The Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) said it intends to propose changes to “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” and “Uncured” on processed meat products that have been processed using any source of nitrates or nitrites. FSIS also said intends to approve non-synthetic sources of nitrates or nitrites as curing agents. The announcement comes in response to a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Consumer Reports, wherein they suggest that certain uses of the labeling is misleading consumers.
According to the groups, synthetic and non-synthetic nitrates and nitrites “may cause cancer.” Additionally, the groups noted that product testing results released by Consumer Reports showed that processed meats made with celery powder and other non-synthetic sources of nitrates and nitrites can contain residues of these substances.
“Unfortunately, current trends in processed meat manufacturing and labeling are misleading to consumers, as they may lead them to believe that certain newer kinds of cured processed meats are healthier than their traditional counterparts,” the groups noted in the petition.
Responding the request, FSIS wrote, “After careful consideration of your petition and the 17 public comments submitted to regulations.gov in response to your petition, we have decided to partially grant your request.”
Still, rather than requiring disclosure statements about the use of nitrate or nitrites on labels of meat and poultry products, as requested in the petition, FSIS said that intends to propose to amend and clarify its meat and poultry labeling regulations to establish new definitions for “Cured” and “Uncured.”
FSIS said the basis for these proposed changes would be discussed in detail in the proposed rule, which is listed in the “Fall 2020 semiannual regulatory agenda,” with a tentative publication date of May 2021.