January 31, 2010
Timothy D. Lytton: Guest Blog Series on Front-of-Package labeling on Fooducate
Timothy D. Lytton (Albany Law School) has published a series of three articles on Fooducate Blog.
In my previous posts I have proposed that the FDA regulate front-of-package nutrition labels by better enforcement of existing regulations and by setting minimum standards for labels that rate the overall nutritional value of foods. By contrast, the Center for Science and the Public Interest as well as the Fooducate Blog have advocated that the FDA develop and impose on the food industry “a simple, uniform science-based system [that] would bring consistent and reliable information to the marketplace and help consumers choose more healthful diets.”
However, the high level of complexity involved in designing nutritional rating systems gives rise to two reasons to prefer a regulatory approach that merely sets minimum-standards. . . .
Here are links to Professor Lytton's earlier two posts on Fooducate Blog:
Post by Donna M. Byrne, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law
October 18, 2009
Farm protests over milk prices ahead of EU meeting
From the Associated Press. There are great photos on the linked website! How often do you see a man in a suit and an actual cow in the same photo? On a city street? (Thank you to Neal Axton and Mary Ann Archer for forwarding this along.)
BRUSSELS — Hundreds of dairy farmers drove tractors into Belgium's capital Monday to pressure EU farm ministers on declining milk prices, as 20 of 27 member nations called for more protection from the volatile world market.
About 1,000 farmers from Germany, France and other EU nations protested outside the emergency meeting, throwing bottles and eggs at police, and burning tires and hay. Police closed off the EU Council building and set up a major security perimeter, snarling traffic in parts of Brussels for much of the day.
September 17, 2009
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Milk Competition Saturday, Sept. 19
From the Wall Street Journal: Farmers Want Industry Probe
Dairy farmers, stung by a price-depressing glut of milk, are pressing federal antitrust regulators to investigate competition in the industry.
A group of dairy farmers is slated to meet with antitrust enforcers Thursday in Washington, and Christine Varney, chief of the Justice Department's antitrust division, is scheduled to appear Saturday at a Vermont hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is populated with several Democrats from big dairy states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York. . . .
Here's the announcement for the hearing, with the list of speakers:
NOTICE OF COMMITTEE FIELD HEARING
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a field hearing on "Crisis on the Farm: The State of Competition and Prospects for Sustainability in the Northeast Dairy Industry" for Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Albans City Hall, 100 Main Street, St. Albans, Vermont.
September 09, 2009
Criticism and Concern over "Smart Choices" Green Checkmarks
From the New York Times:
. . . The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.
“These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health. . .
August 26, 2009
Powerade v. Gatorade case and the Lanham Act
The recent decision in Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co. (i.e., Gatorade vs. Powerade) illustrates the hurdles a company has to overcome to convince a court to stop a competitor from using arguably false advertising. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. (“SVM”) was challenging advertising that compared Powerade ION4 to Gatorade Thirst Quencher.
August 14, 2009
Dip in Bottled Water Sales
From the Washington Post:
The recession has finally answered the question that centuries of philosophers could not: The glass is half-empty.
That's because sales of bottled water have fallen for the first time in at least five years, . . .
July 23, 2009
European beauty standards for veggies? The knobbly carrot and others
There's a great post on Food Liability Law Blog (by Stoel Rives law firm) about a British grocery store chain that launched a campaign to save ugly fruits and vegetables. The EU has marketing standards from some kinds of produce . . .
. . .While selling such vegetables for Halloween decoration might have been a good idea, Sainburys had a different agenda, a "Save Our Ugly Fruit and Veg" campaign to highlight some of the European Commission's most mocked regulations, those requiring that all fruits and vegetables in 36 categories meet marketing standards in order to be sold anywhere in the European Union. . .
January 21, 2009
Coke Sued over Vitamin Water -- Sugar!!
Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued Coca Cola over its promotion of Vitamin Water as "healthful". In fact, the drink has 33 grams of sugar per bottle, about the same as a can of pop. From the CSPI News Release:
"Coke fears, probably correctly, that they’ll sell less soda as Americans become increasingly concerned with obesity, diabetes, and other conditions linked to diets too high in sugar," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. "VitaminWater is Coke's attempt to dress up soda in a physician's white coat. Underneath, it’s still sugar water, albeit sugar water that costs about ten bucks a gallon." VitaminWater typically retails for about $1.49 for a 20-ounce bottle.
For more information:
FDA – CFSAN – Structure/Function Claims
Text of the Federal Regulation
The regulation deals with labeling in regard to the health benefits of nutrients within food. This seems to ignore the health benefits of the food product as a whole. While it may be true that a specific nutrient in a food is beneficial, those benefits may be overshadowed by harmful effects brought about by the food product as a whole.
Read the CSPI complaint against Coke alleging unlawful business practices, fraudulent business practices, misleading and deceptive advertising, untrue advertising, fraud, misrepresentation, which was filed on 1/14/09.
July 30, 2008
FTC Report Sheds New Light on Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents
"The Federal Trade Commission today announced the results of a study on food marketing to children and adolescents. The report, Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation [see also Appendices A-F], finds that 44 major food and beverage marketers spent $1.6 billion to promote their products to children under 12 and adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the United States in 2006. The report finds that the landscape of food advertising to youth is dominated by integrated advertising campaigns that combine traditional media, such as television, with previously unmeasured forms of marketing, such as packaging, in-store advertising, sweepstakes, and Internet. These campaigns often involve cross-promotion with a new movie or popular television program. Analyzing this data, the report calls for all food companies âto adopt and adhere to meaningful, nutrition-based standards for marketing their products to children under 12.â
Thank you to Mary Ann E. Archer, J.D., (Associate Director for Public Services, Warren E. Burger Library, William Mitchell College of Law) for preparing this post.
December 03, 2007
More food rating systems. And more. And more.
From the New York Times:
Is It Healthy? Food Rating Systems Battle It Out, by Andrew Martin
. . . Within months, shoppers across the country may find numerical ratings, star ratings or letter grades plastered on the shelf next to virtually every product in a store. . . .
But consumer advocates worry that the sudden flurry of rating systems could add to shopper confusion, not ameliorate it, at least until one of the systems wins out and becomes a national standard. Moreover, determining what foods are healthier is as much art as science, requiring judgment about how much value to attach to various scientific findings about diet and health.
November 29, 2007
Hannaford's Chain concludes nutrition sells
November 05, 2007
House Ag committee hearing on meat technology materials online
Last Tuesday the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on meat technologies. Speakers were Transcripts and/or visual materials are available on the committee website. One of the speakers was FSIS head, Alfred V. Amanza . An excerpt from Mr. Amanza's comments follows. The panel roster is below.
"One form of technology used by the meat industry that has received a great deal of attention in recent months is carbon monoxide in packaging. Carbon monoxide is used to stabilize the color pigment of meat, when it is red and, therefore, most appealing to consumers. Use of carbon monoxide in packaging does not impart a color to the meat; it simply maintains its naturally occurring color.
In 2002, carbon monoxide, for use as a component of modified atmosphere packaging, was accepted by FDA as being “Generally Recognized as Safe,” or GRAS. Carbon monoxide does not become a part of the product and dissipates as soon as the package is opened. This is unlike other ingredients used to stabilize the red color of meat, such as citric acid, sodium ascorbate, and rosemary extract, all of which actually do become a part of the product. However, to be sure consumers are not misled, FSIS has established a use-by/sell-by date to be included on meat products that use carbon monoxide packaging. This is to ensure that the shelf life of the product ends before spoilage occurs.
As members of the committee are no doubt aware, FDA has received a petition asking it to withdraw its decision that carbon monoxide in meat packaging is Generally Recognized as Safe. FSIS will continue to make its labeling decisions and its suitability reviews on the basis of FDA’s safety conclusions."
- Dr. Phil Minerich, Vice President, Research and Development, Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin, Minnesota
- Mr. Scott Eilert, Vice President, Research and Development, Cargill Meat Solutions, Wichita, Kansas
- Mr. Rick Roop, Senior Vice President, Science and Regulatory Affairs, Tyson Foods, Inc., Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Joseph Sebranek, Professor, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
- Mr. Alfred V. Almanza, Administrator, Food Safety Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
October 31, 2007
Shrek III green Snickers video at Limited Editions Foods blog
Margie Alsbrook just commented on a couple of recent posts and brought her Limited Edition Foods blog to my attention. The blog includes, among others, a video about Shrek III editions of Cheetos and Snickers, among others. Hmmm. Green snickers and Swamp Pops. Ugh.
October 23, 2007
Grass fed beef labeling standards
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is establishing a voluntary standard for a grass (forage)fed livestock marketing claim. This standard incorporates revisions made as a result of comments received from an earlier proposed standard. A number of livestock producers make claims associated with production practices in order to distinguish their products in the marketplace. With the establishment of this voluntary standard, livestock producers may request that a grass (forage) fed claim be verified by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Verification of this claim will be accomplished through an audit of the production process in accordance with procedures that are contained in Part 62 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR part 62), and the meat sold from these approved programs can carry a claim verified by USDA.
One of the issues was the percentage of an animal's diet that had to come from grass (forage). The original proposed rule was 80 percent but after an initial comment period, the proposal was changed to 99 percent. The final rule announced in the notice removes the percentage altogether:
Therefore, AMS will not adopt any of the other suggested percentage levels and will remove any reference to a percentage in the standard. Accordingly, the grass (forage) fed marketing claim will only apply to ruminant animals whose diet throughout their lifespan is derived solely from grass (forage), with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning.
October 20, 2007
More videos at U.S. Food Policy Blog
Leave it to Parke Wilde to find all the fun stuff. Check out his recent post, YouTube coverage of food policy and marketing.
August 31, 2007
Kids prefer McDonald's
Kids prefer food that comes in a McDonald's wrapper, according to a recent study, even if it's the same as the food in a plain wrapper.
"Told they were playing a food-tasting game, the kids sat at a table with a screen across the middle. A researcher reached around either side of the screen to put out two identical food samples: slices of a hamburger, french fries, chicken nuggets, milk, or baby carrots.
The only difference between the pairs of food samples was that one came in a plain wrapper, cup, or bag, and the other came in a clean, unused McDonald's wrapper, cup, or bag. The kids were asked whether they liked one of the foods best, or whether they tasted the same.
In all cases, the majority of the kids said the "best" foods were those linked to the McDonald's brand, even though the only differences between the bags were the McDonald's logos (no special advertising materials were used). " -- CBS News/ WebMD
The preference for brand-name foods even applied to carrots. Read the CBS News article.
March 26, 2007
Soda Drinkers Consume More Calories
Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,
Lenny R. Vartanian, PhD, Marlene B. Schwartz, PhDand Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, American Journal of Public Health, April 2007. Abstract: In a meta-analysis of 88 studies, we examined the association between soft drink consumption and nutrition and health outcomes. We found clear associations of soft drink intake with increased energy intake and body weight. Soft drink intake also was associated with lower intakes of milk, calcium, and other nutrients and with an increased risk of several medical problems (e.g., diabetes). Study design significantly influenced results: larger effect sizes were observed in studies with stronger methods (longitudinal and experimental vs cross-sectional studies). Several other factors also moderated effect sizes (e.g., gender, age, beverage type). Finally, studies funded by the food industry reported significantly smaller effects than did non–industry-funded studies. Recommendations to reduce population soft drink consumption are strongly supported by the available science.
January 14, 2007
Wal-Mart Still Mislabeling
The Cornucopia Institute has filed another complaint against Walmart, this time with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Communication. According to the Reid Magney of the Winona Daily News (Winona, MN), WalMart claims the mislabeling is inadvertent.
While the labeling error regarding Stonyfield yogurt (photo) may be an easy mistake to make -- some Stonyfield yogurt products are organic, but others are not -- the error has already been brought to the attention of the company. (Blogged here). Last fall, Cornucopia also filed a complaint with the USDA after the company failed to respond to complaints. The Winona Daily News article cites numerous other mislabelings, as well.
The continued mislabeling would be troubling in any case, but even more so because WalMart is doing it. Surely in an ideal world, all food production would follow strict organic standards, and surely in an ideal world, organic food would be readily available and affordable. So WalMart's decision to sell organic products (or grab organic market share, depending on one's perspective) should be a welcome turn of events. But Walmart is so huge that it really could dilute organic standards. It's not just about outcompeting small producers -- the organic ideal itself seems to be at stake. From a law school perspective, this is a great issue -- Sho is harmed? Who has standing to complain? How do standards become law? What is the appropriate role of government in establishing and enforcing standards for production, labeling, and marketing?
December 17, 2006
New milk processing method may extend shelf life
Milk is one of the grocery store products most likely to have been produced locally because milk requires constant refrigeration to stay fresh, and even then the shelf life is limited. But this could change. With a new processing technology, milk could have a longer shelf life.
Researchers in Oregon State University's Department of Food Science and Technology are using an emerging high-pressure technology to process milk at lower temperatures while still maintaining the safety of heat-pasteurized milk. The result is safe milk that tastes fresher and has a longer shelf life than conventionally processed milk.
Researchers had already established that the high pressure process kills microbes without heating milk to temperatures that destroy the flavor. The OSU study focused on the effect on the flavor of the milk and concluded that the pressure-treated milk tastes fresher.
December 01, 2006
Food Babel -- CSPI Wants Uniform "Healthy Food" Labeling System
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a petition with the FDA asking it to create uniform "healthy food" symbols that would replace the sometimes meaningless or misleading symbols designed by processed food manufacturers.
“The supermarket is teeming with competing ‘healthy food’ symbols that run the gamut from highly helpful to fatally flawed,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But a prominent and reliable symbol on the fronts of packages would be a tremendous help to those harried shoppers racing through the supermarket. Not everyone has the time or knowledge to scrutinize the Nutrition Facts labels or to decode the symbols Kraft, PepsiCo, General Mills, or other companies happen to be using.”
* * *
According to CSPI, well-designed “healthy food” symbols would steer Americans away from foods that promote obesity, heart disease, and other serious health problems, and toward fresh and processed foods that promote good health.
What foods would those be, exactly? And who gets to decide? Don't we already have this with FDA-approved health claims? Do food packaging claims (FDA-approved or not) actually serve to educate consumers?
“The FDA should tear down this Tower of Babel propped up by food companies, and give consumers the reliable information they need at a glance,” said CSPI legal affairs director Bruce Silverglade, who was a driving force in winning passage of the 1990 law that led to the Nutrition Facts label.