House Passes Uniform Food Standards Bill

Discussion
Mar 09, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


If approved by the Senate, a new bill passed by the House of Representatives would set a single national standard for safety warnings on food products.


The National Uniformity for Food Act had the backing of food manufacturers who argued it would take the confusion out of labeling requirements that varied from state to state.


Critics of the bill argued it would take away states’ ability to protect consumers.


According to the Des Moines Register, Gov. Tom Vilsack sent a letter to Congress arguing against passage of the bill. Mr. Vilsack and others, such as the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, believe passage of the measure could interfere with food inspections.


The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) accused critics of the bill of inaccurately portraying its intent and letter.


“Consumers deserve accurate information about the merits of this legislation,” said C. Manly Molpus, GMA president and CEO in a released statement. “Unfortunately, they are unlikely to get it because some opponents have chosen to launch a misleading and factually incorrect assault on this bill. The opponents of the National Uniformity for Food Act continue to misinterpret its intent and substance.


“In fact, the bill will strengthen the existing state-federal partnership on food safety to the benefit of consumers nationwide. By providing consistent, science-based food safety standards and warning requirements, all consumers will be able to have confidence in the safety of the food supply and the information on food labels – regardless of where they live,” he said. 


Moderator’s Comment: Should the Senate ratify the National Uniformity for Food Act? What will passage of the act mean for food producers and consumers?

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "House Passes Uniform Food Standards Bill"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Shades of Tommy Thompson. We mustn’t frighten the horses by telling them what’s in their food or how it got there or what it may do to them unless, of course, what it may do is prevent any or every disease under the sun. The name of this bill says it all – uniformity. Let’s just feed everyone the same stuff, day in, day out, wherever they happen to be and tell them that they have choice and should exercise personal responsibility and get off their couches to do some exercise rather than blaming food manufacturers for dictating what they can eat. And just for good measure, if that isn’t enough, let’s keep on reminding them that if they insist on having more information, it will force prices up, especially if those pesky old states insist on making us fight every single suggestion they have to reveal more of our dirty little secrets (carbon monoxide, anyone?).

Hy Libby
Guest
Hy Libby
14 years 11 months ago

I’m all for uniformity, as long as they adopt the strictest, most comprehensive state standards currently in place and bring all others up to that level.

Pete Hisey
Guest
Pete Hisey
14 years 11 months ago

My worry is that by centralizing all label issues, it will be far easier for the food lobby to water down warnings about, say, common allergens. What the public can’t see, the public can’t protest. This is one of those bills that seems to make sense, but has an agenda behind it that is in the long run harmful. What ever happened to the states’ rights issue in the GOP?

John P. Roberts
Guest
John P. Roberts
14 years 11 months ago

Sometimes ‘states rights’ results in ‘special interests stupidity.’ Ask the companies that have been hit with civil actions by a special interest group under the California act regarding lead traces in food. The act seems to allow individuals to sue even when the state is not willing to enforce provisions of the act.

States rights are important, but in areas where special interest groups within some states appoint themselves as ‘avengers’ then federal action is warranted.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Food manufacturers have a great point. It raises costs to have state and local extra requirements. Let’s all learn from this idea. Why not reduce costs further and just abolish all state and local laws in every category? Why not save money by abolishing all state and local legislatures? Why not save more by cutting the number of congress people to 5 and the number of senators to 2?

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
14 years 11 months ago

My first reaction to this article was “it’s about time.” It only makes sense that it would be easier for manufacturers to comply and reduce the cost of producing products if there was only one labeling standard that had to be followed. After reading some of the referenced articles, my reaction is that it doesn’t seem to go far enough. There is still a lot of room for improving the consistency of the rules. Living on the NY and NJ states border, I have often wondered why a quart of milk lasts a few days longer when bought in one state vs. the other. I know that many are concerned about states’ rights and regional differences create valid reasons for individual state laws but I don’t see how it applies to food safety.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

I don’t always agree with GMA, but this is one case where uniformity makes clear sense. It could be just about impossible to handle logistics and distribution with different labels for different states. Errors would be inevitable, and confusion rife. And for what? We have national standards already in many areas, and they generally work well. I see no compelling reason for an exception here.

Bill Bishop
Guest
Bill Bishop
14 years 11 months ago

Recognizing that we’re living in an increasingly globalized world and in this “flat” environment, we need to be a trading partner that’s easy to understand and deal with.

On this basis, I’d certainly support the Senate passage of a national uniformity for food act.

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