Groups ask big food to reject bill to weaken rulemaking power

Groups ask big food to reject bill to weaken rulemaking power
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Consumer and environmental groups are pushing the nation’s major food companies to oppose a GOP-backed regulatory reform package aimed at weakening the rulemaking power of federal agencies.  

In an open letter six groups, including the Environmental Working Group and Consumer Union, asked the Campbell Soup Company, Domino’s Pizza and nine other companies not to support a Senate version of the Regulatory Accountability Act.

The legislation, which passed the House earlier this year, would require agencies to choose the lower-cost alternative when issuing new rules, provide interested parties an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process and allow anyone the right to petition for a rule to be issued, amended or repealed.  

The consumer groups claim the bill, which they’ve dubbed the “Filthy Food Act,” jeopardizes the safety of the nation’s food supply. 

“The ‘Filthy Food Act’ would arbitrarily cut science out of the regulatory process, replacing public input and expert analysis with never-ending reviews and layers upon layers of wasteful Congressional and judicial red tape,” the groups wrote.

“These changes would paralyze the federal response to emerging public health and safety threats, including threats to food safety.” 

The bill has five other bills attached to it, including a measures to do away with the legal principles that require judges to rely on agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous laws and automatically block high impact rules — those with costs over $1 billion dollars annually — from taking effect for 60 days to give businesses and other groups time to challenge the rules in court.

Other measures included in the bill would force agencies to calculate the direct, indirect and cumulative effects new rules would have on small businesses, publish information online about the rules they’re drafting and publish summaries of newly proposed rule in plain English online. 

Companies addressed in the open letter include Cargill, Coca-Cola, CVS Health, General Mills, PepsiCo, Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Yum! Brands.

“Americans have a right to safe food,” the groups wrote. “Your consumers overwhelmingly support reasonable food safety rules. But this bill would take America in the wrong direction—and put children, families, and your businesses at risk.”

A version of the bill has not yet been offered in the Senate, but a spokesman for Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate GOP reveals different approach on tax reform GOP senators: Moore should step aside if allegations true Senate set for clash with House on tax bill MORE (R-Ohio) said the lawmaker is planning to introduce one soon.