Wisconsin cheese makers have found themselves caught in the middle of an escalating trade war. Some local companies that export are preparing to take a major hit as countries retaliate President Trump's newly imposed tariff on steel and aluminum.
The White House released a proposal on June 21 that would shift all food safety functions to the US Dept. of Agriculture while moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a new Bureau of Economic Growth within the Dept. of Commerce. Merging the Depts. of Education and Labor into a single also was among the proposed reforms.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said today it is launching a new TV ad campaign aimed at getting McDonald’s to improve its welfare standards for the broilers that are raised and processed for the restaurant chain’s various chicken menu items. The 30-second spot, which depicts chickens “genetically selected to grow too large and too fast” experiencing “abuse and suffering” on “factory farms,” will reportedly air in the Chicago market, McDonald’s home base.
Should a federal agency issue a regulation that will impose up to $3.5 billion in costs next year, and billions more in the coming decade — while delivering essentially no benefits? That sounds crazy. But a few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed to do exactly that. The proposal is the outgrowth of the long-standing national battle over whether to require labels for bioengineered (or genetically modified) foods. The USDA's analysis of costs and benefits deserves careful attention, even if it raises serious questions about its own proposal.In the summer of 2016, Congress required the USDA to impose such labels. Last month, the department responded by inviting public comments on the rule, called the Proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.The department was candid about the high costs of its proposal. In the first year, companies — mostly food manufacturers — would have to spend $600 million to $3.5 billion in compliance costs. (The range reflects uncertainty about some assumptions behind the estimates.) After an initial period of learning and adjustment, the annual costs would range from $132 million to $330 million. In the history of federal regulation, that may not qualify as monstrously expensive, but it's a lot.
A salmonella outbreak that has caused illness in 73 people across 31 states is linked to Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.Just before the agency announced the outbreak,the Kellogg Co. announced a recall of 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce packages of the cereal with a "best if used by" date from June 14, 2018, through June 14, 2019, according to a statement.Twenty-four of the sick patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC. New York has reported the highest number of cases -- seven -- while California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have each reported five cases. The other states involved in the outbreak have reported between one and four related illnesses.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intent to regulate lab-grown meat—a declaration that provides some clues about how the federal government will treat a new technology that upends some notions about food and agriculture. In some ways, it’s unremarkable that lab-grown meat would fall under FDA’s purview. It’s the federal agency that’s already in charge of ensuring the safety of most foods, from Hot Pockets to baby carrots and coconut water. What is surprising, though, is FDA’s signaling that it wants domain over a meat product. That’s always been the responsibility of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In theory, USDA regulates meat, poultry, and most “egg products,” like pourable egg whites, and FDA regulates everything else. In practice, the relationship between the two agencies is byzantine. A jurisdictional disagreement over mislabeled egg rolls led to a protracted regulatory standoff last year; FDA is responsible for closed-faced sandwiches, while USDA regulates their open-faced counterparts. This announcement suggests more confusion. While USDA will continue to regulate meat from animals, FDA wants to oversee cell-cultured meat grown in labs.
The Food and Drug Administration has been flooded this month with sour comments about its plan to require honey, maple syrup and cranberry products to include “added sugars” on nutrition labels.Remarks from New England maple syrup makers have been particularly bitter. They say they don’t “add” sugar to their naturally sugary product. “The only thing the producers do is evaporate water from the sap of this liquid gold,” one commented.The FDA counters that consumers should know how much “added sugar” maple syrup adds to pancakes. Judging by the flavor of the 2,900 comments submitted online, the reasoning has not been persuasive. “You have to be kidding,” a woman remarked. “You think someone pouring pure 100 percent maple syrup from a jug onto a pile of pancakes doesn’t know they are adding sugar to their breakfast?”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a July 12 meeting to discuss issues around the production and regulation of foods created from culturing animal cells. The meeting comes as more companies seek ways to develop “meat” and other foods without conventional farming practices, and as even traditional meat processors invest more in such companies. The trend has launched a debate about what can be defined as meat, how “cultured” products can be marketed and how they will be regulated.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue meanwhile is rolling out the new rules for labeling genetically engineered foods. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) as adopted by Congress requires food manufacturers to label food for retail sales to include information about bioengineered (BE) food and food ingredients. According to a 114-page economic analysis, additional costs for the initial year of labeling is going to cost the food industry and ultimately consumers $600 million to $3.5 billion. That is potentially more than both USDA and FDA spend annually on food safety. The ongoing costs, though, would be less at $114 million to $225 million each year.
A Texas couple claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that burdensome state regulations have put them in a pickle because they’re prevented from supplementing their income by selling more of their produce at farmers’ markets. Jim and Anita McHaney argue in their lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of State Health Services that the so-called cottage food law only permits them to sell one pickled item: cucumbers.The law governs the sale of produce, pies and other goods at places like markets and fairs. It also requires that sales don’t exceed $50,000 a year.The McHaneys say “value-added products” such as pickled okra, beets or carrots generate more revenue in their retirement and are important to help sustain their Berry Ridge Farm in Hearne, in Robertson County, according to one of their attorneys, Nate Bilhartz.Pickling also allows them to reduce the amount of aging produce that’s tossed to a neighbor’s cows for feed, Bilhartz said. If the state loosened its regulations, then the couple could take the produce that doesn’t sell at market, pickle it and sell it at a value-added price — generating added revenue to cover farm costs, he said.