Posts Tagged ‘FDA’

Where Does the GE Food Labeling Movement Go from Here?

Big Food Recycles its Lies and Dirty Tricks in California to Fool Washington State Voters into Rejecting Labeling Initiative

The final result from Washington State’s ballot initiative to label genetically-engineered foods was painfully close. A mere two percentage points (38,000 voters) made the difference between yes and no. Similarly, last year in California, the Yes side lost by a narrow margin. Also in both states, early polling showed a strong lead, which was then chipped away at by a barrage of ads from the No campaign. Lying underneath this same pattern is an ugly industry play book that explains how voters can change their mind so easily.

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Behind Closed Doors: Who’s Taking Meetings with FDA on Food Safety

FDA logo

When President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011, it was considered a long-fought, but significant and bipartisan victory to update the Food and Drug Administration’s authority and oversight of the food supply. While much of the wrangling over the language of the law was made public, through media coverage of Congressional hearings for example, the ensuing industry influence over implementation of the law has been subject to far less public scrutiny (with the exception of FDA’s unlawful delay of FSMA’s critical implementing regulations, which Center for Food Safety has successfully sued over.

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Is the End of “Natural” Labeling Near?

This article of mine originally appeared in print in Functional Ingredients magazine and is available online for registered users at New Hope here. See other posts on this subject here and here.

Last year in this space I asked if it was time for the Food and Drug Administration to define how food makers can and cannot make “natural” claims on their labels. With Americans looking for healthier options, more food companies are jumping on the natural bandwagon, despite many overly processed products being anything but.

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Industry’s Secret Plan to Get the Feds to Kill GMO Labeling in Every State

Internal documents from the Grocery Manufacturers Association reveal height of corporate chutzpah. Industry’s solution to GMO labeling is to: “Pursue statutory federal preemption which does not include a labeling requirement.”

With the disappointing results now in from I-522, the initiative in Washington State that would have required labeling of genetically-engineered food (aka GMOs), the looming question is, what’s next? At least for the junk food lobby, that answer in painfully clear: stop this state-level movement at any cost. In today’s New York Times, Stephanie Strom reports on the dirty details contained in industry documents that I obtained from the Washington State attorney general’s office in the wake of a lawsuit brought against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for illegally concealing donors to the No on 522 campaign.

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All Eyes on Washington State for GE Food Labeling

Yes on 522

While the food movement has been gaining steam in recent years, tangible policy wins have been sparse due to by powerful industry lobbying. One significant victory that appears within reach is the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The narrow loss last fall of Proposition 37 in California has inspired 26 other states to propose similar measures, including Washington, the only state with a ballot measure in November’s election.

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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.

How Did a Hepatitis Virus Get into Organic Berries?

It seems hardly a week goes by without another foodborne illness outbreak. This time, in frozen organic berries, proving once again that even the health-conscious are not immune from getting sick. Although you wouldn’t know it from the packaging, the contaminated fruit came from overseas, raising several questions such as: Can we trust the USDA organic seal on imported food? I address this and other issues about our globalized food system in my latest article for Center for Food Safety, which you can read on their site here.

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Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

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