November 23, 2014

Coalition Supporting COOL Change Sends Letter to Congress

GroundBeefLabel

Last week a U.S. District Court of Appeals refused to rehear the country-of-origin (COOL) labeling dispute between the United States and the World Trade Organization, effectively making COOL the law of the land. After this decision, stakeholders known as COOL Reform Coalition sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to "immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been deemed to be non-compliant with international trade obligations." That coalition is comprised of organizations such as Hormel Foods, ConAgra, Cargill, National Beef Packing Company, Smithfield Foods, Abbott, Anheuser-Busch, Archer Daniels Midland, Nestle USA, Nestle Waters North America, Unilever, Tyson Foods, and the North American Meat Association. They are … [Read more...]

Canada Mandates Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Sirloinsteak

The government of Canada is mandating labeling of mechanically tenderized beef. All MTB products sold in Canada must be clearly labeled as "mechanically tenderized" and include instructions for safe cooking. These products have been tenderized by piercing with needles or blades. This process introduces bacteria into the center of the cut of meat, and means the meat is not safe to consume unless it is cooked well done. Several outbreaks in both Canada and the United States have been linked to undercooked mechanically tenderized beef. An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada in 2012 was linked to mechanically tenderized beef produced by XL Foods; at least 10 people were sickened. In the United States, there were at least five outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 linked to mechanically tenderized … [Read more...]

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds COOL Labeling Rule

Gavel

The full U.S. District Court of Appeals rejected the challenge to the USDA's meat labeling rules filed by the meat industry. Those rules are known as country of origin labeling (COOL).  In addition to opposing labeling for economic reasons, the meat industry believes they are being forced to issue statements against their will. A three-panel judge ruled against the meat industry in March 2014 and requested a full court review of the meat industry's First Amendment claims. The court decided that regulations satisfy a government interest to protect consumers. The court stated that Congress has passed mandates for labeling for more than 100 years. The meat industry claims that these labels could drive meat producers out of business if consumers don't want to buy meat that was raised or … [Read more...]

Vermont Set to Enact Statewide GE Food Labeling Bill

GMO-sm

The Vermont House voted to accept the Senate version of the GE labeling bill last week. Governor Shumlin is expected to sign the bill. All foods for sale in Vermont that are made with GE or GMO ingredients will have to carry a label effective July 1, 2016. The Center for Food Safety's executive director Andrew Kimbrell said, "this is an historic day for the people's right to know. It is now very clear that federal labeling of genetically engineered foods is going to happen in the foreseeable future. Should the industry try to challenge this law, Center for Food Safety will be there to help defend it and we are confident that it would survive any such challenge." While Vermont is not the first state to pass such a bill, it is the first bill that stands alone. No other states need to … [Read more...]

Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill

GMOtomato

The Vermont Senate has approved H.112, a bill to label GMO or GE foods, with a vote of 28 to 2. Tee bill now goes to the House for a final vote before it heads to the governor's desk. Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated he is likely to sign it, which would make Vermont the first state to require labeling of genetically engineered products. If the bill does become law, it would go into effect on July 1, 2016. While other states such as Maine have similar bills on the books, they also have trigger clauses, which means the law does not go into effect unless neighboring states pass labeling laws. Vermont Right to Know GMOs, a collaborative project of several consumer advocacy groups, approved the action. That group has submitted petitions to the government with more than 36,000 … [Read more...]

FDA Publishes Guidance Document for Honey Labeling

Honey

The FDA is cracking down on honey labeling, issuing a guidance document that will require companies to label honey that is not 100% honey as "blend of sugar and honey" or "blend of honey and corn syrup". The American Beekeeping Federation and other honey associations have been advocating for this change for years. That organization submitted a citizen petition in 2006 asking that the FDA adopt a U.S. standard of identify for honey. Often products that are labeled as "honey" contain other sweeteners, which some believe is food fraud. Honey is made of glucose and fructose, along with minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Honey has antiseptic an antibacterial properties and is a natural anti-inflammatory, while sugar is considered inflammatory. In addition, products … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Applaud Court’s COOL Ruling

Country of Origin Labeling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that the Country of Origin Labeling on meats can continue. COOL was put into effect last year, but the meat industry filed suit to block it. The court denied a preliminary injunction against COOL, so consumers will be informed about where the meat they buy is grown and produced. Food & Water Watch is one of the groups in favor of the court's decision. Wenonah Hauter, that agency's executive director said in a statement, "The Federal Appeals Court correctly affirmed the legitimate consumer interest in being able to make informed choices about the origin and safety of their meat products. The court recognized that COOL labels should be transparent and informative enough for consumers to make these choices, … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes Changes to Nutrition Labels

New Nutrition Label

The FDA is changing nutrition labels put on all food packages. The box is going to have new design and new content. Michael Landa, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said, "Obesity, hearty disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems. The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars." One of the changes is larger and bolder type on calories. The number of servings per package is going to be more prominent. Too often, small packages seem like they only contain one serving. Consumers have to look more closely to see how many servings actually deliver the calories on the label. … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Comment on EU’s Clone Directives

Pigs

Food & Water Watch is commenting on the European Commission's directives on clones in the food chain that states food from offspring of cloned animals doesn't need to be labeled. They say it falls "woefully short" of what citizens want. The draft laws only "provisionally prohibit" cloning farm animals, along with the sale and import of food from clones. The laws do not prohibit the sale of food from the offspring of clones. And the phrase "to preserve the competitiveness of Union farmers, the proposal does not regulate reproductive material of clones" means that farms can import and use that material and sell the food that results from it into the marketplace. Most troubling to food safety advocates, the draft laws don't require labels on food made from cloned animals' offspring. … [Read more...]

Natural Label Should Not Include GMO Foods

GMOtomato

The Center for Food Safety has called on the FDA to not let GMO foods carry the "natural" label. The Grocery Manufacturer's Association has announced it would submit a petition to the government to define the term "natural" to include foods produced using genetic engineering. CFS is asking that the FDA exclude genetic engineering from any definition of "natural" and to not make any decisions without public input. Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs to Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "there is nothing natural about genetic engineering, which is exactly why the Grocery Manufacturers Association wants FDA to create a special exemption for it. Natural is a great marketing tool and the industry doesn't want to be restricted in using it." Genetic engineering is not a … [Read more...]

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