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Change is coming, including federal food laws…

With Washington buzzing about change, here is my sense of the food policy legislative agenda for the next two years.

Health Care Reform
A major component of the Health Care Reform debate will be Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which will likely include nutrition and obesity initiatives.

Food Safety
Bipartisan Senate support for a compromise FDA food safety bill includes mandatory preventative controls for all foods, new enforcement authorities (mandatory recall), new food import requirements, third party certification programs, and limited new fees on regulated industry. House leaders are likely to press for much higher fees on regulated industry.

The legislation’s main obstacle is distraction—the committees and staff responsible for food safety are now overwhelmed with health care reform.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Review of the laws authorizing the child nutrition programs, including School Lunch and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), is slated for 2009. Top issues are increasing funding for these programs and setting nutrition criteria for foods sold in schools. Focus on health care reform legislation may push this legislation off another year.

Menu Labeling
Bipartisan legislation in both chambers would require menu and menu board calorie labeling. Bills that would make the requirements nationally uniform have restaurant industry support. Action is expected this year or next.

Single Food Agency
Unfavorable reviews of the new Dept. of Homeland Security have dampened Congressional enthusiasm for a single food agency. An “interim step” proposal would remove food regulation from the FDA to a new agency in U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), but it is unlikely to happen this year.

2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act
CSPI Menu Labeling

johnbode1 John Bode
Principal Attorney
Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC

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4 Responses

  1. John:

    Hi! I know a lot of people in theory favor a single food service agency — but does anyone actually have a model that will take into account the totally different cultures of the FDA and USDA and the very different nature of their inspection forces? And how would it work on the Hill with the different committees of jurisdiction?

    Your comment about Homeland Security suggests that some folks are beginning to understand that there is some real problems in merging agencies with different cultures and different underlying legislative frameworks.

    And what percentage of the food supply and how many real operations really fall into one of those awkward places where the two major agencies still have not worked out a reasonable solution to not duplicate effort?

    And how long would we be worse off because of the mess the merger would yield. Both agencies (USDA FSIS and FDA CFSAN) need resources and possibly some changes that would make both of them better able to do their uniquely different tasks?

    So when I look rationally at the situation, I must conclude that a single food safety agency may feel good, but it would come at too high a price with insufficient benefit.

  2. As a parent I wonder how they are going “set nutrituon standards in schools.”

    I live in a lower to middle class area and do you know the challenges that our schools face. How many kids go to school without lunch or breakfast either because no one is at home to monitor their behavior or because they do not have food in the house.

    I have personaly spoken to the school officials about food issue. They started a breakfast program at our schools and banned parents from bringing in Burger King or Mc Donalds. The reason for the band is they had parents who found it easier to bring their children fast food than make a lunch. The started the breakfast program so that children would have a healthy breakfast so they could focus on their education.

    I hope that when they look at the food laws reguarding children that they keep in mind that it might be the parents who need educating, not the child.

    I am also in support of WIC as long as the public enrolled in this program do not abuse the program. Some people get the WIC and sell the products instead of giving it to their kids. I am in favor of this program because it giving Mom and children the ability to receive items like milk, juice, vegatables, ect. This may be the only form of healthy foods lower income families receive.

  3. […] John Bode Principal Attorney Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC Share a Comment […]

  4. Hmm…. this is a piece of writing I’m willing to take a bullet for. Absolutely hits the mark. I have some minor concerns but I don’t desire to commence a lengthy post and somebody might flame me. Just wish to maintain this blog civil and clean. Wouldn’t like any hatemail would i? lol keep it up!

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