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WASHINGTON - C. Manly Molpus, president and c.e.o. of the Grocery Manufacturers of America here, yesterday called on the U.S. and Canadian governments to work for greater harmonization of regulatory standards to promote increased trade and efficiency in the movement of goods across the border.
"There are numerous needless differences in regulatory approaches in the two countries," Molpus said. "We need to overcome these differences through either harmonization or mutual recognition of labeling to ensure that we fully realize the benefits intended in the North American Free Trade Agreement."
Speaking to the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada (FCPMC), Molpus said that greater regulatory harmony between Canada and the United States would provide U.S. and Canadian manufacturers with substantially better access to consumers on both sides of the border. In addition, consumers would have the benefit of a wider range of choices on supermarket shelves.
He urged FCPMC to work with GMA in strengthening the North American Alliance. Formed in 1998 by GMA, FCPMC, and ConMEXICO, GMA and FCPMC's sister association, the objective of the alliance is for Canada, Mexico, and the United States to promote increased trade among the three countries through regulatory harmonization and fewer barriers to trade. "This is the platform for us to launch a newly invigorated effort to make trade throughout North America more efficient," Molpus said.
Molpus noted that one critical issue on which GMA and FCPMC are working together is the opposition to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) proposal for mandatory percentage declaration for ingredients (QUID). CFIA is proposing that all food labels disclose the percentage by weight of any ingredient, component, or class of ingredients needed to describe the food.
The proposal would require the disclosure of proprietary information, such as recipes protected by trademarks. In addition, the proposal would detract from material information related to product safety and nutritional content, and has the potential to confuse and mislead consumers who have no numerical concept of the appropriate ingredient percentage in packaged food products, Molpus said.
"This proposal flies in the face of our attempts to harmonize regulations and provide simple, clear, relevant information to our consumers," he added.