Last week, with an assist from first lady Michelle Obama, the Food and Drug Administration announced a set of proposed improvements — the first in 20 years — to the nutrition facts label found on most food packages. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …
Ballot measure could become first sugary drink tax in California
Earlier this month, lawmakers in San Francisco introduced a bill that would tax sugary beverages at two cents per ounce, thereby setting off the latest big fight with Big Soda. The estimated $31 million in annual revenue would go to local health programs. Voters will decide the measure’s fate in November, with a two-thirds majority being required to pass.
Earlier this month, POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller stirred things up with “The plot to make Big Food Pay” about the potential for tobacco-style litigation brought by states to recoup medical expenses incurred for diet-related health problems. Several other media outlets responded with knee-jerk negative reactions to the idea, mostly out of ignorance. So Paul McDonald, the attorney pitching the idea to several states, is now setting the record straight. He allowed me to post his op-ed in POLITICO, in which he aims to explain the legal theory and moral rationale. Download the article here.
By focusing on marketing, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign won’t save our children’s health
Michelle Obama is probably the most popular first lady in recent memory, with approval ratings embarrassingly higher than her husband’s, at least in 2012. She is the picture of health, speaks openly about the challenges of raising two daughters and feeding them right and uses her platform to call attention to the country’s childhood obesity crisis through her Let’s Move program. And yet, with all this going for her, even she cannot make a serious dent in the problem of how food and media corporations are targeting children with junk-food advertising. Read rest at Al Jazeera America ….
The Other NRA: National Restaurant Association eviscerates the rights of customers, workers, and children
Food movement leaders tend to stick to their specific issues, whether it’s advocating for healthy food, fighting for workers’ rights or curbing marketing to children. For each of these issues, there are numerous food corporations that need to change. But there is one organization that conveniently provides us with one giant target for all of them: the National Restaurant Association.
In secret documents that I uncovered in November, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (aka food industry lobbyists) laid out its five-point plan for opposing the labeling of foods containing genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. First on the list: “To oppose all state efforts that would impose mandatory labels” including state legislation. With more than 20 states having introduced state bills to require GMO labeling, the junk food lobby has its work cut out for it. But they’ve wasted no time as the 2014 legislative session gets underway, starting with targeting the New Hampshire capital.
The food lobby wants a voluntary federal approach to GMO labeling, but we should let the states have their way, for now.
Those advocating for improvements to our broken food system have, of late, had little to crow about. However, in recent years, a growing movement to label foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has begun showing real promise. While the food industry continues to make unsubstantiated and deceptive claims that GMO labels would be confusing or increase food costs, polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans favor GMO labeling. And the states are listening. At least 20 states have proposed legislation requiring that genetically engineered foods be labeled. Read rest at Al Jazeera America ….
When I was asked yesterday by POLITICO to comment on a press release from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation celebrating the food industry’s alleged reduction in calories, I thought, Oh, that data we’ve been waiting for is finally is published. But I was wrong. As I reported last June, a collection of food companies calling themselves the “Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation” jumped the gun with a self-congratulatory release claiming to have made good on its 2010 “pledge” with the first lady’s Let’s Move campaign to reduce the number of calories in the food supply by 1.5 trillion.
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.