Question: In a federal court class action lawsuit, Kona coffee farmers have recovered more than $15 million in settlement payments from companies accused of marketing fraudulent Kona coffee. More effective than lawsuits, however, would be active enforcement of fair labeling laws by the FDA. What ideas do you have to accomplish that?
Joe Akana: US House Hawaii District 2
In order to combat deceptive labeling practices, we can update and amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requiring specificity of a products origin percentage. This would require that manufacturers clearly state on their packaging precisely where the product was grown and processed – and how much. When deceptive products are sold and purchased, they steal from our local farmers. Kona coffee is world-renowned for it’s distinctive flavor and aroma. It’s distinctive characteristics come only from the Kona districts of the Big Island. Many folks who aren’t in the business do not know that the typical Kona coffee farmer cultivates five acres of land or less and are family-run businesses. We must protect Hawaii’s small farmers.
Patrick P. Branco: US House Hawaii District 2
One of the most frustrating things regarding false labeling of Hawaiian coffee is the lack of enforceability of Hawaiʻi's labeling laws regarding Kona coffee blends outside of our state. In Congress, I will work to pass amendments within the next farm bill to require Hawaiʻi's coffee labeling laws to be mirrored federally. I will also work to make funds available within the FDA to allow for the speedy testing of coffee blends suspected of false labeling, and work to ensure that companies found to be guilty of false labeling are required to pay a hefty fine consistent with the extent of their falsely labeled product line and the size of the company. I will work to ensure that funds from these penalties are directed to support for Hawaiʻi’s coffee farmers.
Brendan Schultz: US House Hawaii District 2
The first policy that comes to mind is utilizing a similar approach that France does with champagne. In that, the French government is very protective of the types of wine that can be named champagne and provides ample resources to enacting bilateral trade deals with other nations and enforcement efforts to protect the name of the product.
Steven Sparks: US House Hawaii District 2
The FDA has budget has been gutted over the last two decades and need to be reestablished for optimum benefit of the people they service. A lot of the government has been gutted or neglected, the IRS, the Post Office, the FDA, and this needs to be corrected and there will need to be possible reorganization of some Departments of the Government.