Monday six Democratic Senators sent a letter to the agencies comprising the Interagency Working Group (IWG) expressing concern over the group’s proposed guidelines for marketing food to children. The letter was sent to the heads of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The letter was signed by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (MI, Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry), Max Baucus (MT, Chairman of the Committee on Finance), Bob Casey (PA, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee), Kristen Gillibrand (NY), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Michael Bennet (CO). The Senators question the following specific elements of the IWG’s proposal:
- The analysis used in determining how the guidelines conflict with other nutrition programs operated by the FDA and USDA;
- The broad definition of “marketing” and how it can prohibit the sponsorships of programs that greatly benefit children;
- The analysis used in determining the positive and negative impacts of the guidelines on various agricultural commodities; and
- The consideration given by the IWG of an industry self-regulation program that has dramatically decreased the marketing of unhealthy products to children.
This letter is the latest example of the bipartisan opposition in the Senate and House to the regulatory overreach of the IWG’s proposed guidelines. Other members of Congress have sent the following letters outlining their concerns:
- July 21: A bipartisan group of 24 members of the Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing concern that many dairy products are considered “unhealthy” according to the IWG’s guidelines. The letter also asks the Secretary to urge the IWG to reconsider the proposal until a comprehensive study on the potential impact on dairy consumption and advocates a proposal consistent with other guidelines established by USDA.
- July 18: A bipartisan group of 15 Pennsylvania Representatives sent a letter to the IWG agencies urging them to withdraw the guidelines, citing the impact it will have on the state’s confectionery industry, which provides over 21,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.
- July 15: 19 Republican Senators sent a letter to the IWG agencies with questions on the data used by the IWG, the analysis used in developing the guidelines and the impact of the guidelines.
- June 29: Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) sent a letter to the IWG agencies urging the IWG to complete a study as directed by Congress.
This shows there is a bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill about the IWG’s guidelines and that the IWG’s regulatory overreach is bad policy.
Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.
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