FDA & USDA Food Identity Standards

April 2, 2020

Download this Public Interest Comment (PDF)


Both FDA and USDA promulgate food identity standards that require foods sold under particular names to have certain characteristics or ingredients that consumers might expect. In 2005, the agencies jointly proposed a rule to establish general principles for evaluating food identity standards.

Under the proposed rule framework, a revision to a standard would be initiated by a petition from an external party. The agencies would deny a petitioner’s request to establish, alter, or remove a standard if the petition was not consistent with the general principles. If the petitioner’s request was consistent with the general principles and provided data to support its claims, the agencies would propose, and when appropriate finalize, a new or revised standard.

The 2005 proposed rule was never finalized. FDA unilaterally reopened the comment period on the proposed rule and is accepting comments only in regard to FDA-specific aspects of the proposal.

This public interest comment assesses the proposed rule in four main sections: a) FDA should include additional principles aimed at improving the efficacy of food identity standards, b) FDA should alter its proposed approach, which is not to review any existing standards, and instead devote agency resources to conducting retrospective review, c) FDA should alter its existing temporary permit program for food identity standards, and d) FDA should issue a revised economic analysis and rely on that evidence in setting final standards.