The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a giant among trade groups, is beginning to bleed members, with Nestlé the latest foodmaker to pull out, says Politico. "Complacency and a lack of leadership" at GMA are a factor, along with the hurly-burly of competing for sales in an evolving marketplace, it says.
The FDA is assessing whether 26 ingredients count as fiber on nutrition facts labels. “If you're a nutrition-label reader, the list includes some familiar-ish sounding ingredients — such as inulin, which is often sourced from chicory root,” says NPR. “Other ingredients on the 'do-these-count-as-fiber?' list include gum acacia, bamboo fiber, retrograded corn starch, and — get ready for the tongue-twister — xylooligosaccharides. Some of these fibers are extracted from plant sources, while others are synthetic.”
The anti-GMO group Center for Food Safety filed suit against the USDA to force release of a study on the impact of using digital disclosures such as QR codes to identify foods made with GMO ingredients. "In the United States, there has never been a food labeling requirement met by QR codes," says the center, which prefers a written label on food packages.
President Trump's nominee for FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, says he might delay the debut of the updated Nutrition Facts label, now set for July 2018. For the first time, the label would list how many grams of sugar are added to foods during processing, said Food Navigator. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts asked Gottlieb to consider a delay on grounds FDA has not finalized its "guidance" documents on dietary fiber and added sugar.
Pointing to a WHO agency finding that processed meat is "carcinogenic to humans," the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned USDA to require a cancer warning label on packages of bacon, ham, hot dogs and other processed red meat and poultry. Michael Jacobson, leader of the consumer group, said chances are slim the incoming Trump administration will agree with the petition, "but at CSPI we're used to taking the long view."
An on-line survey of more than 2,000 teenagers found they would cut back on soft drink purchases if they came with a warning label about the possibility of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, say researchers from the University of Pennsylvania medical school. Earlier this year, the research team said parents were less likely to buy sugary beverages for their children if warning labels were attached.
Reversing a two-decade federal policy on labeling, President Obama has signed a law that mandates disclosure of GMO ingredients in food via a symbol, a digital code or wording on food packages.
In a 2-to-1 vote, senators cleared the way for passage as early as today of the GMO-disclosure bill that pre-empts state labeling laws and allows foodmakers to use a digital code, a symbol or wording on food packages to alert consumers to genetically engineered ingredients. That would leave one week for the House to act before Congress adjourns for the summer.
Senate backers of the GMO-disclosure bill are optimistic of winning a showdown vote today that would allow passage of the bill this week. With little time for Congress to act before its summer recess, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said the Senate bill would arrive as a "take it or leave it proposition" for the House — and Rep. Mike Pompeo, sponsor of a successful GMO bill, said the House probably would accept the Senate version.
Vermont will stand alone among states when its first-in-the-nation GMO-food-labeling law takes effect on July 1. Some food companies already have changed their labels nationwide to assure compliance with the Vermont law and a spokeswoman for Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts said, "We hope to have something ready very soon" to preempt state labeling.
Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO food-label law takes effect in 18 days, a deadline that is a central factor in closed-door discussions on federal legislation to supersede it. "Negotiations are ongoing and we're moving in the right direction," said an aide to Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts.
A bill for mandatory labeling of GMO foods advanced to the Rules Committee in the New York Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature. The group GMO Free NY said it was up to Speaker Carl Heastie "to move the bill forward to a floor vote or let it die even though there are 82 of 150 Assemblymembers as cosponsors of the bill."
The FDA called on foodmakers and restaurateurs to reduce sharply the amount of salt in their products to help Americans avoid high blood pressure and the risk of chronic illness. The food industry balked, saying it already has low-salt products on sale and that the science on healthy salt levels was not as clear as the government says.
The updated Nutrition Facts label "is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices," said First Lady Michelle Obama. The new label, to be in full use by July 2018, prominently lists the number of calories in a serving, expands serving sizes in line with U.S. eating patterns, and for the first time shows how many grams of sugar are added to foods during processing.
Companion bills in the House and Senate aim to reduce food waste by standardizing the food-date labeling now presented in a confusing array of phrases such as "sell by," "use by," and "expires on." The legislation by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chellie Pingree of Maine is backed by food processors, consumer groups, environmentalists and the leading food-gleaning charity.
Effective June 8, the USDA will have a new definition of canned baked beans for its voluntary labeling program. In a notice to appear today in the Federal Register, the agency says the revised definition reflects advances in technology in the processing industry, rather than referring to a specific method -- pressure cooking -- for preparing the beans.
The leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee say they're trying to resolve the congressional stand-off over labeling foods made with genetically modified organisms, with the first mandatory labeling law to take effect in 10 weeks in Vermont.
For years, organic food has been the fastest-growing segment of U.S. agriculture, with a sales total of nearly $36 billion a year at latest count. "A deepening divide" is splitting the industry and "sparking litigation and allegations that the well-known label marking foods as organic no longer assures consumers that foods are free from chemicals and other materials, or that organic meat was raised naturally," says Huffington Post.