The New Yorker has described a visit to the warehouse of Fulton Fish Market, a web start-up that aims to provide fresh fish across the United States using "an Amazon-esque warehousing-and-logistics system." In "The Last Robot-Proof Job in America?" the author states, "There is one thing, however, that the sophisticated logistics system cannot do: pick out a fish." Robert DiGregorio, the expert who selects fish for the company, The New Yorker explains, "possesses a blend of discernment and arcane fish knowledge that, so far, computers have yet to replicate." "What can a fishmonger see that a computer can't?" The New Yorker points to "a nice 'film'—as in slime," which purportedly protects the fish from bacteria and parasites, along with the smell—"when [skate] goes bad, it smells like ammonia," DiGregorio told the magazine. Further, he said that he builds relationships with the fishmongers to "get the best stuff—not the stuff they…

The EU Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the U.K. House of Lords has submitted a letter to the country's agriculture minister in response to a EU committee's approval of a measure that would prohibit the use of meat-associated words and phrases—including "sausage," "burger" and "steak"—to describe plant-derived products. "Veggie tubes proposal a misteak," the subcommittee's press release headline states. "Our witnesses were unanimous in the view that current naming conventions around vegetarian burgers and sausages are clear and easy to understand," the letter states. "[W]e are concerned that the amendment would in fact reduce consumer clarity, be a barrier to growth for a burgeoning sector of the food industry, and ultimately make it more challenging for people to reduce the amount of meat in their diet at a time when Government should be seeking to encourage the opposite." The letter also notes that the amendment is "unlikely to apply directly…

In testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee, Under Secretary of Agriculture Greg Ibach suggested that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could potentially be used in the production of organic foods eventually. "As the National Organic Standards Board set the rules originally, right now GMO or transgenics are not eligible to be in the Organic Program, but we've seen new technology evolve that includes gene editing that accomplishes things in shorter periods of time that can be done through a natural breeding process," Ibach stated. "I think there is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies that include gene editing to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production and to have resistant varieties—drought-resistant, disease-resistant varieties as well as higher-yielding varieties—available." Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released guidance on how human dietary exposure to newly expressed proteins in…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that soy leghemoglobin has been approved for use "as a color additive in ground beef analogue products" following a petition submitted by Impossible Foods. The announcement notes that the agency previously found soy leghemoglobin to be generally recognized as safe as a flavor additive. "FDA concurs with the petitioner that the genetic modifications made to generate the non-toxigenic and non-pathogenic production strain are well-characterized and the production process conforms to good manufacturing practice," the announcement states. "In addition to specification limits for lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, we are requiring a specification for the minimum purity of soy leghemoglobin protein as a percent of the total protein in the color additive." The rule takes effect September 4, 2019, and objections can be filed until September 3.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning letter to Curaleaf Inc. for "illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) online with unsubstantiated claims that the products treat cancer, Alzheimer's disease, opioid withdrawal, pain and pet anxiety." FDA cites the company's website and social media accounts to assert that Curaleaf's marketing establishes its products—including "Bido CBD for Pets"—as drugs or animal drugs because the products are portrayed as able to help alleviate anxiety and fear, among other purported benefits. The agency also indicated that it will update the public on its progress towards creating a CBD regulatory framework by fall 2019. "We understand this is an important national issue with public health impact and of interest to American hemp farmers and many other stakeholders. The agency has a well-established pathway for drug development and drug approvals, and we remain committed to evaluating the agency’s regulatory policies related…

Mondelez Canada Inc. has filed a lawsuit in California federal court alleging Stoney Patch cannabis-infused gummies infringe the trademark and trade dress of Sour Patch gummy candies. Mondelez Canada Inc. v. Stoney Patch, No. 19-6245 (C.D. Cal., W. Div., filed July 19, 2019). Stoney Patch candies, which contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Sour Patch Kids are both sold in yellow bags with green accents featuring the first word of the brand in green, all-caps sans serif type and "Patch" in the same type in orange. Where the Sour Patch Kids bag features silhouettes of the candies—colorful gummies in humanoid shapes—the Stoney Patch bag features images of a marijuana leaf. Mondelez argues that "it is inconceivable" that Stoney Patch adopted its mark without notice of the Sour Patch design and Mondelez' trademark rights to it. The company alleges federal trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition, and it seeks…

Turtle Island Foods, which does business as The Tofurky Co., has filed a civil-rights action alleging an Arkansas law that "prohibits purveyors of plant- or cell-based meats from using the words 'meat' and related terms like 'beef,' 'pork,' 'roast,' and 'sausage'" is "a restriction on commercial speech that prevents companies from sharing truthful and non-misleading information about their products." Turtle Island Foods SPC v. Soman, No. 19-0514 (E.D. Ark., W. Div., filed July 22, 2019). Turtle Island argues that the law creates consumer confusion rather than helping resolve it, asserting that its own marketing and its competitors' marketing "emphasizes—through the use of commonly understood terms like 'veggie burger'—that their products are plant-based alternatives to meat from live animals." The complaint further argues that other laws already prohibit misleading or deceptive labeling, including the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Turtle Island alleges violations of…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Welch Foods Inc.'s grape juices contain excessive levels of lead and arsenic, citing a January 2019 article appearing in Consumer Reports. Labajo v. Welch Foods Inc., No. 19-1306 (C.D. Cal., filed July 16, 2019). The complaint also cites California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65), noting, "This Complaint does not allege a violation of Proposition 65. Proposition 65 is relevant, however, to the extent it provides information concerning the material omissions in violation of California's Consumer Protection laws, and guidance as to a reasonable consumer's purchasing decisions." The plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctions preventing fraudulent business practices and requiring disclosure of lead and arsenic content, restitution, damages and attorney's fees for alleged violations of California consumer-protection statutes.

The U.K. Cabinet Office has begun an open consultation on general health policies, including nutrition initiatives. The consultation includes an announcement that the government will ban the sale of energy drinks to children under 16, with the full policy to be announced "in our consultation response shortly." The consultation response will also include details of a proposed policy on "making calorie labelling mandatory in the out-of-home sector, such as restaurants, takeaways and cafes." Further, the government has identified five areas of the country that will test programs to restrict advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt, incentivize business to "improve their retail offer," improve accessibility and affordability of healthy foods and "create healthier food environments through the planning system." The consultation also includes plans for "infant feeding, clear labelling, food reformulation improving the nutritional content of foods, and support for individuals to achieve and maintain a healthier weight."

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Michael Casey, vice president of Casey's Seafood Inc., has pleaded guilty to charges of falsely labeling almost 400,000 pounds of crab meat as derived from Atlantic blue crab in the United States despite importing the meat from a number of countries, including Indonesia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Casey's guilty plea comes after a conviction for his father on similar charges. The foreign crab meat, which the company reportedly repacked into containers labeled "Product of USA," had a wholesale value of approximately $4,324,916. “U.S. consumers expect the origin of their seafood to be correctly identified. When sellers attempt to deceive the public about their product’s origins, they put the public’s health at risk by introducing seafood of unknown origin,” a DOJ investigator is quoted as saying in an agency press release. “When sellers are deceptive about their products’ origins, they deprive the…

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