New Requirements for USDA Vendors - Reporting of Nutrition, Allergen and Ingredient Information in GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GS1 GDSN)
Q1: Where can vendors obtain a copy of the webinar presentation from March 31, 2021?
A copy of the webinar recording and slides is available on the AMS website
Q2. What other resources will be available to assist vendors with complying with the new requirement?
In addition to the webinar recording and slides, other resources available to assist vendors with compliance include this FAQ, a GS1 GDSN Tip Sheet, a List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting, a link to the USDA FNS GDSN Implementation Guide, How to Select a GDSN-Certified Data Pool, infographics describing the process and timeline, and a reference to the USDA Food Buying Guide to assist vendors with determining the creditable portion for meat/meat alternate and grain products. The resources can be found on our website.
Q1: Do vendors need to subscribe to a certified data pool or can they enter the information directly into GS1 GDSN without paying a subscription?
Yes, vendors will need to subscribe to a certified data pool in order to report product information to GS1 GDSN. Most data pools require a paid subscription.
Q2. What are the financial impacts for vendors to subscribe to a certified data pool?
The cost to subscribe to a data pool will vary depending upon several factors, including the company size and the number of items that will be entered into the system. Please refer to “Choosing a GDSN-Certified Data Pool” in the GS1 US University Learning Management System (LMS) for key considerations when researching and selecting certified data pools. Instructions for accessing the LMS are listed under “Key Resources for USDA Foods Vendors”.
Q3. Do we have to use 1WorldSync as our certified data pool?
Vendors may choose to use any certified data pool for this requirement. View a list of certified data pools.
Q4. If a vendor is currently working with another certified data pool, will their product information automatically sync with GS1 GDSN for visibility by 1WorldSync?
Yes, the vendor’s product information will sync with the GS1 GDSN. Note that the vendor needs to review the USDA FNS GDSN Implementation Guide to meet the FNS data requirements. Also, when vendors subscribe to a certified data pool, they will need to ensure that their information is published to USDA FNS Global Location Number (0861583000319).
Q5. Our GS1 GDSN company charges us based on the number of trading partners we publish our information to. Can you tell me how many trading partners we would be responsible for publishing our product information to as a result of this requirement?
This initiative only includes requirements for reporting information to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Vendors would only be expected to report information to the USDA FNS Food Distribution Global Location Number.
Q1. Which products will be required to be entered into GS1 GDSN?
View the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting (xlsx)
Q2. Will this requirement eventually apply to vendors that supply fresh produce?
No. The only products that apply to this requirement are found on the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting.
Q3. Will frozen and/or canned fruit and vegetable products (without additives) be exempt?
All frozen and canned fruit and vegetables purchased for the National School Lunch Program will be included in the GS1 GDSN requirement. Please refer to the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting to view the items that must be reported to GS1 GDSN.
Q4. Is this a requirement for USDA Foods that are purchased in bulk and diverted to further processors as part of USDA’s National Processing Program?
- This requirement would only apply to select items purchased for the USDA Foods in Schools program that are typically delivered to school districts in the same form in which they are purchased, as listed in the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting.
- A bulk item is an item that is only sent to further processors and would never be sent directly to a school district. These bulk items are highlighted in yellow on the USDA Foods Available List for schools (pdf)
- Bulk items for further processing are exempt from the GS1 GDSN requirement because USDA does not develop specifications for or hold contracts to purchase the further processed end products. Therefore, end-products that are made by further processors that use bulk products would also be exempt from this requirement.
Q5. Does this requirement apply to Child Nutrition labeled products?
Child Nutrition (CN) labeling would not be relevant to the GS1 GDSN requirement. The requirement applies to select items purchased for the USDA Foods program.
Q6. Does the GS1 GDSN requirement apply to Section 32 purchases?
No, the GS1 GDSN requirement will not apply to Section 32 purchases, as these are typically one-time purchases that are mainly distributed to food banks. USDA will only require GS1 GDSN reporting for select products purchased on a regular, recurring basis for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
Q1. What is the Global Location Number (GLN) that vendors will need to publish nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information to?
The USDA FNS Food Distribution Global Location Number (GLN) is 0861583000319.
Q2. Will brokers/non-manufacturers need to report a manufacturer’s product information to GS1 GDSN?
Yes. Brokers/non-manufacturers are the contract holder with USDA to supply food products and will need to ensure that USDA receives their supplier’s product information in GS1 GDSN. Brokers/non-manufacturers will have the option to enter product information into GS1 GDSN on behalf of their supplier, or brokers/non-manufacturers may put the responsibility of reporting product information in GS1 GDSN on their supplier. The broker/non-manufacturer will be contractually responsible for ensuring that the supplier’s product information is reported to USDA in GS1 GDSN.
Q3. If a broker/non-manufacturer uses multiple suppliers, how will multiple suppliers be accounted for in GS1 GDSN?
Some brokers/non-manufacturers may supply finished goods with different brand names. The purpose of the requirement is to ensure that schools have complete and accurate information on any item they might receive as a USDA Food. The school will need to be able to identify and match the information reported in GS1 GDSN with the product they have received. In this case, USDA would require that the broker/non-manufacturer ensure that product information for each brand name is reported to GS1 GDSN.
Q4. If our product nutrition information is available on our website, do we still need to input our information into GS1 GDSN?
Yes. The purpose of this project is to provide school districts nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for foods provided through the USDA Foods in Schools program in a streamlined, efficient manner that reduces the burden to access this information for meal planning purposes. School districts order numerous products throughout the school year and this requirement provides them with a simplified process to retrieve this information consistently.
Q5. Can nutrition information be derived from the USDA Standard Reference database (in Food Data Central)?
If vendors have used the USDA Standard Reference database to determine the Nutrition Facts on their label, vendors may report information from the USDA Standard Reference database to GS1 GDSN. Information will still need to be reported on allergens, ingredients, and Kosher certification as applicable.
Q6. Can nutrition information from the Branded Foods Database in Food Data Central be used?
Nutrition information that a vendor has previously uploaded to the Branded Foods Database can be used if it applies to an identical product supplied to the USDA Foods program. Additional information would be required for USDA Foods in GS1 GDSN, such as the USDA material code number, allergen, and Kosher certification information, etc. Please see the USDA FNS GDSN Implementation Guide. Additionally, vendors should report the information to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s GLN (0861583000319), which differs from the Agricultural Research Service’s GLN for the Branded Foods Database.
Q7. Will vendors need to report product information to GS1 GDSN every time an award is made?
Vendors will only need to report nutrition information to GS1 GDSN once, unless there is a change to the product information. If there is a change to the product information (i.e. formulation change), vendors will need to ensure that they update the information in GS1 GDSN accordingly.
Q8. What serving size will the vendor need to provide nutrition information for canned fruits, vegetables and legumes?
USDA requires that nutrition information for canned fruits, vegetables, and legumes is entered in ½ cup serving sizes. Please refer to the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting for more information on the serving size that is preferred for each product.
Q9. Does USDA accept nutrition information based on a 100 gram portion?
- USDA prefers the nutrition information to be entered in serving sizes most commonly used in Child Nutrition programs, which is ½ cup for fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and ounce equivalents for meat/meat alternates and grains. If the vendor chooses to enter their nutrition information using a different serving size (i.e. 100 gram portion), there will be a field in GS1 GDSN for the vendor to enter the weight of the product based on the preferred Child Nutrition serving size.
- For example, if a vendor enters nutrition information for 100 grams of garbanzo beans, they will need to also enter the weight of ½ cup of drained garbanzo beans in GS1 GDSN, which is 130 grams. The weight will be used to calculate the nutrition information for a ½ cup serving, which is the preferred Child Nutrition serving size.
Q10. Will a vendor that offers different brands of the same product be required to submit nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for each brand name?
Yes. If the item falls under the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting, then each brand name that a company intends to distribute through the USDA Foods program would need to be reported to GS1 GDSN. This allows the school district to match the information for any product listed in the database to the product received.
Q11. Will actual brand labels be included in the database?
GS1 GDSN will collect the information that is typically included on a product label, such as the product name, nutrition information, allergen information, and ingredient statement. However, vendors will not be required to upload a copy or image of the actual product label to the database, they will just need to be sure to enter information for each brand name supplied.
Q12. Are vendors required to enter Product Formulation Statements in GS1 GDSN? If so, is there guidance or assistance on how to enter crediting information for all types of foods?
Product Formulation Statements are not required to be entered in GS1 GDSN. However, the vendor will be asked to provide the Nutrition Facts information using serving sizes most commonly used in Child Nutrition programs (½ cup for fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and ounce equivalents for meat/meat alternates and grains). The List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting shows the serving sizes that are preferred when reporting Nutrition Facts information. For assistance with calculating the creditable portion of meat/meat alternate and grain products, vendors may visit the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs Interactive Web-Based Tool, sign in as a “Vendor”, and access the Product Formulation Statement Workbook tool.
Q13. Who will publish the vendor’s product information once it has been entered into GS1 GDSN?
The vendor’s data pool will publish the vendor’s product information and make it available for the University of Maryland (UMD) to receive it and check for accuracy. Once UMD checks to ensure the nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information is correct, they will send it to USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). FNS will publish vendors’ nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information in a non-editable spreadsheet that will be updated on a monthly basis and made publicly available on the FNS website.
Q14. Does AMS also have access to view the details in GS1 GDSN?
The information reported in GS1 GDSN will be published to the USDA FNS Food Distribution Global Location Number. FNS will communicate with AMS when vendors’ information is not found in GS1 GDSN, and AMS will contact the vendor for corrective action.
Q15. What is the time commitment to enter nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information in GS1 GDSN?
Data entry can be accomplished through an online web entry tool, through a spreadsheet upload, or by a machine to machine connection. The time commitment will vary by company depending upon how available the data are, and how many items need to be entered.
Q1. How will USDA communicate to school districts? Will the information be available to anyone who has access to the USDA website?
USDA will report vendors’ nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information in a non-editable report. The report will be updated on a monthly basis and will be accessible to the public on the FNS website. View an example of the monthly report (pdf).
Q2. Will vendor-specific product information be available for free for school districts and State agencies to reference? Will school districts and State agencies be required to have an account or login to access the information?
Vendor-specific product information for USDA Foods in Schools will be available for free. The non-editable report will be publicly available on the FNS website. An account is not required to access the report.
Q3. Will this requirement eliminate the need to provide product formulation statements to school districts? Will this be expanded to include all products sold to school lunch programs directly?
This requirement does not apply to products that vendors sell directly to school districts and would not have an impact on the product formulation statements for those products. Vendors would continue to provide product formulation statements to schools that request them.
Q4. Is this requirement only for products used in schools?
The GS1 GDSN requirement only applies to products that USDA purchases for the USDA Foods in Schools program. Sometimes, USDA offers the same material code to multiple programs, so the best way to be sure whether a product is subject to the requirement is to review the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting.
Q5. Will vendors have visibility of who has access to product information?
Since the nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information would be posted to the USDA FNS website, the report would be accessible by the general public. Vendors would not have visibility of who has accessed the report.
Q6. Who is liable for ensuring vendors’ product information from GS1 GDSN is accurate and matches the product label?
- The vendor is responsible for ensuring the information in GS1 GDSN is accurate and complete. Program operators are responsible for verifying that the information reported on FNS’ website matches the vendor’s product label.
- The following disclaimer will be prominently displayed on the non-editable report of vendors’ nutrition, allergen and ingredient information, and will also be on the FNS webpage where the report will be found:
i. “DISCLAIMER: Information available on this site has been supplied by the USDA Foods vendor and was last updated on the date listed below. FNS is sharing vendor-supplied product information as a planning tool for school districts and is not responsible for misreported or missing information. Please use the allergen statement provided on the outside of the physical product to verify allergen information prior to serving the product.”
Q1. When will vendors need to comply with the GS1 GDSN requirement?
- The GS1 GDSN requirement will be implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1: For contracts awarded between September 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021, vendors will be required to submit product information to GS1 GDSN by December 31, 2021, if the contract includes deliveries in 2022 of items on the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting.
- Phase 2: For contracts awarded after December 31, 2021, vendors will be required to submit product information to GS1 GDSN within 20 days of receiving an award for any item on the List of Required Products for GS1 GDSN Reporting.
- Once a vendor has reported complete information to GS1 GDSN (during Phase 1 or Phase 2), no further action needs to be taken unless changes are made to product attributes (e.g. changes in formulation or ingredients).
Q2. Can vendors proactively upload nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for their products, or will that opportunity only "open up" once a specific contract is awarded?
Beginning on September 1, 2021, vendors may proactively begin data synchronization with the USDA FNS Food Distribution Global Location Number (GLN - 0861583000319). Vendors do not need to wait until a contract is awarded to enter product information into GS1 GDSN.
- The GS1 GDSN requirement will be implemented in two phases: