Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The "Good Egg" PR Project

In an ever-continuous effort to mesmerize the public, the American Egg Board and egg farmers are partnering for the "Good Egg Project," which is an initiative to convince Americans that modern egg farming is a good thing.

The program touts Hickman's Egg Ranch in Arizona and Herbruck's Poultry in Michigan as good stewards our food system. Hickman's houses about 4,000,000 hens and Herbruck's houses about 5,000,000 eggs, primarily in battery cages, raised indoors, on complex industrial diets.

On board seem to be Rachael Ray (whose name is obviously for sale for almost any project) and Sesame Street (so that children can be fooled early on), who have "lent" their names to the project. No mention is made of confinement systems, de-beaking, and hens unable to spread their wings, turn around, bathe themselves, or engage in any natural behaviors. Oh, wait, there is a section on "Animal Well-Being" where mention is made of a "comfortable environment" and "happy" hens.

The web site for the "project" is www.goodeggproject.org.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Maine's Restaurants Hide Behind Costs to Avoid Calorie Disclosure

Source: From Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Representatives of Maine's restaurant industry say a proposal to require restaurants to post the number of calories in their offerings on their menus and menu boards will cost the state's eateries thousands of dollars apiece.

At an Augusta news conference today, the Maine Restaurant Association came out in oppostion to LD1259, which was up for a hearing on May 5, 2009 before lawmakers.

Dan Gore of Amatos says now is not the time to require expensive new mandates for restaurants. "The timing of this is poor in our view, as far as the additional cost that would be associated with us having to change all of our menu boards and lables and menus to comply," Gore told MPBN's Susan Sharon. He was unable to provide an estimate of how much it would cost the chain, but he said the expense would be borne by individual franchisees.

Dick Grotton of the Maine Restaurant Association says he's concerned about a "patchwork quilt of rules and regulations across the country." Grotton said he would prefer a federal measure now pending called the LEAN -- or Label Education and Nutrition -- Act. "We think a better way to go is to have federal legislation that wpuld make it the same for restaurants that have 15 or more in the country under the same name to follow the same rules everywhere they go," he said.

The federal proposal requires restaurants to make nutrition information available, but not necessarily on their menus and menu boards. The measure being considered in Maine is sponsored by House Speaker Hannah Pingree.

[Editor's Note: This is typical restaurant industry nonsense -- but they do have the presentation down quite well.]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rockland County, NY Takes Another Stab at Calorie Counts on Menu Boards

Rockland County Legislator Joseph L. Meyers has reintroduced a local law called the "National Food Service Establishments Calorie Posting Law. " Similar to legislation he introduced last year, the law, if passed, will largely mirror a similar and successful law in nearby Westchester County and New York City.

There is an abundance of speculation based on recent comments by Governor Patterson that New York may attempt again a state-wide version of a calorie posting law. If a state or federal law is passed, the Rockland law recognizes that it may be preempted, and permits a recognition of preemption by a mere resolution of the legislature. Such a resolution would render the local law void.

Efforts in Minneapolis/St. Paul to pass calorie posting laws have slowed as opponents to the law have cited the slumping economy and the added burdens to restaurants as reasons to delay passage.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The FDA Should Ban Bromated Flour

Potassium Bromate is typically added to bread and other flours as maturing agent which promotes gluten development in doughs, making the bread stronger and more elastic. Commercial bakers use bromated flour because it yields dependable results and can stand up to bread hooks and other commercial baking tools. It is also used to render inferior flour with low protein levels more useable since these flours do not develop enough gluten on their own.

Bromate is also considered a category 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), meaning that it may be harmful when consumed. In theory, the substance is supposed to bake out of bread dough as it cooks, but if too much is added, or if the bread is not cooked long enough or not at a high enough temperature, then a residual amount will remain.

Potassium Bromate has been banned from use in food products in Europe, as well as the United Kingdom in 1990, and Canada in 1994, and most other countries. It was banned in Sri Lanka in 2001 and China in 2005. It is also banned in Nigeria, Brazil and Peru.

In the United States, it is not banned. In California a warning label is required when bromated flour is used. Some organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to ban Potassium Bromate as a food additive in the United States. Instead, since 1991 the FDA has urged bakers to voluntarily stop using it.

The FDA currently permits the addition of Potassium Bromate in flour provided that its inclusion does not exceed .0075 parts for each 100 parts of weight of the flour (or 750 parts per million). These regulations are found at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/FCF136.html.

To avoid packaged foods that contain bromate, look for “potassium bromate” or “bromated flour” in the ingredient list. Bromated flour is likely to be found in your local pizza shop, but not in Dominos Pizza or Pizza Hut (though it uses bleached flour). You will also find bromated flour in Arby’s French Toastix and Burger King’s hamburger buns. It is also found in the hoagie rolls at your local Johnny Rocket Restaurant (http://www.johnnyrockets.com/themenu/ingredients.php). You may also find in your supermarket flour brands, especially Gold Medal flours by General Mills.

Whole Foods Markets lists both bromated flour and potassium bromate as unacceptable ingredients for food on its web site: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/unacceptable-ingredients.php.

Consumers should be ever-aware of the ingredients they ingest from corporate bakers and fast food chains, and push for local legislation banning bromated flour until the FDA (and the federal government) gets its act together.

Monday, January 5, 2009

USDA Revolving Door Swings Again

The USDA’s Revolving Door Turns Again

Chuck Conner has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the interests of U.S. agricultural cooperatives.

He will begin work on or about February 1, 2009.

Conner has served as Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Agriculture since May 2005. From August 2007 to January 2008, Conner served as both USDA Secretary and Deputy Secretary. He also served as Special Assistant to the President from October 2001 to May 2005.
Before being brought in by the Bush administration, Conner served as President of the Corn Refiners Association from May 1997 through October 2001.