Archive for July, 2013

Media Coverage of Report: And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

In January, I released a report called, And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: Are America’s Nutrition Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food? The report continues to receive media attention, in part due to a Change.org petition asking the Academy to clean up its act. Be sure to sign on. Also, please support Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a new group of dedicated registered dietitians working to change the Academy’s sponsorship policies.

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Industry Lawyers Tell Big Food How Not to Get Sued

Last week I attended a conference in Washington DC with the lofty title: “3rd Advanced Regulatory and Compliance Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing & Advertising.” The event’s main sponsor was the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, whose numerous mega-corporate food clients include Cargill, Dean Foods, and Nestlé. In addition, the firm represents (under the heading of “crop protection“) Big Biotech players such as Bayer, Dow, and DuPont. The presenters were almost all industry lawyers, with a few government types. Not one member of the plaintiffs bar or anyone from a public interest organization was a speaker, and it seemed most of the audience was also from industry.

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Ask a Food Lawyer: Why are some foods containing partially hydrogenated oils labeled “zero grams trans fat”?

Nutrition Facts for Land O Lakes “Fresh Buttery Taste” Spread

Serving Size: 1 tbsp (14g)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 70
Calories from Fat 70

Total Fat 8 g 12%

Saturated Fat 2 g 10%

Trans Fat 0 g

Ingredients: Liquid Soybean Oil, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Buttermilk*, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Contains Less Than 2% of Salt, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Cream*, Distilled Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color).

Short Answer: Because FDA says it’s OK to lie to you.

Labeling is one of the more complex areas of food law, full of statutes, regulations, exemptions, and exceptions. In 1990, Congress updated food labeling law with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to require specific types of nutrition labels on most food products. The handy Nutrition Facts panel you see on foods today displaying calorie, carbohydrate, fat, protein, and other nutrient amounts is the result of FDA implementing this law.

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Ask a Food Lawyer: What does “natural” mean on food labels?

Short answer: Next to nothing.

With the nation finally waking up to the sad reality that truly healthy food doesn’t come in a box, food manufacturers are desperate to keep shoppers fooled into thinking highly processed food products are good for them. How do companies get away with this? Because the federal government lets them.

But it’s not for a lack of trying.

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Why Center for Science in the Public Interest is Wrong Not to Support Genetically Engineered Food Labeling

By Michele Simon and Andrew Kimbrell

You may have noticed the impressive grassroots movement gathering steam lately over the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Recently, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to enact a law to require such labels, and 26 other states have introduced similar bills this year. Millions of Americans are demanding more transparency in the food supply and our elected officials are finally responding, after decades of work by groups like Center for Food Safety. But one advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), often seen as a leader in nutrition policy, stands virtually alone in its continued opposition to labeling GE foods. This stance is troubling and confusing given how outspoken CSPI has been for decades on food labeling and consumer information.

Read rest at Center for Food Safety.

Nutrition Standards Won’t Fix Big Food’s Worst Child Marketing Tactics

Last month, I participated in an important panel at a childhood obesity conference to discuss the current strategy backed by some advocacy groups: asking industry to market “healthier” foods to children. But as Susan Linn and I recently argued, any marketing to children is harmful, regardless of the product’s nutritional content. Instead of begging corporations to tweak the grams of sugar, fat and salt that these highly processed junk foods contain, we should demand that industry stop exploiting children altogether. Some advocates argue this approach is too radical. But it’s actually far more practical and ultimately more effective because of certain key tactics that industry uses to target children.

Read rest at Corporate Accountability International.

New Blog Series: Ask a Food Lawyer

Have you ever wondered:

  • What does “natural” mean on food labels?
  • Do corporations really have a free speech right to advertise to children?
  •  Why are some foods containing hydrogenated oils still labeled “zero grams trans-fat?”
  •  Why can’t we just sue the food industry for making people sick?

These are just some of the questions that I’ve received from curious readers. For this new blog series, I will answer these and other questions related to the exciting and still emerging, but critical area of food law.

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Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

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