The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been on a roll lately. Its regulatory agenda is so full that advocates went to court to force timelines on the multitude of food-safety regulations required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA is moving forward with a number of nutrition-related items, such as revoking the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), due to trans-fat, and the first revamp of the Nutrition Facts panel in more than 20 years.
The American Bakers Association (ABA) and its member companies have long lead food-safety efforts and provided clear information to consumers regarding member company products. In that vein, the ABA supports the FDA’s objectives on both PHOs and the Nutrition Facts panel rewrite. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are rolling over and accepting the FDA’s initiatives.
The ABA has a responsibility to the industry to push the FDA to achieve its laudable goals in the least disruptive way possible and to ensure that they are supported by the best scientific, medical and nutritional information available. The core of the ABA’s approach is the coupling of a scientific foundation with real-world practicalities of implementing the FDA’s proposals. Sure, we are pulling from leading experts in their fields, including the highly accomplished members of the Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) Scientific Advisory Committee, but we also rely on the collective expertise of the ABA membership.
The ABA’s strong response to the FDA revoking the GRAS status of PHOs is the latest and best example of these efforts. Many in the food industry are content to concede the issue and allow the FDA to move forward quickly. The ABA pulled together the top experts from baking companies, the medical community, allied partners and key ingredient suppliers to offer the FDA a more scientifically valid and practical way to accomplish its objectives. The comments ABA offered are well researched, thoroughly vetted and filled with practical solutions that, hopefully, the FDA will carefully consider.
Similarly, the ABA is working with the various experts from its member companies, including key packaging suppliers, to offer the FDA practical advice, backed by the latest science, to ensure the new Nutrition Facts panel meets the FDA’s objectives without unduly burdening the industry. While we are in the early stages of the process, the FDA is clearly looking to work with the ABA and the food industry. The more input from ABA members and the industry, the better the outcome.
It has been said many times by multiple leaders of the ABA that the core strength of the ABA is the active engagement of its experts from different disciplines. It’s in the vigorous discussions and strategy sessions that ABA’s strength leads to effective advocacy on behalf of the baking industry. To ensure policies that impact your company are based on the best science and practical experience, you really need to be at the table.
Robb MacKie is the president and CEO of the American Bakers Association (ABA) and a chief advocate and spokesperson for the $102-billion wholesale baking industry. A recognized leader in the Washington business community, MacKie serves as a board member of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100. He also participates on the Kansas State University’s Grain Science Advisory Committee.