• Senate Ag Committee Reports 2012 Farm Bill

    The Senate Agriculture Committee has reported its version of the 2012 Farm Bill. As drafted, the bill would not extend restrictions on production of fruit and vegetables on program acres.

    Thus, the bill would end the troublesome fruit and vegetable production restrictions that MWFPA and American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition (AFVPGC) have been working to mitigate through the “Farm Flex” program. However, the measure continues the School Snack Program without change to its policy that prohibits processed fruit and vegetable products from being offered along with fresh produce. An additional provision of concern authorizes $125 million to address "food deserts." Grants or loans would be provided to help in retail marketing of "staple foods," the definition of which appears to include about everything but canned fruit and vegetables.

    MWFPA, in conjunction with AFVPGC, will continue our efforts to improve these provisions and identify any others that will be of concern to food processors and growers.

  • Study Shows Canned Foods Offer Affordable, Convenient Nutrition

    When price, waste and preparation time are considered, canned foods 'almost always' offer a more affordable and convenient way to consume much needed-nutrients, according to the findings of a new survey. Read more . . .

  • California Group Seeks Ballot Initiative to Label GMO Products

    A California organization known as the Committee for the Right to Know has been trying to get an initiative on the state’s November ballot that would force companies to label foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

    To get the initiative on California's ballot, the campaign needed to obtain 560,000 qualifying signatures by April 22. As of today, it is not known whether they have reached that goal.

    A group has been formed to oppose the labeling initiative called the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition. It is comprised of the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Seed Association, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, the Council for Biotechnology Information and the California League of Food Processors among other health, business and consumer groups.

    They oppose the initiative because it is poorly drafted and flawed, says the group's media spokeswoman, Kathy Fairbanks.

    Members of the coalition believe that companies would have to specially repackage and relabel foods specifically for California, which would raise costs for farmers and food processors, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Farmers in other states won’t be held to the same standards, it is argued, and this would increase food prices.

    The committee also points to an analysis released by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, which estimates that regulation of the measure could cost up to $1 million annually. The LAO further predicts a cost burden for the courts to pursue violations.

    Fairbanks notes that the initiative is aimed at making lawsuits easier.

    "Under this measure, lawyers can sue anyone in the food chain: grocers, manufacturers, processors, farmers, without showing any damages," Fairbanks says. "We believe this is a major problem with the measure that will impact everyone on the food chain, not just growers/processors/manufacturers/grocers, but also consumers who will pay higher food prices, and for the state, which will be saddled with court costs."

    The committee also emphasizes the fact that the FDA and medical experts have deemed genetically modified foods safe for consumption.

    The push for GMO labeling is also gaining momentum around the country; as many as 18 states have attempted to pursue similar measures, including Illinois and Minnesota. MWFPA continues to monitor this policy area and oppose measures that would require labeling of GMO products.

  • FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Nanotechnology in Food Processing

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a draft guidance that, in part, addresses the use of nanotechnology in food processing. The draft suggests the FDA may require food companies to provide data establishing the safety of any packaging using nanotechnology.

    The draft guidance describes the factors manufacturers should consider when determining whether changes in manufacturing processes, including those involving nanotechnology, create a significant change that may: affect the identity of the food substance; affect the safety of the use of the food substance; affect the regulatory status of the use of the food substance; or warrant a regulatory submission to FDA.

    Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Joint Legislative Council recommended a bill (SB 533) establishing a nanotechnology information hub within the University of Wisconsin-Extension to promote the development of nanotechnology businesses. The hub would also be responsible for gathering and disseminating information about environmental health and workplace safety related to nanotechnology. The measure failed to gain consideration prior to the end of the legislative session. MWFPA expects the bill to be introduced again when the state legislature convenes in January 2013.

    Electronic or written comments can be submitted on the draft guidance within 90 days of the publication of the notices of availability in the Federal Register, although the official publication of the drafts has not yet been scheduled. Electronic comments should be submitted to comments should be submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. The document is entitled, “Draft Guidance for Industry: Assessing the Effects of Significant Manufacturing Process Changes, Including Emerging Technologies, on the Safety and Regulatory Status of Food Ingredients and Food Contact Substances, Including Food Ingredients that are Color Additives.” MWFPA will continue to follow legislation and rulemaking activities in this area closely.

  • FDA Looking at "Nuanced" Approach to Nanotechology

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Margaret Hamburg reiterated the agency’s decision not to adopt a definition for nanotechnology in an article published by the journal Science, although she said its approach “may become more nuanced in light of experience”. Read more.

  • Food Safety Fees Will "User Fee Industry to Death"

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will “user fee the industry to death” through the proposed implementation of further food firm fees, food safety law specialist has claimed. Read more . . .

  • Registration Now Open for Spring Summit & Scramble

    Join us for the Spring Summit and Scramble June 6-7, 2012, at the Hilton Garden Inn and Trapper's Turn Golf Course in Wisconsin Dells, WI. For more information click on the "Events" button above and use our online sign-up, or download the registration form by clicking on "Registration Form" in the events box next to this blog if you wish to pay by check.

    There are many opportunities to promote your company by sponsoring: a hole, cash prizes, lunch, or donating items for drawings and goodie bags. All sponsors will be recognized with signage at the event, on our website, and in our bi-monthly e-bulletin. The sooner you sponsor the longer your logo is displayed.

    Get your foursome together and join us! A Wednesday evening June 6 reception will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn. The shotgun style golf tournament will be played at Trapper's Turn on Thursday, June 7, starting at 8:00 am followed by lunch, awards and cash prizes.

  • FDA Response Questioned Studies Linking BPA, Health Risks

    The recent FDA response rejecting a petition to ban BPA contained an analysis of past studies and concluded that many had severe flaws or could not be used to determine the safety of human consumption of the chemical.

    The response also cited new research suggesting infant exposure levels are much lower than previous estimates. Moreover, FDA opined that because orally-consumed BPA is rapidly metabolized to an inactive form and excreted, the current data available does not indicate that the human body is exposed to enough BPA to cause health problems. Also cited were studies which the FDA considered better-designed and had failed to indicate that low doses of BPA could have adverse health effects. Read the complete FDA response here.

  • Food Processing Needs to be Championed by Industry

    Industry needs to boast about achievements in food processing as it provides a key role in sustainability and nutrition, according to Food Science and Technology Professor, Tiny van Boekel.  Read more . . .

  • Koenen to Succeed Kubly in MN Senate, Fall Election Taking Shape

    MN Rep. Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City) won a special election yesterday to fill the seat of deceased Senator Gary Kubly in Senate District 20. Meanwhile, the fall elections are taking shape. To date, nine state representatives have indicated they will run for a Senate seat this fall. Twelve state senators and 13 representatives are retiring from their respective houses.

    Koenen won with 54% of the vote defeating Republican Gregg Kulberg and Independence Party Candidate Leon Greenslit. A special election has yet to be called to fill Koenen’s House Seat, District 20B.

    Meanwhile, the fall election is shaping up. Nine current State Representatives have indicated their intention to run for the State Senate this fall. They are: Connie Doepke (R-Orono), Keith Downey (R-Edina), Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), Branden Peterson (R-Andover), Bev Scalze (DFL-Little Canada), Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), Paul Anderson (R-), and Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley).

    However, 13 incumbent House members will retire: Mark Buesgens (R-Savage), Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin), John Kriesel (R-Cottage Grove), Kurt Bills (R-Rosemount), Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood), Ron Shimanski (R-Silver Lake), Marion Greene (DFL-Minneapolis), Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph), Kate Knuth (DFL-New Brighton), Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson), Mark Murdock (R-Perham), Pat Mazarol (R-Bloomington), and Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville).

    Additionally, 12 state senators are retireing from the upper house: Keith Langseth (DFL-Glyndon), Amy Koch (R-Buffalo), Al DeKruif (R-Madison Lake), Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley), Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista), Linda Higgins (DFL-Minneapolis), Doug Magnus (R-Slayton), Geoff Michel (R-Edina), Mike Parry (R-Waseca), Ken Kelash (DFL-Minneapolis), Mary Jo McGuire (DFL-Falcon Heights), and Mike Jungbauer (R-East Bethel).

  • USDA Herbicide Tolerance Comments Coming Due

    MWFPA members are reminded that comments are due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on the Dow AgroScience petition seeking to deregulate a corn genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance.

    The corn is engineered to resist several grass and broadleaf herbicides, including 2,4-D. Vegetable processors and growers have concerns regarding the potential for chemical drift and volatilization. We are currently working with the various parties involved through the Save Our Crops Coalition.

    Consideration will be given to comments received on or before April 27. Interested parties may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2010-0103-0001.

    • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: please send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2010-0103, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.


  • BPA Lawsuits Seen as Less Likely In Wake of FDA Decision

    FDA's recent  rejection of a petition to ban bisphenol A in food packaging is expected to reduce the likelihood of personal injury claims and class-action lawsuits.  Read an analysis prepared by the legal, regulatory and business information reporter, Bloomberg BNA.