Food policy has changed dramatically over the past year, and Pamela Bailey has been there every step of the way. In December, the president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association saw passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a bill she lobbied for that raises nutrition standards for school lunches and expands the availability of free meals. The next month, another GMA-supported bill, the sweeping Food Safety Modernization Act, passed into law.
“The legislative and regulatory environment for our industry is as busy and challenging as it has ever been,” Bailey told SN.
Her influence extends beyond the legislative arena, as well. Earlier this year, Bailey and the GMA, in partnership with its manufacturer members and the Food Marketing Institute, unveiled Nutrition Keys, a labeling program that places top-line nutrition information on the front of packages. Developed in response to consumer complaints about the Nutrition Facts panel, the new labels are rolling out across the packaged foods industry, with participation from 70% of CPG products expected.
“It serves as another important example of how industry is listening to consumers to understand their needs and leveraging innovation to meet them,” said Bailey.
This year the GMA also released the Food Additive Database, an online reference library of standards to help manufacturers navigate additive regulations at home as well as abroad.
“It is a resource that will help member companies comply with the existing maze of food additive regulations in hundreds of companies around the globe, and help them ensure continued access to overseas markets,” said Bailey.
In the coming months, Bailey will work with the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on implementing the recently passed food safety and child nutrition bills. She'll also be lobbying to turn back a proposal by the government's Interagency Working Group that would establish voluntary nutrition guidelines for advertisements targeting children, as well as a bill that seeks to limit beverage funding under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to milk, 100% juice and plain water.
Another key target for the GMA is the rollback of federal ethanol subsidies, which the organization believes have become an unnecessary burden to taxpayers. That goal recently gained momentum with a Senate vote that approved cuts to the subsidies.
“We will continue our multi-year effort to get Congress to roll back tax credits, quotas and other misguided policies that drive up the cost of food and adversely affect consumers at a time when they can least afford it,” said Bailey.