Rice Matters at FDA Discussion

FDA round table discussion in Mississippi, group seated around large wooden table covered with papers
MS farmer Kirk Satterfield makes room at the table for rice
Nov 09, 2018
JACKSON, MS – Last week the Mississippi Farm Bureau hosted Dr. Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for an agricultural roundtable to discuss a range of recent FDA regulations including implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), added sugars labeling, cell-based meat, and Standards of Identity for packaged foods.
Kirk Satterfield, a rice farmer from Benoit and a member of both the USA Rice Farmers and Rice Council Boards, represented the rice industry on the “rice pretenders” issue.  

Rice pretenders is a term the industry uses to describe food products that are marketed as rice, but contain no rice at all.  They are typically vegetable crumbles made to loosely resemble rice but their marketing is misleading and confusing to consumers.  

Because rice does not have a Standard of Identity under the FDA, there are currently no regulatory avenues to defend ‘rice’ from being used on non-rice products, such as cauliflower, that are using the word rice in their name.

“A consumer should be able to pick up a bag of “rice” and know they’re getting a grain,” said Satterfield.  “That shouldn’t be something consumers have to guess or check the label to know for sure.”

USA Rice has registered formal complaints with several major supermarket chains via letters requesting accountability and transparency.

“We believe there is room in shopping carts for all of us, and while we recognize you have an obligation to sell products your customers want, and consumers should be allowed to purchase the food they desire – even rice pretender products – we want to ensure these choices are not made in error,” the letter says.

USA Rice continues to ask FDA to create a Standard of Identity for rice to mitigate consumer confusion and potentially misleading marketing and advertising claims.