Posts By Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

The German Cabinet has reportedly approved an action plan proposed byFood, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner that incorporates “tighter rules for dioxin checks into the Food and Feed Code (LFGB)” and proposes several statutory changes to feed production regulations. A response to dioxin-tainted animal feed that temporarily disrupted the European Union’s (EU’s) egg, poultry and pork supply, this early warning system will “enable the supervisory authorities in Germany to respond in a quicker and more targeted manner,” said Aigner, who has vowed “to promote these rules at EU-level. “ The new rules require German food and feed manufacturers “to report all test results on dioxins and similar problem substances to the competent authorities,” who will verify the information and act “immediately” if necessary, and directs private laboratories to “automatically report alarming measurement results of undesired substances that are hazardous to health in foods and animal feed.” According to…

The European Committee for Standardization has approved a single-test method that can detect nine different sweeteners and their dosages in drinks, and canned and bottled fruits. Developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center’s (JRC’s) Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, the method sets national standards for European Union (EU) member states, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland to evaluate sweetener levels in imported foodstuffs and those produced within the EU. Using a high-performance “liquid chromatographic with evaporative light scattering detection,” the method can simultaneously test for six EU authorized sweeteners: acesulfame-K (ACS-K), aspartame (ASP), cyclamic acid (CYC), saccharin (SAC), sucralose (SUC), and neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC). It can also test for three non-authorized sweeteners: neotame (NEO), alitame (ALI) and dulcin (DUL). According to JRC, the method “can provide several pieces of information which are needed to correctly label the food. It can provide whether or not the non-authorized or the authorized…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has requested comments on two petitions for rulemaking submitted by animal rights groups seeking reformed regulations concerning “the disposition of non-ambulatory disabled” livestock at slaughter. FSIS also plans to clarify its requirements for “condemned non-ambulatory disabled cattle at official slaughter establishments.” The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) apparently asked FSIS to “repeal a provision in its ante-mortem inspection regulations that permits veal calves that are unable to rise from a recumbent position and walk because they are tired or cold to be set apart and held for treatment.” Current provisions allow those calves, if found free of disease, “to proceed to slaughter if they are able to rise and walk after being warmed or rested” and ultimately processed for human food. HSUS has petitioned the agency to amend the regulations “to require that non-ambulatory disabled veal calves be…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced its decision to partially deregulate the Roundup Ready® sugar beets developed by the Monsanto Co. These genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets resist the company’s Roundup Ready® herbicide. A court previously determined that APHIS violated the National Environmental Policy Act by deregulating the sugar beets without conducting an environmental impact statement (EIS). APHIS’s interim action was taken on the basis of its finding of no significant impact on human health or the environment by the GE sugar beet root crops and will remain in effect until its EIS is completed in 2012. The agency’s action means that farmers can continue planting GE sugar beets under mandatory conditions that will restrict their movement and environmental release. According to APHIS, these conditions will ensure “that the implementation of this interim regulatory action will not result in any environmental impacts…

The National Research Council (NRC) recently issued a report suggesting that past smoking and current obesity levels are major reasons why U.S. life expectancy at age 50, though still rising, has not kept pace with that of other high-income countries, such as Japan and Australia. Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, the report explained that the health consequences of smoking, which 30 to 50 years ago was “much more widespread in the U.S. than in Europe or Japan,” continue to influence today’s mortality rates. It anticipated, however, that “life expectancy for men in the U.S. is likely to improve relatively rapidly in coming decades because of reductions in smoking in the last 20 years,” while women’s mortality rates “are apt to remain slow for the next decade.” The report also concluded that current obesity rates “may account for a fifth to a third of…

“People with food allergies live under a constant threat, in a society that is still poorly informed about the condition,” writes New Yorker medical correspondent Jerome Groopman about this rapidly evolving branch of immunology. His article traces the history of food allergy studies, which at first recommended restricting common allergens—milk, corn, soy, citrus, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and fish—during pregnancy, nursing and the first two years of life. In theory, according to Groopman, this measure would keep babies “away from potentially allergenic foods until their immune systems had developed sufficiently.” But the increasing number of diagnosed food allergies in the United States and other developed countries has since cast doubt on this practice, leading specialists to consider alternative causations and subsequently overturn the infant dietary advice issued in 2000 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “From an evolutionary-biology point of view, food allergy makes no sense at all. It seems pretty clear that…

This article summarizes recent research, including a November 2010 literature review in The Mayo Clinic Proceedings, that has questioned the effectiveness and safety of energy beverages (E.B.’s). According to Times journalist Jane Brody, the Mayo study “noted that the drinks contain high levels of caffeine and warned that certain susceptible people risk dangerous, even life-threatening effects on blood pressure, heart rate and brain function.” In addition to recording “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death,” the authors also expressed concern about “whether long-term use of E.B.’s by [teens and young adults] will translate into deleterious effects later.” As one of the contributors, Troy Tuttle, reportedly said in an interview, “Almost all the studies done on energy drinks have involved small sample sizes of young, healthy individuals in whom you’re unlikely to see short-term ill effects. But what about the long term? What about liver and cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and diabetes?”…

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has announced a new advertising campaign designed “to educate New Yorkers about the potentially serious health effects of consuming sugary drinks.” With the tagline “Pouring on the Pounds,” the health department’s latest installment features subway advertisements and a new TV commercial, the latter of which has sparked debate over its allegedly graphic content, including a close-up of a diabetic’s decaying toes. According to a January 31, 2011, press release, the 30-second spot aims to illustrate “how a daily routine of just a few sweetened drinks can cumulate to a whopping 93 packets of sugar by the end of the day.” “Too many sugar-sweetened drinks are fueling the obesity epidemic. Obesity and the serious health consequences that result are making hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers sick or disabled,” said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “This new campaign shows…

Montana and California residents have sued Safeway, Inc. in a California state court on behalf of a putative nationwide class of customers that the company allegedly failed to notify about tainted food recalls despite the ability to contact purchasers of contaminated products through its “club card” loyal customer program. Hensley-Maclean v. Safeway, Inc., No. __ (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda Cty., filed February 2, 2011). Backed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the plaintiffs allege that they purchased Salmonella-tainted peanut butter and egg products from the grocery and learned only by chance on the news or from neighbors that the products were subject to a recall. According to the complaint, the company’s club card program gives the grocery contact information for participating customers and a history of the purchases they have made. The plaintiffs allege, “Many of Safeway’s competitors already use their own customer data to notify their…

A California resident who purportedly bought the hazelnut spread Nutella® to provide a nutritious snack or breakfast for her 4-year-old daughter has filed a putative class action against its manufacturer alleging violations of consumer protection laws. Hohenberg v. Ferrero U.S.A., Inc., No. 11-0205 (S.D. Cal., filed February 1, 2011). Seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased the product since 2000, Athena Hohenberg claims that she relied on the company’s product advertisements and representations that Nutella® is a “healthy breakfast” and “nutritious.” According to the complaint, she did not learn until December 2010 “through friends what ingredients were in the Nutella® that she was feeding her family. She was shocked to learn that Nutella® was in fact not a ‘healthy’ ‘nutritious’ food but instead was the next best thing to a candy bar,” containing “about 70% saturated fat and processed sugar by weight.” Characterizing herself as a “reasonably…

Close