This rule concerns the types of foods that may be available from the Department of Agriculture for any of the uses authorized under the Food and Nutrition Service’s Food Distribution Programs and the manner in which those foods must be labeled.
The first part of the rule will allow limited poultry substitution and full fruit, vegetable, and egg substitution in the processing program. The second part of the rule deals with the reduction of commodity inventory controls for schools to allow use of commercial labels.
The Department has operated a demonstration project program since Feb. 1, 1996, which allows commercial poultry to be substituted for commodity poultry in processing, in order to expedite and improve that program. The data gathered from recipient agencies, Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) graders, and the AMS procurement division has been positive.
Substitution of commercial fruits, vegetables, and eggs for commodity fruits, vegetables, and eggs has been allowed under 7 CFR 250.30(f)(4) for over ten years. During that time, required Certified Public Accountant (CPA) audits have not shown any significant problems with fruit, vegetables, or egg substitution. There has been no substitution of inferior product identified.
Therefore, this proposed rule seeks to change the regulations to allow limited poultry substitution and full fruit substitution, vegetable substitution, and egg substitution on a permanent basis. Secondly, because of changes in the commercial market and the food donation programs, the Department will allow vendors to use their own labels in place of USDA donated food labels for school programs.
Commercial labels have already been introduced in other USDA food donation programs with good results, and commercial labels for school commodities have been permitted on select commodities going into schools. However, commercial labels complicate the inventory procedures currently utilized in schools. Therefore, FNS is proposing to modify the current inventory requirements for schools in order to accommodate the use of commercial labels