ABA successfully fought for the inclusion of several important priorities for bakers in the Omnibus bill. The $1.149 trillion funding bill addresses many issues, including:
COOL Repeal – Protecting U.S. bakers from a 100 percent retaliatory tariff on baked goods and ingredients sold in Canada and Mexico.
Summary: U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules require most retailers to provide consumers with the origin beef, pork, and many other products. In Spring 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO) determined that the United States Country of Origin Labeling rule violates U.S. trade obligations. This ruling allowed America’s two largest export markets, Canada and Mexico, to establish retaliatory tariffs that would cost the U.S. billions in export sales. This included a 100 percent tariff on baked goods and ingredients. Using the omnibus, Congress repealed COOL requirements on beef and pork products, satisfying WTO requirements and preventing Canada and Mexico from imposing tariffs on U.S. exports to both countries.
PHO GRAS Status Protection – Guarding bakers from frivolous class action lawsuits during the 3-year phase-out of PHOs.
Summary: In summer 2015, FDA issued a determination removing generally recognized as safe (GRAS) from partially hydrogenated oils (PHO). While providing a three-year phase-out period, it immediately removed the GRAS status from PHOs. This loophole opened bakers and all food manufacturers up to potential legal liability during the three-year phase-out. Congress included language in the Omnibus to protect bakers from legal action while continuing to reformulate away from partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).
Hours of Service – Shielding bakers from unworkable rules pending additional research demonstrating a significant safety benefit.
Summary: Prevents the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 34-hour restart rule from moving forward until it can prove that there is statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules, in comparison to commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013. It is expected that the FMCSA will issue its findings in early 2016.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans – Requiring the guidelines to be based on significant scientific agreement and focused on nutritional and dietary information.
Summary: Requires the USDA and HHS to ensure that forthcoming revisions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans must be based on significant scientific agreement and limited in scope to nutritional and dietary information. In addition, the Secretary of Agriculture shall engage the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a comprehensive study of the entire process used to establish the current and future Advisory Committee(s) for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The study must include the following:
- How the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can better prevent chronic disease, ensure nutritional sufficiency for all Americans, and accommodate a range of individual factors, including age, gender, and metabolic health.
- How the advisory committee selection process can be improved to provide more transparency, eliminate bias, and include committee members with a range of viewpoints.
- How the Nutrition Evidence Library is compiled and utilized, including whether Nutrition Evidence Library reviews and other systematic reviews and data analysis are conducted according to rigorous and objective scientific standards.
- How systematic reviews are conducted on longstanding Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations, including whether scientific studies are included from scientists with a range of viewpoints.
FSMA Funding – Providing adequate funding for FSMA related programs, eliminating possible user fees on bakers.
Summary: Increased funding for FSMA implementation, eliminating the need to impose user fees on bakers and other food manufacturers as a mechanism for funding FSMA regulatory compliance and enforcement activities. The $104.5 million in new funding more than doubles the original provision in the House and Senate committee bills. This additional funding will help FDA and its partners at the state and local level undertake important new responsibilities to reduce foodborne illness, improve consumer confidence, and make our food supply as safe as possible.
Other Notable Benefits to the Baking Industry:
Sodium Reduction – Prohibiting further reduction in sodium in federal feeding programs pending further research.
Whole Grains in School Meals – Allows states to determine exemptions from 100% whole grain standards in the National School Meals Program.
Avian Influenza Research – Increased research funding to prevent further avian influenza outbreaks by over 150 percent