This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told food manufacturers to stop using partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major source of artificial trans fats in processed foods ranging from nondairy creamers, to baked goods, margarine, and microwave popcorn. The move, the FDA said, “is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.” Read more
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International trade agreements may seem like a long way from what you’re making for dinner. But the two agreements on the table this spring–the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—could have a profound impact on the food we eat.
The agreements have been negotiated behind closed doors and could be submitted to Congress soon. In the case of the TPP, it could even happen this week. If Congress approves what’s called “fast-track” authority, the agreements would have to be voted on as is–without any changes. And just this morning, Reuters reported that the U.S. lost its appeal to the WTO for repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for meat.
Civil Eats spoke to experts to find out what consumers need to know about these agreements. Read more
Last fall, after wondering for years about whether I should buy produce from farmers who claim that they are “organic, but not certified,” I dug into some big questions about certification. That process led me to explore many other seemingly respectable food labels that—while much less popular than organic—seemed to offer a similar, if slightly different level of transparency between eaters and farmers. Read more
In 2009, Dr. Ann Thorndike and a team of researchers implemented a change in the Massachusetts General Hospital cafeteria. Foods received green, yellow or red dots to show where foods were ranked on a spectrum of choices. As the hospital described it, “green for the healthiest items, such as fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein; yellow for less healthy items; and red for those with little or no nutritional value.”
Known to many as “traffic light” labels, this system had been championed by everyone from the hospital’s wellness program to its VP of human resources. “Everyone was talking about it,” Dr. Thorndike says. “If we were going to do this, I wanted to study it and make sure that it worked.” Read more
If you haven’t heard of nanosilver, you’re definitely not alone. But that doesn’t mean these tiny silver particles intended to kill bacteria aren’t ending up in your food. There are now over 400 consumer products [PDF] on the market made with nanosilver. These include many intended for use with food, among them cutting boards, cutlery, pans, storage containers, espresso machines, water filters, baby bottles, and refrigerators.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers nanosilver a pesticide and requires products that contain–or are treated with this germ-killer–to be registered with and approved for use by the agency. But most of the nanosilver products now on the market have not been reviewed, let alone approved by the EPA. Read more
When it comes to nutrition and public health, the U.S. can learn a lot from Latin America. Over the past year, Mexico, Brazil, and several other countries in South and Central America have passed some very progressive policies, often placing public health interests above those of the food industry. This is particularly impressive given the expensive politicking the food industry has engaged in in Latin America against public health policies. Here are five recent efforts we should all be watching: Read more
When Bradford Heap decided to make the menus at his two Boulder, Colorado restaurants 100-percent free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in June, he did it more out of principle than to please his customers. But he’s had no shortage of support. Read more
It’s easy for the average consumer to assume that food labeled “natural” is healthy, wholesome, and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). After all, the dictionary definition of the word natural is “existing in, or formed by, nature as opposed to artificial.
If you think the “natural” label means that a food product contains no artificial ingredients, pesticides, antibiotics, or GMOs, you’re mistaken—but you’re not alone. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 59% of consumers seek out the natural label, despite the fact that it has little or no meaning in the marketplace and no federal or third-party standards or verification. Read more
It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean food news stops. Below, we share some of the top news stories of the week.
1. USDA Overhauls Poultry Inspection Rules (The Hill)
After more than two years of proposals and push-back by advocates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) moved to put new poultry inspection rules in place yesterday. The voluntary rules would result in companies providing their own inspectors (while keeping one from the USDA in every plant), making it essentially a move to privatize the inspections. It will also mean fewer inspectors per plants, with each inspector looking at 140 birds per minute. Read more