Legislation to establish nationally uniform science-based food labeling standards received a major boost today as the "National Uniformity for Food Act" was approved unanimously by the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill, a top legislative priority for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, now awaits action by the full Senate.

"This important legislation will provide uniform standards for food adulteration, misbranding, and warning labels," said C. Manly Molpus, GMA President and CEO. "In today's world of national manufacturing and distribution, it makes no sense to have different labels in different states on the same products, especially if there is no real benefit to consumers.

"This common sense consumer initiative finishes the work begun by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, which provided national uniformity for nutrition and health claims labeling," added Molpus. "The federal government already requires that state poultry (Poultry Products Inspection Act) and meat (Meat Inspection Act) regulations conform to those established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the same time, the bill preserves and enhances the critical partnership of the states and the federal government in food safety regulation."

Molpus added that the Food and Drug Administration has established a tough, comprehensive program of safety standards for foods sold in interstate commerce.

"Conflicting state laws that require different information than established by FDA create consumer confusion and could lead to consumers ignoring all warnings," said Molpus. "We should have one uniform label for all Americans."

During consideration of the bill, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) agreed to cosponsor the legislation, as did Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). Thirty-six Senators are cosponsoring the bipartisan bill (S. 1155), which was introduced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). In addition, 115 Republicans and Democrats are cosponsoring the House companion version (HR 2129), which was introduced by Rep. Richard Burr (R-NC).

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.