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December 5, 2014


Greetings! We hope you had a beautiful and zippy week! This week's top stories include information about TTB's partnership efforts with the People's Republic of China, an announcement from FDA regarding menu labeling requirements, and a list of the past week's top International Affairs Division pages at TTB.gov/.

Chinese Regulators Meet with TTB to Discuss Strengthening Partnership Efforts

Recently, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) hosted a meeting with a delegation from the People's Republic of China at the TTB National Laboratory Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

Chinese officials from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) met with TTB's Assistant Administrator for Headquarters Operations, representatives from TTB's International Affairs Division and Scientific Services Division, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. AQSIQ is the Chinese customs agency charged with enforcing product standards and food safety of imports and exports, and has worked closely with TTB on a variety of issues in recent years.

The talks focused on strengthening the AQSIQ-TTB relationship under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2007. In this MOU, TTB and AQSIQ agreed to establish a consistent channel for information exchange regarding the import and export of alcohol and tobacco products.

During the meeting, AQSIQ and TTB agreed to increase information sharing between their respective laboratories by sharing new or innovative testing procedures, and to expand collaboration with respect to the laboratory analysis of tobacco products. This will help standardize testing between the two countries and decrease uncertainties for producers who import and export products between the United States and China. The group also agreed to pursue an electronic export certificate program to ease paperwork burdens, prevent document forgery and combat product counterfeiting.

Since the MOU went into effect, TTB and AQSIQ have been working together to improve the wine and alcohol beverage trade between the United States and China. In 2013, the two agreed to use a consolidated wine export certificate, significantly reducing the paperwork burden for the exporter and decreasing processing time for the regulating agencies. Both TTB and AQSIQ agreed that the consolidated certificate has been extremely successful, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is now looking at the TTB-AQSIQ consolidated certificate as a possible model for an APEC-wide consolidated wine export certificate, which could potentially decrease trade barriers among its member economies.


Source: FDA Constituent Updates

November 25, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized the rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments to help consumers make informed decisions about meals and snacks.

The menu labeling final rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. A restaurant or similar retail food establishment is generally defined as a retail establishment that offers for sale restaurant-type food, which is generally defined as food that is usually eaten on the premises of the establishment, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location. Examples of restaurants and similar retail food establishments include sit-down and fast-food restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and grocery and convenience stores. The menu labeling final rule also requires calorie labeling for certain alcoholic beverages and certain foods sold at entertainment venues such as movie theaters and amusement parks. The FDA also clarifies in the menu labeling final rule that certain foods purchased in grocery stores or other retail food establishments that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consuming, such as pounds of deli meats and cheeses and large-size deli salads, are not covered.

To help consumers understand the significance of the calorie information in the context of a total daily diet, the FDA is requiring a succinct statement that says, "2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary" to be included on menus and menu boards. The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon consumer request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

Restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are covered, including those that voluntarily register with FDA to comply with the menu labeling requirements, will have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.

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