Posts Tagged ‘nutrition labeling’

The Other NRA: National Restaurant Association eviscerates the rights of customers, workers, and children

213By Michele Simon and Saru Jayaraman

Food movement leaders tend to stick to their specific issues, whether it’s advocating for healthy food, fighting for workers’ rights or curbing marketing to children. For each of these issues, there are numerous food corporations that need to change. But there is one organization that conveniently provides us with one giant target for all of them: the National Restaurant Association.

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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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Top 10 Lies Told by McDonald’s CEO at Annual Shareholder’s Meeting

http://coreyolo.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/mcdonalds.jpg
Last week at McDonald’s annual shareholder’s meeting, CEO Don Thompson got caught off-guard when a team of 15 advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, descended upon corporate headquarters to question the fast food leader’s relentless exploitation of children and communities of color.

Read rest at Corporate Accountability International ….

Panelist at Natural Products Expo West on March 7

I am pleased to take part in this panel on March 7 and the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim.

GMO Labeling: Where Are We Now?

Washington State, the National FDA Just Label It Effort, and Lessons Learned from Prop 37

Thursday, March 7, 2013, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m, Anaheim Marriott Hotel, Platinum Ballroom 1

After submitting 350,000 signatures, GMO labeling advocates are rallying to support I-522, the People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, in Washington State. I-522, one of a handful of state initiatives calling for GMO labeling, is considered one of the best chances for GMO labeling in 2013.

Learn how you can support this effort, along with lessons learned from California’s Prop 37 and what’s happening on a national level to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, from a panel of speakers and industry leaders deeply involved in these efforts.

Speakers

  • Trudy Bialic, Director of Public Affairs, PCC Natural Markets, I-522 Steering Committee
  • Gary Hirshberg, Chair, Stonyfield Farm and Co-founder, Just Label It
  • Jessica Lundberg, Board of Directors, Lundberg Family Farms
  • David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s
  • Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group
  • Michele Simon, JD, MPH, Author, Appetite for Profit, President, Eat Drink Politics

Moderator

  • Steven Hoffman, Managing Director, Compass Natural, and Staff Member, I-522

For information and to contribute, contact Steve Hoffman, on behalf of The People’s Right to Know campaign. steve@compassnatural.com, tel 303.807.1042. As a grassroots political organization, Label It WA depends on you. Visit www.labelitwa.org.

Will a Federal Compromise on GMO Labeling Trump State Law, Forever?

Recent reports of secret meetings among industry reps and the Food and Drug Adminstration over GMO labeling piqued my interest, mostly because this critical aspect was missing: any effort to label GE foods at the federal level could bring the current grassroots movement to a grinding halt by preventing any stronger local laws from ever being enacted. But I am getting ahead of myself.

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McDonald’s “Educating” Nutrition Professionals

McDonald's booth at Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics expo promoting smoothies

In the report I recently released, (covered by the New York Times) “And Now a Word from Our Sponsors,” I described the various ways the food industry influences the largest trade group of nutrition professionals: the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While other corporations such as Coca-Cola play a more prominent role by being an “Academy Partner,” McDonald’s engaged in its trademark health-washing at the Academy’s annual meeting last fall.

Read rest at Corporate Accountability International…

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: New Report from Eat Drink Politics

January 23, 2013 – For Immediate Release

Public health attorney and author Michele Simon asks: Are America’s nutrition professionals in the pocket of Big Food? While the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 74,000-member trade group partners with the likes of Coke and Hershey’s, the nation’s health continues to suffer from poor diet.

The largest trade group of nutrition professionals—the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—has a serious credibility problem. In a damning report released today, industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics examines the various forms of corporate sponsorship by Big Food that are undermining the integrity of those professionals most responsible for educating Americans about healthy eating.

The report details, for example, how registered dietitians can earn continuing education units from Coca-Cola, in which they learn that sugar is not a problem for children and how Nestlé, the world’s largest food company can pay $50,000 to host a two-hour “nutrition symposium” at the Academy’s annual meeting. Additional disturbing findings from the report include:

  • Beginning in 2001, the Academy listed 10 food industry sponsors; the 2011 annual report lists 38, a more than three-fold increase;
  • Companies on the Academy’s list of approved continuing education providers include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, and PepsiCo;
  • At the 2012 annual meeting, 18 organizations – less than five percent of all exhibitors – captured 25 percent of the total exhibitor space. Only two out of the 18 represented whole, non-processed foods;
  • The Corn Refiners Association (lobbyists for high fructose corn syrup) sponsored three “expo impact” sessions at the 2012 annual meeting;
  • A majority of registered dietitians surveyed found three current Academy sponsors “unacceptable” (Coca-Cola, Mars, and PepsiCo);
  • 80 percent of registered dietitians said sponsorship implies Academy endorsement of that company and their products;
  • The Academy has not supported controversial nutrition policies that might upset corporate sponsors, such as limits on soft drink sizes, soda taxes, or GMO labels;
  • Sponsors and their activities appear to violate the Academy’s own sponsorship guidelines.

Among the report’s recommendations are for the Academy to: 1) provide greater transparency on corporate funding sources; 2) gather input from all members on corporate sponsorship; 3) reject all corporate-sponsored education; and 4) provide better leadership on controversial nutrition policy issues. Registered dietitian and Academy member Andy Bellatti, who has long criticized his professional group’s conflicted corporate sponsorships said:

Michele Simon’s report on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is thoroughly researched and expertly points out the different ways in which the nation’s leading nutrition organization harms its reputation, efficacy, and members by forming partnerships with food companies that care more about selling products than they do about improving the health of Americans. Anyone concerned about public health will realize that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is in dire need of systemic change if it hopes to take a leadership role and be taken seriously as the home base of the nation’s nutrition experts.

Report links:

Contact: Michele Simon at (510) 465-0322 or Michele@EatDrinkPolitics.com

Congress to Kids: Drop Dead

Last month, when Congress declared pizza a vegetable, it was hard to believe things could get much worse. But never underestimate politicians’ ability to put corporate interests ahead of children’s health. In the massive budget bill just passed, Congress stuck in language to require the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a cost/benefit analysis before finalizing a report that would provide the food industry with science-based nutrition guidelines for marketing to children. Experts from four federal agencies put heads together, and for the past two years have tried to complete its charge (which ironically, came from Congress in the first place) amidst powerful industry push-back.

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Soda giants team up for school vending PR campaign


This revealing March 9th Ad Age article describes how soft drink giants Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group have teamed up to run ads showing off about how they are removing sugary soft drinks from schools. The companies claim an 88% decrease in calories since 2004, but some experts are skeptical about the health impact.

And the timing of the ad campaign seems awfully suspicious, as Ad Age notes:

While the school initiative was in place well before the industry was put on the defensive against the proposed taxes, the promotion of the program is certainly well-timed. New York Gov. David Paterson has called for a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, while Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter last week proposed a two-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages.

The soft drink industry certainly knows how to deflect attention and confuse the issues. Calling their latest “initiative” (is anyone else sick and tired of hearing that word?), “Clear on Calories,” Big Soda seems to think that placing calorie numbers on the front of beverage containers and vending machines equals good nutrition and “has painted the voluntary commitment as an answer to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to eradicate childhood obesity.” Funny, I don’t remember seeing anything about soda calorie labels in the First Lady’s program.

The ever-ready with a quote PR guy Kevin Keane, of the American Beverage Association (i.e., lobbying trade group) explains: “These are the fiercest rivals you’re going to get. But our companies felt [the campaign] was the strongest way to convey what they’d done and that they’d done it together.” How warm and fuzzy. Of course, these same companies have been lobbying together for years to undermine school nutrition policy, so this teamwork is really nothing new.

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Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

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