Labeling uniformity bill introduced

The "National Uniformity for Food Act of 1998," designed to ensure consistent food labeling requirements, has been introduced in both the House and Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Rep. Richard Burr (R-NC) with bipartisan support, the bill provides uniform national labeling standards and requirements in the areas of food adulteration, misbrandings and warnings. It leaves intact areas of food safety that traditionally have been the jurisdiction of state and local governments, such as food sanitation, religious dietary labeling, all date labeling and shellfish warnings. States maintain the right to enact individual rules in areas where FDA has taken no action and may issue their own warnings, statements or other pronouncements on food products. Manly Molpus, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, called it a "common sense initiative. In today's world of national manufacturing and distribution, it makes no sense to have different labels in different states on the same products." GMA and other food industry backers of the bill predict hearings will be held in spring 1999. Meanwhile, they will work the halls of Congress to line up support from both Republicans and Democrats.

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