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The Weekly Grind – February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

NAMA NEWS

NAMA PROVIDING INPUT ON CODEX ALIMENTARIUS STANDARD FOR DON

The Codex Alimentarius’ Codex Committee on Contamination in Foods (CCCF) is moving forward on an international standard for the maximum level of deoxynivalenol (DON) in cereal grains.  NAMA participated in a public meeting to prepare the US position for the meeting of the CCCF in The Hague from April 1-4, 2014.  We specifically opposed the proposed setting of a tight limit of 2 ppm on whole grains as it comes from the field, since modern cereal processing is capable of avoiding and/or reducing the level of DON to produce food products with acceptable levels. The US and Canada are particularly isolated in this position and the US Codex office is eager to have our input. The proposed standard for processed foods such as flour and semolina is 1 ppm, which we have not opposed.

NAMA’s Technical Committee is preparing comments and gathering data to support our position.  Though the US does not use Codex standards directly, engagement on this standard setting process is a high NAMA priority for fear that it will influence future US and Canadian regulatory decisions and further limit options for US farmers and grain processors.

NAMA WORKING WITH OTHER ASSOCIATIONS ON CANADIAN OAT TRANSPORTATION

Canadian railroads said in several industry and government conversations this week that they are prioritizing movement of unit trains of grain for export from Vancouver and Thunder Bay, while virtually embargoing movement of Canadian grains, including oats to the US.  This formalizes the fact for US oat millers who have complained about the lack of service from the CN and CP for oats into the US.  NAMA has been in frequent dialogue with the Canadian National Millers’ Association, Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) and the US-based National Grain and Feed Association to coordinate messages and actions to relieve this crisis.

Our contacts with the Canadian Embassy and the US Embassy in Ottawa indicate that the Ministries of Transportation and Agriculture in Canada are aware of the situation and are conveying messages to their rail contacts that relief is critical to Canadian farmers, the North American food system, and the reputation of Canada as a reliable supplier.

Michael Hawkins, the agricultural counselor from the Embassy of Canada in Washington and Shawna Mathieson, executive director of POGA, will attend NAMA’s division meetings at the end of next week to further our coordinated efforts.

LEHMAN ATTENDS MEETING WITH ANIMAL FEED STAKEHOLDERS

Sherri Lehman, NAMA director of government relations, attended a meeting hosted by the National Grain & Feed Association to discuss thoughts on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule for CGMP’s and Preventive Controls for Animal Feed and Pet Food under the Food Safety Modernization Act.  Also in attendance were the National Oilseed Processors Association, the Pet Food Institute, the American Feed Industry Association and the Corn Refiners Association.


INDUSTRY NEWS

ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES MAJOR OVERHAUL TO NUTRITION LABELS

First lady Michelle Obama announced today a major overhaul to nutrition labels that encourages healthier dieting.  Under the Obama administration proposals, serving size requirements will change for certain foods to reflect amounts people currently eat. Companies will be required to include the amount of added sugars in food products on labels. The number of calories will also be featured more prominently on labels.  Administration officials say the plan to change labels would cost about $2 billion and reap benefits of $20-$30 billion over the next few decade.

It would be the first significant redrawing of the nutrition information on food labels since the federal government started requiring them in the early 1990s. Those labels were based on eating habits and nutrition data from the 1970s and ’80s, before portion sizes expanded significantly, and federal health officials argued that the changes were needed to bring labels into step with the reality of the modern American diet.

The proposed changes include what experts say will be a particularly controversial item: a separate line for sugars that are manufactured and added to food, substances that many public health experts say have contributed substantially to the problem with obesity in this country. There had been indications that consumer groups were pressing FDA to include the percentage of whole grains per serving on the revamped label, but that is not included on the proposed changes.

For more information, visit:
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

FIRST LADY UNVEILS FOOD MARKETING LIMITS FOR SCHOOLS

First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a proposal that would mandate USDA set guidelines for what schools need to include in their local wellness policies, such as setting goals for nutrition education and physical activity.  In addition, the proposed guidelines would ensure that foods and beverages marketed to kids in schools are consistent with the recently released Smart Snacks in School standards.  Schools would no longer be able to house vending machines that have images of their flagship sodas or display any sort of advertising that doesn’t meet prescribed standards.  For more information, go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/.

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