National Groups Urge Clinton to Veto Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

Oct. 28, 2000

National Groups Urge Clinton to Veto Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

Rider Would Invalidate State Food and Dietary Supplement Safeguards and Labeling Requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C — Nineteen national consumer, food safety, labor and environmental organizations wrote to President Clinton today urging him to veto the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations conference report because it is expected to contain a special interest rider that would nullify dozens of state and local safety and labeling requirements relating to the regulation of food and dietary supplements.

The rider that key Senate staff have said has been added to the conference report by Republican leaders is the “National Food Uniformity Act of 2000” (S. 1155), which was approved on June 29 by the Senate Agriculture Committee without any hearings. The bill is a top priority of the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the dietary supplement lobby.

Among the letter?s signers are Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE!), American Public Health Association, and Environmental Defense.

“For years, consumers have relied on state and local labeling requirements and safety standards to fill regulatory gaps left by the FDA,” the letter to Clinton stated. “Now, the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the dietary supplement industry are pressuring Congress to exempt them from these important consumer safeguards. Their goal is to avoid complying with any state and local consumer protections that are stronger or more protective of consumers than what the FDA requires — even in areas, such as dietary supplements, where the FDA has very limited authority to regulate and very few resources to enforce existing protections.”

If enacted, the rider could:

  • Leave the dietary supplement industry almost entirely unregulated. The FDA has little regulatory authority over dietary supplements, and several states have attempted to fill this gap. However, S. 1155/H.R. 2129 could invalidate measures such as Texas? warning label requirement for ephedrine — a supplement that has been associated with hundreds of serious illnesses and several deaths.
  • Nullify California?s popular Proposition 65, a voter initiative that requires carcinogens and agents that may cause birth defects to be disclosed on product labels.
  • Imperil crucial state requirements for warning labels on shellfish, which frequently contain pathogens that can cause illness and death.
  • Thwart state attempts to require labeling of genetically engineered foods and foods that contain ingredients that have undergone irradiation, even though consumers overwhelmingly support such requirements.

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Read more about S. 1155