Tag Archives New York

New York Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D-86) has proposed an amendment (A09754) to the state’s agriculture and markets law that would require a warning label on all energy drinks. Citing “serious health risks including heart attack, stroke and even heart disease,” the provision calls for product warnings to appear in a black box and in letters “not less than eight point type.” It would also impose civil liability fines of $1,000 per violation. But unlike a similar proposal in Kentucky that reportedly focuses on caffeine content, the New York law defines an energy drink as containing “a combination of some or all of the following ingredients: sugar, methylkanthines, caffeine, vitamin E, herbs, guarana, açai, taurine, ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuro-nolactone and ginkgo biloba.” This definition would exclude coffee, according to a January 26, 2010, article in Law360, which noted that the American Beverage Association has questioned the practicality of enforcing…

New York Governor David Paterson (D) has released a 2010-11 executive budget proposal that calls for “a new excise tax of approximately one penny per ounce on sugared beverages linked to obesity ($465 million).” According to the proposal, which claims that obesity-related disease costs the state’s health care system $7.6 billion annually, the so-called soda tax “will discourage consumption of those unhealthy products and improve long-term health outcomes.” The legislature has until April 1, 2010, to enact a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Past efforts to institute a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages have met with opposition. “[Paterson] has proposed a soda tax before, then caved, after orchestrated industry protests across the state,” noted a January 19 New York Times editorial that urged the governor to “resist and keep the tax.” In addition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has praised the initiative, deeming it a “courageous…

Plaintiffs who brought personal and economic injury claims against Topps Meat Co. for an E. coli outbreak that led to the recall of more than 20 million pounds of ground beef in 2007 have filed a motion for class certification. Patton v. Topps Meat Co., No. 07-654 (W.D.N.Y., motion filed October 15, 2009). While the proposed classes, a “consumer class” of persons who purchased ground beef subject to the recall and allege economic losses and an “injury class” of persons who consumed the ground beef and allege personal injury, are national in scope, the plaintiffs contend that New York law will apply to the case. According to the named plaintiffs, each of whom was allegedly sickened by consuming contaminated meat, federal investigators confirmed 40 E. coli cases linked to the outbreak strain and estimate that for every reported case, 20 cases go unreported. Thus, they suggest that the number of injury…

The New York City Planning Commission has reportedly approved a proposal that would offer zoning and tax incentives “to encourage the development of full-service grocery stores that devote a certain amount of space to fresh produce, meats, dairy and other perishables,” according to a September 24, 2009, article in The New York Times. The plan would apparently relax zoning restrictions in some areas to permit supermarket construction and would include tax abatements and exemptions for approved stores in parts of northern Manhattan, central Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and downtown Jamaica in Queens. In addition, the regulations would require new store owners to display entrance signs stating that their establishments sell fresh food. Based on a similar Pennsylvania program, the proposal has purportedly garnered support from food policy experts, supermarket executives and City Council members, who must also vote on the plan. “This is about being able to walk to get your…

The chair of the California Senate’s Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes has reportedly announced a November 2009 hearing to discuss the purported link between sweetened beverage consumption and obesity. An author of the state’s menu labeling laws, California Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) issued the September 17, 2009, press release in response to a report published by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Titled Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and its Link to Obesity in California, the study used data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey to conclude that “41 percent of children (ages 2-11), 62 percent of adolescents (ages 12-17) and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day.” It also apparently found that “adults who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages every day are 27 percent more likely…

A new anti-obesity ad unveiled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene depicts globs of human fat gushing from a soda bottle and asks the question: “Are you pouring on the pounds? Don’t drink yourself fat.” The ad urges viewers to choose water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead of high-calorie sodas and juice drinks. The $277,000 ad, which will run in 1,500 subways subway cars for three months, was apparently denounced by the American Beverage Association as “counterproductive to serious efforts to address a complex issues such as obesity.” ABA spokesperson Kevin Keane said the ad campaign is “over the top and unfortunately is going to undermine meaningful efforts to educate people about how to maintain a healthy weight by balancing calories consumed from all foods and beverages with calories burned through exercise.” But Cathy Nonas, a dietitian for the city’s health and mental hygiene department,…

A federal court in New York has decided to allow most parts of a new state bottle-deposit law to take effect, lifting a injunction that would have delayed implementation until April 2010. Int’l Bottled Water Ass’n v. Paterson, No. 09-4672 (S.D.N.Y., decided August 13, 2009). Additional details about the litigation challenging the law’s constitutionality appear in issue 305 of this Update. The court’s decision overturns an order entered in late May 2009 granting injunctive relief. According to a news source, the ruling means that soft drink and beer makers must now give the state 80 percent of the unclaimed 5-cent deposits, and store and redemption handling fees will increase from 2 cents to 3.5 cents per container. Water companies making products containing flavored water, vitamin water and artificial sweeteners have apparently been given until October 22 to comply with the law, unless they can prove compliance is impossible. They did…

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking to enjoin the operation of a cheese-processing facility in New York due to the Listeria monocytogene (L. mono) contamination of its Queso Hebra, Queso Fresco and Queso Cotija Molido cheeses. U.S. v. Peregrina Cheese, Inc., No. 09-2888 (E.D.N.Y., filed July 7, 2009). According to DOJ, state and federal inspections of the facility since at least 2004 have revealed serious sanitation problems. Because product samples and equipment surfaces tested positive for the same L. mono strain, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysts concluded that “the strain has formed a niche at Peregrina Cheese’s facility.” The owners have apparently refused to shut down the plant to properly sanitize it, claiming that the state food safety agency approved the “use of an antimicrobial agent as an additive in Peregrina Cheese’s Queso Fresco product.” The owners did not, however, provide “any information as to the level of use”…

A New York appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit that sought a declaration from the state agricultural department that foie gras is an adulterated food product which poses a risk to human health. In re: Humane Soc’y of the U.S., Inc. v. Brennan, No. 506189 (N.Y. App. Div., decided June 18, 2009). According to the court, the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the suit. The Humane Society and other interested parties had unsuccessfully petitioned the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to issue an adulterated food product declaration as to foie gras. A trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ subsequent declaratory judgment action for lack of standing, and they appealed. According to the appeals court, to establish standing, “petitioners were required to demonstrate that the Commissioner’s declination to issue a declaratory ruling caused them an injury-in-fact different from the general public.” The court noted that commission declaratory rulings are discretionary and stated,…

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. settled claims that its insurance carrier unjustifiably refused to pay a significant portion of coverage owed to the food company arising out of a Listeria outbreak. The insurance company that agreed to provide coverage to Pilgrim’s insurer for any bad faith claims successfully mounted against it has been granted a declaratory judgment of no liability. Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Ace Am. Ins. Co., No. 07-958 (S.D.N.Y., decided March 31, 2009). Apparently, Pilgrim’s insurer agreed to the essential terms of a settlement proposed by a mediator before seeking Continental’s consent to settle. Under Texas law, settlement agreements are legally enforceable when the parties have agreed on the amount of consideration to be paid and the release of claims. While Pilgrim’s insurer made minor modifications to the agreement after notifying Continental, the court found that the mediator’s proposal was a binding and enforceable settlement agreement. Because Pilgrim’s insurer did…

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