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WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WSJ story relevance questioned by Organic Trade Association

In its Dec. 9 edition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having difficulty monitoring the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock because of the tripling in the size of that sector over the past decade.

WSJ noted that there are currently 81 accredited agents or groups that can certify food as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. But the newspaper reported that “of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

WSJ added that the USDA report found that the 23 firms “didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for certifications….”

In a separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records, WSJ found that since 2005 “38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, didn’t dispute the findings of the audits, but does not believe they are cause for concern.

She told The Produce News that by their very nature, third-party audits are designed to find inconsistencies and correct them. With regard to the NOP audits, Batcha said one major goal is to make sure all certifying agents are performing their duties in a consistent manner and members of the organic community are being judged by the same standards no matter where the certification is taking place.

Batcha has reviewed the information that the WSJ story was based on and said in some cases it was data more than five years old. And in many instances the failures were administrative in nature.

She believes that no time in the history of the National Organic Program has the USDA been in a better position to provide oversight of the certifying agents. The organic industry, she said, has successfully lobbied for increased funding to both certify and audit the certifiers as the industry has grown.

Of more concern, Batcha said, would be a third-party audit that found no areas that need correcting. She said there have been significant changes to the NOP over the years and it is understandable that many certifiers would have deficient areas discovered during an audit.

Batcha said trust in the USDA’s stamp of organic certification is essential and she does not believe that trust has been compromised or misplaced. She indicated that, by and large, the certifying agents are doing a great job and applying the standards uniformly across the country.

She called the WSJ story and the information that it was based on a “snapshot in time” that in some cases reflected information that was five years old, and reiterated that she has no doubt that product being sold across the country with the USDA organic certification meets the standards of the National Organic Program.

The WSJ story did quote the USDA as making the same points as the OTA executive. The story stated that the “USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected ‘a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.’ Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.”

WSJ noted that the USDA said its certifiers were in compliance with 97 percent of its regulations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Happy ‘apple holiday’ from the New York Apple Association

“We say ‘Light Up Your Holiday Meals’ with New York state-grown apples,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, headquartered in Fishers, NY. “And we do highlight the three holidays — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas — by providing great recipes to anyone who visits our website, nyapplecountry.com, and clicks on the ‘recipes’ link on the menu bar.”

The Great New York Apple Recipes’ link offers many delicious recipes and much more. Allen said that to help people have the happiest holidays, “get cooking with New York apples!”Fall-2013-MollyBeautiful, ripe and ready-to-pick New York apples.

The NYAA also typically issues an “Apples for Santa” release that encourages people to leave apples out for Santa instead of sugary products, and its stunning promotional photo is proof.

“Retailers, of course, highlight apples for pies and desserts around the holidays, but many prefer to advertise the ready-made apple pies,” said Allen. “It’s a happier and even more delicious holiday season, regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, when you get cooking with fresh New York state apples.”

The NYAA found its start in 1935 when Eastern New York apple growers joined forces with New England growers to found the New York/New England Apple Institute. The institute’s mission was to promote consumption of fresh-market apples, and membership was voluntary.

In 1950, the Western New York Apple Growers Association was formed by growers to promote apples from that region. Membership in this group was also voluntary. In 1959, New York state apple growers voted to create the first mandatory state Apple Marketing Order.

“In 1994 the New York/New England Apple Institute dissolved,” said Allen. “Eastern New York growers and the Western New York Apple Growers Association united to create the New York Apple Association.”

Since 1959, a majority of New York state apple growers have agreed to pay an assessment to promote New York state apples and apple products, provide grower communications and conduct consumer research. Under the AMO, assessments are collected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Since 1994, the NYSDAM has contracted with the NYAA to expend AMO funds on the industry’s behalf.

The Commissioner of Agriculture appoints an AMO advisory board consisting of state apple growers, packers and storage operators to advise NYSDAM on how to contract AMO funds each year.

Growers have a chance to reaffirm the AMO at least every eight years.

The NYAA manages a range of AMO programs to support the New York apple industry, including promoting demand for New York state produced and  packed apples and apple products through promotional and educational work with retailers, handlers, consumers, processors and others. It does so by representing its members’ point-of-view to buyers, the public and state and federal legislative and regulatory entities. It also coordinates and performs agricultural and market research activities. And it cooperates with similar associations or agencies in performing any of the above purposes, and any and all things that affect the mutual interests of the New York state apple industry.

The NYAA’s board of directors is made up of 15 growers who represent six growing regions across the state. Directors are elected to three-year terms by growers in their district, and can serve two terms. A list of our current board members is available upon request from NYAA.

Allen said that as the holidays approach, people start to imagine the aroma of a fresh-baked apple pie.

“Look for New York state McIntosh, Crispin, Cortland or Jonagold apples,” he suggested. “All are ideal for pie baking. Enjoy the traditional goodness of New York apple latkes, or stir up a sweet potato and apple casserole. It’s all total comfort food.”

To “toast” the season, the NYAA suggests making its uniquely delicious apple bourbon cake, or stuff your turkey with celebration apple stuffing for something deliciously different.

“And New York state apples are grown nearby, so they get to you faster and fresher,” said Allen. “Buy local and support your area farmers and enjoy a crisper, tastier, more delicious taste of New York.”

The NYAA website also offers an Apple Discovery Guide that describes the apple varieties grown in the state, a handy locator that can help people find farmers markets, pick-your-own orchards, heirloom varieties and fresh New York state apple cider.

“We’re encouraging consumers to share the health by ordering or sending a fresh apple gift box as a Christmas gift,” said Allen. “The list of New York growers and marketers that offer fresh apple gift boxes is available on our website.”

“We’re also strong in social media,” continued Allen, “and we invite everyone to visit the website to connect with us on our media pages.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Happy ‘apple holiday’ from the New York Apple Association

“We say ‘Light Up Your Holiday Meals’ with New York state-grown apples,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, headquartered in Fishers, NY. “And we do highlight the three holidays — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas — by providing great recipes to anyone who visits our website, nyapplecountry.com, and clicks on the ‘recipes’ link on the menu bar.”

The Great New York Apple Recipes’ link offers many delicious recipes and much more. Allen said that to help people have the happiest holidays, “get cooking with New York apples!”Fall-2013-MollyBeautiful, ripe and ready-to-pick New York apples.

The NYAA also typically issues an “Apples for Santa” release that encourages people to leave apples out for Santa instead of sugary products, and its stunning promotional photo is proof.

“Retailers, of course, highlight apples for pies and desserts around the holidays, but many prefer to advertise the ready-made apple pies,” said Allen. “It’s a happier and even more delicious holiday season, regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, when you get cooking with fresh New York state apples.”

The NYAA found its start in 1935 when Eastern New York apple growers joined forces with New England growers to found the New York/New England Apple Institute. The institute’s mission was to promote consumption of fresh-market apples, and membership was voluntary.

In 1950, the Western New York Apple Growers Association was formed by growers to promote apples from that region. Membership in this group was also voluntary. In 1959, New York state apple growers voted to create the first mandatory state Apple Marketing Order.

“In 1994 the New York/New England Apple Institute dissolved,” said Allen. “Eastern New York growers and the Western New York Apple Growers Association united to create the New York Apple Association.”

Since 1959, a majority of New York state apple growers have agreed to pay an assessment to promote New York state apples and apple products, provide grower communications and conduct consumer research. Under the AMO, assessments are collected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Since 1994, the NYSDAM has contracted with the NYAA to expend AMO funds on the industry’s behalf.

The Commissioner of Agriculture appoints an AMO advisory board consisting of state apple growers, packers and storage operators to advise NYSDAM on how to contract AMO funds each year.

Growers have a chance to reaffirm the AMO at least every eight years.

The NYAA manages a range of AMO programs to support the New York apple industry, including promoting demand for New York state produced and  packed apples and apple products through promotional and educational work with retailers, handlers, consumers, processors and others. It does so by representing its members’ point-of-view to buyers, the public and state and federal legislative and regulatory entities. It also coordinates and performs agricultural and market research activities. And it cooperates with similar associations or agencies in performing any of the above purposes, and any and all things that affect the mutual interests of the New York state apple industry.

The NYAA’s board of directors is made up of 15 growers who represent six growing regions across the state. Directors are elected to three-year terms by growers in their district, and can serve two terms. A list of our current board members is available upon request from NYAA.

Allen said that as the holidays approach, people start to imagine the aroma of a fresh-baked apple pie.

“Look for New York state McIntosh, Crispin, Cortland or Jonagold apples,” he suggested. “All are ideal for pie baking. Enjoy the traditional goodness of New York apple latkes, or stir up a sweet potato and apple casserole. It’s all total comfort food.”

To “toast” the season, the NYAA suggests making its uniquely delicious apple bourbon cake, or stuff your turkey with celebration apple stuffing for something deliciously different.

“And New York state apples are grown nearby, so they get to you faster and fresher,” said Allen. “Buy local and support your area farmers and enjoy a crisper, tastier, more delicious taste of New York.”

The NYAA website also offers an Apple Discovery Guide that describes the apple varieties grown in the state, a handy locator that can help people find farmers markets, pick-your-own orchards, heirloom varieties and fresh New York state apple cider.

“We’re encouraging consumers to share the health by ordering or sending a fresh apple gift box as a Christmas gift,” said Allen. “The list of New York growers and marketers that offer fresh apple gift boxes is available on our website.”

“We’re also strong in social media,” continued Allen, “and we invite everyone to visit the website to connect with us on our media pages.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Happy ‘apple holiday’ from the New York Apple Association

“We say ‘Light Up Your Holiday Meals’ with New York state-grown apples,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, headquartered in Fishers, NY. “And we do highlight the three holidays — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas — by providing great recipes to anyone who visits our website, nyapplecountry.com, and clicks on the ‘recipes’ link on the menu bar.”

The Great New York Apple Recipes’ link offers many delicious recipes and much more. Allen said that to help people have the happiest holidays, “get cooking with New York apples!”Fall-2013-MollyBeautiful, ripe and ready-to-pick New York apples.

The NYAA also typically issues an “Apples for Santa” release that encourages people to leave apples out for Santa instead of sugary products, and its stunning promotional photo is proof.

“Retailers, of course, highlight apples for pies and desserts around the holidays, but many prefer to advertise the ready-made apple pies,” said Allen. “It’s a happier and even more delicious holiday season, regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, when you get cooking with fresh New York state apples.”

The NYAA found its start in 1935 when Eastern New York apple growers joined forces with New England growers to found the New York/New England Apple Institute. The institute’s mission was to promote consumption of fresh-market apples, and membership was voluntary.

In 1950, the Western New York Apple Growers Association was formed by growers to promote apples from that region. Membership in this group was also voluntary. In 1959, New York state apple growers voted to create the first mandatory state Apple Marketing Order.

“In 1994 the New York/New England Apple Institute dissolved,” said Allen. “Eastern New York growers and the Western New York Apple Growers Association united to create the New York Apple Association.”

Since 1959, a majority of New York state apple growers have agreed to pay an assessment to promote New York state apples and apple products, provide grower communications and conduct consumer research. Under the AMO, assessments are collected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Since 1994, the NYSDAM has contracted with the NYAA to expend AMO funds on the industry’s behalf.

The Commissioner of Agriculture appoints an AMO advisory board consisting of state apple growers, packers and storage operators to advise NYSDAM on how to contract AMO funds each year.

Growers have a chance to reaffirm the AMO at least every eight years.

The NYAA manages a range of AMO programs to support the New York apple industry, including promoting demand for New York state produced and  packed apples and apple products through promotional and educational work with retailers, handlers, consumers, processors and others. It does so by representing its members’ point-of-view to buyers, the public and state and federal legislative and regulatory entities. It also coordinates and performs agricultural and market research activities. And it cooperates with similar associations or agencies in performing any of the above purposes, and any and all things that affect the mutual interests of the New York state apple industry.

The NYAA’s board of directors is made up of 15 growers who represent six growing regions across the state. Directors are elected to three-year terms by growers in their district, and can serve two terms. A list of our current board members is available upon request from NYAA.

Allen said that as the holidays approach, people start to imagine the aroma of a fresh-baked apple pie.

“Look for New York state McIntosh, Crispin, Cortland or Jonagold apples,” he suggested. “All are ideal for pie baking. Enjoy the traditional goodness of New York apple latkes, or stir up a sweet potato and apple casserole. It’s all total comfort food.”

To “toast” the season, the NYAA suggests making its uniquely delicious apple bourbon cake, or stuff your turkey with celebration apple stuffing for something deliciously different.

“And New York state apples are grown nearby, so they get to you faster and fresher,” said Allen. “Buy local and support your area farmers and enjoy a crisper, tastier, more delicious taste of New York.”

The NYAA website also offers an Apple Discovery Guide that describes the apple varieties grown in the state, a handy locator that can help people find farmers markets, pick-your-own orchards, heirloom varieties and fresh New York state apple cider.

“We’re encouraging consumers to share the health by ordering or sending a fresh apple gift box as a Christmas gift,” said Allen. “The list of New York growers and marketers that offer fresh apple gift boxes is available on our website.”

“We’re also strong in social media,” continued Allen, “and we invite everyone to visit the website to connect with us on our media pages.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Happy ‘apple holiday’ from the New York Apple Association

“We say ‘Light Up Your Holiday Meals’ with New York state-grown apples,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, headquartered in Fishers, NY. “And we do highlight the three holidays — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas — by providing great recipes to anyone who visits our website, nyapplecountry.com, and clicks on the ‘recipes’ link on the menu bar.”

The Great New York Apple Recipes’ link offers many delicious recipes and much more. Allen said that to help people have the happiest holidays, “get cooking with New York apples!”Fall-2013-MollyBeautiful, ripe and ready-to-pick New York apples.

The NYAA also typically issues an “Apples for Santa” release that encourages people to leave apples out for Santa instead of sugary products, and its stunning promotional photo is proof.

“Retailers, of course, highlight apples for pies and desserts around the holidays, but many prefer to advertise the ready-made apple pies,” said Allen. “It’s a happier and even more delicious holiday season, regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, when you get cooking with fresh New York state apples.”

The NYAA found its start in 1935 when Eastern New York apple growers joined forces with New England growers to found the New York/New England Apple Institute. The institute’s mission was to promote consumption of fresh-market apples, and membership was voluntary.

In 1950, the Western New York Apple Growers Association was formed by growers to promote apples from that region. Membership in this group was also voluntary. In 1959, New York state apple growers voted to create the first mandatory state Apple Marketing Order.

“In 1994 the New York/New England Apple Institute dissolved,” said Allen. “Eastern New York growers and the Western New York Apple Growers Association united to create the New York Apple Association.”

Since 1959, a majority of New York state apple growers have agreed to pay an assessment to promote New York state apples and apple products, provide grower communications and conduct consumer research. Under the AMO, assessments are collected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Since 1994, the NYSDAM has contracted with the NYAA to expend AMO funds on the industry’s behalf.

The Commissioner of Agriculture appoints an AMO advisory board consisting of state apple growers, packers and storage operators to advise NYSDAM on how to contract AMO funds each year.

Growers have a chance to reaffirm the AMO at least every eight years.

The NYAA manages a range of AMO programs to support the New York apple industry, including promoting demand for New York state produced and  packed apples and apple products through promotional and educational work with retailers, handlers, consumers, processors and others. It does so by representing its members’ point-of-view to buyers, the public and state and federal legislative and regulatory entities. It also coordinates and performs agricultural and market research activities. And it cooperates with similar associations or agencies in performing any of the above purposes, and any and all things that affect the mutual interests of the New York state apple industry.

The NYAA’s board of directors is made up of 15 growers who represent six growing regions across the state. Directors are elected to three-year terms by growers in their district, and can serve two terms. A list of our current board members is available upon request from NYAA.

Allen said that as the holidays approach, people start to imagine the aroma of a fresh-baked apple pie.

“Look for New York state McIntosh, Crispin, Cortland or Jonagold apples,” he suggested. “All are ideal for pie baking. Enjoy the traditional goodness of New York apple latkes, or stir up a sweet potato and apple casserole. It’s all total comfort food.”

To “toast” the season, the NYAA suggests making its uniquely delicious apple bourbon cake, or stuff your turkey with celebration apple stuffing for something deliciously different.

“And New York state apples are grown nearby, so they get to you faster and fresher,” said Allen. “Buy local and support your area farmers and enjoy a crisper, tastier, more delicious taste of New York.”

The NYAA website also offers an Apple Discovery Guide that describes the apple varieties grown in the state, a handy locator that can help people find farmers markets, pick-your-own orchards, heirloom varieties and fresh New York state apple cider.

“We’re encouraging consumers to share the health by ordering or sending a fresh apple gift box as a Christmas gift,” said Allen. “The list of New York growers and marketers that offer fresh apple gift boxes is available on our website.”

“We’re also strong in social media,” continued Allen, “and we invite everyone to visit the website to connect with us on our media pages.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

U.S. Apple Association will support customers’ right to choose or not choose GMO

U.S. Apple Association will support customers’ right to choose or not choose GMO

The introduction of non-browning Arctic® Apples to consumers is at least a few years away, but if approved for commercial production by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Apple Association will then support the public’s right to decide whether or not to purchase a genetically modified apple. “If approved, the non-browning apple will be just one more possible option available to consumers,” explains Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for the U.S. Apple Association. “We want to convey the vast choices of safe, healthy apples and apple products available to consumers, including dozens of non-GMO apples that will remain on the market.”

The U.S. Apple Association’s stance that consumers decide about Arctic is reliant on the non-browning apple’s safety. The apple passed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s safety standards, and since there were no concerns, the industry says the choice will be left to consumers. “FDA declared that Arctic apples are safe and that they would offer the same nutrition benefits as non-GMO apples,” explains Brannen, “We have assurance from the developer that these apples would be clearly sold and marketed under the Arctic® label, so their place in the market will simply be a matter of consumer choice.”

The non-browning apple is the first genetically modified apple which may become available to consumers.  Arctic Apples are non-transgenic, as no crossbreeding between species occurs. In order to achieve a non-browning apple, genes are targeted which cause the effect. The U.S. Apple Association says it’s important the industry remain transparent to help provide the public with unbiased information about all apple choices. “We want to help consumers understand and educate themselves on their product choices. Some people may appreciate an apple that doesn’t brown, whereas others may be uncomfortable with a genetically modified product.  Those purchasing decisions are up to them, but we are happy to help direct them toward factual educational resources out there to help them best decide what’s right for them.” 

The Arctic Apple is not yet available to the public as it has not passed deregulation, however with current information it appears the apple will be approved. All other apple purchases will continue to be non-GMO, and consumers will have a clear choice whether to purchase Arctic Apples. “The consumer has the opportunity to purchase applesauce with or without cinnamon. They can buy a sweet or a tart apple based on their preference,” reflects Brannen, “The non-browning apple simply offers another choice for them. Some people will understand that browning is a natural process, but others may not like the browning and may want to try them.”  

For more information:
Wendy Brannen
U.S. Apple Association
Tel: 703-442-8850
[email protected]
www.usapple.org

Publication date: 11/21/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

United Fresh Produce Association honors Paramount Citrus

The United Fresh Produce Association honored Paramount Citrus as the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year earlier this week at its Washington Conference. Paramount Citrus has been a long-time leader in the public policy arena, serving on several of United’s boards and councils, including United’s board of directors.uflogo

Additionally, Paramount Citrus executives have been major supporters of the United FreshPAC, and the company has consistently sponsored events at United’s annual Washington policy conference. Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association president and chief executive officer, presented the award to David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus.

“Paramount Citrus has been a leader in the public policy arena at United for many years,” Stenzel said in a press release. “Their consistent support of United’s public policy programs, including sponsorships at the Washington Conference and United’s annual conventions, demonstrates the commitment of Paramount Citrus and their partners in the Roll Corporation for advancing produce industry priorities here in Washington, DC.”

Paramount Citrus is a major supporter of United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which, in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, donates salad bars to schools to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the nation’s children. The salad bar initiative is just one part of United’s public policy agenda for improving child nutrition through increased consumption of fresh produce.

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member each year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leading companies and associations that make an impact and drive the industry forward.

Past award winners include the following:

  • 2013 – Del Monte Fresh Produce
  • 2012 – Four Seasons Family of Cos.
  • 2011 – Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
  • 2010 – C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.
  • 2009 – Pro*Act LLC
  • 2008 – Walter P. Rawl & Sons
  • 2007 – New York Apple Association Inc.
  • 2006 – Sunkist Growers Inc.
  • 2005 – L&M Cos.
  • 2004 – Produce for Better Health Foundation
  • 2003 – Tanimura & Antle
  • 2002 – Capital City Fruit Co. Inc.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

United Fresh Produce Association honors Paramount Citrus

The United Fresh Produce Association honored Paramount Citrus as the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year earlier this week at its Washington Conference. Paramount Citrus has been a long-time leader in the public policy arena, serving on several of United’s boards and councils, including United’s board of directors.uflogo

Additionally, Paramount Citrus executives have been major supporters of the United FreshPAC, and the company has consistently sponsored events at United’s annual Washington policy conference. Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association president and chief executive officer, presented the award to David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus.

“Paramount Citrus has been a leader in the public policy arena at United for many years,” Stenzel said in a press release. “Their consistent support of United’s public policy programs, including sponsorships at the Washington Conference and United’s annual conventions, demonstrates the commitment of Paramount Citrus and their partners in the Roll Corporation for advancing produce industry priorities here in Washington, DC.”

Paramount Citrus is a major supporter of United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which, in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, donates salad bars to schools to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the nation’s children. The salad bar initiative is just one part of United’s public policy agenda for improving child nutrition through increased consumption of fresh produce.

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member each year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leading companies and associations that make an impact and drive the industry forward.

Past award winners include the following:

  • 2013 – Del Monte Fresh Produce
  • 2012 – Four Seasons Family of Cos.
  • 2011 – Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
  • 2010 – C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.
  • 2009 – Pro*Act LLC
  • 2008 – Walter P. Rawl & Sons
  • 2007 – New York Apple Association Inc.
  • 2006 – Sunkist Growers Inc.
  • 2005 – L&M Cos.
  • 2004 – Produce for Better Health Foundation
  • 2003 – Tanimura & Antle
  • 2002 – Capital City Fruit Co. Inc.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

United Fresh Produce Association honors Paramount Citrus

The United Fresh Produce Association honored Paramount Citrus as the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year earlier this week at its Washington Conference. Paramount Citrus has been a long-time leader in the public policy arena, serving on several of United’s boards and councils, including United’s board of directors.uflogo

Additionally, Paramount Citrus executives have been major supporters of the United FreshPAC, and the company has consistently sponsored events at United’s annual Washington policy conference. Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association president and chief executive officer, presented the award to David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus.

“Paramount Citrus has been a leader in the public policy arena at United for many years,” Stenzel said in a press release. “Their consistent support of United’s public policy programs, including sponsorships at the Washington Conference and United’s annual conventions, demonstrates the commitment of Paramount Citrus and their partners in the Roll Corporation for advancing produce industry priorities here in Washington, DC.”

Paramount Citrus is a major supporter of United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which, in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, donates salad bars to schools to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the nation’s children. The salad bar initiative is just one part of United’s public policy agenda for improving child nutrition through increased consumption of fresh produce.

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member each year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leading companies and associations that make an impact and drive the industry forward.

Past award winners include the following:

  • 2013 – Del Monte Fresh Produce
  • 2012 – Four Seasons Family of Cos.
  • 2011 – Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
  • 2010 – C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.
  • 2009 – Pro*Act LLC
  • 2008 – Walter P. Rawl & Sons
  • 2007 – New York Apple Association Inc.
  • 2006 – Sunkist Growers Inc.
  • 2005 – L&M Cos.
  • 2004 – Produce for Better Health Foundation
  • 2003 – Tanimura & Antle
  • 2002 – Capital City Fruit Co. Inc.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Food Industry Association Plans to Make GRAS More Transparent

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking steps to make food additives more transparent.

The trade organization, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies, says their five-part initiative, announced Wednesday, will modernize the process for making “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determinations.

The category has been controversial because it allows companies to determine whether a substance is GRAS without having to seek FDA approval. Consumer groups claim that some additives with GRAS status don’t meet the same safety standard as food additives.

The first step in GMA’s plan is to develop a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process, which will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS).

The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. At the association’s board of directors meeting on Aug. 22, GMA members committed to conducting assessments as defined by the PAS. Nonmembers have not been accounted for.

GMA will also create a database that lists information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in the database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders. It is not yet clear what information will be made publicly available.

Lastly, GMA plans to reach out more to stakeholders and consumers on the steps used to assess ingredient safety and will expand its GRAS education curriculum. Earlier this year, the association worked with Michigan State University to create the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS).

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “We are confident that this initiative, along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are, and will remain, the safest available in the world.”

“We are supportive of any initiative that promotes scientific rigor and transparency to independent GRAS determinations, and look forward to further dialogue with GMA and others in an open exchange of information on independent GRAS determinations to ensure the safety of ingredients added to food,” FDA said in a statement. “We encourage industry to voluntarily participate in FDA’s GRAS Notification Program, which FDA makes public through its inventory of GRAS notifications.”

The Center for Food Safety, which filed a lawsuit against FDA in February about its proposed GRAS rule, applauded the GMA’s move toward transparency but is concerned the proposal falls short in addressing some food additive safety concerns. In particular, it applies only to future food additives and does not address the estimated 1,000 self-affirmed GRAS additives already in the food system.

“While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, CFS senior attorney. “The stakes are simply too high in the area of food safety to allow industry to fill a void left by FDA. For nearly 20 years, FDA has failed to even finalize the regulations that govern GRAS substances, and this is another example of its inaction in this key realm of public health.”

“It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply,” said Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The database that GMA is developing should be completely available to the public, she said.

The effectiveness of GMA’s proposed standard depends on what’s included and how the public is involved in its development, MacCleery told Food Safety News, adding that federal regulation should verify it and require companies to stick to it.

Food Safety News

Food Industry Association Plans to Make GRAS More Transparent

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking steps to make food additives more transparent.

The trade organization, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies, says their five-part initiative, announced Wednesday, will modernize the process for making “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determinations.

The category has been controversial because it allows companies to determine whether a substance is GRAS without having to seek FDA approval. Consumer groups claim that some additives with GRAS status don’t meet the same safety standard as food additives.

The first step in GMA’s plan is to develop a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process, which will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS).

The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. At the association’s board of directors meeting on Aug. 22, GMA members committed to conducting assessments as defined by the PAS. Nonmembers have not been accounted for.

GMA will also create a database that lists information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in the database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders. It is not yet clear what information will be made publicly available.

Lastly, GMA plans to reach out more to stakeholders and consumers on the steps used to assess ingredient safety and will expand its GRAS education curriculum. Earlier this year, the association worked with Michigan State University to create the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS).

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “We are confident that this initiative, along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are, and will remain, the safest available in the world.”

“We are supportive of any initiative that promotes scientific rigor and transparency to independent GRAS determinations, and look forward to further dialogue with GMA and others in an open exchange of information on independent GRAS determinations to ensure the safety of ingredients added to food,” FDA said in a statement. “We encourage industry to voluntarily participate in FDA’s GRAS Notification Program, which FDA makes public through its inventory of GRAS notifications.”

The Center for Food Safety, which filed a lawsuit against FDA in February about its proposed GRAS rule, applauded the GMA’s move toward transparency but is concerned the proposal falls short in addressing some food additive safety concerns. In particular, it applies only to future food additives and does not address the estimated 1,000 self-affirmed GRAS additives already in the food system.

“While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, CFS senior attorney. “The stakes are simply too high in the area of food safety to allow industry to fill a void left by FDA. For nearly 20 years, FDA has failed to even finalize the regulations that govern GRAS substances, and this is another example of its inaction in this key realm of public health.”

“It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply,” said Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The database that GMA is developing should be completely available to the public, she said.

The effectiveness of GMA’s proposed standard depends on what’s included and how the public is involved in its development, MacCleery told Food Safety News, adding that federal regulation should verify it and require companies to stick to it.

Food Safety News

Food Industry Association Plans to Make GRAS More Transparent

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking steps to make food additives more transparent.

The trade organization, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies, says their five-part initiative, announced Wednesday, will modernize the process for making “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determinations.

The category has been controversial because it allows companies to determine whether a substance is GRAS without having to seek FDA approval. Consumer groups claim that some additives with GRAS status don’t meet the same safety standard as food additives.

The first step in GMA’s plan is to develop a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process, which will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS).

The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. At the association’s board of directors meeting on Aug. 22, GMA members committed to conducting assessments as defined by the PAS. Nonmembers have not been accounted for.

GMA will also create a database that lists information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in the database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders. It is not yet clear what information will be made publicly available.

Lastly, GMA plans to reach out more to stakeholders and consumers on the steps used to assess ingredient safety and will expand its GRAS education curriculum. Earlier this year, the association worked with Michigan State University to create the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS).

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “We are confident that this initiative, along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are, and will remain, the safest available in the world.”

“We are supportive of any initiative that promotes scientific rigor and transparency to independent GRAS determinations, and look forward to further dialogue with GMA and others in an open exchange of information on independent GRAS determinations to ensure the safety of ingredients added to food,” FDA said in a statement. “We encourage industry to voluntarily participate in FDA’s GRAS Notification Program, which FDA makes public through its inventory of GRAS notifications.”

The Center for Food Safety, which filed a lawsuit against FDA in February about its proposed GRAS rule, applauded the GMA’s move toward transparency but is concerned the proposal falls short in addressing some food additive safety concerns. In particular, it applies only to future food additives and does not address the estimated 1,000 self-affirmed GRAS additives already in the food system.

“While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, CFS senior attorney. “The stakes are simply too high in the area of food safety to allow industry to fill a void left by FDA. For nearly 20 years, FDA has failed to even finalize the regulations that govern GRAS substances, and this is another example of its inaction in this key realm of public health.”

“It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply,” said Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The database that GMA is developing should be completely available to the public, she said.

The effectiveness of GMA’s proposed standard depends on what’s included and how the public is involved in its development, MacCleery told Food Safety News, adding that federal regulation should verify it and require companies to stick to it.

Food Safety News

Food Industry Association Plans to Make GRAS More Transparent

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking steps to make food additives more transparent.

The trade organization, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies, says their five-part initiative, announced Wednesday, will modernize the process for making “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determinations.

The category has been controversial because it allows companies to determine whether a substance is GRAS without having to seek FDA approval. Consumer groups claim that some additives with GRAS status don’t meet the same safety standard as food additives.

The first step in GMA’s plan is to develop a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process, which will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS).

The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. At the association’s board of directors meeting on Aug. 22, GMA members committed to conducting assessments as defined by the PAS. Nonmembers have not been accounted for.

GMA will also create a database that lists information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in the database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders. It is not yet clear what information will be made publicly available.

Lastly, GMA plans to reach out more to stakeholders and consumers on the steps used to assess ingredient safety and will expand its GRAS education curriculum. Earlier this year, the association worked with Michigan State University to create the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS).

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “We are confident that this initiative, along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are, and will remain, the safest available in the world.”

“We are supportive of any initiative that promotes scientific rigor and transparency to independent GRAS determinations, and look forward to further dialogue with GMA and others in an open exchange of information on independent GRAS determinations to ensure the safety of ingredients added to food,” FDA said in a statement. “We encourage industry to voluntarily participate in FDA’s GRAS Notification Program, which FDA makes public through its inventory of GRAS notifications.”

The Center for Food Safety, which filed a lawsuit against FDA in February about its proposed GRAS rule, applauded the GMA’s move toward transparency but is concerned the proposal falls short in addressing some food additive safety concerns. In particular, it applies only to future food additives and does not address the estimated 1,000 self-affirmed GRAS additives already in the food system.

“While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, CFS senior attorney. “The stakes are simply too high in the area of food safety to allow industry to fill a void left by FDA. For nearly 20 years, FDA has failed to even finalize the regulations that govern GRAS substances, and this is another example of its inaction in this key realm of public health.”

“It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply,” said Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The database that GMA is developing should be completely available to the public, she said.

The effectiveness of GMA’s proposed standard depends on what’s included and how the public is involved in its development, MacCleery told Food Safety News, adding that federal regulation should verify it and require companies to stick to it.

Food Safety News

Food Industry Association Plans to Make GRAS More Transparent

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking steps to make food additives more transparent.

The trade organization, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies, says their five-part initiative, announced Wednesday, will modernize the process for making “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determinations.

The category has been controversial because it allows companies to determine whether a substance is GRAS without having to seek FDA approval. Consumer groups claim that some additives with GRAS status don’t meet the same safety standard as food additives.

The first step in GMA’s plan is to develop a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process, which will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS).

The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. At the association’s board of directors meeting on Aug. 22, GMA members committed to conducting assessments as defined by the PAS. Nonmembers have not been accounted for.

GMA will also create a database that lists information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in the database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders. It is not yet clear what information will be made publicly available.

Lastly, GMA plans to reach out more to stakeholders and consumers on the steps used to assess ingredient safety and will expand its GRAS education curriculum. Earlier this year, the association worked with Michigan State University to create the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS).

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “We are confident that this initiative, along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are, and will remain, the safest available in the world.”

“We are supportive of any initiative that promotes scientific rigor and transparency to independent GRAS determinations, and look forward to further dialogue with GMA and others in an open exchange of information on independent GRAS determinations to ensure the safety of ingredients added to food,” FDA said in a statement. “We encourage industry to voluntarily participate in FDA’s GRAS Notification Program, which FDA makes public through its inventory of GRAS notifications.”

The Center for Food Safety, which filed a lawsuit against FDA in February about its proposed GRAS rule, applauded the GMA’s move toward transparency but is concerned the proposal falls short in addressing some food additive safety concerns. In particular, it applies only to future food additives and does not address the estimated 1,000 self-affirmed GRAS additives already in the food system.

“While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, CFS senior attorney. “The stakes are simply too high in the area of food safety to allow industry to fill a void left by FDA. For nearly 20 years, FDA has failed to even finalize the regulations that govern GRAS substances, and this is another example of its inaction in this key realm of public health.”

“It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply,” said Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The database that GMA is developing should be completely available to the public, she said.

The effectiveness of GMA’s proposed standard depends on what’s included and how the public is involved in its development, MacCleery told Food Safety News, adding that federal regulation should verify it and require companies to stick to it.

Food Safety News