Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural Products Industry News Beat

OTA executive director resigns

The executive director of the Organic Trade Association, Caren Wilcox, has tendered her resignation after two years with the Greenfield, Mass.-based organization. She plans to leave at the end of OTA's fiscal year on June 30. The board accepted Wilcox's resignation with regret and appreciation for her hard work, according to a news release.

During her tenure, Wilcox worked to increase domestic production of organic agriculture and lobbied to promote organic farming in the 2007 Farm Bill, including support for a robust organic marketplace and insurance for organic crops. To build support for the industry's regulator, the National Organic Program, she worked closely with the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the National Organic Coalition.

Wilcox helped form a coalition of OTA members to testify in the first hearing concerning organic agriculture held before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. She also oversaw the creation of OTA's, a resource for farmers interested in transitioning to organic production.

Wilcox replaced Katherine DiMatteo, who was OTA's executive director for 10 years. Prior to joining OTA, Wilcox worked as director of governmental relations for Hershey Foods and in both the legislative and executive branches of government, most recently as undersecretary for food safety at the U. S. Department of Agriculture. —A.S.

Industry decries new AER-labeling guidance

Supplements-industry leaders are asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to withdraw a labeling guidance draft that it published in January to assist companies in complying with the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act, which went into effect in December 2007. The draft is in addition to previously published guidelines, and, according to the American Herbal Products Association's submitted comments, the new recommendations conflict with the rules and precedent set by the original act.

The new guidelines recommend that manufacturers include an introductory statement on labels in addition to the already required manufacturer address and phone number, stating that the purpose of the contact information is for reporting serious adverse events associated with the product. Enforcement would begin Jan. 1, 2009.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, which supported the original act, submitted comments stating that the additional draft guidelines are not stipulated in the original act, are completely unnecessary and misleading to consumers. CRN also objected to "the FDA's attempt to impose these ?recommendations' through guidance rather than through notice-and-comment rulemaking as should be the case for label changes." CRN estimated that the industry-wide cost of making the recommended label changes could be between $63 million and $110 million for 2008. —H.O.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 4/p. 9,11

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