To Aid Alaska Fishermen
June 25, 2004
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday announced that she succeeded in adding a provision to the child nutrition program administrated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that should make it easier for the Department to buy more wild Alaska salmon for the government food programs that provide meals to 37 million children and 2 million lower-income pregnant women yearly.
Murkowski worked with Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., to insert language into the reauthorization of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition program to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct periodic scientific reviews of the supplemental foods available and then to alter purchases to "reflect the most recent scientific knowledge" and to "reflect nutrition science, public health concerns and cultural eating patterns." The change should encourage a decision to include salmon, which recently won FDA agreement to allow labeling salmon with a "nutrient content claim" noting that it contains a large amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
"The FDA has suggested that there are health benefits to regularly consuming up to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. A piece of salmon that is a little over 3 ounces in weight includes about one gram of such fatty acids. Therefore, it would be very easy to comply with this suggestion. I understand that later this year, the Food and Drug Administration is likely to make an official determination that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease," said Senator Murkowski in a colloquy with Senator Cochran.
"Government nutrition programs touch the lives of one out of every five people in this country. I am hopeful that the FDA will soon go beyond the "nutrient content claim" to allow labeling with a "health claim" that makes the link between salmon and good health even more clear. When it does, we need to encourage the Secretary of Agriculture to consider that new information in deciding what products go into the WIC program. This is a great way to get people interested in eating more nutritious foods like salmon and thus to also help Alaska's economy, while helping public health," she said.
The government this year is spending $16.4 billion on its nutrition programs that includes its school meals program, its Child and Adult care food program, its meal benefits for military families, and its summer food service program plus WIC.
The Senate late Wednesday approved the five-year extension of the nutrition programs (S. 2507). The bill now heads to the House for its review.
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