As of the last regulatory update from the American Bakers Association (ABA), we were coming out of a governmental shutdown. Now, the clock is ticking as we stare down the August recess in Congress and feel continued residual delays from that shutdown. After the August recess, we will head straight into 2020 election season and an extreme slowdown of legislative changes. As always, ABA’s Government Relations and Public Affairs team has worked diligently to move forward several key strategic initiatives.
Expanding dietary fibers. On March 27, 2019, FDA, in response to pressure from ABA, announced that it intends to expand the list of approved dietary fibers. Specifically, FDA will propose that “cross-linked phosphorylated RS4”—regardless of source—be added to the definition of dietary fiber. With FDA’s announcement, 16 categories of non-digestible carbohydrates, including mixed plant cell wall fibers, are either included in the definition of dietary fiber or are non-digestible carbohydrates that FDA intends to propose to be added to the definition of dietary fiber. Additionally, until FDA completes this rulemaking, it will exercise enforcement discretion allowing manufacturers to include these additional fibers and the amount used on the Nutrition Facts Label declaration.
Logistics. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for our members to get goods where they need to be. ABA’s Government Relations team worked on and received a preemption for the California meal and rest break rules. What this pre-emption means is that companies do not have to deal with a state-to-state patchwork, especially on a multistate driving route. A number of regulations are still pending, for example the Hundred Air Mile Exemption and a few other rules surrounding rest breaks. We have estimated there’s a shortage of at least 50,000 truck drivers. That number is projected to double, which puts a lot of stress on the industry’s logistics systems.
Tray loss. In Texas, after months of work by the ABA State Affairs Working Group, the passage of the Tray Loss and Prevention Law was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. Our members have seen this problem grow every year, resulting in excess of $25 million of lost equipment and countless operational disruptions over the past five years in Texas alone. The law incentivizes law enforcement and dis-incentivizes criminals from carrying out tray thefts. The law discourages tray theft by applying criminal penalties and supporting civil recovery by prosecutors for registered returnable containers, including theft of and damage to such containers.
2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. All federal food policy is based on the recommendations stemming from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. ABA leads the Grain Chain, an organization of 10 groups from the growers, millers, bakers and others that have an interest in growing food for consumption. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) appears to be a balanced group, made up of several registered dieticians and medial doctors. ABA, via the Grain Chain, will submit comments when appropriate to the DGAC for the five meetings of their review process. We will have written and oral comments that will give us the opportunity to talk about the health benefits of grains. With this review, DGAC will also look at life stages, and adding new recommendations for the first time for the age bracket of zero to 2 years old. Because of this change, we will be able to talk about the nutritional benefits at each life stage.
So while Congress gets ready to take its summer break, ABA continues to push hard on its regulatory priorities for its members. We will be hosting an informative and engaging dialogue at IBIE in September. In order for ABA to be effective, we rely on the industry’s subject matter expertise, so please plan on joining us for the discussion at IBIE.