The Year In Food Politics

Good thing I didn’t make any resolutions this year!  We’re almost a full month into 2016, and this is my first post of the new year.  With the holidays, family visits, a trip to Grand Cayman and then work obligations, I’ve barely had a chance to clean up the needles from my tree, let alone write anything I felt was worth sharing.  But now I’m getting back on track.  The brief is filed, the house is clean, and we’ve done enough celebrating to last a couple months.  So now I have some downtime and can focus on some fun things, like EDA and wedding planning (don’t worry, this blog will not turn into bridezilla insanity)!

2015 saw a number of exciting happenings in the food world.  Regulations went into effect regarding GMO-labeling and were quickly put on hold while Big Ag challenged their legality.  We will see how this all plays out with the new legislators in office and in an election year of importance.

The FDA approved the sale of genetically-modified salmon and did NOT require it to be labeled as such, much to the shock of many except the lobbyists.

IMG_2365The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that processed foods are as dangerous as cigarettes.  (I’m not buying that for a second- but still.)  And if you read the full report, you’ll see that having a few slices of bacon is not inherently dangerous.  What is urged? Moderation, of course.

IMG_0170

No moderation with this foie gras I had from WD-50, which is now closed.

A study of obese children found that replacing sugary foods with baked potato chips and pizza actually made them healthier – in just 9 days!  This smashed any notions that the sheer number of calories consumed is important.  Instead, what types of food you consume for those daily calories matters for far more than weight loss.

Executives from the Peanut Corporation of America were convicted and sentenced to prison time for allowing contaminated food to be sold and ingested, resulting in the deaths of 9 people and sickening over 700, most of whom were children.  With this precedent now set, we can expect a growing trend of lawsuits and the prosecution of crimes against those who knowingly endanger the welfare of eaters by selling harmful food products.  As a lawyer, I hope this to result in preventative measures being taken to improve food safety and not just a bunch of greedy class action lawyers capitalizing on people who suffer.

Related to this, we saw a number of food illnesses being reported, especially at Chipotle.  And, of course, the lawyers already sued over this, and now we will wait to see if this results in the end of Chipotle.

Big Business finally realized that consumers care about what they eat.  McDonalds, Tyson and Perdue decided to limit the use of antibiotics in their products.  Whole Foods continued, and even expanded, its focus on organics.

The FDA required restaurants to include calorie information (although the rollout for this has had some hiccups).

Companies focused on food waste, and menus popped up trying to figure out ways to maximize the use of what otherwise would be scraps.

The practice of tipping ceased at a number of restaurants, which is a continuing trend.  At the same time, minimum wage has risen for restaurant workers.  The cost to the consumer will be interesting to watch.

So with all of this, 2016 should be quite the year ahead.

I’ll be back next week with a post on Grand Cayman, where I wish I was still lying on Seven Mile Beach instead of preparing for the impending blizzard.

-Kara

 

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