Posts Tagged ‘USDA’

Have the Feds Made School Food Worse with Government-Approved Junk?

Last week I attended the School Nutrition Association’s annual meeting in Boston, a gathering of the nation’s school food service workers. While most of the controversy lately has focused on the federally-required improvements to nutrition standards for school lunches, getting lost in the shuffle are new standards coming online this fall for school snacks and beverages. Read rest at TIME.com …

School Food Lobby Flip-flops on Healthy School Lunches

School Nutrition Association includes such Big Food sponsors as PepsiCo, Domino’s and Muffin Town.

Perhaps the most visible advocate for improving school food, Michelle Obama is now defending what shouldn’t be such a controversial idea: adding fruits and vegetables to public school lunches. Ask any nutrition expert what foods Americans — especially kids — need more of in their diet, and the answer would be the same: fresh produce. But some Republicans, such as Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, never seem to miss an opportunity to turn a no-brainer into a political battle, particularly when it comes to school food. (Who can forget the pizza as a vegetable debacle?) And just in time to give them the necessary cover, they got a gift from an unlikely source. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has asked Congress to approve waiver requests for schools that are struggling to comply with federal nutrition regulations aimed at improving children’s health.

Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods

coverThe United States is in the midst of a public health epidemic due to poor diet. While much of the focus has been on obvious culprits such as sugary soft drinks and fast food, dairy foods often get a pass. The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. But the context of how people consume dairy matters.

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USDA’s Proposal on Food Marketing in Schools Could Harm Children

Today, on behalf of Corporate Accountability International and in collaboration with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, I submitted the following comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its proposal to require schools to only allow marketing for those foods allowed under the agency’s “Smart Snacks” nutrition guidelines. (See also the excellent comments submitted by Public Health Advocacy Institute on junk food products created for schools.)

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Too Soon to Celebrate New SNAP Incentive Program in the Farm Bill

By Michele Simon and Daniel Bowman Simon

Some local food advocates are applauding the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program in the finally-passed farm bill. The idea is to provide cash incentives to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) for healthy eating. But a closer look reveals the celebration may be premature at best.

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Save the Food Stamp Program by Reforming It

With each attempt to pass the 2012 farm bill (yes, it has been that long), congressional Republicans keep ratcheting up their cruelty to poor Americans. While last year’s bill would have cut $16 billion to food stamps, the House of Representatives has now proposed an astonishing $39 billion reduction in benefits over 10 years. While many media pundits are outraged, and rightly so, missing from the national conversation are important questions about the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the federal food assistance plan formerly known as food stamps. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

How Smart are School Snacks? A Closer Look at New USDA Rules

In April, I submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of Center for Food Safety regarding proposed nutrition guidelines for “competitive foods” sold in schools. These are foods sold outside the school program and consist mainly of junk food and soda. Our position was that schools should do away with these foods altogether and focus on improved school meals. While some groups celebrated when the interim final rule was released in June, numerous questions remain. (USDA is calling the rule “Smart Snacks in School.”) I asked registered dietitian Andy Bellatti to take a closer look at the new nutrition guidelines for potential weaknesses. You can submit comments to USDA until October 28; the rule takes effect in the 2014 school year.

Read the interview at Center for Food Safety …

Ask a Food Lawyer: What does “natural” mean on food labels?

Short answer: Next to nothing.

With the nation finally waking up to the sad reality that truly healthy food doesn’t come in a box, food manufacturers are desperate to keep shoppers fooled into thinking highly processed food products are good for them. How do companies get away with this? Because the federal government lets them.

But it’s not for a lack of trying.

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How Did a Hepatitis Virus Get into Organic Berries?

It seems hardly a week goes by without another foodborne illness outbreak. This time, in frozen organic berries, proving once again that even the health-conscious are not immune from getting sick. Although you wouldn’t know it from the packaging, the contaminated fruit came from overseas, raising several questions such as: Can we trust the USDA organic seal on imported food? I address this and other issues about our globalized food system in my latest article for Center for Food Safety, which you can read on their site here.

Is Outrage Over the Monsanto Protection Act a Turning Point for the Food Movement?

In March, when I first wrote about how the biotech rider—called the Monsanto Protection Act by its vocal opponents—undercut the constitutional concept of separation of powers, it seemed hardly anyone (other than the usual advocacy groups) was paying attention. But then a lot of people got mad, really mad.

Within a few short weeks the issue exploded in the mainstream media, with the surest sign the issue had hit the big time being (what else?) coverage by The Daily Show (hilariously entitled, “You Stuck What Where?”). Another indication was outrage even from a Tea Party blogger.

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