I.B.A. shows support for single food agency

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Independent Bakers Association voiced its support for a single food agency in an effort to consolidate food safety functions of the federal government. The association’s members, meeting at the I.B.A. winter membership meeting Feb. 25-28 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., said their support is contingent upon adoption of National Uniformity in Food Labeling and the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act.

According to the I.B.A., consolidating the food safety system would provide considerable savings to industry and government, as the current setup has functions spread across 15 agencies in the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drugs Administration.

"The involvement of so many agencies can result in duplication of responsibilities, service gaps and inconsistencies and confusion about which agency oversees different types of food," the I.B.A. said. "For example, the F.D.A. has jurisdiction over frozen cheese pizza, and inspects cheese pizza processors once every 10 years on average. On the other hand, U.S.D.A. has responsibility over frozen pepperoni pizza, and inspects such processors daily. Some of the new responsibilities under the single food agency would include: inspection of all food processing plants; categorized review process for all foods; increased oversight of imported foods; and established requirements for tracing foods to point of origin."

But in order for the association to give its full support to a single agency, the I.B.A. said Congress must adopt National Uniformity. Currently, each of the 50 states has the ability to require its own warning labels separate from the F.D.A., a system the I.B.A. deemed "highly inefficient and confusing."

"The last House passed Uniformity and Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption only to see it die in the Senate," said "We expect this Congress to move on single food agency legislation. With the inclusion of Uniformity and Personal Responsibility we can get behind this legislation. We would oppose a single food agency measure without these two important pieces of legislation included."

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