Month: March 2014

Speaking Up

The past two weeks saw a relative absence of pivotal new issues in food and agriculture, but several topics maintained high-level dialogues among influencers. The discussion regarding the definition of wholesomeness and healthfulness continued on several fronts, while food manufacturers felt pressure in the form of identifying and limiting added sugars. Traditional grocery and quick-service chains continue to capitalize on “free-from” labeling to compete with growing competition from “supernatural” outlets. In addition, skeptics of the current school lunch program became increasingly vocal, requiring its defenders to underscore its benefits and successes.

Critics specifically challenged poultry production during this period, demanding—and receiving—responses from industry leadership. The Meat Racket continued to make waves in major media outlets. Meanwhile, the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule met heavy criticism in Congress.

Numbers, Figures and the Fine Print

Between announcing the federal government’s first major updates to the Nutrition Facts panel in 20 years and the restriction of in-school advertising of foods that don’t meet healthy guidelines, first lady Michelle Obama had a busy couple of weeks. Those announcements made waves throughout food and agriculture circles, as did a few other players who approached the issues with eye-catching facts to get results. Azodicarbonamide would probably have not been removed from Subway’s ingredient list had a blogger not pointed out that the common dough conditioning agent was also used in the manufacture of yoga mats. The USDA, in an effort to resuscitate its Food Waste Challenge program, calculated the waste figure in the trillions of calories. And a publicity writer compared the cancer risks of eating animal protein to those of smoking, generating a massive discussion about a well-debated topic in an academic study published in Cell Metabolism.