for partially hydrogenated menhaden oil and partially hydrogenated rapeseed oil (under review at OIRA since July 2016).

The official memo issued to federal agencies can be viewed at

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