MacKie praises House committee for amendment that temporarily would preserve GRAS status.

WASHINGTON – The House Appropriations Committee on July 8 voted to add an amendment to the fiscal 2016 agricultural spending bill that would preserve the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils (phos) through June 17, 2018.

The proposed change represents a major priority for the baking industry.

“We are one step closer to protecting bakers from unwarranted litigation that could negatively impact both large and small businesses,” said A.B.A. president and chief executive officer Robb MacKie.

The A.B.A. said rules calling for the phase-out of phos over a period of time created confusion since the proposed rule immediately revoked the fats’ GRAS status. The lack of harmonization leaves food manufacturers susceptible to litigation, the A.B.A. said. The proposed June 2018 date for GRAS revocation is the same date that pho use is banned.

Representative Andy Harris of New York proposed the amendment before the Appropriations Committee, the A.B.A. said.

“The Committee’s unified support for Rep. Harris’s amendment underscores their understanding and acknowledgement that F.D.A. needs to take positive steps to clarify that phos are safe in food until the 2018 compliance date,” Mr. MacKie said. “This action will quell the current litigation trend and assist small and large businesses as they continue forward with their transitions.”

Even prior to the ban, the food industry has dramatically reduced its use of phos, Mr. MacKie said. Overall, reformulations have reduced use of PHOs by 70% during this period, he said.