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    N.G.A.: Do Away With Proposed Nutrition Principles, Food Marketing Limits

    Trade group calls initiative “unnecessary government overreach”

    The National Grocers Association (N.G.A.), in public comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week, requested the withdrawal of the Interagency Working Group's Proposed Nutritional Principles and limits on food marketing. “This is just another example of unnecessary regulatory overreach at a time when the food industry has taken giant steps in providing consumers with nutritional information and healthy food choices,” noted Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based N.G.A.

    The proposed principles feature recommendations relating to the nutritional quality of foods that are commonly marketed to children ages 2 to 17. The working group consists of representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because of the widespread effect the principles have on the overall supermarket industry, including the independent grocers, wholesalers and manufacturers whose interests N.G.A. seeks to protect, the trade group said in its filing that they should be withdrawn and an original study be conducted, as originally directed by Congress.

    “N.G.A.’s members have long been committed to promoting nutritious foods and healthy food choices. In last decade, the supermarket industry, including independent grocers, provided customers with more nutritional information and healthy food choices,” the organization said. “However, Working Group's recommendations go too far. The ‘voluntary’ Proposed Principles require the reformulation of a wide range of products and limit the marketing of national and private brand label products.” N.G.A. went on to cite the earlier instances of Country of Origin Labeling and Nutrition Labeling, “both of which began as ‘voluntary regulations’ and quickly became government mandates that were costly and burdensome to independent retailers and wholesalers.”

    N.G.A. additionally pointed out that the proposed principles encompass many products and markets although there was no evidence of a causal relationship between children’s viewing of advertisements and obesity rates.
     

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