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Food Safety News
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
January 24, 1995
Volume 3, Number 1
- EPA, INDUSTRY TO SEEK REVOCATION OF DELANEY
- EU TO REVIEW VEAL PRODUCTION PRACTICES
- MEAT INDUSTRY DROPS SUIT AGAINST E. COLI TESTING BY
- FARMERS' LOW PRICES DO NOT REACH SUPERMARKET
- MOTHER JONES EXAMINES PESTICIDE USE IN MEXICO
- BRODY CITES BENEFITS OF IRRADIATION
- RESIDUE SURVEY RESULTS RELEASED
- MYSTERY MEMO CURRENT FOCUS OF ESPY INVESTIGATION
- USDA PROPOSES TO BAN USE OF FRESH IN FROZEN POULTRY
- ORGANIC BREAD DOES WELL IN SUPERMARKETS
- CALIFORNIA CONSUMERS, FARMERS DEMANDING rBGH MILK
EPA, INDUSTRY TO SEEK REVOCATION OF DELANEY
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently called the
elimination of the Delaney Clause, which prohibits the presence of
carcinogens in processed foods, its number one priority for 1995.
EPA Assistant Administrator Lynn Goldman's news was quickly
praised by industry. "Delaney reform is our top issue," said Jay
Vroom of the American Crop Protection Association. Juanita Duggan
of the National Food Processors Association said elimination of the
Delaney clause was "long overdue." Duggan said her group will push
for congressional action on the Food Quality Protection Act, also
known as the Lehman-Bliley bill, in 1995.
Goldman's announcement came in the wake of a settlement proposed
last fall as a result of a lawsuit against EPA by the state of California,
the Natural Resources Defense Council and other public interest
groups. The group had sued EPA for non-enforcement of the Delaney
Clause and won. EPA will now have two years to review about 60
processed food tolerances and revoke the ones it finds in violation of
Delaney. Al Meyerhoff of NRDC said the settlement will remain valid
unless Delaney is revoked.
Earlier this month, the agency announced that it was proposing to
revoke tolerances for four pesticides in processed foods. "Although
these four pesticides posed only a negligible risk, the court decision
requires that we propose this action. We do not believe that most of
the approved uses of these pesticides will be affected," said Goldman.
The four pesticides are acephate, an insecticide used on cotton,
soybeans, peanuts and vegetables; triademefon, a fungicide used on
grains, fruit trees, grapes and vegetables; ipriodone, a fungicide used
on almonds, fruits, vegetables and peanuts; and imazalil, a fungicide
used on barley, bananas, citrus crops and wheat.
Source: "Industry to Push for Delaney Clause Revision," BNA DAILY
REPORT, January 9, 1995; "In Keeping With Court Decision on Delaney
Clause, EPA Proposes Revocation of Food Additive Regulations for
Four Pesticides in Certain Processed Foods," EPA PRESS RELEASE,
January 12, 1995.
EU TO REVIEW VEAL PRODUCTION PRACTICES
The European Union (EU) announced that it would review the practice of
raising veal calves in crates after weeks of protest and
hundreds of arrests over exports of calves from Britain to other EU
countries. France and the Netherlands, which still use the crates,
were specifically targeted. The review was originally scheduled for
1997; however, the fact that protesters successfully blocked ports
such as Shoreham from conducting exportbusiness forced the EU to
call for the review early. Raising veal calves in crates has been
banned in the U.K. for five years.
In response, British Agriculture Minister William Waldegrave said,
"Up to 500,000 calves a year are exported from this country to be
reared in other member states where veal crates are still used. Many
find this illogical and abhorrent." The Royal Society for the
Protection of Animals (RSPCA) said, "This is exactly what we have
been pressing for. It brings the end of this cruel and unnecessary
system a step closer." Farmers denounced the protests. "It makes us
angry and frustrated," said Martin Burtt. "We're struggling to keep
this trade open and if these southern ports are closed the animals are
forced to go on a longer crossing." Waldegrave is backed by Irish
Agriculture Minister Ivan Yates. However, other agriculture
ministers do not face the same public opposition.
In other EU news, Germany is renewing its call to ban imports of
British beef over concerns about the continental spread of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow
disease. The German Bundesrat issued a demand for a ban last
Friday after approving a motion which stated there was not enough
evidence available to prove that BSE could not be transmitted to
humans. Horst Seehofer, the German health minister who called for a
ban last March, changed his tune, telling the body that banning
imports was illegal and that rendered products were no longer being
fed to cattle. If the Bundesrat is serious about an all out ban on
British beef, it will have to seek approval of a similar measure in the
lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. German officials said this
is unlikely. Last July, the EU instituted measures that require
producers to research the history of animals they are selling to make
sure they did not come from or been in contact with BSE-infected
herds. Prior to last December, British beef from animals born prior
to 1992 could not be exported without being subject to a check.
Source: "Minister Applauds EU Move on Veal," FINANCIAL TIMES,
January 21, 1995; Michael Lindemann, "Germans Renew U.K. Beef
Ban Call," FINANCIAL TIMES, January 21, 1995.
MEAT INDUSTRY DROPS SUIT AGAINST E. COLI TESTING BY
Early this month, supermarket and meat industry groups dropped
their lawsuit against the USDA's testing of ground beef in retail
stores for the presence of the bacteria E. coli 0157:H7 after a federal
judge denied a request for an injunction on the testing. Judge James
Nowlin of the U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas said USDA was
within its legal rights to consider E. coli an adulterant and could
therefore test for it. In a statement, the groups said, "The fact that
such a misguided program could be initiated and, when challenged in
court, upheld by one judge underscores the need for fundamental
reform for the meat and poultry inspection system. Such reform
must involve both legislative and regulatory change." Groups
involved in the lawsuit include the American Meat Institute, the
Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association. Last
September, Michael Taylor, head of the Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS), announced that E. coli 0157:H7 would be considered an
Source: Joanna Ramey, "Suit Against Meat Testing Dropped,"
SUPERMARKET NEWS, January 2, 1995; "The Bad Bug," THE
ECONOMIST, January 7, 1995.
FARMERS' LOW PRICES DO NOT REACH SUPERMARKET
Cattle, hog and dairy producers all suffered under low prices during
1994, with many farmers losing money and going out of business.
However, none of these low prices were enjoyed by consumers. "The
consumer saw the retailer feature beef more actively when prices
were in the lower levels," said Lee Huntrods of the Iowa Farm
Bureau Federation. However, "the entire decrease in the value of the
product was not passed on to the consumer." An official at a Des
Moines, Iowa grocery store begged to differ, saying his company
passes on all price decreases to consumers. "We have passed on the
decreases as we have received them," said Ross Nixon of Dahl's Foods.
Huntrods countered, "If there's an inch to make a little extra profit,
you're going to make a little extra profit."
Source: "Low Prices Are Not Seen at Grocery Store," THE NEIGHBOR,
December 30, 1994.
MOTHER JONES EXAMINES PESTICIDE USE IN MEXICO
The January/February 1995 edition of MOTHER JONES examines the
use of pesticides in Mexico. In the Culiacan Valley of Sinaloa, the
article says 3,000 cases of pesticide intoxication are reported every
year. In Villa Juarez in 1993, a human rights group took 100
samples from local drainage canals. Ninety-five percent of the
samples contained 10 organophosphate compounds while three
contained organochlorines. Of these 13 compounds, only four are
permitted to be used in Mexico.
Mexican growers, in partnership with U.S. agribusiness, distribute
fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides not permitted in the
U.S. Mexican growers are under intense pressure to regulate growth
cycles to coincide with the season when fresh produce is not
available to many U.S. consumers. "In Culiacan sometimes they'll
spray tomatoes 25 times before they're picked," said Robert
Paarlberg, a political science professor at Wellesley College. "The big
distributors are down there now trying to convince Mexican
supermarkets that these perfectly round, perfectly formed fruits are
what their customers want. It's a big step backward as far as I'm
concerned. People used to be perfectly happy to buy oranges that
did not look alike at all."
One unnamed U.S. company spokesperson told the reporter, "We just
contract with them to buy the product. We do it precisely to avoid
the kinds of hassles you are giving me." According to Tom Pernice of
the Dole Food Company, "We recognize at the corporate level that this
(pesticide use) is an issue, and we are working on an approach that
can be used in foreign countries. We are going to craft somethingthat
could be successful." He declined to name the pilot projects aimed at
reducing the use of pesticides, which he claimed Dole was involved
in. Said Sandra Marquardt of Greenpeace, the system ensures
"residues don't show up in the marketplace. The longer this
continues, the more we'll have great looking fruits and vegetables --
and dead workers. That is just not a socially acceptable way of
Source: Esther Schrader, "A Giant Spraying Sound," MOTHER JONES,
BRODY CITES BENEFITS OF IRRADIATION
In a recent syndicated column, Jane Brody likened arguments against
irradiation to the same arguments heard at the turn of the century
when pasteurization was being debated. "Unfortunately," she writes,
"irrational fears about irradiation too often stand in the way of
rational consideration of its benefits and realistic consideration of its
risks when it is used to treat some foods that people eat." She cites
the following as benefits of irradiation: inhibits sprouting in crops
like potatoes, garlic and onions; destroys insects and parasites; delays
the ripening of fresh produce; extends the shelf life of meat and
seafood; and eliminates more than 90% of food borne pathogens.
SteriGenics International announced that it has opened a new
contract irradiation facility in Corona, California. The new plant is
the company's second; the first is located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Corona, California was selected as the best strategic location for our
largest gamma irradiation facility," said company president James
Clouser. "Our company's focus is providing the best customer service
with excellent turnaround."
Source: Jane Brody, "Irradiation Outcry as Vacuous as Old
Pasteurization Protests," MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, January 8,
1995; "A New Irradiation Site is Opened by SI in California,"
POULTRY & EGG MARKETING, January/February 1995.
MYSTERY MEMO CURRENT FOCUS OF ESPY INVESTIGATION
A mystery memo is the current focus of the investigation into alleged
impropriety by former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. Special
Prosecutor Donald Schmaltz is investigating a memo by Espy staffer
Kim Schnoor, which may have been backdated after the investigation
began, in an effort to protect her boss. In the memo, Schnoor directs
FSIS staff to continue working on a zero-tolerance standard for
poultry "similar to the policy announced by the secretary for red
meat." The memo was dated April 2, 1993; however, the document
did not show up in the original batch of documents subpoenaed by
federal prosecutors. "It came out of the blue at a late date," said one
Earlier this month, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan wrote to
Secretary of Agriculture nominee Dan Glickman, asking him to
investigate the lack of competition in the American meat industry.
Dorgan noted that five companies were responsible for 90% of all
slaughtered cattle in 1993. "Clearly we are moving toward monopoly
and that trend must be stopped," wrote Dorgan. A USDA study begun
in 1992 is examining the meat industry and should be released later
this year. Harold Davis, assistant administrator of the USDA's Packer's
and Stockyards Programs, said, "We hope that the study will help us to
better understand the industry and the effects of concentration."
Source: Bruce Ingersoll, "Espy Inquiry Focuses on Mystery Memo to
Learn if Cover-up Occurred Over Industry Favoritism," WALL
STREET JOURNAL, January 16, 1995; "Senator Demands Investigation
of Meat Industry," AGRI NEWS, January 12, 1995.
USDA PROPOSES TO BAN USE OF FRESH IN FROZEN POULTRY
The USDA is proposing that the use of the word "fresh" be banned
from the labels of previously frozen poultry. If poultry has been
frozen below 26 degrees Fahrenheit, then the label cannot bear the
word "fresh" under the proposal. Acting Secretary of Agriculture
Richard Rominger said, "The proposed change would ensure that
previously frozen products are not marked as 'fresh' poultry and it
would inform consumers when a soft poultry product they select has
been previously frozen." Said Michael Taylor, head of the FSIS, "It's
clear to consumers that fresh and frozen are two different things. To
claim that a product is 'fresh' that has been frozen is clearly
In response, Allen Rosenfeld of Public Voice said, "It was the
common sense thing to do and the right thing to do. Food
professionals say there is a difference in taste and texture between
fresh and frozen chicken. Consumers ... are willing to pay as much as
a dollar more per pound for poultry they believe to be fresh," said
Allen Rosenfeld of Public Voice. The National Broiler Council did not
react with such enthusiasm. "We maintain our position that fresh
poultry cannot be defined at one precise and arbitrary temperature
and that frozen is not the opposite of fresh," according to a statement
by the group.
Source: "U.S. May Bar Use of 'Fresh' To Describe Some Poultry,"
WALL STREET JOURNAL, January 12, 1995; Carole Sugerman,
"Poultry Labeling Could Chill Shippers," WASHINGTON POST,
January 12, 1995; Robert Greene, "Department Proposes End to Rock-
Hard Chickens Sold as Fresh," AP, January 11, 1995.
ORGANIC BREAD DOES WELL IN SUPERMARKETS
Once confined to food co-ops and natural foods stores, organic bread
is doing well in supermarkets where it is being test marketed. In
Bronx, New York, Food Emporium reports positive results are leading
managers to add new varieties. "We're very pleased with the results.
Already, consumer reaction has been good. We'll definitely continue
carrying it and will offer more varieties," said William Vitulli of Food
Emporium's parent company A&P. The loaves currently offered are
pre-sliced and come in varieties such as sourdough, wheat and multi-
grain. They sell for $3.99 for a 24-ounce loaf. The company said it
will also be adding an organic Kosher line soon. "Our bakery people
see organic bread as an up-and-coming commodity even though it's
more expensive," he said.
Mary Jane Butters, proprietor of Paradise Farm Organics, likens
purchasing organic products to "creating social change with your
shopping cart." Based in Moscow, Idaho, Butters said her company
has grown so much that it's mostly chemical-free offerings now fill a
24-page catalog. The products come from Butters' five acre organic
farm, her husband's 650-acre farm, which is making the transition to
organic, and another certified organic operation. "More consumers
want food that nourishes both person and place," she said.
Source: Roseanne Harper, "Organic Bread Is Sprouting as Successful
New Product," SUPERMARKET NEWS, January 2, 1995; Joan Abrams,
"Mail Order Activism..." LEWISTON MORNING NEWS, January 9,
CALIFORNIA CONSUMERS, FARMERS DEMANDING rBGH MILK
The Consumers Union, along with farmers and other community
groups in California, is demanding that the state label milk derived
from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).
The group says that if the state Department of Food and Agriculture
does not allow labeling, they will sue. A Monsanto spokesperson
would not reveal exactly how many farmers in California were using
their Posilac product except to say "a significant number and they
are all happy with the product." Because Monsanto direct markets to
farmers, the name of those using the drug is proprietary information.
Harry Snyder of the Consumers Union said it is completely
unacceptable that "the only people who know who's using the
hormone drug is Monsanto." He added, "The only way you can be
sure that your milk doesn't contain artificial growth hormones is to
buy organic." Last year, the groups petitioned the department to
enforce a California law, which classifies hormones as restricted
drugs. However, because the coalition could not present any new
information about adverse human or animal health affects, the
department threw out their petition.
In other rBGH news, last month's World Livestock, Dairy and Poultry
Situation Outlook by the USDA predicted that by the end of 1995,
more than a quarter of all dairy herds in the country would be
injected with rBGH. "Use of BST is expected to expand substantially
in 1995 as producers' initial experiences with the product are
generally positive," the report says.
A recent article in the journal BIO/TECHNOLOGY says rBGH sales are
off to a fast start despite consumer opposition to use of the drug
early on. Russ Hoyle calls rBGH-free milk a specialty product labeled
to exploit the fact that some farmers are not using rBGH. He says
that for companies like Land O'Lakes, the advent of an rBGH-free
product prompted widespread acceptance of its other products
because sales of its so-called Superior fluid milk product only
amount to 5% of total company sales. He says as any person in the
dairy industry knows, marketing products "BST-free" is a
scientific impossibility -- "a scam that plays on the credulity of U.S.
Farmers in Vermont report receiving between 10 and 30 cents a
hundredweight premium for remaining rBGH-free. The St. Albans
Co-op said it passed on its 10 cent premium paid to farmers in the
price it charges consumers. "Customers decided it is of value to
them" to have rBGH-free milk, said Board Chair Harold Howrigan,
justifying the increased price. While 10 cents more per
hundredweight, which calculates to about $1,000 extra per year for
an average St. Albans producer, isn't a lot of money, most producers
accept it. "I think it's a start," said one farmer.
The Vermont-based Food & Water is stepping up its campaign to get
mega cooperative Land O'Lakes to go rBGH free. The group
distributed 35,000 postcards to its supporters throughout the
country. The cards are addressed to the home of Land O'Lakes CEO
Jack Gherty. "Since Jack Gherty is apparently not getting the
message in his office about the massive consumer opposition to rBGH,
we're bringing consumer sentiments directly to his home," said Food
& Water Executive Director Michael Colby. Terry Nagle, a company
spokesperson, said he did not know why Land O'Lakes is being
targeted, but he would warn the postal carrier "there might be some
additional mail to carry."
Source: "Groups Want Labels Placed on Milk From BST-Treated
Cows," AGRI NEWS, December 22, 1994; Robert H. Brown, "Fourth of
Dairy Herds to Use BST," FEEDSTUFFS, January 2, 1995; Marilyn
Hackett, "Now BST-Free Pays Too," COUNTY COURIER, December 21,
1994; Lee Egerstrom, "Land O'Lakes Targeted for Use of rBGH," ST.
PAUL PIONEER PRESS, January 13, 1995; Russ Hoyle, "BST Off to a
Fast Start, Despite Early Stumbles," BIO/TECHNOLOGY, January 1995.
NUTRITION WEEK is a publication of the Community Nutrition
Institute in Washington, D.C. The newsletter is published weekly and
subscription prices begin at $75.00 ($40.00 for students). For more
information, contact CNI, 2001 S Street NW, Suite 530, Washington,
D.C. 20009, Tel: (202) 462-4700, Fax: (202) 462-5241, Email:
Organic Agriculture: Growing the Network, January 27-28, 1995,
Guelph, Ontario. FFI, contact: Hugh Martin, Ontario Ministry of
Agriculture, Tel: (519) 631-4700 or Tomas Nimmo, Canadian Organic
Growers, Tel: (705) 444-0923.
Food, Trade and Agriculture: A Northern Mexican Perspective on
Global Connections, March 1-10, 1995, Tucson, AZ. FFI, contact:
Aaron Strain, BorderLinks, 924 North 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705,
Tel: (602) 628-8263, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Safety News is produced by the Institute for Agriculture and
Trade Policy and edited by Michelle Thom. Electronic mail versions
are available free of charge for subscribers. For information about
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