Dec 17 2011

Congress caves in again. Delays IWG recommendations.

It’s hard to believe how thoroughly Congress is in bed with the food industry but here is another example: the House has just inserted language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012  requiring the Federal Trade Commission’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Food Marketed to Children to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the final recommendations in its report.

This, of course, will delay or even kill the IWG’s recommendations for voluntary nutrition standards for marketing foods to kids (see previous posts).

Get this: Section 626 of the Act says:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Federal Trade Commission to complete the draft report entitled “Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children: Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts” unless the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children complies with Executive Order 13563.

And what, pray tell, is Executive Order 13563?  Agencies may:

  • Propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs
  •  Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society
  • Select, in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits
  •  To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives
  • Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation

Recall that the industry spent a reported $37 million to oppose the IWG recommendations.  Apparently, it was money well spent.

Let’s hope the Senate has sense enough to delete this section so that the FTC can put its long-delayed and already watered-down standards in place.

Additions, December 18: No such luck.  Consider this passed.  Thanks to Michele Simon for pointing out that Congress cannot legally require a cost/benefit analysis of the IWG guidelines because they are voluntary and, therefore, not regulations.  And thanks to Margo Wootan for explaining how and where to contact Congress.