Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

2010 In Food News

In 2010 consumers balanced mistrust of big government with a desire to have safer and healthier food, especially for children.

2010 In Food News:
Food Modernization Act | The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act | Consumer Concerns

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

Photo: Speaker Pelosi (via Flickr)

On December 13, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, DC. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Food policy spent a great deal of time in the headlines in 2010. From concerns about seafood raised by the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico to California’s crack down on the McDonald’s Happy Meal, lawmakers and consumer advocates made food policy a top priority. However, if there was one theme to unite all of the events, it would be a story that has spread through many other areas of 2010 political debates: who should protect American consumers, and how big should the government be?

Three areas in particular felt this pull between a desire to regulate the way America’s food is produced and a growing weariness of any expansion of government power. A series of food-borne illness outbreaks hastened the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act; Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign brought school nutrition back into public focus; and a series of nation-wide court cases attempted to balance power between small farms, big ag, and food service giants.

Join us as we review Earth Eats’ coverage of this year in Food News.

Food-Borne Illness And The Food Safety Modernization Act

Food Safety

Photo: Julie Rooney/Farm Sanctuary (flickr)

2010 saw many outbreaks of food-borne illness as well as the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act


Food-Borne Illness and the Food Safety Modernization Bill

Feb 17th – 1.3 Million Pounds of Salami are recalled due to a salmonella outbreak.

Rhode Island-based company Daniele International undergoes investigation by the US Department of Agriculture and the Center for Disease Control after 233 people are made sick by salami sold from its factory.

May 14th: 23 people are sick from E. Coli found in Romain lettuce

The strain of E.Coli found in the lettuce was more difficult to detect and not often tested for.

May 25th: Salmonella-infected Alpha Sprouts make 22 people sick

The recall affected ten states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin. Six people had to be hospitalized.

June 28th: Kellogs recalls 28 million boxes of waxy cereal

The company has voluntarily recalled Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks after several Kellogg products had been tainted with a waxy chemical that produced a noticeable odor.

August 3rd: BPA ban is removed from the Food Safety Modernization Bill

Although the safety of BPA was repeatedly brought into question in 2010, a BPA ban was removed from the Food Safety Modernization Bill.

August 6th: Final Vote on the Food Safety Modernization Bill was Delayed

September 19th: Aqua-Advantage Salmon, the first genetically-modified animal made for human consumption, is introduced

One company’s answer to crowded salmon farms and overfishing problems is to supplement U.S. demand by engineering a species of salmon. The creator of AquaAdvantage Salmon, AquaBounty Technologies Inc says that the salmon are safe for human consumption, but critics are skeptical.

October 29th: Five people die from Listeria-infected celery

Sangar Produce & Processing in San Antonio was recently shut down by the state of Texas after an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in celery made ten people sick, five of whom died.

November 30th: Senate Passes Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510)

The bill gives the FDA authority to recall food, conduct inspections, and demand heightened accountability and record-keeping by farmers and producers. Farms that sell less than $500,00 worth of food annually will be exempt from the regulations.

December 8th: FDA report reveals that 29 million pounds of antibiotics are used annually to raise animals for human consumption

The FDA released guidelines saying that antibiotics in meat pose a “serious public health threat” because of the contribution to creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The agency recommended that producers refrain from drug use to speed growth and reduce feeding costs, and instead use them only when medically necessary.

Read more about Food-Borne Illness:

Read more about Factory Farms:

Read more about BPA:

Read more about Small Farms:

Read more about Genetically-Modified Organisms:

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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kid Act

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

Photo: Julie Rooney/Nancy Pelosi (flickr)

Significant events that lead to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act being signed into law


February 9th – Michelle Obama begins the Let’s Move campaign

Michelle Obama begins the Let’s Move campaign, which confronts the issues that she believes are at the source of the childhood obesity problem: support and education (or lack thereof) for American families on issues such as nutrition, improving the quality of food offered in public schools, and encouraging more physical activity among youth.

May 11th – Let’s Move delivers its action plan

Let’s Move presented President Obama with 70 recommendations for action, many of which can be implemented immediately — like promoting breastfeeding, supporting quality physical education in schools, and improving food labeling so parents and kids can make more informed decisions about what they eat.

July 1st – Debate begins on School Food Proposal

The legislation was drafted to expand access to nutritious food for millions of U.S. schools children and to regulate the quality of food already available to children in schools and child care facilities.

August 5th – The Senate Passes the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Child Kids Act of 2010 passed by unanimous consent in the Senate. The legislation represents the largest investment in child nutrition programs in U.S. history, allotting $4.5 billion more in funding over the next ten years.

December 13th – President Obama signs The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law

Read more about the Let’s Move Campaign:

Read more about school food in the headlines:

Read more about hunger:

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Consumer Concerns

Concerns

Photo: Julie Rooney/Phil Dragash (via Flickr)

In 2010, consumers balanced a desire for higher-quality food and concerns over the size of the government


February 25th – Wal-Mart announces sustainability commitment

Wal-Mart announced a new sustainability initiative to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by 2015. It plans to achieve this ambitious goal by reducing its own carbon emissions and holding its supplier companies who form part of their global supply chain accountable for their environmental impact.

March 31st – Ground is broken for the White House spring kitchen garden

The garden, located on the South Lawn of the White House, has been expanded since last spring’s garden and will provide more locally grown food for the White House and local homeless shelters.

April 1st – Corporate Accountability International calls for retirement of Ronald McDonald

Corporate Accountability International (CAI), an organization that, in the past, has confronted other instances of corporate abuse around the world, is now taking charge of the campaign to force Ronald McDonald into retirement. They raise questions about Ronald’s role as a marketing tactic intended to target young children.

May 6th- Officials declare Gulf sea food safe to eat

In the wake of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, government officials, the seafood industry and food safety experts insist that these fears about consuming seafood are unfounded and the seafood in the food supply is, in fact, safe to eat.

May 27th- Washington DC implements 6% tax on sugary drinks

The Washington, D.C. city council announced that the Healthy Schools Act will be funded by a new six percent tax on all soft drinks sold in Washington, D.C., instead of using money from a previously proposed soda excise tax. This tax is different from the previously proposed penny-per-ounce excise tax, which would have increased the shelf-price of soft drinks.

June 23rd- McDonald’s is sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for including toys in Happy Meals

A consumer advocacy group is threatening to sue McDonald’s for marketing unhealthy food to children.

July 22nd- Concerns about antibiotics prompt hospitals to use organic meat

Concern about antibiotic resistance has prompted the pledges of more than 300 U.S. hospitals to stop serving meat raised with antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control estimate about 60,000 deaths each year are due to drug-resistant microbes.

October 6th- NYC Mayor runs anti-soda campaign, proposes that sugary drinks be removed from the SNAP program

In NYC’s waiver request to USDA, it reports that in 2009 an estimated $75 to $135 million dollars of food-stamp funds were spent on sweetened beverages in New York City alone. Since soda contains no substance other than sugar and chemicals, they point out that this is an alarming amount of money to spend on the equivalent of liquid candy. However, others argue that this stigmatizes people in the SNAP program.

October 7th- Sunchips discontinues compostable bag due to consumer complaints

Consumer anger over the noise made by the compostable bag prompted Sunchips to remove them from the market.

November 5th- California council votes to remove McDonald’s Happy Meals from California McDonald’s restaurants)

In a veto-proof vote San Francisco’s board of supervisors have declared a ban on McDonald’s happy meals as they currently exist. The board argues that including the incentive of a toy with meals that have high calorie and fat percentages reward children for making unhealthy food decisions. After the ordinance takes effect in December of 2011, McDonald’s restaurants in San Francisco may only include toys if their children’s meals contain less than 600 calories and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat.

November 11th- At oyster season opening, Gulf seafood sales remain low

With seafood sales down 62 percent from 2009, the oil spill has already hurt the seafood industry and several factors may slow future sales of oysters, shrimp, and fish from the gulf. There is a widespread wariness about the food, and it will be difficult to convince the general public about the seafood’s safety

November 11th- At oyster season opening, Gulf seafood sales remain low

With seafood sales down 62 percent from 2009, the oil spill has already hurt the seafood industry and several factors may slow future sales of oysters, shrimp, and fish from the gulf. There is a widespread wariness about the food, and it will be difficult to convince the general public about the seafood’s safety

December 11th- Wisconsin council votes to keep toys in McDonalds Happy Meals

Only one of eight council members voted in favor of moving the ordinance out of committee to development. His intent was to remove the reward and limit giveaways that target children and encourage them to eat unhealthy fast food meals. Opponents didn’t believe it was the government’s role to interfere with parental decision making.

Read more about corporate food providers:

Read more about the Gulf Oil Spill:

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Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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