From Junk Food to GMOs: New Food Rules of 2013

4 years ago

Many changes may soon be afoot this year in the food world. But, how will these changes affect us? Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University gives her two cents on these issues.

The following is an outline of some of Ms. Nestle's food predictions for 2013:

(a) The production of genetically modified salmon to be FDA approved this year could be a really big change. Currently, Canada and Panama are raising salmon and it seems that the FDA doesn't; find an environmental impact on the U.S. Will this salmon truly be safe to eat? Who will it be safe for -- those who invest the money in raising the fish? What about world hunger?

(b)  There has been so much in the news about labeling genetically modified foods. The prediction is that, yes, there will be pressure to label these foods.

(c)  What will the outcome be in order to have Congress move on a decision regarding change in the farm bill? Will it be restructured in a way that agricultural policy will promote sustainability and health? We've yet to see where this goes.

(d)  Another prediction is that there will be approved regulations for more compelling food safety guidance. The Food Safety Modernization Act that was signed by President Obama in January of 2011, was held up by the White House and is currently open for public comment. Will there be preventative measures put into place to ensure higher quality and safety surrounding food?

(e)  There will be new rules for menu labels from the FDA. Per the Affordable Care Act of 2010 there was a requirement put into place for caloric information to be posted by chain and fast-food and restaurants as well as vending machines. There was an application of these rules applied to movie theaters and several other venues, but due to lobbying efforts this hasn't happened.

(f)   What will happen with such tremendous opposition of many food companies that obviously want to keep their businesses thriving by selling junk food to kids in schools? Although the USDA did in fact issue nutrition standards for school meal in January 2013, there was a fight against it. What is perplexing to see is how can Congress say that tomato sauce on pizza counts as a vegetable serving? Really? What will happen with changes in food policy?

(g)   It looks like the FDA will delay the revision of food labels -- predicted of course, but we'll have to see where this decision goes. Even if the Institute of Medicine worked on issues dealing with the front-of-package labeling and advising the FDA to work with 4 items to make food label reading easier for the consumer, food companies did their own labeling. What will "hold up" as an adequate food label?

(h)   Will the FDA really look out for the best interest of the consumer to make better and wiser food choices?

(i)    Another prediction for this year will be to add on to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by adding food stamps. What will antihunger advocates do to try to keep these benefits and what will antiobesity advocates do? Will they work together?

(j)    There is a prediction to continue the fight against sugar-sweetened beverages as it has been seen to be linked with childhood obesity.

(k) Lastly, the conclusion is that since it has been so difficult to rely on the help of government to follow through with many of the above-mentioned predictions, there will be more grassroots efforts in order to create better systems of food production and consumption for a healthier environment and people. Yeah!

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