New regs for Friday: raisins, stress tests and color additives

Friday’s edition of the Federal Register contains a new rule from the Agriculture Market Service to eliminate the word "midget" from U.S. raisin standards, a new start date from the Federal Housing Finance Agency for financial stress tests and a final rule from the Food and Drug Administration approving a new color additive for coating dietary supplements.

Here’s what to look for:

Raisins: The Agriculture Market Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is proposing a rule to eliminate five references to the word “midget” in the U.S. standards for grades of processed raisins.

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The action follows a petition the agency received from Little People of America, a nonprofit that supports people of short stature and their families. The organization told the market service that it’s working to raise awareness and eliminate the use of the word midget.

“Though the use of the word midget by the USDA when classifying certain food products is benign, Little People of America, and the dwarfism community, hopes that the USDA would consider phasing out the term midget,” the petition from the organization said.

The market service said it consulted the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC), which administers the federal marketing order for raisins produced from grapes grown in California, before moving forward with the rulemaking.

The RAC approved the move on Aug. 14, 2014. The public now has 60 days to comment on the proposal.

Stress test: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is considering changing the start date of the stress test cycle for financial institutions from Oct. 1 of a calendar year to Jan. 1 of the following calendar year.

Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, certain financial companies with total consolidated assets of more than $10 billion are required to conduct annual stress tests to determine whether the companies have the capital necessary to absorb losses as a result of adverse economic conditions.

The agency said this change would align its rule with rules adopted by other financial institution regulators that implement the Dodd-Frank stress-test requirements.

The public has 30 days to comment on the proposed rulemaking.

Color additive: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending the color additive regulations to allow spirulina extract to be used in coating dietary supplements, drug tablets and capsules.

Spirulina extract is the filtered aqueous extraction of the dried biomass of Arthrospira platensis (A. platensis). After the FDA approved the use of this filtered aqueous extract as a color additive in candy and chewing gum in August 2013, the agency said Colorcon Inc. petitioned the agency to approve the color additive for use in coating dietary supplements and other pills.

The rule will take effect in 30 days.