AAF Government Report

March 5, 2010

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Alaina Flaherty, Federation Intern

Reauthorizing Child Nutrition Programs

Congress has begun the process of reauthorizing numerous child nutrition programs. The programs, set to expire on Sept. 30, are currently operating under a one-year extension by Congress.

The House Appropriations committee has met to discuss the reauthorization and President Obama's proposed $1 billion increase in spending for these programs for FY11.

At a hearing in the House Education and Labor Committee, suggestions for increased spending totaled more than the proposed $1 billion. No suggestions were made for the source of the additional revenue. These were the first in what promises to be many hearings on the issues.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently spoke before the School Nutrition Association to discuss these programs and to stress the importance of school lunches. Here speech noted the importance of finding ways to supply more fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products to students; despite the increase in cost over most currently provided foods. She also discussed the bill's importance to her "Let's Move!" campaign.
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FDA Cracks Down of Food Labels

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration issued Warning Letters to 17 different food manufacturers for violations of labeling requirements in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The letters were sent in regard to slight violations posing no immediate consumer safety risks. The violations primarily dealt with misleading dietary descriptions. This is the first time in years the FDA has enforced widespread violations of these types of regulations.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. has made it clear that nutrition labeling is a top priority for the FDA under her leadership. Thus, food companies must promptly make compliance assessments of their products to ensure they will not fall victim to the next round of citations. The recipients of Warning Letters have 15 days to respond to the FDA with their plans for corrective action.

Many of the citations are for claims that a product is "healthy" or nutritious where the FDA alleges they do not meet the legal requirements for such claims. Other citations allege mislabeling of total fat or juice content in food products; and claiming a product is safe for young children when it has only been tested for adults.
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Soda Tax Ads in New York

New Yorkers are seeing ads both opposing and supporting Governor David Patterson's proposed new tax on sugary beverages.

An advocacy group called the Alliance for a Healthier New York is running ads in support, while the American Beverage Association's ads explain the additional burden the tax would be on consumers. Governor Patterson (D) proposed the tax once before in 2009, but it was eventually removed from the budget.
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