Industry-backed bill would overthrow state food-labeling laws

Two hundred or more state laws requiring warning labels on foods — labels indicating the presence of, say, cancer- or birth-defect-causing ingredients — would get nixed under a bill debated yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would preempt state food-labeling rules in favor of a national standard, even when the state laws are tougher. Critics of the legislation, including state food and agriculture regulators and a bipartisan coalition of 37 state attorneys general, say this is the food industry’s bid to overturn state rules and regulations they’ve opposed in the past. “The real effect of this legislation will be the deregulation of the United States food industry,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Food giants like Heinz, Sara Lee, and Kraft back the measure, and there appears to be enough support to get the bill through the House next week. It’s expected to face a tougher road in the Senate. Label us nervous.