All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Soda, Rainforests, and Peanut Butter Felons



It’s been a busy week in food news; catch up with us here.

1. Soda Makers Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Join in Effort to Cut Americans’ Drink Calories (New York Times)

This week, the American Beverage Association announced that major soft drink companies were pledging to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. This might sound like a big deal, but if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the companies are not planning to sell fewer products. Rather, they’re “expand[ing] the presence of low- and no-calorie drinks, as well as drinks sold in smaller portions.” And as author and New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle points out: soda sales are already on the decline. If the industry is serious about helping Americans drink fewer sugary beverages, it would drop its $2 million opposition to soda taxes in San Francisco and Berkeley.

2. FDA Revises Food Safety Rules Due Next Year (Associated Press)

Thanks in part to a large public outreach campaign by the sustainable agriculture community, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has re-proposed its upcoming food safety rules, making them friendlier for small farmers. According to the AP, the new proposal would relax some standards for the amount of bacteria that can be found in irrigation water and reduce the amount of time required between fertilizing crops with raw manure and harvest, among other things. In it’s blog, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition described the rules as responsive to their concerns, but still plans to go over them with a fine-toothed comb.

3. General Mills Shareholders Reject Proposal to Dump GMOs (Los Angeles Times)

Around 98 percent of General Mill’s shareholders voted not to do away with genetically engineered ingredients in their products. One of the most interesting parts of the story, however, is the fact Harriett Crosby, the great-granddaughter of the company’s co-founder, had been the one to push for the ban in the first place. “I think we can do better and improve our brand and the value of General Mills by eliminating GMOs from our products,” she told shareholders. Note: The company just shelled out $820 million in cash for organic brand Annie’s Homegrown. We’ll be watching where this goes.

4. Countries Pledge to End Forest Loss But Not Brazil (USA Today)

At this week’s climate summit, 32 countries and 39 major companies–including food and agriculture companies, such as Nestle, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Cargill–agreed to reduce deforestation sharply over the next 15 years, with the goal of eliminating the practice by 2030. Sadly, Brazil, the nation with the most rainforest rapidly becoming industrial farmland, chose not to sign the agreement. If the non-binding pledge does come to fruition, it could be a boon for the atmosphere, or the equivalent of “taking every car in the world off the road,” says the United Nations.

5. Unprecedented Verdict: Peanut Executive Guilty in Deadly Salmonella Outbreak (CNN)

Six years after the notorious outbreak, a Georgia court found the former owner of a peanut company guilty of conspiracy and fraud, among other charges.

6. FDA’s First Food Safety Challenge Targets Salmonella Detection

In hopes of improving and expanding on the number of tools available for salmonella detection, FDA has set up challenge for those “outside the agency who are not traditionally working in food safety—be they scientists, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers or physicists” who might have a solution to early detection of the pathogen. The agency is offering a $500,000 prize.

Let us know if there are other stories you saw this week in the comments below.

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