Rock Center Airs Gluten Free Story
On October 4, NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams aired a piece on the gluten-free movement. The report noted there is a wide difference between the low number of people diagnosed with celiac disease and the size of the consumer market for products labeled gluten free. The report mentioned that 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac disease but did not mention an estimate on the number of people with gluten sensitivity.
To view the segment, click on the link below.
FDA Registration Renewal Delayed
Just days before the FDA facility registration renewal period was to begin, FDA announced that registration would not open on October 1, despite the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirement. FSMA requires that food facilities re-register every two years with FDA between October 1 and December 31 during even-numbered years. The first registration renewal cycle under FSMA was to begin October 1. During a FDA stakeholder webinar on this topic, there was some discussion about extending the renewal process to allow for the full 90 days. FDA said it would consider an extension. At this time, FDA recommends that food companies check the agency’s website to know when the registration renewal will become available.
NAMA’s Methyl Bromide Exemption Recommended for 2014
Earlier this month the technical committee of the United Nations Environment Program released its evaluation of methyl bromide exemption applications, including NAMA’s, for 2014. This evaluation and recommendation weighs heavily when the 197 countries that ratified the Montreal Protocol treaty meet in November for a final vote on the applications. Thus, it is virtually certain that NAMA members will have access to methyl bromide through at least 2014.
Also good news, the UN committee recommended NAMA receive 100 percent of the amount the U.S. State Department requested on NAMA’s behalf, which is 16.38 MT.
Methyl bromide was to be banned with no exceptions Jan. 1, 2001. However, in 1998, NAMA successfully lobbied Congress to amend the law and set a new phase-out date of Jan. 1, 2005, with opportunities to apply for exemptions. NAMA is now in the eighth year of receiving such exemptions. This winter, it is expected that the U.S. State Department will submit documents to the United Nations Environment Program recommending NAMA’s 2015 exemption request, which was submitted in August.
UN Revises Global Hunger Number Downward
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revised its estimates of global hunger downward from its 2009 estimate of 1 billion people to what it says is a more accurate number of 870 million. While it said that faulty methodology and data were responsible for the error, they also claim new progress against food insecurity. “We have good news; we have made some progress in reducing hunger,” said Jose Graziano da Silva, the FAO director general. The FAO report stated that the number of hungry people has actually been declining steadily rather than increasing over the past two decades, although progress has slowed since the 2007-2008 food crises and the global economic downturn.
NAMA Presentation Supports US/Canada Food Safety Harmonization
NAMA President, Mary Waters participated in panel discussion at the Canadian Embassy on changes in the grain trade after the end of the Canadian Wheat Board. Mary outlined NAMA’s support for the efforts of the Canadian National Millers Association to propose an amendment to S-11, the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The language would harmonize Canadian policies with Section 402 of the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act so that Canadian regulators will have the flexibility to differentiate between contaminants that are naturally occurring and thus unavoidable, and those that are not and are present at levels that are so small as to present no risk to the health of consumers.
Fred Gorrell, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Market and Industry Services Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Darci Vetter, Deputy Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA, began the discussion with comments supporting the end of the monopoly powers of the Canadian Wheat Board over wheat and barley trade.
Canadian industry members participating in the panel were Richard Wansbutter, Viterra; Patty Townsend, Canadian Seed Trade Association; Richard Phillips, Grain Growers of Canada and Dennis Stephens from the Canada Grains Council.
U.S. panelists included Randy Gordon, National Grain Feed Association; Dana Peterson, NAWG; Gary Martin, North American Export Grain Association; and Mary.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency and USDA-Federal Grain Inspection Service officials were in attendance along with House and Senate staffers.