AAF Government Report

October 14, 2011

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

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Food Ad Guidelines Focus of Hearing

The Interagency Working Group (IWG) proposed nutrition principles for foods marketed to children were the subject of an October 12 joint hearing of the subcommittees on Health and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Representatives of three of the four IWG agencies (Federal Trade Commission, Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) testified, as did representatives of the food and advertising industries as well as consumer groups. Opening statements of committee leaders and witnesses written testimony can be found on the committee web site.

While some Democratic members of the committee expressed support for the guidelines, a substantial number of members, from both sides of the aisle, expressed extreme misgivings about the IWG proposal. Many members were particularly upset that while the working group was directed to conduct a study on the issue, and then report recommendations to Congress, it did neither.

The FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection David Vladeck acknowledged that the guidelines as released were not only ambitious, but that “perhaps we were too ambitious.”

During the question and answer period, William Dietz Director of the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, admitted that the IWG did not study the proposal’s impact on charitable organizations, the price of food, and jobs.

Because the proposal is not a typical regulatory action, the next steps are unknown. Many committee members and industry representatives would like the agencies to scrap the entire proposal and start again by conducting the study as directed. While it is clear that the guidelines will undergo revision, it is much less clear how extensive those revisions will be.

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