FDA WITHDRAWS MENU GUIDANCE
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially withdrawn its August “draft guidance” that told foodservice operations how to follow new federal menu-labeling rules requiring chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie information and make other nutrition data available upon request. The agency has said that it will instead follow a formal rulemaking process before enforcing any of the laws requirements. Many businesses had expressed confusion about the draft guidance rules, questioning whether the FDA would require them initially to comply with these draft rules, and then make another round of changes to menus and menu boards when the final rules were issued. The agency is expected to issue proposed regulations by March 23, after which it will accept comments for 60 days. The FDA plans to issue a final regulation by the end of the year and set a compliance date for mid-2012.
GMO DECISION RAISES CONCERNS
WASHINGTON — In a decision that could set the tone for future federal regulation of biotech crops, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has agreed to allow farmers to plant and grow genetically modified alfalfa without restriction. Alfalfa is typically grown as feed for livestock and dairy cattle. Monsanto has designed a genetically modified version of the crop that is resistant to the company's Roundup brand herbicide, making it easier for conventional farming operations to weed their fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the crop in 2005, but lawsuits from the Center for Food Safety have prevented plantings. Fields of genetically modified crops have been shown to cross-pollinate and contaminate nearby fields of organic and non-GMO crops. The organic dairy industry has argued that allowing conventional farmers to plant GMO alfalfa without restrictions such as buffer zones could render their cattle feed non-organic, fundamentally damaging their businesses. CFS has said it will sue the USDA again to stop implementation of the ruling.
UNITED FRESH MEASURES COMPENSATION
WASHINGTON — The United Fresh Produce Association's Center for Leadership Excellence has introduced a survey to measure compensation and benefit levels for 30 positions within the U.S. produce industry. The new online survey, prepared by research firm Industry Insights, will confidentially collect data from produce companies for a range of full-time positions including sales and marketing, production and operations, quality control and assurance, administration, finance and accounting, and executives. “This new survey tool has been developed in direct response to input from United's Grower-Shipper Board and our members who have expressed a desire to ensure their competitiveness in the marketplace and employment of the highest-quality executives and workforce,” Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation said in a release. The survey will be open at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com through March 15. A final report is expected by May, to coincide with United Fresh 2011, the group's annual trade show, in New Orleans May 2-5.