FSIS Launches New Web-Based Label Approval System

On May 25, 2012, in Uncategorized

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this week launched a new web-based label approval system that will streamline the agency’s review process for meat, poultry, and egg product labels. The Label Submission Approval System (LSAS) will make it possible for food manufacturers to submit label applications electronically, will flag application submission errors that could delay the approval process, and will allow users to track the progress of their submission, according to the announcement.  The new system is an alternative means to paper application submission, making label review process faster, cheaper, and more accurate, FSIS said.

FSIS receives 150 to 200 label submissions daily, and it can take more than three weeks for a label to be reviewed. The web-based system will make approved or corrected labels immediately available to companies. The system also will allow companies to store labels and make changes electronically, removing the need to print and re-submit modified labels for review to FSIS each time a change is made.

Label submissions are reviewed on a first come, first served basis, and the agency will continue to review labels in the same manner using LSAS. If a company chooses to use LSAS to submit a label for approval, the system will notify the company if an application is incomplete through an error message. The system assigns each label a tracking number so the progress of its review can be tracked online. The system also includes an option to first see if the label qualifies for a generic approval before proceeding with a submission. Generic approval means that the label does not have to be submitted to FSIS for review prior to use.

More information about LSAS, including instructions on accessing the system using Level 2 USDA e-authentication, a user’s guide, agency contact information, and frequently asked questions is available here. FSIS encourages companies to consult the LSAS User’s Guide before attempting to submit their first label through the new system. Webinars about LSAS will be scheduled and announced in coming weeks.

Susan Glenn, general manager of Prime Label Consultants, told the National Chicken Council that “Prime Label Consultants welcomes USDA’s efforts to automate the label approval process.  We hope this effort will result in more efficiency for food companies while ensuring safety for consumers.  Prime Label Consultants processes 10 percent of the label volume into FSIS, and we see a wide range of labeling requirements.  Some of them can be easily automated, while others are very complex.  Our hope is that by automating the basic labels, FSIS will have more resources to effectively process the more complex ones.  Like all new process changes, we know there will be transition issues with the system.  As we have throughout our 40 years in business, we will be vigilant in monitoring these changes with food labeling and help our customers navigate through them as efficiently as possible.”