In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- Mark Bittman's op-ed in the New York Times last week discusses a potential change in the McDonald's pork supply chain. The company is requiring that by May, all of its pork suppliers present plans for phasing out gestation crates for female pigs. These crates are very small and prohibit the movement of the animals. While there is no guarantee that suppliers will actually change their confinement conditions, Bittman believes this could push the whole pork industry to reconsider gestation crates.
- Mars, one of the largest chocolate companies in the world, has announced that all of its candy bars will contain 250 calories or fewer by the end of 2013. The company says it seeks to help its customers enjoy "responsible snacking" and portion control. King-size bars will be replaced with packages of two to four smaller bars, to encourage consumers to save some of the candy for later. Mars will also decrease the size of some of its staple snacks; the Snickers bar, for instance, will shrink by 11%.
- The FDA is reviewing an application from AquaBounty Technologies to allow genetically-engineered salmon to be sold, unlabeled, in American supermarkets. The AquAdvantage salmon grow "to market size" twice as fast as normal salmon. Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm, have created a petition to push the FDA to mandate labeling of genetically-engineered salmon. So far the petition has nearly 230,000 signatures.
- NPR's food blog The Salt reports that the U.S. and the European Union have signed an agreement to treat each other's organic standards as equivalent. That means that any food labeled "organic" in the U.S. can be sold as organic in Europe, and vice versa. Organic farmers on both shores are happy for the opportunity to expand their markets overseas. The only exception is for meat that has been treated with antibiotics—in the E.U., this meat is organic, but it will not be labeled as such in the U.S.
- On Thursday, the Street Vendors Project sponsored a rally at City Hall to protest "excessive fines" and "ticket blitzes" by the New York Police Department. Street vendors are often charged with $1,000 fines for parking too far from the curb and for other infractions. The rally promoted legislation to ease fines and reduce the number of tickets doled out to vendors. The SVP works to organize street vendors and help them advocate for for their rights and businesses.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.