Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a final ruling in a case involving POM Wonderful LLC, determining that certain ads for its juice products made misleading claims about the drink’s health benefits. This case has implications beyond the immediate effects on the company involved. The decision will affect a wide swath of the food and beverage industries by further tightening the criteria that will be required to sustain claims that a given product treats a disease. The FTC said that the claims in the instant case must be backed by two randomized, controlled clinical trials. These are essentially the same criteria employed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in assessing new drugs. Keep Reading
On Nov. 6, California voters defeated Proposition 37 (53.1% to 46.9%), “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” requiring label disclosure of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If passed, the proposition would have prohibited GMO food and other processed food from being labeled “natural.” Keep Reading
The U.S. Senate and U.S. House Committee on Agriculture have passed their respective versions of the 2012 Farm Bill, but the legislation is stranded, and the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2012. Here is a summary report on the current state of play and practical implications of the 2008 Farm Bill expiration. Keep Reading
The House and Senate Agricultural Committee Leadership—Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Colin Petersen (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabinow (D-Mich.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)—are frustrated. Most House agricultural committee members want to keep farm subsidies as large as possible, but many other representatives are concerned about wasteful spending and unusually willing to interfere in the Committee’s business. So the current state of Farm Bill 2012 play is straightforward: everything up in the air. Keep Reading
There has been much discussion on the proposal to ban large (>16 oz.) serving sizes of non-diet soft drinks in New York City. I am glad it has people talking about the problem of obesity, but I am not sure this policy is the best approach on balance. My colleagues and I examined the available studies published as of 2010 that might indicate whether such a policy would have the desired effect (Mattes et al., 2010).We found five randomized, controlled studies that had attempted to determine whether asking people to reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs, of all types, including soft drinks) would result in weight loss. In people who are already overweight, it appears that there is a very small mean effect in weight reduction, although it is not statistically significant when looking at the range of effects in the whole sample. Keep Reading
There has been a lot of media attention given to a product that is unfamiliar to most consumers, even though they have been eating it for the last 20 years. Lean finely textured beef, known by the derogatory term “pink slime,” has come to mean many things to many people. And as is often the case with something unfamiliar, people sometimes jump to conclusions that are based on incomplete facts.
America’s history includes a rich tradition of agricultural productivity, and we have all benefited from it. Agricultural laws and policies have supported that productivity, recognizing the special attributes of agricultural production and the public interest involved in promoting food security.
Along the way, however, public interest has often taken a back seat to special interest. Farm policy has driven food policy, and farmers have been encouraged to farm in ways that are not sustainable, sometimes producing crops that do not contribute to our health, preserve our environment, or strengthen our regional economies. Keep Reading
On January 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published revised nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. This final rule follows a proposal issued on Jan. 13, 2011. Last year I provided my thoughts on this proposal through the ePerspective Revised School Nutrition Standards Make the Grade.
This is obviously an important and even personal topic as evidenced by the 133,268 public comments submitted to USDA regarding the proposed rule. The First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative that focuses on eliminating childhood obesity within a generation has brought heightened awareness to these standards, which cover nearly 32 million kids participating in school meal programs every school day. This is the first time in more than 15 years the standards have been revised to better reflect evidence-based science, including the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Keep Reading
Transgenic technology is a new high-tech tool developed by scientists to increase productivity and profitability of commercial food production, while at the same time increasing sustainability of food resources. Atlantic salmon is one example of such a nutritious limited food source. Our oceans cannot keep up with consumer demands for fish, a commodity that is not only highly sought after due to its culinary appeal, but is increasingly seen as healthy alternative to red meat. A transgenic line of Atlantic salmon (AquAdvantage salmon) was genetically engineered (GE) to grow faster by inserting an additional salmon growth hormone gene. The fast growth increases the annual output of aquaculture farms and also increases the efficiency of feed conversion (i.e., they need less food to produce the same amount of food compared with their slower growing, non-GE counterparts). Also, these GE-fish will be grown in contained, land-based facilities, preventing escape of the fish to the ocean and allowing general expansion of salmon aquaculture to meet growing demand without expanding the use of ocean net pens. Keep Reading
In January, President Obama signed a $1.4 billion overhaul of the nation’s food safety system with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Recently, Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, spoke with John Bode, a Washington, D.C. attorney, to discuss that sweeping legislation, what progress we have seen since it was signed into law, how the U.S. debt crisis may affect its implementation, and what the future holds. Bode was deeply involved in development of the Act, as well as every other major change in federal food law over the past 25 years. While he was in government, Bode was an assistant Secretary of Agriculture.
After listening to John Bode’s opinions on the Act, what do you believe the future holds for the new legislation? Share your thoughts by commenting today!