From: email@example.com (Matthew Lehman)
Subject: NEWS: Food Safety Week - 5/3/94 (fwd)
Date: 5 May 1994 02:29:32 -0400
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Date: 04 May 94 06:32 PDT
From: Michelle Thom <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Recipients of conference susag.news" <email@example.com>
Subject: Food Safety Week - 5/3/94
Food Safety Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
May 3, 1994
Volume 2, Number 9
- rBGH NEWS OF THE WEEK
- LABELING GUIDELINES TAKE EFFECT THIS WEEK
- CLINTON RELEASES PESTICIDE REFORM PROPOSAL
- WSJ ATTACKS FOOD & WATER
- FARMER TO FARMER ASKS ORGANIC INTERESTS TO COMMENT ON
- MEAT NEWS
rBGH NEWS OF THE WEEK
Six dairy and food industry groups filed a suit in U.S. District Court in
Burlington, Vermont last week over Vermont's mandatory labeling
law for milk and dairy products derived from cows treated with
recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or BST). The lawsuit,
filed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IFDA), the Grocery
Manufacturers of America (GMA), the Milk Industry Foundation
(MIF), the International Ice Cream Association (IICA), the National
Food Processors Association (NFPA) and the National Cheese Institute
(NCI), alleges that the Vermont law violates the U.S. Constitution on
two fronts: federal supremacy and interstate commerce. "The
Vermont law is bad news for consumers and (the food) industry. It
raises serious constitutional questions as well as setting the stage to
mislead and misinform consumers about the safety of dairy
products," said Jeff Nedelman of the GMA.
Supporters of the legislation countered that the Vermont law is both
enforceable and necessary. "Some very big corporations don't want
consumers to have the right to make their own decisions. They are
trying to take away a very basic right," said Joan Mulhern of the
Vermont Public Interest Group. "Vermonters are wondering 'who
are these guys who don't want us to know about BGH?'" said dairy
farmer Jenny Nelson. Vermont's attorney general said last week that
he did not know that the suit had been filed. "I am not surprised
that there is litigation over the BST issue," he said.
In response to the growing labeling legislation movement, NFPA
recently asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clarify its
voluntary labeling guidelines "to assure national uniformity of any
state labeling requirements."
Recently, Maine Governor John McKernan signed a voluntary labeling
bill into law. Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson also signed
voluntary labeling legislation last week. In addition, labeling
legislation is pending in Minnesota, Rhode Island, Massachusetts,
New York, Connecticut, Michigan, New Hampshire, Missouri, West
Virginia and New Mexico.
Hot off the press is an announcement by two Minnesota-based
processors that they will begin marketing a new rBGH-free fluid milk
product this week. Land O'Lakes and Kemp's Marigold said they will
be certifying their producers through a signed affidavit system. The
Marigold product will bear a label on the carton which contains the
FDA contextual language; Land O'Lakes will be placing signs in the
dairy sections where their product is sold. A Monsanto spokesperson
said the company was "disappointed" about the move. A third
processor, Schroeder Milk, jumped on the bandwagon, saying they
will be offering a labeled product in the very near future.
When questioned recently about the two pending lawsuits against
Swiss Valley and the Pure Milk and Ice Cream Company by
Monsanto, a Monsanto spokesperson said the two dairies "falsely
imply to consumers that labeled products are safer, more wholesome
and in other ways superior to milk from BST-supplemented cows."
The Land O'Lakes product is called Superior; the Marigold product is
Sources at the state capitol say dairy industry and Monsanto
lobbyists are now trying to convince lawmakers that no need exists
for the voluntary legislation. Supporters of the bill say it is
necessary to ensure a future supply of rBGH-free milk if the Land
O'Lakes and Kemp's products fail due to the higher cost they are
Source: Wilson Ring, "Suit Challenges BST Labeling," BURLINGTON
FREE PRESS, April 26, 1994; "BGH Labeling Law Supporters Respond
to Lawsuit," VPIRG PRESS RELEASE, April 28, 1994; Joel McNair,
"Lawsuit Likely Over Vermont BGH Labeling Rule," AGRI VIEW, April
22, 1994; "Washington Report," DAIRY PROFIT WEEKLY, April 18,
1994; "States Weigh BST Labeling, Industry Seeks FDA Guidance,"
NUTRITION LABELING WATCH, April 25, 1994; Scott Kilman, "Dairy
Food Concerns Launch Products From Cows Not Treated With
Hormone," WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 2, 1994; Anne O'Connor,
"Marigold, Land O'Lakes Offer Hormone Free Milk," MINNEAPOLIS
STAR TRIBUNE, April 30, 1994; Land O'Lakes Press Release, April 29,
1994; Paul Adams, "NFU Calls for Monsanto Product Boycott," AGRI
WEEK, April 28, 1994.
LABELING GUIDELINES TAKE EFFECT THIS WEEK
Food processors across the nation will be implementing new FDA
labeling guidelines this week. The new labels will bear dietary
information claims such as "lite" and "low-cholesterol" must fit
certain guidelines. The FDA announced at the end of March that
stores would be allowed to carry products that were packaged in old
material prior to May 8. However, processing companies must
discard old packaging materials after that date. Many food
processors are reportedly angry over the decision. "The final
decision was excruciatingly clear, but all the talk before that wasn't,"
said John Roberts of the National Association for Specialty Food.
Source: Steven W. Colford, "Food Makers Await FTC Ad Guidance,"
ADVERTISING AGE, April 18, 1994; "Package Panic?" WALL STREET
JOURNAL, April 21, 1994.
CLINTON RELEASES PESTICIDE REFORM PROPOSAL
Last week, the Clinton administration released its proposal for
reforming two of the nation's laws that govern pesticide residues in
food. The proposal would allow a certain amount of pesticide
residues in food products if "a reasonable certainty of no harm"
exists. The proposal covers both raw and processed foods.
The Clinton plan would scrap the Delaney Clause of the 1958 Food,
Drug and Cosmetic Act. Delaney said that no known carcinogens
would be allowed in processed foods. The proposal also amends the
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
Neither industry nor public interest groups like the Clinton plan.
Industry groups favor the Lehman-Bliley bill, which would eliminate
cancer-causing substances that pose more than a negligible risk but
takes into consideration the economic impacts farmers might face if a
pesticide must be removed from the market. Steve Ziller of the
Grocery Manufacturers said the proposal contains some "fatal flaws."
Consumer and environmental groups support a bill by California
Representative Henry Waxman. The Waxman bill would essentially
prohibit the use of any probable carcinogen.
Carol Browner of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
defended the Clinton proposal, calling it the biggest food safety
breakthrough in 20 years. "You're looking at all risks, not just
cancer. You'll be looking at reproductive risks, you'll be looking at
effects on the brain, effects on the immune system. You'll be looking
at all of the effects, not just some of the effects," she said.
Source: John H. Cushman, Jr., "Clinton Proposes Revising Pesticide
Regulations," NEW YORK TIMES, April 27, 1994; Robert Greene,
"Pesticide Bill," AP, April 23, 1994; "Clinton Pesticide Bill Would Alter
Calculation of Food Cancer Risks," INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, April
WSJ ATTACKS FOOD & WATER
A recent editorial in the WALL STREET JOURNAL attacked that
Vermont-based group Food & Water for its position on food
irradiation. The editorial said the need for irradiation, which
involves the application of radioactive waves to food in an effort to
kill pathogens and other pests, is obvious given an outbreak of food
borne illness linked to eating hamburger at a fast food chain in the
Pacific Northwest last year. Food & Water has questioned the safety
of the technology for the past several years and has lead a
successful campaign to keep irradiated food products out of grocery
stores. The JOURNAL criticized the group for having only six
scientists -- "all are longtime antinuclear activists" -- working with
them. The editorial also contained a partial list of the foundations
which fund Food & Water's activities.
Source: "Food & Hysteria," WALL STREET JOURNAL, April 27, 1994.
FARMER TO FARMER ASKS ORGANIC INTERESTS TO COMMENT ON
In a recent memo, Farmer to Farmer asks organic farmers and public
interest groups to comment on the proposal by the National Organic
Standards Board (NOSB) to approve the use of synthetic substances
in organic food production. NOSB's processing committee has
recommended that synthetic substances, including products of
biotechnology, be allowed in organic production. The committee also
recommended that non-organic ingredients and processing aids be
labeled organic without going through the NOSB and the USDA.
Farmer to Farmer asks interested parties to comment on the proposal
and urge that no synthetic substances be allowed in processing or
post-harvesting of organic foods. For more information, contact Eric
Ardapple Kindberg, Ozark Small Farm Viability Project, Tel/Fax:
Source: "Call to Action," FARMER TO FARMER, April 7, 1994.
The USDA has selected a salmonella detection project as its top
research priority. The Agricultural Research Service said the
proposal to develop an electronic test for detecting salmonella was
ranked first among more than 300 proposals submitted to the
agency. The test, proposed by chemist Jeffrey Brewster, will detect
the presence of salmonella in water used to clean poultry carcasses
during processing. The USDA said it hopes the technology can be
extended to other food pathogens if the test can be developed and
The USDA is expected to kick-off a campaign aimed at educating
consumers about uncooked hamburgers today. USDA officials will be
present at a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia to kick-off the
campaign with the distribution of two million postcards to school age
children and others. The postcards feature a slogan that reads:
"Before you take a bite, make sure it's brown in the middle." Signed
by Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, the card also contains safe
cooking and handling instructions, warning consumers to cook meat
to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The Safe Food Coalition
said the USDA must be more aggressive in inspecting meat and
Last month, a WALL STREET JOURNAL article implied that the
poultry industry might be getting preferential treatment by the
Clinton administration given the first family's close ties to chicken
mogul Don Tyson, owner of Tyson Foods. Tyson responded in a
recent letter to the editor, saying he was weary of such claims.
"Neither I personally, nor Tyson Foods, Inc., has in any way asked for
or received special or preferential from any Clinton administration
(sic)." He goes on to say that his company works very closely with
government agencies in 17 states to ensure a safe poultry supply.
"Our own quality standards are generally much higher than those
required by government," he said.
A recent NEW YORK TIMES article says that Foodmaker, parent
company of the Jack-in-the-Box fast food chain, is still struggling to
recover after at least three deaths and several hundred illnesses
were linked to eating hamburger from the restaurant over a year
ago. Despite implementing a promising marketing campaigned aimed
at reclaiming lost and leery customers, securities analysts say it will
probably take the company another year to recover losses as a result
of the outbreak of food poisoning.
The Minneapolis school district recently canceled a day of "meat-out"
activities after complaints by the Minnesota Beef Council. The events
were scheduled as part of the district's Earth Day activities and
included a meal that did not contain meat products. "The allegation
that meat is somehow detrimental to the earth is false," said Ron
Eustice of the Council.
The European Commission warned that it will file an injunction
against Germany if it proceeds with its threat to ban imports of
British beef based on fears about bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease. Traditionally, it would
take the European Court of Justice about 18 months to file an
injunction to deal with trade conflicts between European Union (EU)
member nations. "In this case, we can get an injunction within two
weeks," said one official. Last week, German Health Minister Horst
Seehofer said he would resign if Germany did not take action to ban
British beef. "The position of the Germans is entirely unacceptable,"
said British Agriculture Minister Gillian Shephard in response.
Source: "Salmonella Detection Research at USDA Lab Picked As Top
Project," USDA NEW RELEASE, April 4, 1994; "U.S. Campaign Warns of
Hazards of Eating Undercooked Burgers," WALL STREET JOURNAL,
May 3, 1994; Don Tyson, "Truth and Fiction About Tyson Foods,"
WALL STREET JOURNAL, April 22, 1994; Calvin Sims, "Market Place,"
NEW YORK TIMES, April 26, 1994; Amy Jo Brandel, "District Cancels
Anti-Meat Activities," AGRI WEEK, April 14, 1994; David Gardner,
"Brussels and Bonn Near Beef Deadlock," FINANCIAL TIMES, April 26,
Meat Safety: Inspection System's Ability to Detect Harmful Bacteria
Remains Limited (GAO-T-RCED-94-123) is now available. For a copy,
write GAO, Washington, D.C. 20548.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON CROP PROTECTION, May 3, 1994,
Gent, Belgium. FFI, contact: Dr. L. Tirry, Faculty of Agriculture and
Applied Biological Sciences, Coupure Links 653, B-900 Gent, Belgium,
Tel: (32 09) 264-6152, Fax: (32 09) 264-6239.
BIOTECHNOLOGY AND FOOD: A PUBLIC ISSUE FOR EXTENSION
EDUCATION (nationwide video conference), May 12, 1994. FFI,
contact: Gene Schriefer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tel: (608)
CUISINE, AGRICULTURE AND SOCIAL CHANGE, June 9-12, 1994,
Tucson, AZ. FFI, contact: Gerry Walter, 59 Mumford, 1301 West
Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, Tel: (217) 333-9429, Fax: (217)
244-7503, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, 1313 5th Street SE Suite 303, Minneapolis, MN 55414, Tel:
(612) 379-5980 Fax: (612) 379-5982 EMail: email@example.com or
firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to this news bulletin, the
Institute publishes a variety of news bulletins on agriculture, the
environment and international trade. All bulletins may be
reproduced and distributed freely without prior permission as long
as proper attribution is included. A copy of any publication in which
an IATP bulletin is cited would be appreciated.