September 3, 2015
TO: JPA Members
FROM: Patricia Faison
JPA Regulatory Update: FSMA Final Rules; Chipotle Sued Over GMOs In Foods; Vermont GE Food Labeling Law; School Nutrition Standards
FSMA Final Rules
JPA has been providing updates regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) efforts to implement the provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA recently announced that the final rules related to preventive controls for human food and preventive controls for animal food have been submitted to the Federal Register for publication.
JPA is monitoring for publication of the final rules and will provide an update, as information becomes available.
Chipotle Sued Over GMOs in Foods
According to an article published on Time.com, available here, a class-action lawsuit has been filed in the Northern District of California against Chipotle claiming the restaurant chain’s marketing is “misleading and deceptive” because it continues to sell foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) although the firm announced in April 2015 it would no longer sell such foods. The article notes the firm’s webpage acknowledges that meat and dairy served in the restaurants may come from animals given GMO feed, and beverages sold in the restaurants made be produced with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) made from GMO corn. However, the firm has stated in its advertisements, “Now, all of our food is non-GMO.”
An article published recently on FoodNavigator-USA.com, available here, notes Chipotle vows to fight the lawsuit. Of particular interest, the article provides insight from several lawyers regarding the “legal minefield” related to non-GMO claims. Attorney Rebecca Cross (BraunHagey & Borden LLP) is quoted in the article as stating the following.
“Companies should take heed that if they are making GMO free claims, they could be subject to litigation if they are using GM technology anywhere in the ingredient supply chain, e.g., the cows used to make the cheese in their product are fed GM corn. A safer approach for companies is to represent that they are Non-GMO Project Verified, as this has a standard meaning.”
JPA will continue to monitor activities regarding the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Vermont GE Food Labeling Law
JPA has been providing updates regarding Vermont’s law to mandate the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, which becomes effective on July 1, 2016. Last year,JPA members were notified that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Snack Food Association (SFA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed a lawsuit in federal court to prohibit Vermont from implementing the GE food labeling law (Act 120). Members were also notified that this coalition had also requested a preliminary injunction to prevent Vermont from implementing the law until the lawsuit had been settled. In April 2015, JPA reported that Judge Christina Reiss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont had ruled in the case and dismissed the coalition’s motion for a preliminary injunction. More recently, members were notified that amicus briefs had been filed by a number of agricultural and food industry groups (including the coalition noted above) urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reverse the ruling, which denied the request for a preliminary injunction to bar Vermont from implementing the law while litigation is pending.
According to an article published recently on VTDigger.org, available here, a number of groups have filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting Vermont’s GE food labeling law, including, in part, Ben and Jerry’s, Consumers Union, Vermont Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Food Safety. In addition, briefs have been filed by the following states supporting the labeling law: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Washington. The article states, “The briefing at the Second Circuit will be complete in September, and oral argument likely will be scheduled for the fall.”
JPA will continue to monitor efforts to implement the Vermont GE food labeling law and provide updates, as information becomes available.
School Nutrition Standards
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published a news release, available here, highlighting the successes of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The Act gave the USDA authority to update nutrition standards for foods sold and served in schools. According to the USDA news release, in part, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health has shown children are eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit during lunch, under the nutrition standards. The Agency notes the new meals provide more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy with less sugar, fat and sodium. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is encouraging Congress to reauthorize the Act this year.
As always, please contact me with questions or comments.
(404) 252 - 3663