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AFFI engages first lady's childhood obesity initiative.

AFFI issued the following letter to First Lady Michelle Obama on

January 25, 2010.

Mrs. Michelle Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mrs. Michelle Obama:

The American Frozen Food Institute applauds your desire "to put into place commonsense, innovative solutions that empower families and communities to make healthy decisions for their kids." On behalf of the more than 500 member businesses that comprise our association, we look forward to working with you to bring this vision to fruition through better nutrition.

In addressing the Conference of Mayors last week, you informed that group of your intention to announce a major administration initiative next month to address childhood obesity. You shared your alarm with the nation's mayors that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. Warning of the long-term dangers that current trend poses to the economy and the nation's collective health, you asked them to join in the work of making common sense changes so our kids can get, and stay, healthy.

As you stated in your address, "Many parents tell me that they want to prepare healthy food for their kids, but there aren't any supermarkets where they live that sell fresh produce. Or they're tight on money, and healthy foods seem too expensive. Or they're tight on time--working longer hours, working two jobs--so they can't pull off those home cooked meals around the dinner table."

If the goal of this initiative is to help parents offer their children healthy meal options that are affordable and easy to prepare, then an essential component of the overall strategy ought to include encouraging and facilitating greater utilization of frozen foods.

As the Produce for Better Health Foundation can attest, a major nutritional challenge is getting youngsters to consume more fruits and vegetables in all forms--frozen, canned and fresh. Since frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen to lock in their nutrients, the nutrition level of many frozen fruits and vegetables is equivalent to or higher than their "fresh" counterparts that sit on the shelf in the produce department. Moreover, the storage longevity and packaging ease of frozen fruits and vegetables means more stores--including neighborhood convenience stores and local pharmacies--can make these healthy options readily available to consumers on the go.

Parents looking for ways to stretch their food dollars are hard pressed to find better value than frozen foods. Unlike foods with high spoilage and throw-away rates, frozen foods are a good investment because most of what is purchased gets consumed.

Also, as countless articles such as the Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine posting entitled, New and Improved Frozen Dinners, suggest, frozen meals shorten the preparation and cooking time while stretching a family's food budget. As this article touts, frozen dinners are "fresher, tastier and healthier than ever before."

The American Frozen Food Institute shares your concerns about childhood obesity and nutrition. As you examine the science and solicit the input of various stakeholders, we believe you will come to recognize what a formidable asset the frozen food sector can be to the success of your initiative. We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely yours,

Kraig R. Naasz

President & CEO

American Frozen Food Institute

HHS, Surgeon General Announce Plans to Join First Lady's Initiative Curbing Childhood Obesity

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced plans to be part of First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices.

AFFI President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz has sent letters to Surgeon General Benjamin and Secretary Sebelius encouraging their efforts, communicating the nutritional benefits of frozen foods and welcoming the opportunity to work with them on the initiative to improve the health of our nation's children.

In conjunction with the anticipated launch of the First Lady's childhood obesity initiative, the office of the Surgeon General released The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. This is Dr. Benjamin's first release to the nation since being appointed Surgeon General.

A fact sheet issued by the Office of the Surgeon General summarizes the key actions outlined in The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation to include: Individual Healthy Choices and Healthy Home Environments Change starts with the individual choices Americans make each day for themselves, their families and those around them. To help achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, Americans of all ages should: reduce consumption of sodas and juices with added sugars; eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins; drink more water and choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products; limit television time to no more than 2 hours per day; and be more physically active.

Creating Healthy Child Care Settings--It is estimated that over 12 million children ages 0-6 years receive some form of child care on a regular basis from someone other than their parents. Child care programs should identify and implement approaches that reflect expert recommendations on physical activity, screen time limitations, good nutrition, and healthy sleep practices. Parents should talk with their child care providers about changes to promote their children's health.

Creating Healthy Schools--Each school day provides multiple opportunities for students to learn about health and practice healthy behaviors such as regular physical activity and good nutrition. To help students develop life-long healthy habits, schools should provide appealing healthy food options including flesh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, water and low-fat or non-fat beverages. School systems should also require daily physical education for students allowing 150 minutes per week for elementary schools and 225 minutes per week for secondary schools.

Creating Healthy Work Sites The majority of the 140 million men and women who are employed in the United States spend a significant amount of time each week at their work site. Because obesity reduces worker productivity and increases health care costs, employers are becoming more aware of the need to help promote health within the workplace. Employers can implement wellness programs that promote healthy eating in cafeterias, encourage physical activity through group classes and stairwell programs and create incentives for employees to participate.

Mobilizing the Medical Community--Doctors and other health care providers are often the most trusted source of health information and are powerful role models for healthy lifestyle habits. Medical care providers must make it a priority to teach their patients about the importance of good health. When discussing patients' Body Mass Index (BMI), providers should explain the connection between BMI and increased risk for disease and, when appropriate, refer patients to resources that will help them meet their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs.

Improving Our Communities -Americans need to live and work in environments that help them practice healthy behaviors. Neighborhoods and communities should become actively involved in creating healthier environments. Communities should consider the geographic availability of their supermarkets, improving residents' access to outdoor recreational facilities, limiting advertisements of less healthy foods and beverages, building and enhancing infrastructures to support more walking and bicycling, and improving the safety of neighborhoods to facilitate outdoor physical activity.

The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation is available at: library/obesityvision/obe sityvision2010.pdf

AFFI's letter to Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is available at: files/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000001230/02.01.10_ letter%20to%20benjamin%20 and%20sebelius_FINAL.pdf.

Proposed Legislation Altering FTC's Power Draws AFFI-Endorsed Letter from Alliance for American Advertising

The Alliance for American Advertising issued a letter to all members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation expressing concerns with the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173). AFFI, along with ten other associations, signed the letter, which was issued February 3. The House of Representatives passed the legislation in December 2009, which would reverse parts of important reforms and improvements of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted more than three decades ago. The Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over FTC, is currently considering similar legislation.

The Alliance's letter expressed concerns with sections of the proposed legislation that would eliminate legal and procedural requirements governing FTC, previously established by Congress. Removal of the safeguards ensuring that FTC rules are grounded on a solid evidentiary record would grant the agency an unprecedented range of powers to create new legal liabilities and large financial penalties for the media and for a multitude of businesses based on their advertising.

The letter points out that the amendments contained in the measure are similar to prior FTC reauthorization proposals that sought to expand the jurisdiction of the agency. Congress has never empowered FTC to seek civil penalties the first time it invokes its general authority against an advertiser, publisher or broadcaster. The proposed changes would give the agency this unprecedented authority.

FDA Announces New Deputy Commissioner for Foods

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced Michael R. Taylor as the new Deputy Commissioner for Foods and the head of the Office of Food Safety.

Prior to accepting this new position, Taylor had served as senior advisor to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. Previous positions in public service held by Taylor include FDA Deputy Commission for Policy and Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The position of Deputy Commissioner for Foods is new and reports directly to Commissioner Hamburg. The creation of this new position reflects the FDA's effort to elevate the status of food within FDA and address criticism that the agency has in recent years devoted more resources and attention to drugs and medical devices than food. As Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Taylor is expected to take the lead in setting FDA policy on food. According to an announcement issued by FDA, Taylor's priorities will be "to develop and implement a prevention based strategy for food safety, plan implementation of new food safety legislation and ensure that food labels contain clear and accurate information on nutrition."

FDA Introduces PREDICT to Assess Import Food Safety

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced the launching of a new risk-assessment system called PREDICT (Preventative Risk-Based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting). The Web-based screening system relies upon data provided by importers and entry fliers to rank the hazards of food and drugs as they enter the country. PREDICT is designed to assist FDA's import entry reviewers target high risk shipments for examination, while expediting the clearance of lower-risk cargo.
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Title Annotation:AFFI's Washington Watch
Author:Naasz, Kraig R.
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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