A growing and consistent theme in the policy debates in which ABA is engaged is the importance of science to fortify our position. This may seem like an oxymoron, but the high complexity and technical nature of issues such as the revised dietary guidelines, banning partially hydrogenated oils, GRAS reform, and validating the so called baking kill step all require ABA to bring the best possible science to the discussions.
ABA has a long history of relying on strong scientific fundamentals to strengthen its policy positions and so stands in good stead to continue its reliance upon those fundamentals to achieve success in its policy objectives. We also have increased our support for key research to further grow our capabilities, many times in cooperation with key industry partners.
A great illustration is the research that has been conducted under the direction of the Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. Designed to quantify the value of grains as the biggest bang for the nutrition dollar and the importance of grains in determining health outcomes, the research has far exceeded our limited expectations. Not only are the results of the research worthy of consideration by the top nutrition and medical journals in the world, they will provide a wealth of ammunition in the ongoing dietary guidelines deliberations. At the very least, they allow the industry to stand up tall when telling the powerful story about its products.
Similarly, ABA is partnering with AIB and KSU to provide scientific validation of what has been long-time industry knowledge – that the oven temperature during the baking process kills potential pathogens. While it seems obvious to those in the industry, FDA will soon require this scientific validation as part of FSMA for each bakery product. The ABA-AIB-KSU partnership is an attempt to provide an industry wide solution as an alternative to a very costly product by product solution.
Another important example is the attempt by FDA to ban partially hydrogenated oils. ABA’s work with bakers and in consultation with its supplier members has forced FDA to reconsider its proposal. While ABA supports continued efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate trans fat in the American diet, this needs to be accomplished in a common sense, science based manner.
At a meeting with senior FDA officials last week, ABA’s efforts are starting to bear fruit. As one senior FDA official commented, “the submission of industry data and best practices has given FDA a lot to consider in its approach to partially hydrogenated oils.”
As I look ahead to the issues on which ABA will be engaged in the coming years, I anticipate we will be drawing even more upon the expertise of our AIB, GFF, and KSU partners to achieve our policy goals for the industry.