In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- In the continued uproar about pink slime, the low cost extender often added to ground meat products, New York City schools announced this week that they are banning the product from school lunches this coming fall. The USDA decided last week to allow schools the option to choose between meat containing pink slime and meat without. About 700,000 NYC public school students qualify for free school lunch.
- The Natural Resources Defense Council and a team of environmental advocacy groups prevailed in a lawsuit against the FDA. The lawsuit was to urge the FDA to take action on a 1977 determination that antibiotics fed to livestock present health problems for humans. The determination was never acted upon, but misgivings about antibiotic presence in livestock feed has increased over the last several years. The FDA will hopefully begin hearings on the issue shortly.
- Mother Jones has a series this week investigating the green initiatives that Walmart has undertaken in the last few years. Particularly, Tom Philpott looks at the company's organic and local produce initiative. He notes that it seems that Walmart is largely pushing that program to get credit for local purchasing that it was already doing. The series has some interesting charts and facts about Walmart; for instance, the company's annual net sales of $419 billion beat out Norway's entire GDP.
- In the face of recent soda tax initiatives, PepsiCo has spent over $17 million lobbying against a national implementation of the so-called "sin tax." But in a somewhat ironic twist, the company recently imposed a $50 per month tax on employees of the company who smoke or have obesity-related illness. Unionized workers attempted to find another health care provider to avoid their own sin tax, but PepsiCo failed to turn over appropriate documents to allow workers a new health care option. The workers have sued and are working on a settlement.
- The USDA's Agricultural Research Service released results from an ongoing study that looks at the dietary patterns of Americans. An analysis of the snacking habits of more than 5,000 people reveals that solid fats and added sugars comprise about 900 calories per day in the average American diet. About 50% of respondents said they snacked twice or more per day, an increase from 25% in 2010.
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.