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REGULATORY WATCH

March 27, 2003
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Labeling wars cooling down

The November mid-term election results make it less likely that the food industry will face aggressive food labeling requirements sought by some consumer activists. Not only do Republicans control both houses of Congress, but voters in Oregon, not known to be a conservative state, soundly defeated a ballot initiative requiring special labeling requirements for foods using agricultural biotechnology. Timothy Willard, vice president of communications for the National Food Processors Association, said the Oregon outcome makes it less likely that other states or Congress will successfully pursue similar requirements.

White House seeks input on obesity

The Bush administration is seeking input from restaurants and food manufacturers as it formulates policy to deal with rising obesity among Americans. Health activists have increasingly targeted the food industry as it has pressured government to take action to address the nation’s weight problem. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman met with officials from the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants to begin talks on addressing the problem. The meeting followed release of a new HHS study indicating that nearly one-third of all adults in the United States now classify as obese, and that 15 percent of children and teens aged 6 to 19—close to 9 million children—are overweight.

Will more HACCP inspections mean more penalties?

Some food industry representatives are concerned that an increase in HACCP inspections could result in serious penalties. FDA’s newly trained HACCP inspectors are concentrating on dairy plants that produce 100% juice beverages. FDA says the first visit by inspectors to a plant is intended to be educational, but the International Dairy Foods Association says it intends to closely monitor the inspections and is asking members that have undergone inspections to report on their experiences. FDA’s juice HACCP regulation became mandatory in January 2002 for most dairy plant producing juice.

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