A study in Nature Human Behavior has reportedly found that Americans who oppose the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) believe themselves to be highly informed on the subject but lack knowledge of it. Fernbach et al., "Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most," Nature Human Behavior, January 14, 2019. A survey of 501 Americans asked true/false questions about GMO technology and asked participants about their willingness to eat GMO foods, likelihood of participation in protests against them and belief in the necessity of GMO regulation. The researchers reportedly found that "as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases."

A review of 56 observational studies and controlled trials has reportedly found "no compelling evidence" that non-sugar sweeteners (NSSs) cause positive or negative health effects. Toews et al., "Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and health outcomes: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies," BMJ, January 2, 2019. Some of the studies included in the review showed minor benefits to promoting weight loss, while others found minor increases in blood glucose levels for subjects who consumed artificial sweeteners; the researchers found the evidence on both contentions to be weak when compared to similar studies. "For most outcomes, there seemed to be no statistically or clinically relevant difference between NSS intake versus no intake, or between different doses of NSSs," the researchers concluded. "No evidence was seen for health benefits from NSSs and potential harms could not be excluded."

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. sold Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops with partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) in 2016, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rule declaring PHO unsafe for use in food. Beasley v. Tootsie Roll Indus. Inc., No. 18-7724 (N.D. Cal., filed December 26, 2018). The complaint focuses on the harms of PHO consumption, including elevated risks of diabetes, cancer, organ damage and cognitive decline. The plaintiff asserts that she "suffered physical injury when she repeatedly consumed the Tootsie Products, because consuming artificial trans fat in any quantity, including the quantity she actually consumed, inflames and damages vital organs and increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death." For an alleged violation of California consumer-protection law and breach of implied warranty of merchantability, the plaintiff seeks class certification, restitution and attorney's fees.

A California federal court has granted preliminary approval to the proposed settlement of a lawsuit alleging Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. and Canada Dry Mott's Inc. misled consumers into believing that Canada Dry Ginger Ale was "Made from Real Ginger." Fitzhenry-Russell v. Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., No. 17-0564 (N.D. Cal., entered January 10, 2019). Under the settlement agreement, the company will pay $0.40 per product unit to class members, with a maximum of $40 for those with proof of purchase and $5.20 for those without. The plaintiff's attorneys may apply for up to $2.25 million in attorney's fees, and the class representative will receive $5,000.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service has released the final National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), which will require food manufacturers, importers and other entities to indicate on a product's label whether it was made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The rule applies to food products in which the predominant ingredient is subject to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; "[a] multi-ingredient food product that contains broth, stock, water, or similar solution as the first ingredient, and a meat, poultry, or egg product as the second ingredient on the food label would also not be subject to the NBFDS," according to the announcement. The rule takes effect February 19, 2019, and mandatory compliance with the rule begins on January 1, 2022.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which consolidates 14 Canadian food safety laws into one set of rules, went into effect January 15, 2019. The final rules were published in June 2018 and aim to "provide clear and consistent rules for food commodities so consumers can be confident that food on grocery shelves is safer to eat, whether it is produced in Canada or abroad." The rules align with many U.S. rules to streamline importing and exporting of food products between the countries. In addition, Health Canada has proposed rules for the sale of cannabis, including the proposed creation of "edible cannabis," "cannabis extracts" and "cannabis topicals" classes of products. The agency also proposed "new regulatory controls to address the public health and public safety risks associated with these new classes of cannabis, including their appeal to youth and the risks of accidental consumption, overconsumption, and foodborne illness, among other…

The United Kingdom has launched a public consultation on a proposal to restrict some types of advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). The consultation targets "volume-based price promotions of HFSS food and drink that encourage people to buy more than they need, for example, ‘buy one, get one free’ and free refills of sugary soft drinks" as well as ads placed at "main selling locations in stores, such as checkouts, aisle ends and store entrances." The government further seeks input on "which businesses, products and types of promotions should be included in the restrictions," "definitions for HFSS products, price promotions and locations in stores" and "how businesses can put this into practice and whether they will face any difficulties."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established January 1, 2022, as "the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations that are published on or after January 1, 2019, and on or before December 31, 2020" to help "minimize the economic impact of label changes." The agency also issued technical amendments to the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule that correct errors in sample labels and inadvertent omissions of preexisting provisions.

The December passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the Farm Bill, has resulted in several publications speculating about the effects of the bill's legalization of industrial hemp on the cannabidiol (CBD) market. The law, which removed "hemp" from the definition of "marijuana" in the Controlled Substances Act, may "make CBD production legal and cheaper," according to Forbes, while MarketWatch explains that CBD "will remain largely off-limits" in the near future. Rolling Stone predicts that CBD is "poised for [a] boom," while Vox suggests that "CBD is bound to become even more visible," although "[i]ts legal status remains unclear." Fortune notes that cultivating hemp will be legal but heavily regulated, and the shutdown of the federal government has delayed cultivation approvals during the period when farmers are planning crop rotations and sourcing seeds for 2019, according to PBS NewsHour. Meanwhile, California legislation banning the use of CBD in…

Following a California settlement, Amazon has reportedly agreed to stop selling foie gras produced from force-fed ducks and geese. The settlement between the company and Los Angeles County stems from a lawsuit alleging that Amazon violated a 2004 California law banning the sale of the products. Under the agreement, Amazon will not sell—or allow its third-party sellers to offer for sale—force-fed foie gras in California for five years. A lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ban awaits a ruling on certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit found that the statute was not preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.