October 23, 2015

TO: JPA Members

FROM: Patricia Faison

JPA Regulatory Update: FSMA October 2015 Meeting; FDA Nutrition Labeling Modernization; Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Biotechnology; Legislation to Improve Food Waste

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) October 2015 Public Meeting

In September 2015, JPA notified members that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a Federal Register notice (80 FR 57136; September 22, 2015), available here, announcing a public meeting would be held on October 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois “to brief stakeholders and interested persons on the key components of the preventive controls final rule, respond to questions, and discuss the next phase of FSMA implementation with respect to human and animal food preventive controls requirements.” The FDA has published the meeting presentations on the Agency’s FSMA website, which can be accessed here.

In a related matter, the FDA recently announced the Agency's Technical Assistance Network (TAN) is now operational. TAN was developed to provide technical assistance and answers to industry, regulators, academia, consumers and others regarding FSMA rules, programs, and implementation strategies. Questions related to FSMA may be submitted to the FDA via a webform, available here. Details regarding TAN are available via the FSMA website here.

FDA Nutrition Labeling Modernization

Members were earlier notified that JPA had submitted comments to the FDA regarding the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on nutrition labeling, which, if finalized would establish a Daily Value for "added sugars." JPA also submitted comments to the Agency noting the consumer studies conducted by the FDA did not show consumers would benefit from a new label format.

JPA's comments were highlighted in the October 19, 2015 issue of Food Chemical News. JPA will continue to monitor FDA’s efforts to implement the provisions of FSMA and provide updates, as information becomes available.

Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Biotechnology

JPA members were earlier notified that the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry would hold a hearing on October 21, 2015 related to federal regulation of agriculture biotechnology. As you may recall, the House of Representatives has passed a federal bill (“Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015”) to, in part, preempt states from passing genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws. At this time, similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recenlty issued a press release, available here, which stated, in part, “The Senate Agriculture hearing reaffirmed the broad consensus among scientists and regulators that GMOs [genetically modified organisms] are safe and highlighted the real world negative impacts a patchwork of state labeling mandates will have on farmers, businesses and consumers.” Of particular interest, GMA notes that Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) committed to develop a bipartisan bill that could be passed by the Senate before year end.

JPA will continue to monitor and provide updates, as information becomes available.

Representative Pingree to Introduce Legislation to Reduce Food Waste

In September 2015, JPA notified members that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had published a press release announcing the Agency is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste. It was reported that the Agencies are calling for a "first-ever national food waste reduction goal" of 50 percent by 2030.

According to a recent article published by the Portland Press Herald, available here, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) announced during the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow Conference that she is drafting legislation to reduce food waste. In part, the legislation would “change the way ‘sell by’ or ‘best by’ dates are used on products, and educate the public about what the labels actually mean.” The article notes Representative Pingree stated people mistakenly think there is a standard for “best by” dates mandated by the government and believe foods should be discarded when the date has passed; however, manufacturers determine those dates and much of the food is safe to consume after the date.

Representative Pingree proposes that one option to address this issue would be for manufacturers to “run” a disclaimer noting such ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ dates are recommendations and food may be safe to eat after the printed date. In addition, the legislation includes “tax incentives for farmers and retailers to donate or sell ‘ugly produce’ that otherwise might not be harvested at all.”

Please contact me with questions or comments.

Patricia Faison

(404) 252 - 3663

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