11 March 2016
Proposed Revisions to Jewellery Guides, Gluten-Free Labelling for Fermented or Hydrolysed Foods Get More Time for Comments
The Federal Trade Commission has extended from 4 April to 3 June the period for public comments on proposed revisions to its Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries, which provide advice to businesses on how to avoid making deceptive claims about precious metal, pewter, diamond, gemstone and pearl products and when to provide certain types of disclosures about such products. The proposed revisions concern surface application of precious metals, products containing more than one precious metal, alloys with precious metals in amounts below minimum thresholds, lead glass-filled stones, varietals, cultured diamonds, use of the term “gem,” and treatments to pearl products. Specifically, the FTC is proposing the following.
- The terms “silver” or “platinum” should not be used to describe all or part of a coated product unless the term is adequately qualified to indicate that the product has only a surface layer of the advertised precious metal
- The safe harbours for surface applications of gold would be updated.
- Rhodium surface applications should be disclosed on products marked or described as precious metal, such as rhodium-plated items marketed as “white gold” or “silver.”
- Precious metals should generally be listed in the order of their relative weight from greatest to least.
- New guidance would be added concerning gold and silver products containing precious metal in amounts below the minimum thresholds currently specified when there is competent and reliable scientific evidence that such products have materially similar properties to at- or above-threshold products.
- It would be unfair or deceptive to describe products filled with a substantial quantity of lead glass with the unqualified word “ruby” or the name of any other precious or semi-precious stone; as a treated ruby or other treated precious or semi-precious stone; as a laboratory-grown, laboratory-created, (manufacturer name)-created or synthetic ruby or other natural stone; or as a composite ruby, manufactured ruby, hybrid ruby or other precious or semi-precious stone without qualification.
- It would be unfair or deceptive to mark or describe a product with an incorrect varietal name (which describes a division of gem species or genus based on colour, type of optical phenomenon or other distinguishing characteristic of appearance).
- It would not be unfair or deceptive to use the term “cultured” to describe lab-created diamonds if the term is immediately accompanied by “laboratory-created,” “laboratory-grown,” “(manufacturer name)-created,” “synthetic” or another word of phrase of like meaning.
- The section on misuse of the term “gem” would be eliminated and the term “gem” would be added to a separate section on misuse of specific words.
- Treatments to pearls and cultured pearls should be disclosed if the treatment is not permanent, creates special care requirements or has a significant effect on the product’s value.
In other news of potential interest, the FDA is reopening through 25 April the period for public comments on a proposed rule that would establish new requirements for “gluten-free” labelling of fermented or hydrolysed foods such as yogurt, pickles, cheese and certain beer.
The FDA states that this rule would provide alternative means for it to verify compliance for fermented or hydrolysed foods labelled “gluten-free” based on records that are made and kept by the manufacturer. These records would have to demonstrate assurance that (i) the food meets the requirements of the gluten-free food labelling final rule prior to fermentation or hydrolysis, (ii) the manufacturer has adequately evaluated its process for any potential gluten cross-contact, and (iii) where a potential for gluten cross-contact has been identified, the manufacturer has implemented measures to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process. Manufacturers would have to keep these records for at least two years after the introduction or delivery for introduction of the food into interstate commerce.
Distilled foods such as distilled vinegars are also included. The FDA notes that distillation is a purification process that separates volatile components from non-volatile components such as proteins and that gluten should therefore not be present in properly distilled foods. Under the proposed rule the FDA would evaluate the compliance of distilled foods by verifying the absence of protein (including gluten) using scientifically valid analytical methods that can detect the presence of protein or protein fragments in the distilled food.