Food labeling litigations trends, allergen handling practices and advisory labeling, biotechnology and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance were the key topics discussed at the recent Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee (FTRAC) conference held in Washington, DC. Over 40 representatives attended the one day conference. CSM Bakery Products served as the conference sponsor.
FTRAC had a full day of interactive discussions with issue experts on a wide variety of topics, all of which impact bakers on a daily basis. The session started with a roundtable dialogue for members to share what they saw as the priorities for the committee and topics of key interest. The committee agreed that FTRAC should serve as a visionary for the baking industry leading the charge in a pro-active way in developing policies and communicating positive messages regarding bread and bakery products.
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Labeling and Litigation
Elizabeth Campbell, Senior Advisor for Labeling and Claims, EAS Consulting, Inc. and FDA former Acting Director of Food Labeling and Miriam Guggenheim, ABA FDA Counsel and Covington and Burling partner spoke in an interactive panel fielding questions from the committee on labeling hurdles that the industry faces. Key concerns were emerging issues including litigations trends; pending FDA food labeling policy revisions; front of package labeling activities. Members saw the upcoming Dietary Guidelines review as a positive opportunity for the industry to reemphasize the health benefits of whole and enriched grains.
Dr. David Acheson, President and CEO of the newly formed Acheson Group and former FDA Associate Commissioner for Foods reviewed the new FDA FSMA Foreign Supplier verification proposal and third party accreditation/certifier proposal. This presentation was complimented by AIB International’s presentation by Dr. Maureen Olewnik regarding the organization’s insight on the third party proposal. The committee also had final discussions on the association’s comments for current good manufacturing practices, hazard analysis and preventive controls that are due November 15. The group also discussed the second wave of proposals expected regarding intentional adulteration; food safety transportation and food defense that are expected at the end of 2013 and early 2014.
The committee received an update from Steve Mercer, Vice President Communications, US Wheat Associates, Inc. on USDA’s investigation of the Oregon wheat incident, as well as an update on Wheat Innovation Alliance (WIA) activities. Lee Sanders updated the committee on state level biotech initiative activities. The committee had a productive interactive session with representatives from NAWG, NAMA, ABA and the Snack Food Association.
Laura Pasut, Director for Food and Nutrition at the Baking Association of Canada, provided a thorough update to the committee on a variety of Canadian activities including the changes with the disbandment of the Canadian Wheat Board; the Safety Food for Canadians Act; the Canadian sodium reduction initiative; allergen and gluten free labeling regulations and mycotoxins.
Mark your calendar and encourage your representatives to be at the table for the next FTRAC meeting that will be held Monday, February 17-18, 2014 in Kansas City directly preceding the Wheat Quality Council’s Annual Meeting.