Looking at last night's election from 30,000 feet presents a different long-term vision of the nation than a view from the trenches; however, one thing is certain, both views have changed.
On the national level, GOP leaders, such as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), realize, in this striking defeat, that his party is now comprised of old, white, rich, angry men, dinosaurs. Without a massive restructuring, it may have lost the ability to elect any candidate to national office. The GOP also learned that Jim Crow voting repression efforts put Newton's law of motion into play and created an "equal and opposite reaction." I guess Rove and friends slept through that class.
A view from the trenches brings a somewhat more familiar vision. The food industry has a marvelous track record of identifying changing consumer needs, producing new products and marketing them with cutting edge technology to all consumers. It strikes me as somewhat ironic that food companies, which market to every kind of consumer, do not share any common political values with their customers.
In practical terms the question is - How fast will the folks, who work in mahogany offices, figure out the real issue is not what is on the front nutrition panel, since nobody but an RD understands it, but how quickly they can get the information on their products in Spanish, for a start? Remember, the California election ballot, for example, was printed in eight languages from American Indian to Vietnamese.
All this is good news for food industry trade associations, which can take dues dollars, form coalitions and slow down the pace of change, permitting member companies the freedom to create their own branded initiatives to address consumer health and safety issues.
Let's look at what the election may mean to just a few of the major issues facing the industry:
Many Agency watchers have concluded the "F" in FDA has been MIA for years. The budget cuts will make matters worse since all the major food health and safety issues are complex and controversial. Here is how I think they may break out:
Now that POTUS has been re-elected, there is no longer any reason for OMB to hold the very expensive food safety modernization regulations, an effort that will save lives and prevent serious illnesses.
Will Have To Do Something
Front panel nutritional labeling. The question here is whether the industry's peremptory strike has enough science behind it so FDA can tinker with it rather than overhaul it. A proactive social media campaign focused on health professionals would help.
Caffeine content transparency - Yes, I know these products are diet supplements and are subject to different rules but energy drink products owned by major beverage companies voluntarily disclose caffeine content. Why not spend some political capitol and encourage FDA to require caffeine and stimulant disclosure, establishing a level competitive playing field? The industry would win major kuddos from the public health community.
California's overwhelming rejection of Proposition 37's mandatory labeling of GMO foods should put this issue back in the freezer for the FDA. If you are an investor in the "super-sized salmon" you have my sympathies, but a huge amount of preparing the marketplace work needs to be done with health and nutrition experts before FDA needs to tackle this one. Just one footnote, except more action on this issue at the state level.