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What's on the regulatory radar in 2013? From sugar reform to advertising to kids… PART ONE

By Elaine WATSON , 17-Dec-2012

What will 2013 hold in store for the food industry on the regulatory front? More changes to the school meals program? Action on energy drinks? Sugar reform?

To find out what’s on the radar for next year, and get their take on the highs and lows of 2012, FoodNavigator-USA sounded out some of the sector’s key trade associations…

In part one, we look at bakery and confectionery. In part two (click here ) we look at sugar and corn, dairy, and natural products and supplements.

NCA:  Reform of the archaic US sugar program is vital for candy companies across the US

At the National Confectioners Association, not surprisingly, the top lobbying priority next year is securing reform of the sugar regime, says Susan Smith, senior vice president communications and outreach.

“Reform of the archaic US sugar program is vital for candy companies across the US. Sugar is a crucial ingredient in most confections and it’s impossible for many companies to maintain or expand jobs in  their communities without relief from a federal program that places them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign candy companies in the US market. 

“For the first time in decades, we were able to achieve a close vote on program reform in the US Senate this year, but the bill is stalled in the House. Reform of this program remains our top legislative priority.”

Another goal in the coming year will be spreading the message that consumers “can eat small amounts of candy every day or larger pieces 2 or 3 times a week”, says Smith. 

“One of our goals is to help consumers understand that candy, in small portions, is very much a part of a healthy happy lifestyle.”

Bakers Association: Watching out for changes to the school meals program and the sugar program

The American Bakers Association, meanwhile, predicts 2013 will be “the year of regulations – from food safety to health care to labor to many other issues all impacting the baking industry”.

According to Lee Sanders, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs, and Cory Martin, director of government relations, the key priorities it will be preparing its members for are:

“The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), specifically ensuring that the intent of Congress regarding user fees is not overlooked by the FDA and that new regulations can be practically applied…

“Rolling out Obamacare – ensuring that bakers are up to speed on new proposals including the employer ‘Pay or Play’ mandate…

“Numerous and onerous proposed labor regulations from the US Dept of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, including ambush elections and a regulation altering the ability for employers to use outside counsel during labor negotiations.”

The biggest frustration in 2012 was the uncertainty coming from Washington D.C

ABA: 'We played an integral part in beating back proposals that would have severely limited many forms of advertising considered to be geared toward children'

They add: “These are the regulations we know are coming our way. There are many more initiatives that have been floated over the past couple of years by the Administration that may be pushed into regulation now that the President has won another term. 

“There are also many additional issues in both the legislative and regulatory arenas that will most likely be taken up in 2013, including possible changes to the school meals program and the current U.S. sugar program.”

As for 2012, they say, “ABA played an integral part in beating back proposals that would have severely limited many forms of advertising considered to be geared toward children …However, we expect the Administration to revisit this issue in the coming year. 

“ABA has also led the charge to reform the current US sugar program … This issue will most likely not be addressed until the Farm Bill is passed, which may not happen until spring 2013. 

“ABA also held back user fees from passing as part of FSMA, which would have had a disproportionately negative impact on the baking industry.”

An environment ripe for stagnation

And the biggest frustration to bakers in 2012? “The uncertainty coming from Washington, D.C.  Bakers, and most other manufacturers in the U.S., operated under no certain assumptions from the government over the past couple of years", argue Sanders and Martin. 

“Policy and economic uncertainty, continuing commodity market volatility and the seemingly constant push from the Administration to pass regulations that result in bakers spending more on compliance than on growing their business and creating jobs has created an environment ripe for stagnation.” 

Click here to read part two.

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