Pamela G. Bailey recently helped score a major victory for grocery manufacturers by pushing back against a set of guidelines for marketing to children.
Proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Trade Commission under the auspices of the Interagency Working Group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, of which Bailey is president and chief executive officer, maintained the guidelines would limit marketing of healthy foods including some vegetable juices, soups and yogurt.
Aside from being “completely unnecessary” since the industry self-regulates through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, according to Bailey, the guidelines were contradictory to nutrition science; not in alignment with existing federal nutrition policies; and did not adhere to President Obama’s executive order that all new regulations undergo a cost-benefit analysis. Working through the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, GMA launched advocacy campaigns to make clear to lawmakers the flawed nature of the proposed rule.
“As a result, Congress restricted funding for the project until additional research was conducted, and the FTC chairman has since indicated that the agency is no longer pursuing the misguided policy,” Bailey told SN.
Now it’s on to the next obstacle for Bailey who faces a slew of challenges in protecting the interests of the food, beverage and consumer product industries. “The legislative and regulatory environment is as busy and challenging as it has ever been,” she said.
This year, GMA is keeping close tabs on the Farm Bill’s proposals to restrict the choices of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. A version that passed the Senate last month contains a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP benefits. “These restrictions would infringe on consumer choice, pose major implementation challenges for retailers and increase program costs and complexity, with no clear benefit to public health,” said Bailey who is also weighing in on the GMO labeling debate in opposition to a California ballot initiative that would require GMO-containing foods to be labeled as such.
“If passed, the measure would ban the sale of tens of thousands of safe products in California unless they are specially repackaged and relabeled for sale in the state. It will increase food prices, hurt family farmers, food companies and grocers, and open the door to a new category of frivolous and costly lawsuits,” Bailey said.
GMA is also playing a key role in interacting with the FDA to develop and implement the regulations Congress wrote into the Food Safety Modernization Act and on a global scale, is partnering with Cornell University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University of China to establish a joint academic program to address food safety in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region.
Brand protection is another of Bailey’s priorities. As part of the Trading Partner Alliance, which facilitates interaction between retailers and manufacturers, GMA is exploring the issue both here and abroad.
“While our increasingly global supply chain provides untold benefits, it also presents challenges when it comes to the infiltration of counterfeit goods into the supply chain,” Bailey said.