Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CSPI Welcomes Bill to Improve Food Labeling

Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie CSPI welcomes today’s introduction of the Food Labeling Modernization Act by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ed Markey. The bill, a companion to legislation introduced last week by Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr., and Rosa DeLauro represents a much-needed overhaul of food labeling regulation. American families are searching for healthier products, but food labels are often full of confusing information. The FLMA provides an important roadmap for the FDA to improve food labels, offering clear, useful information that will make healthy choices easier for all Americans. The bill’s signature initiative establishes a single, standard, front-of-package nutrition labeling system to clearly distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. The FLMA will also target misleading marketing by requiring companies that make claims about “whole grain” or other desirable ingredients to list the percentages. It will also create clear and consistent standards for popular marketing terms like “natural,” and will provide important information to consumers, including caffeine content and sesame allergen labeling. In addition, the bill for the first time would require “structure/function” claims like “helps build strong bones” to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, as is currently required for health claims like “prevents osteoporosis.” It also adds a requirement for listing phosphorus, a nutrient that increases serious health risks for people with chronic kidney disease. As Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recognized recently, food labeling is a public health priority in the battle against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses related to diet and nutrition.

Consumers Union Endorses the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2018

Federal Bill Would Make Grocery Labels Simpler, Clearer, and More Informative WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today announced its support for the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2018, federal legislation that would make it easier for consumers to make informed, healthy choices about the packaged groceries they buy, eat, and serve their families. The bill also would crack down on several types of marketing claims on food labels that can be confusing or misleading, including by making consumers think certain foods are more nutritious or more sustainably produced than they actually are. William Wallace, Senior Policy Analyst for Consumers Union, said, “Food labeling should be simple, clear, and meaningful for consumers, and shouldn’t mislead them. Yet, all too often, consumers face confusing, complex labels when grocery shopping—making it more difficult for them to quickly compare products and know if the food they might want to buy really is healthy. “Consumers should be able to quickly compare food packages and make informed, healthy choices for themselves and their families. We urge all members of Congress to support the Food Labeling Modernization Act and pass these strong reforms to nutrition labeling rules.” The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), includes as its centerpiece the establishment of a single, standard, front-of-package nutrition labeling system for packaged foods, which would be required to clearly distinguish between healthy and unhealthy nutrients. This system could include a stop-light, points, stars, or another common signaling system to scale foods according to their overall health value, as well as warning symbols for excessive amounts of saturated or trans fats, sodium, added sugars, or other nutrients associated with health concerns. The bill also targets specific misleading marketing claims, such as labels improperly indicating a food is “healthy,” “natural,” or “whole grain.” It enhances disclosure for a variety of ingredients important to consumers' health, and improves labeling for phosphorus, caffeine, and sesame. Consumers Union endorsed previous versions of the Food Labeling Modernization Act legislation in 2013 and 2015, and separately has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize new protections for consumers to improve the Nutrition Facts panel.

Farm Bureau Statement on 2018 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2018 – The following statement on today’s release of the 2018 Farm Bill by the House Agriculture Committee may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “Today’s release by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) assures America’s farmers and ranchers that congressional agriculture leaders recognize the economic challenges our producers face. “Farm Bureau is pleased to see meaningful adjustments to the current farm bill’s provisions for dairy and the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, as well as new provisions for cotton farmers included in the commodity title. We also appreciate improvements proposed for federal crop insurance. There are additional provisions aimed at improving conservation programs, the specialty crops program and research and rural development programs that will benefit our members across the nation. “The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2018 farm bill shows the committee is aware of a farm economy teetering on a knife’s edge. The legislation released today will assist farmers and ranchers battered by commodity prices that often do not cover the costs of production. This is one step to bring certainty to our farmers when we face challenges from many different directions. There are still details to be worked out, and we stand ready to work closely with leadership and members of the committee to move forward. We urge Congress to complete a new farm bill soon that promotes food security, a strong farm economy and the thousands of jobs that are supported by America’s agricultural productivity.”