Monday, November 28, 2011

GAO Report, FDA: Better Coordination Could Enhance Efforts to Address Economic Adulteration and Protect the Public Health

This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report examines FDA’s approaches to detecting and preventing economic adulteration of food and medical products. The report notes the challenges FDA faces in detecting and preventing such adulteration, but concludes, "FDA may not be making the best use of its scarce resources.” The full report is available here.

Neal Fortin is the author of Food Regulation: Law, Science, Policy, and Practice, and he is Professor and Director of the Michigan State University Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, where he teaches online courses in Food Regulation in the United States, International Food Law, and Codex Alimentarius

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WTO rules against U.S. country-of-origin labels

According to the Associated Press, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that U.S. "country-of-origin" labels on cattle and hog exports from Canada and Mexico violate international rules. In late 2009, the WTO opened an investigation into U.S. labeling rules at the request of Canada and Mexico. The country-of-origin labeling regulation took effect in 2008. Canada and Mexico each claimed their livestock industries were hurt by a sharp drop in U.S. cattle and hog imports because the labeling raised the costs and discouraged imports of their produce.

Under country-of-origin labeling, foreign cattle and pigs had to be segregated in U.S. feedlots and packing plants, prompting some firms to deal only with American livestock. Foreign animals also were required to have more documentation about where they came from and, in the case of cattle, had to have tags that indicated they were free of mad-cow disease.

More information is available here.

European Union's Food Information to Consumers Regulation

Since the vote of the European Parliament in July, we have been waiting for the EU Food Information Regulation to be issued in final form. It was published in the Official Journal (L) of the European Union on November 22. The citation is Reg. (EU) 1169/2011. OJ(L) 304/18, 22 Nov 2011.

This Regulation revises 20 years of EP and EC Directives and Regulations. Among the changes, the regulation requires nutrition label declaration of the "Big 7"—energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, and salt by Dec. 13, 2016. There are also new rules on allergen labeling and legibility. The regulation introduces a minimum font size of 1.2 mm for all mandatory label information, and 0.9 mm for products whose packaging has a largest surface of less than 80 square cm.

The full text of the Regulation (66 pages), European Union's Food Information to Consumers Regulation, is available at: Hat tip to Charles Woodhouse.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cooks Lie About Thermometers

Nancy Shute of NPR's Food Blog wrote in Why We Lie About Using Food Thermometers, "Just 20 percent of Americans say they regularly use a food thermometer to make sure they have cooked food safely, according to a new survey . . . And food safety experts say that a fair number of those people were probably fibbing."

          With the holidays coming, this is a good time to buy some good digital thermometers and give them to kith and kin. Some will give you an odd smile, throw it in the back of a drawer, never to see daylight again. Some will be prodded to cook safety, and the life you save could be your own.

          I like the CDN ProAccurate models, in particular the CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer. Whatever model you get, look for a fast read, accurate digital thermometer. Take multiple readings. It can be hard to find the coldest point. And make sure the coldest part reaches the temperature recommended by the USDA.