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AFFI releases proposed allergen guidelines to FDA, USDA. (AFFI's Washington watch).

Reported by the American Frozen Food Institute in conjunction with Frozen Food Digest magazine

In an effort to increase further the safety of our nation's food supply for all consumers, the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), in conjunction with other industry and consumer groups, released its proposed Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines. The release of the Guidelines signifies the food industry's aggressive approach to protecting the estimated six to seven million Americans who suffer from food allergies.

Submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines are intended to help ensure allergic consumers receive information they need in clear, easy-to-understand language about the presence of ingredients that are considered "Major Food Allergens." The Guidelines identify the Major Food Allergens, which have been estimated to cause more than 90% of all food allergic reactions, as crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.

"Since there currently is no cure for food allergies, the best treatment is prevention. With these new Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines, the food industry is taking a giant step forward to help consumers avoid a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction by providing them with the information they need to make educated consumption choices. This action demonstrates the food industry's concern for promoting consumer well being, which is best achieved through self-regulation," said AFFI President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin.

The Guidelines were developed by the Food Allergy Issues Alliance, a group of food trade associations and other interested parties. In a letter proposing the Guidelines to FDA and USDA, the Alliance wrote, "The food industry already has taken numerous steps over the past several years to address the needs of food allergic consumers, including changes to manufacturing processes to reduce the potential for cross contact with Major Food Allergens ... The Food Allergy Issues Alliance recognizes, however, that consistency in labeling of food allergens could further address the needs of food allergic consumers, and has developed these Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines to address those needs."

In addition to identifying the Major Food Allergens, the Guidelines call for manufacturers to disclose in simple terms the inclusion of those ingredients within or in close proximity to the ingredient label. In addition, the Guidelines establish criteria for conditions when the use of supplemental allergen statements is appropriate. Such supplemental labeling proves necessary when cross contact with major allergenic proteins cannot be avoided despite strict adherence to good manufacturing practices.

FDA and USDA will review the food industry's submission and may include similar provisions in forthcoming regulations by the agencies.

Sarasin Meets With Cheney and Lundquist on Energy Policy

American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin participated in a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney at The White House, where the Vice President discussed the Bush Administration's initiatives to address shortages in the nation's energy supply.

National Energy Policy Development Group Director Andrew Lundquist, also in attendance, presented the results of an energy study that has been underway since President Bush took office in January. In addition to disclosing some of the factors contributing to the current energy crisis, the study reveals that demand continues to outpace supply, resulting in a pressing need for increased energy production.

Sarasin said after the meeting, "As an industry that relies heavily on electricity to produce its products, frozen food companies, particularly in California and the Northwest, are rightfully concerned about the state of our nation's energy resources."

Sarasin continued, "Interruptions to power supply sometimes force companies to halt production for an entire day, resulting in severe financial losses and food waste. The `brownouts' that have become commonplace in California, an area concentrated with frozen fruit and vegetable manufacturing facilities, have placed a tremendous strain on an already hard-pressed sector of the industry. Clearly, short and long-term solutions to this problem are essential."

President Bush's energy plan focuses primarily on efforts to increase production of oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy. However, the policy also includes funding for the development of alternative energy sources, as well as tax credits for more fuel-efficient cars.

In addressing the details of the energy policy proposed by the Bush Administration, Sarasin said AFFI will evaluate the plan closely as the organization develops a policy position on it. The Institute recently created an Energy Task Force, composed of AFFI member company representatives, to address this important issue.

Sarasin, AFFI Members Address IARW Annual Convention

Speaking at the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW) Annual Convention and Trade Show, American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin told warehouse industry executives that they can expect to see rapid growth of the frozen food category as the need for convenience increases and as the quality, variety and taste of frozen food products continue to improve.

Demonstrating the strong alliance between AFFI and IARW, Sarasin was invited by IARW President and Chief Executive Officer J. William Hudson to develop and moderate a consumer panel, entitled "How Are Customers Viewing Their Growth And Our Industry?" The panel, which included Ricardo Alvarez, president and chief executive officer of Ruiz Food Products, and Howard Bafford, senior vice president and general manager, potato business for the J.R. Simplot Company, provided a synopsis of the present and future state of the frozen food industry and addressed the corresponding need for cost-effective logistical solutions.

In her opening remarks, Sarasin stated, "If the past few years are any indication of the rate of the growth that the category can expect in the near future, the demand for increased cold storage space will continue to rise at exponential rates.

In 2001, frozen food sales outpaced overall supermarket sales by nearly 50%, increasing by $936 million over the previous year. And these figures don't even include foodservice sales, which represent potentially the largest growth area."

Alvarez underscored Sarasin's comments in his presentation and addressed specifically the frozen Mexican segment of which Ruiz Food Products is a part. Alvarez stated, "Many factors work to boost the popularity of Mexican food, not the least is the tremendous increase of the U.S. Latino population.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Latinos will make up 22% of the U.S. population by 2050, which is up from about 12% today.

This growth of the Latino population gives rise to an increased awareness of Latino cuisine and culture among the general population."

Presenting on behalf of the frozen vegetable category, Bafford discussed issues of mutual concern to the processing and refrigerated warehousing industries, particularly as they relate to the prevalence of consolidation in both segments and the internal business decisions which must be made by companies involved in national distribution.

For more information, please contact Michelle Trowbridge, AFFI's vice president of communications, at 703-821-0770.

Mitchell Promoted to Meetings and Conventions Specialist

AFFI recently announced that Jenny Mitchell has been promoted to the position of meetings and conventions specialist. Mitchell, who previously served as an assistant in AFFI's communications department, will now report to Tina A. Burke, AFFI's senior director of industry affairs and meetings. In addition to assisting Burke with preparations for meetings and conventions, Mitchell will be responsible for housing assignments for AFFI's Western Frozen Food Convention, the Distribution and Logistics Conference, the Government Action Summit, and the National Frozen Food Convention.

In making the announcement, Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer said, "During her time with AFFI, Jenny has proven herself to be an indispensable member of the AFFI staff. In her new role as meetings and conventions specialist, she will continue AFFI's strong commitment to member services. "Mitchell is a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts.

Prior to joining AFFI, Mitchell worked at the Cabe Theatre in Conway, Arkansas, where she served as Costume Crew Head. In this role, Mitchell was responsible for execution of costume designs, procurement of costume materials, and leadership of the stage crew.

2001 National Frozen Food Convention to "Spur the Growth of the Industry"

AFFI, along with its co-sponsor the National Frozen Food Association, recently announced that the 2001 National Frozen Food Convention will be held October 6-10, 2001, at the San Antonio Marriot Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas. With a theme of Spurring the Growth of the Industry, the Convention is structured to facilitate productive business meetings among frozen food manufacturers, customers and suppliers.

As always, business appointments are the centerpiece of the National Frozen Food Convention. Time for meetings has been reserved on Sunday, October 7, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Monday, October 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; Tuesday, October 9, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, October 10 throughout the day.

Among the key features of the Convention are educational workshops which are relevant to frozen food companies' sales and marketing strategies, high profile speakers and networking opportunities designed to enable delegates to develop industry contacts.

Industry representatives will receive Convention materials within the next few weeks. Registrations received by July 2, 2001, will be included in the first preregistration list, which is used by frozen food executives to pre-arrange business appointments.

The popular Taste of Excellence Reception will afford delegates the chance to meet with industry colleagues while sampling great-tasting, high quality frozen food products. The Frozen Food Hall of Fame Cocktail Reception will foster the frozen food industry's tradition of celebrating industry leaders.

To register, or for more information, contact AFFI at 703-821-0770.
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Title Annotation:American Frozen Food Institute
Comment:AFFI releases proposed allergen guidelines to FDA, USDA. (AFFI's Washington watch).(American Frozen Food Institute )
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Previous Article:The future is now--living in the information age.
Next Article:Mrs. Smith's bakeries changing the way foodservice does business.

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