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Regulatory Enforcement

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One of the four goals of the USDA FSIS is to prevent products from being misbranded. The term misbranded may apply to any carcass, part thereof, meat or meat food product , poultry or poultry food product. A number of different circumstances can lead to a product being misbranded.
If a product is falsely labeled or is misleading in any way, then the product is misbranded. If a product is offered for sale under the name of another food then it is misbranded. Imitations must use the word “imitation” immediately thereafter the food being imitated or it is misbranded. A misbranded product may be in a container that is made, formed or filled so as to be misleading.

Mislabeling is also a form of misbranding. The label must show the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; and an accurate weight statement (or numerical count if allowed) for it to be properly branded. If any statement or other information required on the label is missing, or is not in a conspicuous place, the product may be considered misbranded. FSIS requires that common names of optional ingredients be used (other than spices, flavoring, and coloring) for the purpose of understanding by the majority of individuals. Any label purporting or representing a special dietary use or making claims unless the label bears such information concerning its vitamin, mineral, and other dietary properties as is required may be considered misbranded.
Any product that contains any artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, or chemical preservative, and does not bear a label stating that fact; except as otherwise provided by the regulations may be considered misbranded.

Misbranding is a serious offense which the USDA does not take lightly. Civil penalties are set based on the offense, but may not exceed $100,000 per each violation.

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Failure to Comply: Selling Product from a Non-Approved Source

While the USDA enforces branding, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets works to ensure that product sold within the state comes from an approved source. Failure to comply will result in fines and the non-approved product will be seized. If the product is only misbranded or mislabeled NYSDAM will issue a $600 fine and the product will be stamped with a seizure notice and released back to the owner for personal use.

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