Briefs

Fuel Surcharge Introduced in Congress Responding to fuel price increases that have affected the trucking industry, Rep Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced legislation recently to require fuel surcharges on deliveries by truckload carriers.

Rahall, ranking minority member on the House Ground Transportation Subcommittee, said the Motor Carrier Fuel Cost Equity Act of 2000 represents a fair and reasonable approach to addressing the rising price of diesel. "It does not solve the fuel crisis, but it would bring relief to an important sector of the transportation industry," Rahall said.

The bill would require that during periods of time when fuel prices rise quickly, a mandatory fuel surcharge be put into place for truckload shipments. All fuel surcharges would be passed through in their entirety to the party responsible for paying the cost of fuel. This bill is intended to provide relief to independent truckers, Rahall said.

Because the surcharge would be mandatory, no truckload carrier will be at a competitive disadvantage. Shipping contracts that already contain fuel surcharges would not be affected by the bill, he said.

The bill is cosponsored by Rep Roy Blunt (R-MO), chief deputy majority whip in the House of Representatives.

Todd Spencer, vice-president and spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), said the legislation is a positive step for owner-operators. He said OOIDA has been working with Rahall on the legislation the past few months.

Spencer said he expects opposition from shippers and LTL carriers. He said the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has not taken a position on the legislation because truckload carriers and owner-operators are the ones that will benefit most.

AFFI Urges FDA Provide Appropriate Period For Implementing Fatty Acid Labeling Plan In written comments submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) has urged the agency to provide an appropriate implementation period for the food companies that would be impacted by its proposed changes to trans fatty acid labeling requirements. The proposal would constitute the first major labeling changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel since its introduction in 1993.

The proposed rule would amend the nutrition labeling requirement for conventional foods and dietary supplements by combining the number of grams of trans fatty acids with the grams of saturated fat. FDA also would require manufacturers to include a footnote specifying amount of trans fatty acids in the product. Implementation would cost between $401 million and $854 million.

Leslie G Sarasin, AFFI president and chief executive officer, wrote, "AFFI is concerned that FDA's estimate of the costs associated with the proposed rule appears to underestimate the financial burden on the industry. Companies would have to analyze and relabel thousands of products-an expensive and time-consuming process." The institute recommended the agency provide a period of two years after publication of a final rule for companies to comply with the new requirements.

AFFI also emphasized the importance of coordination between FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) since many AFFI member companies produce products that fall under the regulation of both agencies. The institute believes a uniform rule by FSIS and FDA would enhance the food label's nutrition education function and ease the regulatory burden on companies.

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