The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposed rule to revise the standard of identity and the standard of fill of container for canned tuna. If finalized, the proposed rule would, among other things, revise the weighing methods used to determine the standard fill of container, allow the use of safe and suitable flavorings and spices as optional ingredients, and clarify that the use of a packing medium is optional.

The proposed rule responds to a citizen petition submitted by Bumble Bee Foods LLC, StarKist Company, and Tri Union Seafoods LLC (doing business as Chicken of the Sea International). Specifically, the proposed rule would:

  • Replace the pressed cake weight method with the drained weight method to determine the standard fill of container
  • Clarify that use of a packing medium is optional
  • Remove provisions for specific flavorings and spices (i.e., monosodium glutamate, spices or spice oils, or spice extracts, garlic, and lemon flavoring) to avoid redundancy
  • Allow use of safe and suitable optional ingredients and remove the discussion of safe and suitable carriers, solubilizing, or dispersing ingredients that may be used in combination with a flavoring or spice ingredient
  • Move the optional ingredient of sodium acid pyrophosphate and revise the labeling of canned tuna products containing sodium acid pyrophosphate to update the cross-references
  • Revise the upper and lower limits of vegetable extractives pertaining to amount of vegetable broth allowed to be used as an optional ingredient
  • Make amendments for clarity and consistency with other label declaration provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Update the method for determining the Munsell value and remove the incorporation by reference text regarding the Journal of the Optical Society of America
  • Update the incorporation by reference information
  • Revise language throughout the section to improve clarity and readability.

Standards of identity and fill of container were established for canned tuna in 1957. Although the standards have been amended several times, certain requirements appear to be outdated. Standards of identity set requirements related to the content and production of certain food products. FDA began establishing standards of identity around 1938 to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers, and since this time, has established more than 250 standards for a wide variety of food products.

Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted within 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. Electronic comments can be submitted at fda to docket number FDA-2016-P-0147. All written comments can be sent to Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852 and should be identified with the docket number FDA-2016-P-0147 with the title “Fish and Shellfish; Canned Tuna Standard of Identity and Standard of Fill of Container.”