WASHINGTON — Frustrated by cities proposing warning labels on soft drinks and a recent California judge’s ruling on coffee, more than 60 organizations on June 7 announced the creation of the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels. The coalition, which represents farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and retailers, will support the Accurate Labels Act introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas introduced the Accurate Labels Act as S. 3019 in the Senate, which may be found here. Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Kurt Schrader of Oregon introduced the act as H.R. 6022 in the House.
The Accurate Labels Act seeks to establish science-based criteria for all additional state and local labeling requirements; allow state-mandated product information to be provided through smartphone-enabled “smart labels” and on web sites; and ensure that covered product information is risk-based.
The Coalition for Accurate Product Labels said that so far in 2017 and 2018 there have been 30 proposals in 11 different states that would require warning labels or ingredient listings that go beyond national standards. The coalition pointed to New York, San Francisco and Baltimore proposing warning labels on sweetened beverages.
Mr. Schrader pointed to a Los Angeles judge’s ruling that businesses that sold coffee in California were in violation of the state’s Proposition 65, which requires businesses to disclose any carcinogens and toxic chemicals in their products. Acrylamide may be present in coffee.
“When we have mandatory cancer warnings on a cup of coffee, something has gone seriously wrong with the process,” Mr. Schrader said.
Mr. Moran added, “Our labeling requirements on the federal, state and local levels must be based on credible science so we can provide consumers with accurate, relevant and critical information pertaining to nutritional facts. Not only do inaccurate labels confuse consumers, they increase prices at the point of sale and create unnecessary new regulatory burdens on farmers and small businesses.”
Mr. Kinzinger said the state laws may lead to warnings about harms that do not exist.
“This inaccuracy creates confusion and fear for consumers, desensitizes the public from heeding serious warnings on health risks, and imposes unnecessary and costly regulatory burdens for producers,” he said.
Food and agricultural groups in the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels include the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the American Bakers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the Corn Refiners Association, the Frozen Potato Products Institute, the Independent Bakers Association, the International Bottled Water Association, the International Food Additives Council, the Juice Products Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Potato Council, SNAC International, and the Sugar Association.