Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Bill Passes Senate Committee; New GE Labeling Legislation Introduced in Congress

JPA recently notified members that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) had introduced a draft bill, available here, in the Senate to preempt states from implementing genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws. According to the March 1, 2016 issue of, available here, the bill was passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate. The article notes the bill “faces an uphill battle when it goes to the Senate floor for a vote.” Proponents and opponents of the bill are quoted in the article.

In a related matter, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Tester (D-MT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently introduced the “Biotechnology Food Labeling Uniformity Act” in Congress, according to a press release issued by Senator Merkley. The bill would require food manufacturers to disclose GE ingredients on the Nutrition Facts Panel. The bill would provide four labeling options. For example, a manufacturer could identify GE ingredients with an asterisk and provide an explanation at the bottom of the ingredients list.

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

Hogan Lovells Memo – Proposition 65 and BPA

In May 2015, JPA members were notified that the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) had published a notice announcing the Agency was adding Bisphenol A (BPA) to Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity. JPA’s legal counsel, Hogan Lovells, has prepared a memorandum advising that warnings for consumer products containing BPA will be required beginning May 11, 2016. Hogan Lovells notes “bounty hunters” may be contacting food and beverage companies who sold products packaged with metal cans into California alleging violation of the law. Refer to the memorandum for complete details.

Flubendiamide – Notice of Intent to Cancel

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a press release advising the Agency will cancel all flubendiamide products manufactured by Bayer CropScience LP and Nichino America as the companies failed to comply with a condition of registration and the products pose risks to aquatic invertebrates. The prepublication version of the Federal Register notice is available here. Flubendiamide tolerances (40 Code of Regulations Part 180.639) have been established for fruits: apple wet pomace, pome fruit group, stone fruit group, grape, low growing berry group (except cranberry), and the small fruit vine climbing subgroup (except fuzzy kiwifruit). The Agency notes crops that have been treated with the insecticide or that may be treated with existing stocks can still be sold, and provisions on what to do with existing stocks will be issued after the product is canceled.

FDA Seeks Data and Information on Assessing the Risk of Raw Manure as Fertilizer on Produce

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Constituent Update on March 3, 2016, advising that the Agency will be conducting a risk assessment on the use of raw manure and other biological soil amendments of animal origin as fertilizer on produce farms. The risk assessment is intended to help the Agency determine how consumer health is impacted by the use of raw manure and soil amendments in growing crops covered by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety final rule, and what measures can be taken to prevent consumers from becoming ill.

The FDA is seeking information and scientific data from interested stakeholders. The prepublication version of the Federal Register notice, available here, details the issues in which the Agency seeks input. The deadline to comment will be 60 days following publication of the notice in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for publication on March 4.

Appeals Court Halts New York City Sodium Warning Requirement

JPA earlier notified members that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) had sued the New York City (NYC) Board of Health to prevent the Agency from implementing a law to require chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to put salt-shaker emblems on menus to denote food items with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about one teaspoon). The law became effective on December 1, 2015, and fines of $200 could be levied against violators beginning March 1, 2016. Last week, members were notified that a judge had ruled in favor of the NYC Board of Health. An NRA representative had stated the group would be exploring legal options, including an appeal.

According to an article recently published by Reuters, available here, a New York appeals court granted an interim stay of enforcement of the rule. The NYC Board of Health said in a statement that the Agency will continue to warn chains if they do not comply, but violations will not be issued while the stay is in place.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Publishes Revised Food Standards Code – Juices Mentioned

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recently published a notice, available here, announcing publication of a revised version of the Food Standards Code. The Agency notes the “Code has been revised so it more closely aligns with foods Acts in Australian states and territories and in New Zealand.” A Summary of the revisions can be accessed here. The updated Code became effective on March 1, 2016. Chapter 2 of the Code contains a standard for fruit and vegetable juices (Standard 2.6.1.)

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