The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has denied a 4-year-old petition filed on behalf of the American Veal Association. The petition sought an FSIS rulemaking to establish regulatory definitions for veal and other immature cattle to be consistent with industry practices.  Specifically, the petition requested:

  •  That FSIS define “veal” as “any immature bovine having a dressed carcass weight up to 425 pounds and administered only U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved medications and feed, formula, nutritional and herbal supplements in accordance with regulations.” 
  •  That FSIS establish “optional” subcategories for “milk-fed veal,” “formula-fed veal,” and “grain/grass-fed veal” based on the live animal’s diet and its dressed carcass weight, and for “bob veal” based on a dressed carcass weight of fewer than 100 pounds. 
  •  That FSIS defines “calf” for labeling purposes as any immature bovine that does not meet any of the requested veal definitions.

According to the petition, these recommended definitions would “protect consumer expectations” through codifying existing industry and regulatory practices. 

The petition’s denial was announced In an Oct. 6 letter to Gary Jay Kushner, the veal association’s legal council, from Rachel Edelstein of the FSIS Office of Policy and Program Development

“After careful consideration of the issues raised in the petition, FSIS has decided to deny your petition without prejudice.” Edelstein wrote. “FSIS has determined that the petition does not include the necessary consumer research or other supporting data to demonstrate that a regulatory definition for “veal,” based primarily on the dressed carcass weight and compliance with FDA regulations, is needed to meet consumer expectations for products labeled as “veal.” 

“FSIS has also determined that, for labeling purposes, it is not necessary to define optional veal subcategories based on the live animal’s diet and dressed carcass weight because our current procedures for approving labels bearing animal raising claims provide producers with flexibility and are effective in ensuring that labels bearing these claims are truthful and not misleading,” the letter continues.

“Finally, FSIS has decided not to establish a regulatory definition for “bob veal” based solely on a dressed carcass weight of fewer than 100 pounds, as requested in your petition, because we believe our current definition more accurately reflects the animal’s characteristics and is more consistent with FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM’s) bovine classifications for drug approval purposes,” it adds.

The FSIS denied the petition  “with prejudice,” meaning the determination is final.

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