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Regulatory Developments

The NCA is an active — and passionate — advocate for the U.S. coffee industry. We constantly monitor relevant issues, engage key government agencies, and communicate important developments to our members.

This work is critical to ensure that all regulations reflect the practical realities of doing business, and to prepare NCA members for what’s ahead. Some current examples include:

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is overhauling food safety rules that have been in place since the 1930s. These changes present big challenges for the coffee supply chain, from farm to retail: Does my safety plan measure up? How do I handle the new inspections? What records should I be keeping? To make sure the answers are clear and business-friendly, the NCA has filed comments with the FDA. We’ve also provided educational opportunities to get our members up to speed.(NCA members can watch the replay of our webinar, “FSMA Inspections: What Will Change and Why You Need to Prepare.”) 

U.S. Dietary Guidelines

In 2015, government-appointed scientists made an unprecedented recommendation to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans report. They suggested that adults enjoy 3 – 5 cups of coffee a day as part of a healthy lifestyle. The NCA is trying to keep it that way, submitting supporting comments and fighting legislative maneuvering by other industries that threaten to strip out the new Guideline recommendations. 

Safe Food for Canadians Act

U.S.-based importers typically ship coffee from origin to Canada directly. The Safe Food For Canadians Act threatens that routine by requiring a business address in Canada to bring food into the country. In comments to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) — roughly equivalent to the FDA in the U.S. — the NCA recommends carving out an explicit exception for coffee.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Caffeine Opinion

The European parallel to the FDA has issued a confusingly low recommendation on daily caffeine consumption, despite recent research on coffee’s health benefits. The NCA put the industry’s position on the international table by filing comments pointing out why EFSA’s recommendations are problematic.

Nutritional Fact Panel

Two proposed regulatory changes could mean cumbersome — and costly — labelling obligations for coffee.  Coffee is currently exempt from including a Nutritional Facts Panel on packaging, for good reasons: The beverage is does not contain a significant quantity of nutrients or nutrient classifications that must be disclosed, such as fat or carbohydrates. However, this could change because of two pending proposals: one to increase the standard serving size, and another that mandates potassium disclosure. The NCA has gone on record to seek an explicit exemption for coffee, filing separate comments on each proposal.


Read the NCA comment letters for a detailed look at the NCA’s advocacy on regulatory issues on behalf of the coffee industry.


Image credit: Christopher Hollis via Wikimedia Commons

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