Companies urged to speak out on Regulatory Accountability Act

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Half a dozen consumer organisations have called on 11 companies to oppose regulation that they say will block future legislation to improve food safety.

The Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5) was passed by the House of Representative in January and could be voted on by the Senate in May. 

The 11 firms - Campbell Soup Company, Cargill, Coca-Cola, CVS Health, Domino’s Pizza, General Mills, PepsiCo, Target, Walgreens, Walmart and Yum! Brands - belong to the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers or the Business Roundtable, which have endorsed the bill.

Campbell Soup Company response

Of Campbell Soup Company, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Mills, PepsiCo and Walmart who we contacted, only Campbell Soup Company responded in time for deadline.

“While we haven’t taken a specific position on HR 5, we have long supported regulatory improvements that reduce duplication and inefficiency while maintaining the highest standards of safety, quality, transparency and accountability,” said the firm.

“We will monitor this legislation carefully if and when it is considered by the US Senate.”

Supporters say it aims to eliminate red tape and regulations to lift unnecessary burdens and to promote jobs, innovation and economic growth.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group, Food & Water Watch and Food Policy Action sent a letter to the companies pushing them to reject what has been dubbed the “Filthy Food Act.”

“Manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants generally take food safety seriously, which is why they should not stand by while their trade associations try to dismantle the food safety system,” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI president. 

The coalition said the legislation would require agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to seek the least costly approach to food safety problems.

Consumer group pressure

It would create an ‘unprecedented regulatory gauntlet’ through which no food safety rule or guidance could pass, they said in the letter.

“The “Filthy Food Act” would arbitrarily cut science out of the regulatory process, replacing public input and expert analysis with never-ending reviews and layers upon layers of wasteful Congressional and judicial red tape. These changes would paralyze the federal response to emerging public health and safety threats, including threats to food safety.”

Adoption of food safety rules has often followed outbreaks that exposed system problems, said the coalition.

“For example, the year after the 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak, the USDA declared E. coli O157:H7 to be an adulterant, effectively banning the sale of meat contaminated with the pathogen. According to CDC estimates, the rate of E. coli illnesses has fallen by nearly 50% since this rule went into effect.

“Regulatory policy must be able to address emerging threats, such as disease-resistant “superbugs” and risks arising out of new production methods.”

A previous letter from the six and six other groups was sent to Ron Johnson, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and governmental affairs chair, and ranking member Claire McCaskill.

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