Archive for 2013

Holding Big Food Accountable for False Claims of Responsible Marketing to Children

by Michele Simon and Cara Wilking

Looking back at 2013, while the food movement made progress in certain areas (such as school food and GMO labeling), when it comes to exploitative food marketing to children meaningful change remains elusive. Let’s Move director and White House chef Sam Kass recently acknowledged the obvious when he said this issue was “really tough” given how much money is at stake for industry.

All we seem to hear from the major food corporations about marketing to children are self-serving promises and announcements of future changes. As public health lawyers, that got us wondering, who’s making sure even these minimal commitments are being kept? The question is worth exploring if we want to actually improve children’s diets—not just create positive PR buzz for Big Food. With reports of adults ever-deteriorating eating habits in 2013 coupled with appalling teen heart health, the health stakes are too high to just wait for the food industry to do the right thing.

Continue reading →

Where Does the GE Food Labeling Movement Go from Here?

Big Food Recycles its Lies and Dirty Tricks in California to Fool Washington State Voters into Rejecting Labeling Initiative

The final result from Washington State’s ballot initiative to label genetically-engineered foods was painfully close. A mere two percentage points (38,000 voters) made the difference between yes and no. Similarly, last year in California, the Yes side lost by a narrow margin. Also in both states, early polling showed a strong lead, which was then chipped away at by a barrage of ads from the No campaign. Lying underneath this same pattern is an ugly industry play book that explains how voters can change their mind so easily.

Continue reading →

Behind Closed Doors: Who’s Taking Meetings with FDA on Food Safety

FDA logo

When President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011, it was considered a long-fought, but significant and bipartisan victory to update the Food and Drug Administration’s authority and oversight of the food supply. While much of the wrangling over the language of the law was made public, through media coverage of Congressional hearings for example, the ensuing industry influence over implementation of the law has been subject to far less public scrutiny (with the exception of FDA’s unlawful delay of FSMA’s critical implementing regulations, which Center for Food Safety has successfully sued over.

Continue reading →

Brute Force Takeover of VegNews Magazine

December Issue Erases Co-Founder Colleen Holland as Editor Joe Connelly Attempts to Rewrite History

In March, I wrote about the sad legal dispute over VegNews magazine. Joe Connelly had filed a ridiculous lawsuit against Colleen Holland claiming to be sole owner of VegNews, despite plenty of evidence (and what anyone who was paying attention knew) that the two had co-created and together ran the award-winning publication as partners since its inception 13 years ago.

Continue reading →

How Low Can McDonald’s Go to Disrespect its Workers?

IFWW

It seems both ironic and fitting that while most Americans are obsessed with food for the Thanksgiving holiday, this week also marks International Food Workers Week, organized by the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

While many large restaurant chains and other sectors of the food industry bear responsibility for mistreating their workers, recently, McDonald’s has engaged in a series of jaw-dropping and idiotic communications with its workforce. Each one is a painful reminder of how impossible it is to live on fast-food wages.

Continue reading →

Is the End of “Natural” Labeling Near?

This article of mine originally appeared in print in Functional Ingredients magazine and is available online for registered users at New Hope here. See other posts on this subject here and here.

Last year in this space I asked if it was time for the Food and Drug Administration to define how food makers can and cannot make “natural” claims on their labels. With Americans looking for healthier options, more food companies are jumping on the natural bandwagon, despite many overly processed products being anything but.

Continue reading →

Industry’s Secret Plan to Get the Feds to Kill GMO Labeling in Every State

Internal documents from the Grocery Manufacturers Association reveal height of corporate chutzpah. Industry’s solution to GMO labeling is to: “Pursue statutory federal preemption which does not include a labeling requirement.”

With the disappointing results now in from I-522, the initiative in Washington State that would have required labeling of genetically-engineered food (aka GMOs), the looming question is, what’s next? At least for the junk food lobby, that answer in painfully clear: stop this state-level movement at any cost. In today’s New York Times, Stephanie Strom reports on the dirty details contained in industry documents that I obtained from the Washington State attorney general’s office in the wake of a lawsuit brought against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for illegally concealing donors to the No on 522 campaign.

Continue reading →

Media Coverage for Clowning Around with Charity Report

Clowning_Around_Charity_Report_CoverI am pleased to see so many media outlets take an interest in my recent report, produced in collaboration with Corporate Accountability International and the Small Planet Fund.  Below is a round-up of the coverage so far.

USA Today: McDonald’s slammed over Ronald McDonald House giving. Also published in:

-       Democrat and Chronicle
-       Tucson Citizen
-       THV 11
-       The Indianapolis Star
-       Green Bay Press Gazette
-       Courier-journal.com
-       Livingston Daily
-       Courier Post Online
-       Wausau Daily Herald
-       Wisconsin In a Rapids Tribune
-       Ithaca Journal
-       Lohud.com
-       Press Connects
-       UTNE Alt Wire
-       Daily Tribune
-       Journal News
-       Press & Sun Bulletin
-       The Post-Crescent
-       Fort Myers News-Press

Continue reading →

Clowning Around with Charity: How McDonald’s Exploits Philanthropy and Targets Children

New report from Eat Drink Politics exposes McDonald’s charitable activity as a marketing tool to deflect critics

Clowning_Around_Cartoon_only

Pop quiz: Who do you think funds the hundreds of Ronald McDonald Houses around the nation? McDonald’s right? Sort of, but not really. While McDonald’s gets 100 percent of the brand benefit from Ronald McDonald House Charities, the burger giant only provides about 20 percent of its funding globally. At the local level, it’s closer to ten percent, with some of that money coming from donation boxes at McDonald’s outlets, that is, from customers.

Continue reading →

Junk Food Lobby Forced to Disclose Donors to its Secret “Defense of Brand Strategic Account”

“This is the largest amount of money ever concealed in an election,” says Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as tobacco-style tactics by likes of PepsiCo and Nestle are revealed in Washington State’s lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association over GMO labeling fight.

Just a few weeks ago, attorneys for the No on 522 campaign were feeling rather smug when a lawsuit filed against them by a group called “Moms for Labeling” was dismissed. As I wrote last week, consumer class action attorney Knoll Lowney sued the No on 522 and the Washington DC-based Grocery Manufactures Association (lobbyists for major food corporations) for not disclosing the donors behind GMA’s $7 million-plus donation to stop I-522, which would require genetically-engineered foods to be labeled. The judge threw out that case on a technicality.

But then, Big Food’s arrogance got the best of them.

Continue reading →

Join Email List

Speaking Requests

Media Requests

Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

Archives

  • 2014 (38)
  • 2013 (67)
  • 2012 (70)
  • 2011 (53)
  • 2010 (49)