January 31, 2014

Changing the way we eat

From: PoliticoPro


Part of a POLITICO Pro Special Report series on the Obama administration’s executive action and regulatory agenda.

The Obama administration is moving ahead to make its mark on the American food system.

While Congress idles on food policy — even the farm bill was a struggle — the Food and Drug Administration is looking to ban trans fat, mandate calorie labels at chain restaurants and vending machines and is poised to revamp Nutrition Facts labels for the first time in 20 years.

These changes will affect just about every consumer in the country — and they are just the beginning.

The administration is also working on implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law widely hailed as the biggest update to food safety since FDR was in office, while rolling out the first nutrition standards for all food sold in public schools, crafting voluntary sodium limits and a whole slew of other food-related priorities, not to mention the first lady’s high-profile Let’s Move campaign to tackle childhood obesity and initiatives to improve meat and poultry safety.

“This administration has paid more attention to food and nutrition issues than any other in my 20 years in Washington,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at Center for Science in the Public Interest. “In terms of visibility and moving the issues forward, it’s great to have that level of attention.”

But that attention has had its down side, too, experts say. Though FDA is a sub-Cabinet level agency, the White House has micromanaged practically every move, well before rules are submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

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