August 14, 2022

FSIS Extends Comment Period for Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Last Friday, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service extended the comment period for its proposed rule requiring labeling for mechanically tenderized beef. Those products are processed with needles or fine blades to break up the meat fibers and make the steak more tender. The rule also applies to beef products that are injected with a marinade. But those processes push pathogenic bacteria on the surface of the beef into the center. Then when the meat is cooked less than well-done, those bacteria are not destroyed and people can get sick. The rule was proposed on June 10, 2013, and the comment period has been extended to October 3, 2013. The original comment deadline was in August 2013.  Apparently, two trade associations asked FSIS to extend the rule an additional 120 days, but … [Read more...]

Genetically Engineered Right to Know Act Introduced to House and Senate

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced new legislation to the U.S. House and Senate that would require the labeling of all genetically engineered (GE) foods. The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act is the first labeling bill introduced to the Senate in more than ten years. Nine senators and twenty-one representatives have signed on as co-sponsors. Senator Boxer states that more than 90% of American support the right to know what's in the foods they buy. Boxer said, "This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen, and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more - not less - information about the food they buy." At this time, the FDA requires labeling of more than 3,000 … [Read more...]

COOL Coalition Supports Integrity of Labeling

The Consumer Federation of America is one of 229 consumer groups that wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, asking him to protect the integrity of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat.  The 2008 Farm Bill included mandatory COOL provisions for beef, pork, poultry, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some nuts, but Canada and Mexico mounted a legal challenge to the measure. The coalition wants a regulatory fix because "the U.S. can preserve its sovereignty while simultaneously improving the accuracy of information conveyed to consumers," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, one of the signers of the letter. The World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Canada and Mexico in 2011, saying that the measure is a barrier to free trade that violates agreements … [Read more...]

Legislators Call on FDA to Require GMO Labels

A letter signed by 55 members of Congress was sent to the FDA on March 12, 2012, asking that agency to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. The letter was signed by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and fifty-one others. With the exceptions of Richard Hanna and Bernie Sanders, all signers are Democrats. Other signers include Consumers Union, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, and the National Organic Coalition. The letter is in support of the Center for Food Safety's legal petition filed on behalf of the Just Label It campaign. That petition was filed in October 2011, and has been signed by more than 850,000 citizens. Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the … [Read more...]

Federal GMO Labeling Bill to be Introduced in Congress

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) is planning on introducing a federal bill to mandate labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. The bill sets disclosure and labeling requirements for any foods that have been genetically engineered or modified. The bill will be co-sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has been active on this issue for years. While this sounds like good news for those who support labeling of GMO, GE, and GM foods, an article on Alternet suggested that representatives of Walmart, General Mills, Cocoa-Cola, and others who opposed Proposition 37 in California last November may want this bill to become law so stricter bills cannot be passed in state legislatures. Federal laws generally pre-empt state laws. GMO labeling laws are under consideration … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Releases Memo on COOL Compliance

Food & Water Watch has released a legal memo that provides a guideline for the USDA to stand up for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) on imported beef and pork. The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the U.S. stance that meat products should contain information about where those products originated, saying they were "protectionist" against other countries. Canada and Mexico brought the case to the WTO in 2008, and the WTO issued their ruling last June. The memo states that the Appellate Body that ruled on the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement could not complete the analysis to determine whether or not COOL violates Article 2.2. They did agree that COOL violates Article 2.1, which covers recordkeeping and verification requirements. The organizations Public … [Read more...]

GMO Labeling Bill Pre-Filed in New Mexico

New Mexico is joining the GMO labeling fight. A bill that would require labels for any foods, drink, chewing gum, and pet foods containing genetically modified ingredients has been pre-filed in the New Mexico state senate by Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe-25). Senate Bill 18 would apply to any food that contains more than 1% of a GMO material. That state joins Washington state, which has submitted an initiative mandating labeling with the Washington state legislature, and Oregon, which plans to launch an initiative this summer to go on the November ballot. Proposition 37 was defeated in California last year after opponents spent millions of dollars on a "No on 37" campaign. The bill states that "the information [on the label] shall be displayed in a manner that is conspicuous and … [Read more...]

Washington State Enters the GE Food Labeling Fray

After the defeat of Proposition 37 in California, which would have mandated labeling any food that contained genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO) foods, Washington state is entering the battle. An initiative called  I-522 proposes that all foods produced through genetic engineering sold in that state be labeled. The initiative states that since the vast majority of the public wants to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering, and since consumers have a right to know what's in the food they buy, labeling is necessary. The organization has collected 340,000 signatures, more than the 241,00 required to send the proposal to the Legislature. If the Washington State Legislature does not approve the measure, it will appear on the general election ballot in … [Read more...]

Proposition 37 Defeated in California

California voters have defeated Prop 37, that would have required labels on genetically modified foods. The final vote was 53 to 47 percent. A few months ago, polls showed the measure was favored more than two-to-one. But a huge campaign by opponents of the measure, mostly pesticide and processed food manufacturers, chipped away at that lead over time. The "No on 37" campaign spend more than $45.6 million. The "Yes on 37" campaign spent $8.9 million. Monsanto, the pesticide and chemical manufacturer, spent almost as much as the entire "Yes on 37" campaign, with $8.112 million. DuPont was the second highest spender, with $5.4 million. Groups on the "Yes" side included Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, and United Farm Workers. They argued that consumers have a right to know … [Read more...]

Made in USA Foundation, R-CALF USA Sue WTO to Protect COOL

This last week, the Made in USA Foundation, together with R-CALF USA and Mile High Organics, filed a lawsuit against the World Trade Organization to get that body's recent ruling against the U.S. country of origin labeling law (COOL) declared null and void. The lawsuit names U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk as defendents. The suit alleges that those men "failed their respective duties to protect and preserve U.S. sovereignty by allowing the WTO to second-guess the U.S. COOL law that was passed under the U.S. Constitution." Food Poisoning Bulletin has reported on this issue several times this year. After the April ruling by the WTO that COOL is a barrier to free trade, the Obama administration appealed. But on June 29, 2012, the WTO ruled … [Read more...]

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