FOOD LABELS: Bill Would Nix Stricter State Warning Laws
A Senate bill that would prohibit states from enacting labeling and food safety standards more stringent than the FDA's guidelines could nullify laws in at least 17 states, the Associated Press reports. The Senate Agriculture Committee quietly approved the National Uniformity for Food Act of 2000 by voice vote last month, and supporters are now searching for "must-pass legislation" to which they can attach the measure. If approved, the bill will render food manufacturers immune to California's 12-year-old Proposition 65, which requires companies to place a warning label on all products that contain carcinogens or substances toxic to the reproductive system. Laws in Florida, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are also in jeopardy. Although states could seek FDA exemption from the law, opponents of the bill argue it would "effectively block state efforts to act in areas where [the] FDA has been ineffective or to goad the agency to regulate products it has not." California attorney David Roe, who helped draft Proposition 65, said the state law "has been very good at catching loopholes in federal protection and the feds have often responded by tightening their own standards once California showed the way." But food manufacturers maintain the state laws are unfair. Susan Stout of the Grocery Manufacturers of America said, "If a product needs a warning label, then it shouldn't just be in one state, it should be in all 50 states." The FDA has not taken a position on the legislation (Brasher, 7/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.