FOOD SAFETY, LABOR TOP AGENDA IN CONGRESS

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Having won several critical tax cuts in a major tax-reform effort earlier this summer, the supermarket industry is now turning to what remains of its legislative agenda.Congressional Republican leaders are seeking an early exit this year to avoid any partisan squabbles, which could hurt them at home, so the workload on Capitol Hill is not expected to extend much beyond the necessities

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Having won several critical tax cuts in a major tax-reform effort earlier this summer, the supermarket industry is now turning to what remains of its legislative agenda.

Congressional Republican leaders are seeking an early exit this year to avoid any partisan squabbles, which could hurt them at home, so the workload on Capitol Hill is not expected to extend much beyond the necessities of funding government agencies.

One funding issue earning the industry's attention is a provision in the $80 billion budget for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services that would prohibit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from promulgating standards on ergonomics, or the design of products to make them safe and efficient. The ban would be in effect until Sept. 30, 1998.

Another issue of concern is an effort to exempt inside salespeople from overtime restrictions in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Legislation is expected to be introduced later this year but passage is not anticipated until 1998.

Also before the industry is an effort by the Clinton administration to strengthen the government's power over meat and poultry processors by allowing them to mandate recalls and levy stiff fines (see story on Page 47).

Finally, some in the industry are attempting to influence efforts by the administration to attain negotiating authority for an expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. They are seeking country-of-origin labels on fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables and meats; and increased border inspections.