Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Melamine Problem That Won't Go Away - Melamine in US Infant Baby Formula

A single sample of infant formula has tested positive for trace amounts of the toxic contaminant melamine, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday. The FDA would not disclose the manufacturer and said that the trace amounts posed no danger. A trace amount is generally less than 250 parts per billion. Last month, the FDA set the safety threshold for melamine at 2,500 parts per billion for foods other than infant formula. Most consumer and health advocates agree that there should be zero tolerance for melamine in food products.

In October 2008, the U.S. FDA issued new methods for the analysis of melamine and cyanuric acid in infant formulations in the Laboratory Information Bulletin No 4421.

Melamine is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of can liners, flame retardant, cleaning products, fertilizers and pesticides.

It does not occur naturally in food.

Because it contains nitrogen, its addition to food products can wrongly suggest an inflated protein content. Melamine contains 66% nitrogen by mass.

Melamine is also used to extensively by the U.S. fertilizer industry.

Fertilizer companies add melamine to products to help control the rate at which nitrogen seeps into soil, allowing farmers to get more nutrient bang for their fertilizer buck. The government doesn't regulate how much melamine is applied to the soil.

A related area of agricultural concern is animal feed. Chinese eggs seized last month in Hong Kong had elevated levels of melamine caused by melamine-laden wheat gluten used in the feed for the chickens that produced the eggs.

The U.S. imports most of its wheat gluten. Last year the FDA reported millions of Americans had eaten chicken fattened on feed with melamine-tainted gluten imported from China. Around that time, Tyson Foods processed hogs that had eaten melamine-contaminated feed. The government decided against a recall.

The New York Times recently reported that several Chinese melamine suppliers admitted to newspapers to selling melamine to animal feed operations and fish feed providers in China.
One would have to be naïve to think that the melamine scandals are contained.

On October 13, 2008, this blog posed the question, “Can Chinese Catfish Be Trusted?” Chinese producers, in order to export fish to the US, must meet the same production standards as US fish farmers by December 2009. What does this really mean when there is no mechanism to police Chinese producers?

Mandatory Country-Of-Origin-Labeling (mCOOL) does not apply to food components, that is -- if Chinese farmed-fish are baked into a casserole served at your child’s elementary school, there is no requirement to disclose that the fish was farmed in China, or that the casserole contains Chinese-made ingredients.

Senate Bill S.1776 (The Imported Food Security Act of 2007) would enable the FDA to withdraw the certification of any food importer that fails to meet U.S. safety standards. It has been sitting in committee since July of 2007, and will die with the end of the 110th Congress.

And H.R. 3937 (the Food Import Safety Act) gives the FDA authority to ban imports from countries that have a pattern of food safety violations, as well as mandatory recall authority. It has been sitting in subcommittee since October of 2007, and will die with the end of the 110th Congress.The government is charged with insuring food safety in the United States. Its failure to act will be the proximate cause of food related illnesses and injuries in the United States. This is really a do-nothing Congress in the area of food safety.

One can only hope that President Obama will recognize the dangers to the food supply and make appropriate appointments to both the USDA and the FDA. Those appointees should zealously pursue their mandates and make substantive changes to their agencies, making food safety a national priority, and not a beard of the food industry and its lobbyists.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

E. Coli Tainted Meat Recalled From New Jersey Restaurants, Stop & Shop Recalls Butternut Squash Side Dishes

Dutch Prime Foods, Inc., a Long Branch, New Jersey firm, is recalling approximately 345 pounds of ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The following products are subject to recall: 5-pound and 10-pound vacuum sealed plastic bags of "DUTCH PRIME FOODS HAMBURGER."

These packages of ground beef were packed in 5- and 10-pound shipping cases which bear the establishment number "EST. 5206" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These ground beef products were produced on Nov. 18 and distributed to restaurants in New Jersey. This case represents an obvious need to have a list of restaurant recipients posted on the USDA web site.

In an unrelated recall, Stop & Shop Supermarkets is recalling all butternut squash sides that are packaged with the supermarket chain’s prepared turkey and ham holiday dinners.

The recall applies to all 24-ounce sides of butternut squash packaged in the holiday meals and was issued immediately after Stop & Shop’s vendor, Simmering Soup, Inc. recalled the product because of an undeclared egg allergen and quality concerns. The recall applies only to butternut squash that comes as part of the packaged holiday dinners.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New USDA Directive Details Retail Reporting of Recalled Foods; No Retail Reports For Class II Recalls

For many years, neither the USDA nor slaughterhouses and processors were required to disclose the names of retailers who have received potentially contaminated meat. USDA has disclosed the brand and type of meat but, by failing to name retailers, it left consumers in the dark as to whether their community might be at risk. In August of 2008, the USDA began naming retail consignees of recalled products.

A new FSIS directive details the mechanics of recalls and conditions of retail disclosure, but the new rule only applies to Class I recalls.

The USDA scales recalls from I to III; Class I involves a health hazard situation in which there is reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems, or death; Class II involves a potential health hazard situation in which there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food; Class III involves a situation in which the food will not cause adverse health consequences.

Most meat recalls are Class I (more than 85%), but consumers have a right — and a need — to know about Class II and III recalls as well. For example, USDA classified an April 2007 recall of more than 5,000 pounds of salami as a Class II recall but also called the health risk "high."

And, this year’s record-breaking recall of 143 million pounds of beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company was also deemed a Class II recall. The meat was recalled because "the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection" and non-ambulatory, or downer, cows were allowed into the food supply. Downer cows are at greater risk for carrying mad cow disease. Under the current regulatory framework, the USDA would not post retail consignees of similarly adulterated meat.

The new rule closes the reporting gap regarding Class I recalls, but it still leaves consumers uninformed if an incident similar to the Hallmark/Westland recall occurred in the future.

The rule also does not mandate that the food processor immediately disclose an actual and complete list of its retail consignees for public posting, and it leave the burden of compliance on on the producer to contact consignee, and those who received the recalled product further down the distribution chain. The complete new FSIS directive (dated November 17, 2008) can be found at:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rapid Growth in Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops Continues, 92% of Planted Soybean Acres In US Are Genetically Engineered

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, U.S. farmers have rapidly taken to planting genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, cotton, and corn with herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance traits.

In the U.S., Herbicide Tolerant (HT) soybean adoption has expanded more rapidly and widely than other GE crops, reaching 92 percent of planted soybean acreage in 2008. The second most adopted variety, HT cotton, was planted on 68 percent of cotton acreage. The level of HT corn adoption, has recently accelerated, reaching 63 percent of U.S. corn acreage.

Insect-resistant (Bt) crops contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that produces a protein toxic to specific insects. Bt cotton was planted on 63 percent of U.S. cotton acreage in 2008. Bt corn was planted on 57 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 2008.

The rapid increase in the adoption of crop varieties with more than one GE trait (stacked traits) continues. Corn varieties with both Bt and HT traits account for 40 percent of planted acres in 2008, while cotton varieties with stacked traits account for 45 percent of cotton-planted acres.

In addition to corn, soybeans, and cotton, U.S. farmers have adopted HT canola and virus-resistant papaya and squash. Other GE crops are in various stages of development. As of May 2008, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had approved 1,311 field-testing applications for crops with resistance to virus, 842 for resistance to fungi, 2,200 for improved agronomic properties (such as resistance to cold, drought, and salinity), and 3,362 for higher product quality (including crops with increased protein and/or oil content, and crops with added vitamins and iron).

Worldwide, more than 280 million acres of GE crops with HT and/or Bt traits were planted in 23 countries in 2007, with the U.S. accounting for about 50 percent. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, China, Paraguay, and South Africa accounted for about 49 percent.
Despite the rapid expansion of GE crops, there is still no requirement that products made from GE crops be labeled as such. Given the prevalence of GE planted acres, the American consumer can more or less assume products bought commercially will contain GE crops or ingredients derived from GE crops.

Wegmans Recalls Tomato Sauce, Panos Recalls Vegan Cheese, and USDA Publishes List of Retail Stores Receiving Recalled Hot Dogs

The USDA/FSIS has published a list of retail stores that it believes received recalled hot dog products from R.L. Zeigler. The retailers are in AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, MS, MO, TN and TX. To see the full list, click here.

Wegmans Food Markets is recalling 24 oz. Wegmans Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce with a “use-by- date of 11/26/08”, UPC 77890 79010. The product is being recalled because the package may actually contain a milk ingredient which is not declared on the label.

The 24 oz. Wegmans Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce is packaged in a clear flexible pouch, and was sold in the prepared foods department of Wegmans stores located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, and was available in stores between Saturday, November 15 and Thursday, November 20.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the affected code of Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce actually contained VODKA BLUSH SAUCE which contains milk.

In a separate recall, PANOS brands, of Saddle Brook, NJ is recalling Vegan Rella Cheddar Block, (a cheese substitute) with a Sell by date of 12/09/2008. This product is being recalled because it may possibly contain an undeclared milk protein.

The product was sold directly to the consumers from their retail stores located nationwide.
The recalled product is packed in 8oz packages with UPC Code 0 37983 00015 4 and a sell by date of 12/09/2008.

The product is manufactured by Swan Gardens/Tree of Life, Austell, GA.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Perspective on Burger King's Announcement to Reduce Sodium In Kids Meals

Burger King Corp. announced it is limiting sodium in all of its Kids Meals advertised to children under 12. The effort limits sodium to 600 mg or less and is a part of the BK Positive Steps initiative. It has not actually done it yet, but has annonced its intentions. Let’s give that some perspective.

First, according to the American Heart Institute, healthy adults should limit sodium intake to 2,300mg per day. The UK Recommended Nutritional Intake for adults is less than 1600mg per day. The National Academy of Sciences says a healthy adult should have between 1500 and 2400mg per day. The Canadian government recommends that 4-8 year olds get no more than 1200mg per day, and that nine year olds plus get no more than 1500mg per day. Part of the proposed Smart Choices nutritional guidelines recommends limits of 480mg of sodium per serving, but makes an exception for main dishes and permits up to 600mg (again, for adults).

One teaspoon of salt has 2,325mg of sodium.

The chain's current kids meal, which features Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, apple slices cut to look like french fries with low-fat caramel dipping sauce and Hershey's low-fat milk, has 340 calories and 505 milligrams of sodium . The company said other kids meals meeting its nutrition guidelines are in development and will be launched by this summer.

Taking a look at the current state of some of those other offerings reveals the following: The 4 piece Chicken Tenders Kids Meal has 480mg of sodium and the 6 piece Big Kids Chicken Tenders Meal has 720mg of sodium. Add an ounce of BBQ dipping sauce and you add 310mg of sodium. Try an ounce of the Buffalo dipping sauce and you add 350mg of sodium.

Whopper Juniors have 570mg of sodium and if you add cheese, the Whooper Junior has 780mg of sodium. Throw on a some bacon and you add 50mg per strip. This is all before the soda and dessert.

I applaud any effort to be more nutritionally responsible, but nobody should be fooled by PR efforts into thinking that feeding your kids at Burger King is a healthy nutritional decision, particularly for those who have to watch their sodium intake. Full calorie, sodium and other nutritional information for Burger King's offerings is available on Burger King's web site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Proposed FDA Rule to Reduce "Port Shopping" For Refused Imported Foods

Pending before the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a proposed rule designed to reduce a practice known as "port shopping" which affects the safety of imported food.

When the FDA refuses entry of a food into the United States, the food is generally exported or destroyed. Some owners or shippers may attempt to bring the refused food back into the United States by shipping it through another US port in the hopes that it will not be inspected there and then admitted.

The proposed regulation would require shipping containers of food barred from entry, and any accompanying documents, be permanently labeled as refused. The label would alert inspectors at other ports that the food has already been inspected and refused.

"This system will make it more difficult for food importers to evade import controls after being denied admission into the United States," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. "It will complement our ongoing efforts to monitor food imports."

The proposed rule implements a provision of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which provided the FDA with new authority to protect the nation’s food supply.

Under the proposed rule, all owners or consignees of refused food would be required to affix a label to the shipping container that reads: "UNITED STATES: REFUSED ENTRY" in clear, conspicuous, print. A label would also have to be affixed to all documents accompanying the imported food such as invoices, bills of lading, and electronic documents.

International shippers have asked that the actual shipping containers be marked, but that the larger maritime container (containing the shipping containers) be unmarked. This is problematic as not every maritime container is opened. At a minimum, the FDA should compromise and mark the maritime container as "containing a refused food shipment." That way, owners and consignees would not be able to sit quietly knowing that part of their load containing a rejected food may pass a loose inspection.

Comments are invited up to December 2nd.

USDA/FSIS Tests Again Reveal Impermissible Levels Of Drugs In Slaughtered Farm Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an investigation of Red Arrow Dairy located at 69444 County Road 687 in Hartford, MI 49057, and found Red Arrow offered for sale an animal for slaughter as food that was adulterated.

United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) analysis of tissue samples collected from a bob veal calf identified the presence of flunixin at 0.151 parts per million (ppm) in liver tissue. Analysis of tissue samples also identified the presence of 0.13 ppm of penicillin in the kidney.

There is no FDA established tolerance for residues of flunixin or penicillin in the edible tissues of calves to be processed as veal. Flunixin is a FDA regulated veterinarian drug used to alleviate fevers and pain.
The investigation also found that Red Arrow held animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues were likely to enter the food supply.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lean Cuisine Chicken Dinners Recalled

Nestlé Prepared Foods Company of Springville, Utah has recalled approximately 879,565 pounds of frozen chicken meals that may contain foreign materials. The fcompany identified the objects as pieces of hard plastic.

The following products are subject to recall:

-9.5-ounce packages of “LEAN CUISINE PESTO CHICKEN WITH BOW TIE PASTA” brand frozen meals. Printed on each side of each package is a production code of “8280595912” as well as a use-by date of “Best Before MAY 2010.”

-10.5-ounce packages of “LEAN CUISINE CHICKEN MEDITERRANEAN” brand frozen meals. Printed on the side of each package is a production code of “8231595912” or “8241595912” as well as a use-by date of “Best before SEP 2010”; a production code of “8263595912,” “8269595911” or “8274595912,” as well as a use-by date of “Best before OCT 2010”; or, a production code of “8291595912” or “8301595912” as well as a use-by date of “Best before NOV 2010.”

-12.5-ounce packages of “LEAN CUISINE CHICKEN TUSCAN” brand frozen meals. Printed on the side of each package is a production code of “8234595911” and a use-by date of “Best before SEP 2009”; a production code of “8253595911” or “8269595912” as well as a use-by date of “Best before OCT 2009”; or, a production code of “8292595911” or “8296595911” as well as a use-by date of “Best before NOV 2009.”

Each package also bears the USDA mark of inspection as well as the establishment number “EST P-9018.” The frozen chicken meals were produced on Aug. 18, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 9, Sept. 19, Sept. 25, Sept. 30, Oct. 6, Oct. 17-18, Oct. 22 and Oct. 27 and were distributed to retail establishments nationwide.

As soon as a list of retailers receiving the recalled meals is available, we'll post it here.

EPA Disappoints Again With New CAFO Rule

The EPA has finalized a rule pretending to protect the nation's water quality, and it is now planning to permit CAFOs to self-certify themselves for "no-discharge" certifications.

The rule revises the requirement for all CAFOs to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPEDS) permits and instead requires only those CAFOs that discharge, or propose to discharge, to apply for permits.

EPA should have adopted a recommendation by the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals to establish a regulatory presumption that large-scale CAFOs discharge pollutants. The presumption would have required that a large-scale CAFO demonstrate to regulatory authorities that it is designed and can be operated to avoid all discharges of regulated pollutants. The presumption would have been for permitting and the CAFO would have had the burden to establish that it would not discharge. The CAFO's "intent" would be irrelevant.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a release calling the final rule a "Halloween Trick from Bush Administration: Treat to Factory Farms." NRDC said under the rule, "Thousands of factory farms will be exempt from needing permits that limit water pollution."

Congress specifically targeted factory farms for regulation under the Clean Water Act in 1972 and EPA has recognized the importance of these operations getting pollution control permits. The Bush EPA continues to disappoint.

Access a release from EPA (click here). Access a prepublication copy of the 240-page final rule (click here). Access a 2-page fact sheet (click here). Access EPA's CAFO rule website for additional background information (click here).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tom Vilsack May Not Be The Right Person to Lead the USDA

Tom Vilsack may not be the right person for head of the USDA.

He is a probably good man who has been on the right side of many issues. He served as the governor of Iowa from 1998 to 2006 and currently is of counsel in the Dorsey Trial group in Des Moines. As part of his bio at the firm, he boasts being a Distinguished Fellow of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products (aka BIGMAP) at Iowa State University. BIGMAP generally opposes laws and regulations what would trigger regulatory oversight for acts of genetic engineering, and believes that government regulation in and of itself may "close the door" on future innovations that might benefit society and the environment. In other words, BIGMAP prefers that the biotech and genetic engineering industries self-regulate. Vilsack is also widely thought of as a friend of Monsanto.

He showed courage several years back when as governor or Iowa he vetoed a law passed by Iowa’s legislature that would have prohibited Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from establishing air quality standards for CAFOs stricter than the federal government’s standard. That law would have also precluded the Iowa DNR from establishing standards for airborne substances for which the federal government had left a legal void.

Vilsack did the right thing. He vetoed the law, but then he recommended a weak 30 part per billion (ppb) one-hour standard for hydrogen sulfide as a compromise; a standard weaker than states surrounding Iowa. Although Minnesota also had a 30 part per billion standard, it was for a 30-minute exposure time, not an hour.

Also, in 2001,when the EPA proposed changing the definition of a CAFO by decreasing the number of animal units that triggers an NPDES permit, Vilsack (writing for the National Governor’s Association) opposed that re-definition because of the burden on states in issuing, monitoring and enforcing NPDES permits. He gave no concern for health or environmental issues.

Vilsack also challenged the EPA’s authority to regulate CAFOs in areas that “might not” discharge into waters of the United States, in effect permitting CAFOs in arid parts of the country to avoid EPA regulations.

Vilsack also opposed other common sense changes proposed by the EPA. See Vilsack’s CAFO defense letter (National Governors Association).

He also has a history of supporting other CAFO-related laws, and has not always been on the right side of the issue. As a corn-state governor, he may have a pre-disposition toward continuing corn state subsidies, and may be less than zealous in slowing the growth of the corn-based food economy.

Finally, Vilsack needs to disclose where he stands on GMO foods and genetically engineered plants and seeds. Does he support mandatory labeling of GM foods? Will he support pending legislation to ban Terminator Seed (GURT) technology where plants yield sterile seed so that they can not be replanted for future harvests? Will he support legislation that voids retrictions on seed saving by farmers? Will his relationship with Monsanto color his judgment on these issues?

David Axelrod helped run Vilsack’s gubernatorial campaign in 1998, and was Vilsack’s long-time media consultant. Perhaps he is not the right person to screen the candidate? Perhaps food activists can play more of a role in Vilsack’s vetting? Perhaps Obama can avoid making his first big blunder?

Seattle's Favorite Muffin Tops Recalled; Recalled Jolly Good Banger Retail Locations Revealed

A routine FDA inspection revealed that the ingredient statement for Seattle’s Favorite Gourmet Cookies & Dessert’s Orange Cranberry and Banana Nut Muffin Tops contained undeclared milk. Seattle's Favorite of Tukwila, WA is recalling Orange Cranberry and Banana Nut Muffin Tops distributed nationwide to coffee shops, espresso stands, and retail outlets.

These products are individually wrapped in clear plastic with a black product card featuring the Seattle's Favorite logo in upper left hand side, and the product name and ingredient statement. Muffin Tops may or may not contain an expiration date or "best by" date. The date is placed on the product at the retail location. These products, regardless of any codes, are subject to this recall.

Also, The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has published it list of retail outlets that likely received recalled "Jolly Good Banger Rolls" ready-to-eat and raw sausage products. The retailers are located in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Nevada. A complete list can be viewed here (PDF file).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rockland County, NY Tables Its Calorie Disclosure Law

Rockland County Legislator Joseph Meyers (D- Airmont) withdrew his proposed "Rockland County National Food Service Establishments Calorie Posting Law." The action was taken at last evening's Multi-Services Committee Meeting. Reasons for the withdrawal have not been provided. Meyers' legislative assistant was unable to provide more information.

Philadelphia Passes Tough New Labeling Requirements for Chain Restaurant Menus, Rejects LEAN Act Leniency

Beginning January 1, 2010, chain restaurants in Philadelphia will have to disclose calorie counts on menu boards, and calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium and carbohydrates on printed menus. Chain restaurants include convenience stores, delis, bakeries, cookie counters, ice cream shops and coffee shops that have 15 or more establishments doing business under the same trade name.

Philadelphia joins New York City, Portland, Seattle, Westchester County, NY and the state of California in mandating some form of chain restaurants disclosures.

Download the resolution here [PDF].

The Philadelphia resolution is unique in efforts to include more than just fast food outlets and traditional chain restaurants, and in its applicability to delivered food. Chain restaurants making deliveries to homes and offices in Philadelphia will have to provide nutritional information as though the food was purchased in the restaurant.

With similar laws pending in Rockland County, NY, Nashville, TN and other municipalities, there is a growing national movement toward mandated menu disclosure.

Not one single municipality has adopted legislation similar to the LEAN Act, a restaurant-industry written, watered-down version of the law currently pending in Congress. The LEAN Act’s intent is to render local laws null and void, and to permit calorie disclosures in locations where restaurant patrons are unlikely to see them. The LEAN Act is bad law intended to derail consumer protection entities from putting meaningful nutritional information in front of consumers, and to deprive consumers of real and informed choice in their purchase of calorie-laden fast and/or processed foods.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Using Zoning to Combat Fast Food Restaurant Expansions

This summer, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting construction of new fast-food restaurants in a 32-square-mile area inhabited by 500,000 low-income people.

Riverbank, CA is considering changes to its zoning code that would give the city more control over where new fast food restaurants can be built and how they operate. If approved, fast-food chains and drive-throughs would be prohibited within 500 feet of schools and parks. Trans fats and Styrofoam containers would be banned. Drive-through windows would be a thing of the past, and restaurant front doors must open directly on to adjacent sidewalks (not parking lots).

These ideas sound radical, but zoning can be effectively used to reduce easy access to fast food restaurants. A recognized objective of zoning laws is protection of public health, and restrictive zoning can be a tool to reduce the prevalence of obesity.

Here are some examples, old and new:

Concord, MA bans both “fast food restaurants” and “drive-in” service. Carlsbad , CA bans all new drive-through restaurants. Newport, RI bans “drive-ins” and “carry-out” service.

Detroit bans carry-out, fast-food and drive-in restaurants within 500 feet of elementary, junior and senior high schools. Arden Hills, MN bans fast food restaurants within 400 feet of schools, churches, public recreation areas and residentially-zoned lots.

Elmsford, NY mandates at least 2,000 feet between fast food restaurants and New Millford, CT requires at lease one mile between fast food restaurants.

Why is this happening? Progressive municipalities, recognizing the failings at the state and federal level to curb abuses and irresponsible behavior by the fast food industry, are taking it upon themselves to protect their citizenry. The idea came from using zoning to restrict alcohol and cigarette sales, and other obnoxious land uses for the bigger public good.

Despite efforts by health groups and consumer advocates, the public is still not sufficiently aware that fast food restaurant meals have dangerously excessive calorie counts. Boston Market’s Meatloaf Carver has 940 calories. The BK Double Beef Whopper has a whopping 916 calories (without cheese). Nathan’s Fish & Chips weighs in at 1537 calories. And a McDonalds' Vanilla Triple Thick Shake has 1110 calories.

Menu board disclosures laws are popping up all over the country, from New York to California, with many progressive municipalities in between joining in. Trans fat bans are passing all over the country. Still there are no federal mandates because of fierce opposition and lobbying efforts of restaurant companies, restaurant associations and paid lobbyists. State and federal government has lacked the backbone to stand up to fast food abuses so local thinkers are taking the lead. This is all well and good if you live in a progressive community, but there are many parts of the country where more than half of the population is either overweight or obese. Who will help these folks?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

American Medical Association Changes Its Policy, and Now Supports Trans Fat Ban

The American Medical Association will support legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide. "By supporting a ban on the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries, we can help improve the quality of the food Americans eat and may ultimately save lives," said Mary Anne McCaffree, M.D., A.M.A. board member.

Previous A.M.A. policy urged reductions in trans fats use (not an actual ban) and encouraged replacing trans fats with healthier fats and oils. Cities such as Chicago and New York already have banned trans fats in restaurants and bakeries.

California passed legislation to ban trans fats in restaurants this July. Under the new law, trans fats must be excised from restaurant products beginning in 2010, and from all retail baked goods by 2011. Packaged foods will be exempt.

New York City adopted a similar ban in 2006 , effective July 1, 2008. Philadelphia, Stamford, Conn., and Montgomery County, Md., have passed similar bans. Boston banned trans fats earlier this year. The Boston prohibition includes all restaurants, including school and hospital cafeterias, as well as food that is prepared in kitchens inside groceries and delis.

Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into liquid oil at high temperature, a process called partial hydrogenation. The process results in an inexpensive fat that prolongs the shelf life and appearance of packaged foods and that, many fast-food restaurants say, helps make cooked food crisp and flavorful.

Opposition to the bans comes largely from national and state restaurant associations that argue legislative bans of trans fat should be addressed by the federal government, not at state and local levels.

California also bans trans fats in school meals.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Westchester County Passes Menu Board Calorie Disclosure Law

After a year of deliberations between legislators and public health officials, and over the objections of restaurant owners and associations, Westchester County, NY passed a bill requiring chain restaurants and fast food outlets to post calories on their menu boards and menus. Restaurants with 15 or more locations globally (regardless of ownership) will have to comply with the law after a six-month grace period. After that, the County will impose fines for non-compliance. The bill passed 15-1.

Westchester joins NYC, CA, Portland, Seattle and Philadelphia in passing menu boad disclosure laws. Proposals are still pending in DC and Nashville, and new proposals are just being introduced in Rockland County, NY.

This issue is being closely monitored by this blog and others as pending federal legislation, if passed, would make state and local menu board disclosure laws null and void. The LEAN Act, favored by industry both would preempt state and local laws and permit chain restaurants and fast food outlets to post calorie counts in places other than on menus and menu boards. The LEAN Act would allow restaurants to post calorie counts on menu supplements, or on signs other than the actual menu board. This industry-drafted legislation is opposed by most consumer advocacy groups.

The MEAL Act, also pending in Congress would be more akin to NYC's menu board law and require restaurants to post calorie counts directly on menu boards and menus. It also would preserve local laws that are broader than the federal law.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rosa DeLauro (or Howard Dean) for FDA Commissioner

Speculation abounds about who Barack Obama will choose for FDA Commissioner. While most pundits are touting Steven Nissen, Joshua Sharfstein or Susan Wood, I support Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) or Dr. Howard Dean for FDA Commissioner.

I oppose Janet Woodcock. She doesn't represent change and she is a favorite of big Pharma. By its nature, the FDA is divided between food and drug issues. I prefer a candidate versed in food issues. Steven Nissen is a good candidate, though I prefer Joshua Sharfstein to Nissen because of his consumer advocacy credentials.

I have mixed feelings about Professor Susan Wood who directed the FDA's Office of Women's Health until her resignation in 2005 over the continued delay in approving emergency over-the-counter contraception. I'm not sure that quitting was the right thing to do when the nation needed voices like hers to see issues through.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is an incredibly effective person who has been able to work behind the scenes for Democrats to change the face of the nation. His 50-state strategy has been successful and he has been a life-long populist and advocate of consumer protection issues.

Roas DeLauro is on the right side of food safety issues and has introduced numerous resolutions in Congress with the express purpose of changing the lax regulatory environment at the FDA. She has recognized that left to its own devices, the FDA would simply choose not to regulate and not to honor its statutory mandate. She has recognized that the agency is underfunded and ineffective. She has led the charge on melamine taint. She is not afraid to speak truth to power and is a reliable friend to food activists.

Rosa DeLauro would be my first choice for FDA Commissioner.

Nestle Nesquick Strawberry Powder, Schwan's Chicken Products, Ziegler Hot Dogs Recalled

R. L. Zeigler Co., Inc., a Selma, Ala., firm, is recalling approximately 28,610 pounds of hot dog products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following products are subject to recall:

12-ounce packages of "ZEIGLER WIENERS MADE WITH CHICKEN AND PORK, ARTIFICIALLY COLORED." Each package bears the use-by date of "Nov. 26, 2008" and the establishment number "P-9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

12-ounce packages of "VACUUM PACKED PAR-TI PUPS." Each package bears the use-by date of "Nov. 26, 2008" and the establishment number "P-9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

12-ounce packages of "ZEIGLER Original Recipe WIENERS, artificially colored." Each package bears the use-by date of "Nov. 26, 2008" and the establishment number "EST. 9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

16-ounce packages of "Zeigler Jumbo Franks." Each package bears the use-by date of "Nov. 21, 2008" and the establishment number "P-9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

12-ounce packages of "Zeigler Hot Dogs." Each package bears the use-by date of "Nov. 26, 2008" and the establishment number "P-9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

10-pound bulk boxes of "SKINLESS WIENERS, 8 WIENERS PER LB." Each box bears the package code "PK 092208A" and the establishment number "EST. 9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

10-pound bulk boxes of "SKINLESS WIENERS, ARTIFICIALLY COLORED, 10 WIENERS PER LB." Each box bears the package code "PK 092208A" and the establishment number "EST. 9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

10-pound bulk boxes of "SKINLESS WIENERS, 10 WIENERS PER LB." Each box bears the package code "PK 092208A" and the establishment number "EST. 9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

10-pound bulk boxes of "SKINLESS WIENERS, 12 WIENERS PER LB." Each box bears the package code "PK 092208A" and establishment number "EST. 9156S" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The hot dog products were produced on Sept. 22, and were sent to food service institutions and retail establishments in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.


In a separate recall: Barber Foods Company, of Portland, Maine is recalling approximately 41,415 pounds of frozen stuffed chicken products that may contain foreign materials.

The following products are subject to recall:

20-ounce, cartons of "#584 SCHWAN'S STUFFED CHICKEN KIEV." Each carton contains 4 individually wrapped boneless breast units. Ink-jetted on the side of each carton is a product identification code of "T282171000," as well as a code of "21781" on each wrapper. Each carton bears the USDA mark of inspection.

20-ounce, cartons of "#584 SCHWAN'S STUFFED CHICKEN KIEV." Each carton contains 4 individually wrapped boneless breast units. Ink-jetted on the side of each carton is a product identification code of "T281382000," as well as a code of "13882" on each wrapper. Each carton bears the USDA mark of inspection.

20-ounce, cartons of "#584 SCHWAN'S STUFFED CHICKEN KIEV." Each carton contains 4 individually wrapped boneless breast units. Ink-jetted on the side of each carton is a product identification code of "T281541000," as well as a code of "15481" on each wrapper. Each carton bears the USDA mark of inspection.

The products were produced on May 17, June 2 and August 4, and were made available for catalog or internet purchase from the Schwan's Home Service, Inc. by consumers nationwide.

The problem was discovered after the Schwan's Home Service, Inc. received consumer complaints of finding pieces of rubber in the product.

And finally, Nestlé USA is voluntarily recalling two (2) production codes of Nestlé Nesquik Strawberry Powder 21.8 ounce that may contain small fragments of aluminum.

The recall only includes two (2) production codes of 21.8-ounce containers of Nestlé Nesquik Strawberry Powder. Printed on the bottom of each plastic container is a production code of "82255880" or "82265880" with a best by date of "August 2010."

The products were produced on August 12 and 13 and were distributed in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Country of Origin Labeling For Dairy Products Needed to Protect Consumers From Melamine Taint (S.3653), Melamine Taint May Go Beyond Dairy Products

Partly in response to growing concerns about the potential for melamine contamination of milk products and milk-derived ingredients imported from China, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced legislation in the Senate aimed at extending country-of-origin labeling requirements to dairy products.

The Dairy COOL (country-of-origin labeling) Act of 2008, S.3653, extends the country-of-origin labeling requirements (as contained in the 2008 farm act) beyond meats, produce and nuts to include dairy products.

Dairy COOL would require retailers of a product derived wholly or partly from milk or milk-derived ingredients designate where the covered dairy commodity or commodities were produced, originated or sourced, and each country in which the covered commodity was processed. The bill won support from some producer and consumer groups, and industry groups are “reviewing” the proposed legislation (most likely looking at the financial impact on its members, rather than the food safety considerations).

Milk and milk products that may originate from China included condensed, dried and non-fat milk, condensed and dried whey, lactose powder, permeate powder, demineralized and partially demineralized whey powders, caseins, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate.

Manufacturers also need to be alert to the possibility that non-milk-derived ingredients from China that are or may be sold on the basis of protein content, such as soy protein, also could be contaminated with melamine, according to the F.D.A.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Restaurants Oppose What Will Likely Be The Nation's Toughest Calorie Disclosure Law

At last night's public meeting, restaurant representatives vocally opposed Nashville’s proposed calorie count disclosure law. Restaurant owners and trade associations have mastered all the talking points of the National Restaurant Association, and whined the following: (1) “They want to post calories, just not on the actual menu board or menu.” (2) “The measure will put restaurants out of business, or deter restaurants from opening in Nashville.” (3) “The costs are more than restaurants can manage in these hard economic times.” and, (4) Restaurants will close and jobs will be lost.”

The proposal is the toughest in the nation, and it would likely apply not just to the 500 or so fast food and chain restaurants in Davidson County, but also to Nashville’s public schools, its chain movie theaters, and supermarkets that serve prepared foods on site. The proposal is written very broadly and defers to state definitions for its applicability to "covered food service establishments."

Restaurant owners and trade associations are hoping for passage of the LEAN Act, pending federal legislation that would preempt all state and local menu board disclosure laws, and enable restaurants to post calorie information in menu supplements or on other signs. Also pending is the federal MEAL Act which mirrors NYC's menu law and would preserve similar and more restrictive local and state laws.

Board members voted to extend the deadline to Dec. 6 for public comment. The board will vote on the measure at its February meeting.

Deflating the Power of Genetically Engineered Seed Companies, and Restoring the Balance of Power to Farmers

Agribusiness and biotechnology companies have rapidly consolidated their market power through: (1) government complacency, and (2) overwhelming market clout as compared to farmers and growers. Historically, seed buyers purchased not only seeds, but also the future means of production -- saved seeds from a successful crop for replanting the following year. Different rules apply to genetically engineered seeds, and contracts for the sale of genetically engineered (GE) seeds contain provisions contrary to sound public policy.

Powerful seed companies often impose onerous conditions on growers, including a prohibition on saving seeds from current crops for future use. Growers must grant access to seed companies to their land at any time to enable the seed companies to test for unauthorized planting of GE crops. Farmers must agree to punitive measures and fees for contract violations, and agree in advance to mandatory arbitration of disputes and mandatory jurisdiction in courts far from home.

Seed companies already have and continue to work on technology to render plants infertile, known as Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT) or colloquially as “terminator technology.” By modifying seed with certain genes, companies ensure that the next generation of seeds self-destructs and are unable to reproduce. Essentially, the plants make sterile seeds, making seed saving impossible and mandating that growers purchase new seeds every year, year after year.

Consolidation of Seed Companies and Market Power

Dow AgroSciences has acquired or is acquiring Brodbeck Seed, Triumph Seed, and Dairyland Seed Company. It is also making acquisitons overseas, including Sudwestsaat GbR (SWS), MTI and Duo Maize.

Monsanto acquired Seminis, Inc., DeRuiter Seeds, and Semillas Cristiani Burkard.

Bayer CropScience acquired South Korean vegetable seed company SeedEx. These are but a few examples of recent consolidation. Consolidation continues and governments stand idly by.

US Legislation to the Level The Playing Field

While most public advocacy groups focus on legislation to mandate labeling of GM foods, a resolution was introduced recently in Congress by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). HR 6637, also known as the Genetically Engineered Technology Farmer Protection Act, seeks to define genetically engineered animals, plants and seeds and level the playing field for farmers. The Act recognized both the rapid consolidation of agribusiness and biotechnology companies, and the detrimental effects it has on farming and sustainability.

The Act specifically makes void and unenforceable any provision in a genetically engineered seed contract that prohibits the grower from retaining seeds from the crops for future use, or that imposes a fee on the grower to retain seeds for future use. This restores the natural order where farmers have saved seeds for centuries to replant in future years.

The Act also renders void any contract provision that requires the grower to grant access to his land to the seller of the seeds or their testing agents. It does away with mandatory arbitration clauses and enables growers to sue biotech companies in the grower’s local courts. It also does away with contract clauses imposing arbitrary and punitive fees on growers for reusing seeds. To further level the playing field, the Act enables courts to void “unfair conditions” set by seed sellers in their contracts.

This proposed law is sweeping and necessary to contain the power of seed companies and the control they’ve acquired over the means of food production. It makes the acquisition of seeds an arms-length transaction and precludes inclusion of adhesive contract provisions in GE seed contracts.

Ban on Terminator Technology

In a separate provision, the law would also prohibit the manufacture, distribution, planting or other use of any seed that is genetically engineered to produce plants whose seeds are infertile. It also bans genetically engineered plants whose seeds become infertile by the application of an external chemical inducer – that is a plant genetically programmed to become sterile upon the application of another chemical.

This ban is essential, forward-thinking legislation. It strives to stall a future where food is grown only with the consent of seed manufacturers and at prices imposed by them for viable plants and seeds.

Status of the Resolution

HR 6637 has five co-sponsors and last month was referred to the House Subcommittee on Livestock Dairy & Poultry. Dennis Kucinich’s remarks about the HR 6637 appear in the Congressional Record.

This legislation will be opposed by agribusiness and biotechnology and their lobbyists with every resource at their disposal. Urge your representatives to support this bill and to add their names as co-sponsors. Tell them not to let it die in committee.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

USDA/FSIS Tests Reveal Impermissible Levels of Drugs In Slaughtered Farm Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an investigation of Paul Rothemel’s cattle operation located at 184 State Route 44, Hartville, OH 44632, and found Rothemel offered for sale an animal for slaughter as food that was adulterated.

United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) analysis of tissue samples collected from a bob veal calf identified the presence of flunixin at 0.425 parts per million (ppm) in liver tissue and 0.035 ppm in muscle tissue. There is no FDA established tolerance for residues of flunixin in the edible tissues of calves. Flunixin is a FDA regulated veterinarian drug used to alleviate fevers and pain.

The investigation also found that Rothemel held animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues were likely to enter the food supply. Rothemel also lacked a system to ensure that animals he buys and then sells for slaughter as food have not been medicated or, if they have been medicated, he lacked a system to allow him to withhold the animals from slaughter for an appropriate period of time to deplete potentially hazardous residues of drugs from edible tissues.

Rothemel also fails to keep accurate records of animals he buys and sells to ensure that the animal can be traced back to the producer or other dealer.

In a separate investigation, the FDA conducted at Andrew Miller’s dairy operation located at 7111 State Route 514, Big Prairie, OH 44611., the FDA found Miller offered for sale a bob veal calf for slaughter as food that was adulterated.

United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) analysis of tissue samples collected from this animal identified the presence of 26.27 ppm of Penicillin in the muscle tissue, 0.86 ppm of Penicillin in the liver tissue and 0.42 ppm in the kidney tissue. FDA has established a tolerance of 0.05 ppm for residues of Penicillin in the edible tissues of cattle. Tests revealed residues up to 500 times permitted tolerances.

The investigation also found that Miller held animals under conditions so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues were likely to enter the food supply. Miller failed to maintain treatment records; failed to establish a system to control the administration of drug treatments to his animals; and failed to establish an adequate inventory system for determining the quantities of drugs used to medicate his cows and calves. Miller also fed milk from treated cows to calves intended for slaughter.

This from the Kyoto News Service

Chinese food safety authorities said Tuesday that seasoned soy sauce imported from Japan contains arsenic six times the Chinese standard, while powered coffee imported from Japan contains copper three times the level permitted under Chinese regulations.

The seasoned soy sauce imported from the Japanese soy sauce maker Morita contains 3.15 milligrams of arsenic per kilogram, while copper was found in "Royal Blend" powdered coffee imported from Japan, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said. The Chinese standard is set at 0.5 mg per kg, according to Chinese officials. Officials at Morita, based in Nagoya, said sliced dried bonito used as seasoning in the company's soy sauce contains organic arsenic but the level of arsenic in the sauce does not affect human health.

Doutor Coffee, the Tokyo-based producer of the "Royal Blend" powdered coffee, said the company has launched an investigation into the Chinese claim. The coffee was imported from Tokyo-based office coffee service firm Unimat Life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Smart Choices Front-of-Package Food Label Program Is Bad Policy, Burdened by Industry Conflicts

Smart Choices? Bad Policy.

The Smart Choices Front-of-Package food label program was recently launched at the American Dietetic Association’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. It is the brainchild of the not-for-profit (and tax-exempt) Keystone Center Food and Nutrition Roundtable. Keystone has organized industry titans, including Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg, Unilever and many others and created its “BIG GREEN CHECKMARK” for eligible foods. The logo will depict calorie counts and number of servings per package, and a product can display the seal if it meets standards set by the Roundtable. Participation is fee-based and optional.

The program has received a lot of positive publicity, and there is a huge PR effort to make Smart Choices into a consumer standard for identifying good food choices.

I think the effort is misguided. It is “just-another” industry effort to self-regulate and to limit the actual dissemination of information on good versus bad food choices. From its outset, the program would have a funding stream conflict of interest, as its source of revenue to sustain itself would be conditioned on the participation of food manufacturers. That funding stream would likely dry up if standards were too rigorous, or if foods that failed to meet standards were required to state their shortcomings on their front package labels. Even in Keystone’s Request for Proposal seeking an administrator for the program, it repeatedly highlights the need to control costs to participants and to minimize the burdens on manufacturers in the provision of nutritional information.

Michael F. Jacobsen, executive director of nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest recently wrote: “A disinterested funder and committee of experts free of conflicts of interest likely would have rated the healthfulness of foods differently from the ‘better for you’ Smart Choices Program adopted by the roundtable.”

A system that is not mandatory for all foods and beverages is inherently flawed and is no different from current laws that permit manufacturers to make product claims related to good health. Smart Choices will be just another of the 25 icon systems currently in the US marketplace that permit manufacturers to puff up their food's desirability with health claims.
Also, unless there is a “Dumb Choice” standard, similar to the “Traffic Lights” program in the UK, the system is neither meaningful nor comprehensive. Self-regulation is preferred by industry as manufacturers would not be required to disclose which food products in their portfolios are “not” smart choices. The FDA mandated Nutrition Facts Panel currently in use requires uniform disclosure for all products, favorable or unfavorable.

Pending in the Senate, and part of Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) HELP America Act (S.1342, Section 421, Front-Label Food Guidance Systems), is a mandate for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to solicit public comments regarding whether American consumers would be better served by establishing a single, standardized, retail front-label food guidance system regulated by the FDA.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has also petitioned the FDA to develop a standardized system of symbols for front-label claims.

The better route is establishment by the FDA of a directed, standardized, and comprehensive front-of-package food labeling program and icon system with unified criteria based on the best available science, and geared toward the public’s interest in health. It should apply to all foods and beverages, and not be compromised by dependence on industry funding or industry science.

Progresso Soup Recall For Product Label Error

General Mills has recalled a single day's production of Progresso Hearty Tomato soup because of a product labeling issue. Product produced on this date may have been mislabeled, and may contain allergens not listed on the ingredient label, specifically egg, milk, and soy.

This voluntary recall includes only 19-ounce Progresso Hearty Tomato soup with the following code date printed on the bottom of the can: 19May10 NV VN-3

A production error resulted in a limited number of cases of Progresso Light Vegetable and Noodle soup being mislabeled as Progresso Hearty Tomato soup. Mislabeled cans have the code date 19May10 NV VN-3 on the bottom of the can, but are mislabeled as Progresso Hearty Tomato soup.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nashville Revises its Proposed Menu Board Law, Rockland County's Law Similar to NYC's Menu Board Law

In Nashville, where over half of adults are overwieght or obese, the health department has revised its original proposal from its first information session. While restaurants would still be required to print the calorie counts of menu items—health department officials made the following modifications to the proposed rules:

1. Restaurants with 15 or more stores must print calorie counts on their menus. This number was raised from 10 in the earlier draft.

2. Regulations would extend to retail grocery establishments with in-house dining, such as Whole Foods.

3. Restaurants would have until the end of 2009 to comply with the regulations.

4. The following language was added in an attempt to allay fears of potential lawsuits: “This regulation is not intended to provide or be used to support a private cause of action by any individual, other than an individual, entity, or agency authorized to enforce this regulation, against a covered food service establishment for compliance or non-compliance with this regulation. This regulation does not prohibit a covered food service establishment from including a statement on a menu or menu board that there may be variations in calorie content values across actual servings based on slight variations in serving size, quantity of ingredients, or special ordering."

The Metro Board of Health will consider the regulations, which are intended to help fight the rising trend of obesity, at the Dec. 4 meeting. Written comments will be accepted until Nov. 13.

At issue is still whether Nashville's law would apply to public schools. If so, it would be the toughest law in the country. Also, Nashville's legal disclaimer may be a mechanism to smooth approval by industry groups (though industry opposes any requirement that calorie counts be posted on menu boards, and prefers the option to hide information in menu supplements or other signage). Read more about Nashville.

The Journal-News reports today (on its front page - Rockland Edition) that Rockland is entering the national dialog about posting calories on fast food restaurant menu boards and chain restaurant menus. A new local law would mandate calorie disclosures a la NYC. Voices from business weigh in on the financial burdens and the so-called "nanny state" -- these are industry's talking points. There is no schedule set yet for public comment.

Recognizing that one in four British adults is overweight or obeste, the Minister of Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency has called for calorie content on all chain restaurant menus. Read more.

It is time in America for consumer protection laws to be written by consumer protection groups, not by the industries that cause the problems in the first place. Foxes should not guard henhouses. Those following my earlier posts know that an industry coalition has been formed to pass the LEAN Act, a federal statute that would trump all state and local laws and permit fast food joints and chain restaurants to hide calorie information in menu supplements or on signage near menu boards.

Consumer protection friendly legislation called the MEAL Act is also pending in Congress that would permit state and local laws to retain their status, and that would mandate that calorie information appear where consumers are most likely to see it - on the menu board by the prices, and on menus by the item description and price.

Until federal laws are passed, support state and local initiatives require calories be posted where they will be seen. Stand up to local, state and national industry associations and lobbies, and tell your Congressman or Senator that you support the MEAL Act. Ask them to co-sponsor the law and reject industry efforts to water it down.

Speak truth to power!

FDA Discovers Melamine in Fresh & Crispy Jacobina Biscuits

Everlasting Distributors Inc., Bayonne NJ is initiating a nationwide recall of all their 3.88oz (110gm) packages of Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits because it may be contaminated with Melamine.

Product was distributed nationwide in Asian Grocery stores.

The product comes in 3.88oz (110 gm) blue and red color clear plastic package, labeled “JACOBINA”.

The recall was initiated after FDA testing discovered that product was found to contain Melamine.

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