WASHINGTON — Grocery Manufacturers Association here is keeping its eye on several pieces of legislation affecting CPG companies that are expected to work their way through Congress this year, including measures impacting food safety, ingredient safety, and health and nutrition.
First and foremost, said Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs at GMA, is The Food Safety Modernization Act, or S. 510, a measure expanding the powers and resources of the Food and Drug Administration. He said he expects it will be passed by the Senate next month and signed into law by President Obama by early spring, at the latest.
“GMA and our allies believe that FDA needs new tools, new authorities and new resources to meet the challenges posed by a complex global food supply, and that S. 510 would raise the bar for the entire food industry,” he told SN last week.
In addition to expanding the FDA's ability to prevent and detect foodborne illnesses, the bill includes grants to support state food-safety agencies, efforts to help the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperate on organic standards, and language designed to help state and federal agencies work together.
Another issue of importance to GMA is the effort to modernize the 33-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, which governs the Environmental Protection Agency's review of chemicals.
GMA has been working with other associations to propose sweeping changes to TSCA that would accelerate the review of “priority chemicals” — those that should be reviewed because of their hazard characteristics — Faber explained. GMA is also seeking to clarify the tolls that EPA has to manage chemicals that it deems as posing “unreasonable risks.”
Last year the EPA moved to make it easier to restrict several chemicals used in manufacturing.
In addition, he said he anticipates a number of bills that would increase government's role in health and wellness, such as more funding for physical education in schools, more funding for nutrition education in schools, and measures to increase access to supermarkets and healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods.
The Federal Trade Commission will also be looking at new rules for advertising, and the FDA will examine product labeling.
GMA also continues to back legislation that would phase out subsidies for conventional biofuels produced from food, such as corn-based ethanol, and instead shift those subsidies to second- and third-generation biofuels, or those made from wood waste and crop waste.
The association supports a bill introduced in July by U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., called The Affordable Food and Fuel for America Act (H.R. 3187), which would phase out a subsidy for gasoline refiners who blend corn ethanol into gasoline, eliminate a tariff on imported biofuels, and increase funding for alternative biofuel production.