- The FDA has decided not to ban bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in plastics and food products. The Natural Resources Defense Council had submitted a petition asking the FDA to ban the chemical, which studies have linked to cancer and abnormal brain development. BPA is ubiquitous in many products, including the lining of cans for food products and plastics for beverages. The FDA maintains that its studies have shown the chemical to be much less prevalent in human bodies than NRDC claims.
- The USDA plans to expand privatization of poultry inspection services in chicken processing plants. The proposed HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) would place the responsibility for chicken carcass inspection on the processing plant. Currently, the USDA places Food Safety and Inspection Service officers on the line at chicken plants to check carcasses for safety violations. The HIMP plan has been piloted in two dozen plants since 1998. The proposed shift in responsibilities could result in the loss of many USDA jobs.
- The FDA responded to the Just Label It! petition, which asked that genetically-modified ingredients be labeled on food products. The petition received over 1 million signatures, making it the largest petition ever sent to the FDA. The Administration responded that they had not reached a decision on the issue, which is not all too surprising. But JLI! members are angered that the FDA counted the entire petition as one "comment" on the issue of labeling GMO foods. The number of total comments acknowledged was a mere 394. That's certainly not nothing, but pales in comparison to one million petition comments gone unrecognized.
- Del Monte Foods and Fresh Del Monte, two companies that split in 1989, settled a legal dispute this week. Del Monte Foods makes preserved and pet foods, while Fresh Del Monte sells fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh Del Monte sued Del Monte Foods because the latter had been selling cut fresh fruit under their label, thus breaching a contract distinguishing the two companies. A judge in Manhattan awarded Fresh Del Monte $13.5 million in damages, which was significantly less than the $66 to $270 million the company requested.
- The USDA has introduced a new certification for extra-virgin olive oil, called the Quality Monitoring Program. The QMP verifies the purity and quality of the olive oil, and conducts rigorous tests and inspections to ensure that the certification standards are upheld by producers. The first company to receive the QMP logo, Pompeian Inc. in Baltimore, imports olive oil from the Mediterranean region and South America. The company's oils will begin carrying the QMP logo later this month.
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.