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Food, Beverage & Consumer Product Companies Examine Key Issues, Consumer Trends at GMA Science Forum

FDA Comments on FSMA Implementation and Nutrition Facts Panel Updates During Luncheon Keynote Address

(Washington, D.C.) The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) today kicked off its 2018 Science Forum in Washington, DC with a look at the ways industries are using digital innovations to meet evolving consumer trends and the challenges companies face to ensure that product innovations also produce safe, high-quality products that consumers expect.

The GMA Science Forum also featured a keynote luncheon address by Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the US Food & Drug Administration, that provided attendees with an update on a variety of pending issues before the agency, including work to fully implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  In particular, on the Intentional Adulteration Rule Ostroff stated that “we are working actively on draft guidance and hoping to that it will be out very soon.”  On the food labeling front, FDA has issued a draft rule setting the revised compliance date for the Nutrition Facts Panel update for January 1, 2020, and Ostroff said that the agency hopes to “finalize the compliance date relatively soon.”

“The GMA Science Forum is where the leading thought leaders in science regulatory affairs professionals from across the CPG industry and the regulatory community gather to hear the latest developments in product safety, health and wellness, global trade and emerging science and technologies,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, GMA’s chief science officer.  “The GMA Science Forum continues to be the signature event for the food, beverage and consumer products industry offering unique content and expert speakers that focuses on the key hot button issues facing manufacturers in this sector.”

The morning session at the Science Forum began with the digital innovations companies are using to meet consumer trends. Sree Ramaswamy, partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, commented in his remarks that the first step in a company’s adoption of digital innovations is “not the technology, but instead asking what problem are you trying to solve.”  He also stressed that there are no short cuts for companies just beginning to adopt these innovations.  “There is a learning path that you must go through,” Ramasway noted. 

Norbet Kaminski, Director of the Institute for Integrative Toxicology at Michigan State University, and Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia,discussed the challenges product innovations can often present to manufacturers.  Kaminski emphasized the importance of communicating product safety to consumers because today “people have never cared more and known less about how their food is produced.”  Diez-Gonzalez commented that “science is far from absolute, especially nutrition science” and that this evolving nature of science itself can also be an issue for manufacturers when communicating with consumers.

The Science Forum continues through Wednesday and will conclude with a general session that takes a look back at how the CPG industry has fared under the current Administration and what could lie ahead on the regulatory landscape. 

 

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people in our nation and around world. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives. For more information, visit gmaonline.org.