Heavy Cost of Menu Labeling Rule Delay?
A new independent economic analysis finds that the FDA decision to delay the national menu labeling law for one year (from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018) could end up costing consumers $15 for every $1 saved by industry. According to study, delaying implementation of the law increases costs through increased health care costs and loss of productivity. The finding is in contrast with the FDA’s benefit-cost analysis, which already conceded the cost to consumers was greater than any savings to industry by 2-to-1 ($2 cost to consumers for every $1 saved by establishments that have not yet added nutrition data to their menus). Calorie labeling allows consumers to make informed decisions when eating out, which can lead to lower-calorie choices and options. The study finds that changing the requirements could cost food service establishments additional hundreds of millions of dollars. The vast majority of establishments have also already incurred the initial costs of compliance. As a result, delaying the law is unlikely to result in any cost savings for them. Study was funded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Consumer Federation of America, and prepared by Mark Cooper, PhD.
Contaminated Eggs Cost Dutch Chicken Farmers $39 Million
According to Reuters, Dutch chicken farmers have suffered around $39 million in damages as a direct result of culls and other measures carried out after their eggs were found to be tainted with a toxic chemical. Investigators in early August detected fipronil, a flea poison, in slightly higher than acceptable levels on Dutch chicken farms, leading quickly to culls, quarantines, and other measures to prevent further production of contaminated eggs. In the following days, millions of Dutch chicken eggs and products containing egg were recalled in countries around Europe and as far away as Asia. Two Dutch men who ran the cleaning company Chickfriend were arrested on suspicion of threatening public health for using the chemical on chicken farms. Belgian authorities are investigating whether the Belgian firm that sold Chickfriend a cleaning product containing fipronil was also aware, complicit, or responsible for it entering the food chain.
Confusion and Dissension Over Date Labels
A new poll shows that nearly 60% of Americans have had a discussion within their household about the meaning of date labels on their food. The poll, conducted for the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Policy Action Network by Lake Research Partners, surveyed over 1,000 adult Americans of all ages and political leanings. The poll findings illustrate that the current range of variations of date labels such as “best by, use by, sell by, use or freeze by,” found on products around the country is problematic for consumers. The disparate terms cause confusion among Americans about what each of these different labels mean for product safety, and whether a food is still safe to eat. In fact, the survey found that 40% of adults say they have had disagreements within their household over whether a product should be kept or thrown away. In February, GMA and the Food Marketing Institute joined together to streamline and standardize date label wording to offer better clarity regarding the quality and safety of products. The new voluntary initiative streamlines the myriad date labels down to “BEST If Used By.”
In FDA News…
Three new guidances help producers of food commodities covered by FDA’s regulations for low-acid canned foods (LACF), juice HACCP, and seafood HACCP understand which parts of the FSMA rules apply to them and how the rules may affect their operations. FSMA recognizes that FDA has previously-established regulations that are specific to seafood, juice, and LACF and so some exemptions have been made in the FSMA rules for these products. However, there are still some requirements in the FSMA regulations that apply to processors of the seafood, juice, and LACF products.