Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
6/19/2019

Article 3. Adulteration, Misbranding, and False Advertising.

§ 3.2-5120. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Advertisement" means all representations disseminated in any manner or by any means, other than by labeling, for the purpose of inducing, or that are likely to induce, directly or indirectly, the purchase of food.

"Butter" means the food product generally known as butter, which is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without coloring matter, and containing not less than 80 percent by weight of milk fat, having allowed for all tolerances.

"Contaminated with filth" applies to any food not securely protected from dust, dirt, and as far as may be necessary by all reasonable means, from all foreign or injurious contaminations.

"Federal act" means the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (Title 21 U.S.C. § 301 et seq.).

"Food" means all articles used for food, drink, confectionery, or condiment, for humans or other animals, whether simple, mixed, or compound, and all substances or ingredients used in the preparation thereof.

"Immediate container" does not mean package liners.

"Label" means a display of written, printed, or graphic matter upon the immediate container of any article.

"Labeling" means all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matter upon an article or any of its containers or wrappers, or accompanying such article.

"Selling of food" means the manufacture, production, processing, packing, exposure, offer, possession, and holding of any such article for sale; the sale of any such article; and the supplying of any such articles in the conduct of any food establishment.

Code 1950, § 3-307; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-387; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5121. Authority to adopt regulations; conformity with federal regulations; hearings; enforcement of article; review of regulations.

A. The Board is authorized to adopt regulations for the efficient enforcement of this article, unless that authority is specifically granted to the Commissioner. The Board may make the regulations adopted under this article conform, insofar as practicable, with those adopted under the federal act. Notwithstanding any other requirement under the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) to the contrary, the Commissioner may adopt any regulation under the federal act without public hearing. Such regulation shall be effective upon filing with the Registrar of Regulations. The Board, at its next regular meeting, shall adopt the regulation after notice but without public hearing unless a petition is filed in accordance with subsection F.

B. The Board may adopt any edition of the Food and Drug Administration's Food Code, or supplement thereto, or any portion thereof, as regulations, with any amendments as it deems appropriate. In addition, the Board may repeal or amend any regulation adopted pursuant to this subsection. No regulations adopted or amended by the Board pursuant to this subsection shall establish requirements for any license, permit, or inspection unless such license, permit, or inspection is otherwise provided for in this title. The provisions of the Food and Drug Administration's Food Code shall not apply to farmers selling their own farm-produced products directly to consumers for their personal use, whether such sales occur on such farmer's farm or at a farmers' market, unless such provisions are adopted in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

C. The provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) shall not apply to the adoption of any regulation pursuant to subsection B if the Board of Health adopts the same edition of the Food and Drug Administration's Food Code, or the same portions thereof, pursuant to subsection C of § 35.1-14, and the regulations adopted by the Board and the Board of Health have the same effective date. In the event that the Board of Health adopts regulations pursuant to § 2.2-4012.1, the effective date of the Board's regulations may be any date on or after the effective date of the regulations adopted by the Board of Health.

Notwithstanding any exemption to the contrary, a regulation adopted pursuant to subsection B shall be subject to the requirements set out in §§ 2.2-4007.03, 2.2-4007.04, and 2.2-4007.05, and shall be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations. After the close of the 60-day comment period, the Board may adopt a final regulation, with or without changes. Such regulation shall become effective 15 days after publication in the Virginia Register, unless the Board has withdrawn or suspended the regulation, or a later date has been set by the Board. The Board shall also hold at least one public hearing on the proposed regulation during the 60-day comment period. The notice for such public hearing shall include the date, time, and place of the hearing.

D. Hearings authorized or required by this article shall be conducted by the Board, the Commissioner, or such officer, agent, or employee as the Board may designate for the purpose.

E. The Commissioner shall coordinate enforcement of this article with the applicable federal agencies charged with enforcement of the federal act, in order to avoid unnecessary or unjustified conflict between enforcement of this article and the federal act as to Virginia food manufacturers, processors, packers, and retailers.

F. The Board or Commissioner shall from time to time for good cause shown to review the regulations and enforcement guidelines adopted pursuant to this article. If the Commissioner finds that any federal regulation or enforcement guideline that includes any tolerance or action level that does not protect the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, he shall petition the appropriate federal agency to change the federal regulation or enforcement guideline.

G. The Commissioner or any interested party for good cause shown may request the Board to hold a public hearing concerning any regulation or enforcement guideline. If the Board after hearing finds that the regulation or enforcement guideline does not protect the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, it shall adopt a new regulation or enforcement guideline. Within the limits of personnel and funds available all state agencies and institutions shall cooperate and assist in furnishing information and data as to whether the regulations or enforcement guidelines in question protect the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

H. No regulation adopted or amended by the Board pursuant to subsection B shall require that commercially slaughtered or processed rabbits that are offered for sale or service be slaughtered or processed under (i) the voluntary inspection program that is conducted by the state agency that has animal health jurisdiction or (ii) a voluntary inspection program that is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, nothing in this subsection shall exempt any person who is commercially slaughtering or processing rabbits that are offered for sale or service from any other applicable provision of this chapter.

Code 1950, § 3-318; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-398; 1977, c. 440; 2003, c. 695; 2004, c. 802; 2007, cc. 873, 916; 2008, c. 860; 2018, c. 674.

§ 3.2-5122. Adulterated food.

A food shall be deemed to be adulterated if:

1. It bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it injurious to health; but if the substance is not an added substance the food shall not be considered adulterated under this subdivision if the quantity of the substance in the food does not ordinarily render it injurious to health;

2. It bears or contains any added poisonous or added deleterious substance that is unsafe within the meaning of § 3.2-5125;

3. It consists in whole or in part of a diseased, contaminated, filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance, or if it is otherwise unfit for food;

4. It has been produced, prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered diseased, unwholesome, or injurious to health;

5. It is the product of a diseased animal, an animal that has died otherwise than by slaughter, or an animal that has been fed upon the uncooked offal from a slaughterhouse;

6. Its container is composed, in whole or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance that may render the contents injurious to health;

7. Any valuable constituent has been, in whole or in part, omitted or abstracted;

8. Any substance has been substituted in whole or in part for a valuable constituent;

9. Damage or inferiority has been concealed in any manner;

10. Any substance has been added or mixed or packed with the food so as to increase its bulk or weight, or reduce its quality or strength, or make it appear better or of greater value than it is;

11. It is confectionery and it bears or contains any alcohol or nonnutritive article or substance, except harmless coloring, harmless flavoring, harmless resinous glaze not in excess of four-tenths of one percent, harmless natural gum, and pectin. In addition, any confectionery that: (i) contains five percent or less by volume of alcohol or; (ii) any chewing gum that contains harmless nonnutritive masticatory substances, shall not be deemed adulterated; or

12. It bears or contains a coal-tar color other than one from a batch that has been certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Code 1950, § 3-315; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-395; 1988, c. 110; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5123. Misbranded food.

A. A food shall be deemed to be misbranded:

1. If its labeling is false or misleading in any particular.

2. If any word, statement, or other information appearing on the label does not also appear on the outside container or wrapper, if present, of the retail package of such article, or is not easily legible through the outside container or wrapper.

3. If any word, statement, or other information required by this article is not prominently placed on the label with such conspicuousness (as compared with other words, statements, designs, or devices, in the labeling) and in such terms as to render it likely to be read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase and use.

4. Unless its label bears:

a. The common or usual name of the food, if there is any;

b. When the food is fabricated from two or more ingredients, the common or usual name of each ingredient. Spices, flavorings, and colors not required to be certified under section 721(c) of the federal act, other than those sold as such, may be designated as spices, flavorings, and colorings, without naming each; and

c. When the food purports to be a beverage containing vegetable or fruit juice, a statement with appropriate prominence on the information panel of the total percentage of such fruit or vegetable juice contained in the food.

To the extent that the Commissioner believes that compliance with the requirements of subdivision 4 b is impractical or results in deception or unfair competition, exemptions shall be established by the Commissioner. The requirements of subdivision 4 b shall not apply to any carbonated beverages, ingredients of which have been fully and correctly disclosed to the extent prescribed by subdivision 4 b to the Commissioner in an affidavit.

5. If it is offered for sale under the name of another food.

6. If it is an imitation of another food, unless its label bears, in type of uniform size and prominence, the word, imitation, and immediately thereafter, the name of the food imitated.

7. If its container is made, formed, or filled as to be misleading.

8. If in package form, unless it bears a label containing: (i) the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; (ii) the name of the article; (iii) an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count; provided, that under clause (iii) of this subdivision reasonable variations shall be permitted, and exemptions as to small packages shall be established, by regulations prescribed by the Board.

9. If it purports to be or is represented as a food for which a definition and standard of identity has been prescribed by regulations as provided by § 3.2-5101 unless: (i) it conforms to such definition and standard; and (ii) its label bears the name of the food specified in the definition and standard, and, insofar as may be required by such regulations, the common names of optional ingredients, other than spices, flavoring, and coloring, present in such food.

10. If it purports to be or is represented as:

a. A food for which a standard of quality has been prescribed by regulations as provided by § 3.2-5101 and its quality falls below such standard unless its label bears, in such manner and form as regulations specify, a statement that it falls below such standards; or

b. A food for which a standard or standards of fill of container have been prescribed by regulations as provided by § 3.2-5101, and it falls below the standard of fill of container applicable thereto, unless its label bears, in such manner and form as such regulations specify, a statement that it falls below such standard.

11. If it purports to be or is represented for special dietary uses, unless its label bears such information concerning its vitamin, mineral, and other dietary properties as the Board requires through regulation to fully inform purchasers as to its value for such uses.

12. If it bears or contains any artificial flavoring, artificial coloring or chemical preservative, unless it bears labeling stating that fact; provided that to the extent that the Commissioner believes that compliance with the requirements of this subdivision is impracticable, exemptions shall be established by the Commissioner; provided, that the provisions of this subdivision and of subdivisions 4 and 9 with respect to artificial colorings shall not apply in the case of butter, cheese or ice cream.

13. If it is a food intended for human consumption, it is offered for sale, and its label and labeling do not comply with the requirements of Section 403 (q) of the federal act pertaining to nutrition information.

14. If it is a food intended for human consumption, it is offered for sale, and its label and labeling do not comply with the requirements of Section 403 (r) of the federal act pertaining to nutrient content claims and health claims.

B. If an article is alleged to be misbranded because the label is misleading, or if an advertisement is alleged to be false because it is misleading, then in determining whether the labeling or advertisement is misleading, there shall be taken into account, among other things, not only representations made or suggested by statement, word, design, device, sound, or in any combination thereof, but also the extent to which the labeling or advertisement fails to reveal facts material in the light of such representations or material with respect to consequences that may result from the use of the article to which the labeling or advertisement relates under the conditions of use prescribed in the labeling or advertisement or under such conditions of use as are customary or usual.

Code 1950, §§ 3-307, 3-316; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-387, 3.1-396; 1996, c. 728; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5124. Labeling as kosher and halal; penalty.

It is unlawful to label any repackaged food or food product or display or offer for sale any unwrapped food or food product that represents the food or food product as kosher or halal without indicating the person or entity authorizing such designation by providing the name or symbol of the authority or providing a phone number or website to access the information.

Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

2006, cc. 392, 485, § 3.1-396.1; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5125. Poisonous or deleterious substance added to food.

Any poisonous or deleterious substance added to any food, except if it is required in the production of the food or cannot be avoided by good manufacturing practice, shall be deemed to be unsafe for purposes of subdivision 2 of § 3.2-5122; but when any poisonous or deleterious substance is required or cannot be avoided, the Board shall adopt regulations limiting the quantity to such extent as it finds necessary for the protection of public health. Any quantity exceeding the limits established by the Board shall also be deemed to be unsafe for purposes of the application of subdivision 2 of § 3.2-5122. While such regulation is in effect limiting the quantity of any poisonous or deleterious substance in any food, such food shall not, by reason of bearing or containing any added amount of such substance, be considered to be adulterated within the meaning of subdivision 1 of § 3.2-5122 if the added amount is not in excess of the limits established by the Board. In determining the quantity of any added substance to be tolerated in or on different articles of food, the Board shall take into account the extent to which the use of such substance is required or cannot be avoided in the production of each article, and the other ways in which the consumer may be affected by the same or other poisonous or deleterious substances.

Code 1950, §§ 3-317, 3-343; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-397, 3.1-422; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5126. Prohibited acts; exceptions; Commissioner may seek injunction; penalties.

A. The following acts and causing the following acts within the Commonwealth are unlawful:

1. The manufacture, sale, or delivery, holding or offering for sale of any food that is adulterated or misbranded.

2. The adulteration or misbranding of any food.

3. The receipt in commerce of any food that is adulterated or misbranded, and the delivery or proffered delivery thereof for pay or otherwise.

4. The dissemination of any false advertisement.

5. The refusal to permit entry or inspection, or to permit the taking of a sample, as authorized by § 3.2-5102.

6. The giving of a guaranty or undertaking concerning a food, which guaranty or undertaking is false.

7. The alteration, mutilation, destruction, obliteration, or removal of the whole or any part of the labeling of, or the performing of any other act with respect to a food, if such act is done while an article is held for sale and results in the article being misbranded.

8. Forging, counterfeiting, simulating, or falsely representing, or without proper authority using any mark, stamp, tag, label, or other means of identification authorized or required by regulations adopted under the provisions of this article.

9. The use of sulfiting agents as preservatives on raw fruits and vegetables being offered for sale to the public for human consumption.

B. Any person who violates any of the provisions of subsection A is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

C. A wholesale or retail merchant who purchases food or drink in a closed container from a reputable manufacturer shall not be in violation of subsection A unless such person knowingly violated the provisions of subsection A. It shall not be a violation of subdivision A 1, A 3 or A 6, if a person can establish that he relied upon a guaranty or undertaking signed by the individual from or through whom he received any food in good faith, to the effect that such food is not adulterated or misbranded. The guaranty or undertaking shall contain the name and address of the person who provided the guaranty or undertaking, or a place of business, or an agent or representative on whom process may be served, in the Commonwealth.

D. No publisher, broadcaster, or agency or medium for the dissemination of an advertisement, except the manufacturer, packer, distributor, or seller of the article to which a false advertisement relates, shall be liable under this section by reason of the dissemination by him of such false advertisement, unless he has refused, on the request of the Commissioner to furnish the name and post-office address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor, seller, or advertising agency, residing in the Commonwealth who caused him to disseminate such advertisement.

E. The Commissioner may apply to an appropriate court for, and such court shall have jurisdiction upon hearing and for cause shown to grant, a temporary or permanent injunction restraining any person from violating any provision of subsection A, regardless of whether or not an adequate remedy at law exists. But whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the court in the case of a newspaper, periodical, or other publication that: (i) restraining the dissemination of a false advertisement in any particular issue of such publication would delay the delivery of such issue; and (ii) such delay would be due to the method by which the manufacture and distribution of such publication is customarily conducted by the publisher in accordance with sound business practice, and not to any method or device adopted for the evasion of this section or to prevent or delay the issuance of an injunction or restraining order with respect to such false advertisement or any other advertisement, the court shall exclude such issue from the operation of the restraining order or injunction.

Code 1950, §§ 3-308 to 3-310, 3-344; 1956, c. 529; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-388, 3.1-389, 3.1-390, 3.1-423; 1986, c. 200; 2005, c. 681; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5127. Removal of certain labels from meat packaging prohibited; penalty.

It is unlawful for any person holding or offering for retail sale any meat, poultry, or seafood in packaged form who affixes to such food a label containing a date by which such food is to be sold, to willfully remove, alter, mutilate, destroy, or obscure the dated portion of the label on the package, unless the dated portion of the label is removed in connection with the repackaging of such food, or to correct bona fide typographical errors. If the dated portion of the label is removed and a replacement label is attached when such food is repackaged, the replacement label shall bear the original date by which the food is to be sold or an earlier date. Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

This section shall not apply to meat, poultry, or seafood that is canned or cured.

1993, c. 106, § 3.1-388.1; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5128. Duty of attorney for the Commonwealth when violation reported; Commissioner to give notice.

A. If the Commissioner institutes criminal proceedings against any person for any violation pursuant to this article, then: (i) he shall give appropriate notice to the person and give an opportunity for the person to present his views before the Commissioner, either orally or in writing, in person or by attorney, with regard to such contemplated proceeding, and (ii) he may report the violation to an attorney for the Commonwealth.

B. It shall be the duty of each attorney for the Commonwealth, to whom the Commissioner reports any violation of this article, to cause appropriate proceedings to be instituted in the appropriate courts without delay and to be prosecuted in the manner required by law.

C. Nothing in this article shall require the Commissioner to report minor violations of this article to the attorney for the Commonwealth, whenever he believes that the public interest will be adequately served in the circumstances by a suitable written notice or warning.

Code 1950, §§ 3-312, 3-313; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-392, 3.1-393; 2008, c. 860.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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