In April 2016, we posted about the lawsuit brought by environmental food and safety groups, along with fisherman trade associations, to reverse the FDA’s approval of a genetically engineered (GE) salmon. The complaint alleges that the FDA failed to evaluate how the GE salmon will impact the environment and that the farmed salmon will inevitably escape, “interbreed with wild endangered salmon, compete with them for food and space, or pass on infectious disease . . . .”
Continue Reading GE Salmon: What’s Really at Steak

Are Chipotle’s problems over?  Not yet.  Chipotle’s stock price  plummeted after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to its stores. Chipotle continues to face new lawsuits related to its food safety problems. This one comes from its investors: Chipotle shareholders have alleged that the fast food chain failed to disclose that “its quality controls were inadequate to safeguard consumer and employee health.”  Since the suit was filed in January 2016, numerous additional plaintiffs have joined in and the court has appointed a lead plaintiff and plaintiffs’ counsel.  Chipotle has not answered the claims yet.
Continue Reading Chipotle Faces New Challenges

Last November, we posted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved a genetically engineered (GE) salmon: AquaBounty Techonologies’ AquAdvantage Salmon. This approval marked the first time that the FDA authorized selling a genetically engineered animal for human consumption.

Immediate backlash followed the FDA’s November 19, 2015 announcement from environmental and consumer advocacy groups. On March 31, 2016, environmental and food safety groups, as well as fisherman trade associations, sued the FDA and related agencies in federal court in California. The suit seeks to reverse the FDA’s approval of the fish for human consumption.
Continue Reading Lawsuit Challenges FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon

On November 19, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved as fit for human consumption a genetically engineered (GE) salmon. AquaBounty Technologies AquAdvantage Salmon has been modified to grow faster than non-engineered farmed salmon. This marks the first time the FDA has authorized the sale of a genetically engineered animal as food.

Because the FDA determined that there are “no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon,” AquAdvantage will not need to label the fish as genetically modified. The FDA further found that approving the GE salmon would have no negative environmental impact.
Continue Reading FDA Approves First Genetically Engineered Animal for Human Consumption

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is again voicing concern about caffeinated foods. The latest in caffeine-laden food trends is a new caffeinated peanut butter which boasts the equivalent of two cups of coffee in two tablespoons of peanut butter. In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senator Schumer urged the agency to investigate the effects of an increased presence of caffeinated food products and, in particular, the safety of STEEM’s caffeinated peanut butter product. Schumer is particularly concerned that children could suffer health effects from ingesting too much caffeine (perhaps unknowingly). In 2010, Senator Schumer was involved in the FDA’s decision to send warning letters to four manufacturers of alcoholic beverages containing caffeine because Schumer believed the drinks were packaged to appeal to minors. Those warning letters resulted in each of the four manufacturers ceasing production of their products. Then, earlier this year, Schumer was one of several senators who pushed for a ban on pure powdered caffeine. Now, he urges the agency to consider that an increasing number of “everyday” foods, like Steem Caffeinated Peanut Butter, pose a public health risk, particularly for kids.
Continue Reading Peanut Butter Pick-Me-Up

Hot dogs, sausages, and corned beef now have something in common with asbestos, benzene, and ionizing radiation.  They are in the same class of cancer-causing substances, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  The organization’s October 26, 2015 press release states that a group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (IARC Group 2A), and processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” (IARC Group 1).  The group made the classifications after “thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature” and finding an association between consumption of red meat and colorectal cancer, and an increased risk of colorectal cancer with each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily.
Continue Reading A Meaty Issue: Do Red and Processed Meats Cause Cancer?

On July 23, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would restrict state and local governments from regulating the use of genetically modified (GM) plants in food if that regulation affects interstate commerce.

The bill, H.R. 1599, passed in a 275-150 vote after the bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., claimed that the bill is in line with the “overwhelming” scientific evidence on the safety of GM foods.  Specifically, Pompeo said that “[p]recisely zero pieces of credible evidence have been presented that foods produced with biotechnology pose any risk to our health and safety.”  He further stated that “ it is not the place of government — government at any level — to arbitrarily step in and mandate that one plant product should be labeled based solely on how it is bred, while another, identical product is free of government warning labels.”
Continue Reading The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Restricts State and Local Government from Regulating GMO in Food

The FDA announced today that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of trans fat in food, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS).  As explained in more detail here, foods that contain products that are not GRAS are adulterated and may not legally be sold in the U.S. without prior FDA approval.

The FDA’s decision, scheduled to be officially published on June 17, 2015, sets a three year compliance period.  By June 18, 2018, companies must eliminate PHOs from the foods they sell or obtain FDA approval to continue including PHOs in their products.
Continue Reading UPDATE:  FDA Announces Decision on Trans Fats

The FDA is expected to announce a final rule that could effectively eliminate most trans fat from food in the United States.  In 2013 the FDA announced its preliminary finding that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – – the source of most trans fatty acids in American’s foods – – are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in any food.  If the FDA makes final its preliminary finding, PHOs will no longer enjoy GRAS status and will be subject to greater scrutiny by the FDA.

The regulation of trans fats can be traced back to 1999 when the FDA first proposed that manufacturers be required to declare the number of grams of trans fat on their nutrition labels.  Due to growing public health concerns, the FDA finalized this rule in 2006.  That rule resulted in reduced amounts of trans fat in food products.  A final rule that strips trans fat of GRAS status would subject food products with trans fat to greater scrutiny and may effectively eliminate all trans fat from those products.
Continue Reading FDA Poised to Ban Most Trans Fats

In April 2015, Blue Bell Creameries announced a full, nationwide recall of all its products.  It didn’t take long for a lawsuit to be filed.

On Tuesday, the first lawsuit seeking to hold Blue Bell liable for illness caused by listeria-contaminated ice cream was filed in the United States District Court, Western District of Texas. Plaintiff David Philip Shockley seeks unspecified damages in a negligence lawsuit. Shockley says that while living in Houston, Texas, in October 2013, he was hospitalized for respiratory failure and septic shock. Doctors diagnosed him with listeria meningitis with encephalitis and Shockley suffered brain damage. Shockley alleges he regularly ate single serving Blue Bell ice cream, provided by his employer.  In 2013, Mr. Shockley was 31 years old and was employed as a director and administrator at a nursing home/retirement community.
Continue Reading UPDATE: Ice Cream Recall Begets First Lawsuit