The recent Romaine lettuce recall—two in the last year—has turned the leafy green industry upside down. Flashbacks of the 2006 spinach recall in California’s Salinas Valley haunt the area’s farmers, the same farmers who after the 2006 outbreak implemented stringent practices through the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement aimed at stopping the next outbreak.

But it happened again. Why?

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Co-authored by Irene Chau

For anyone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, the first dietary supplement you took was probably the Flintstones multivitamin. How many of you remember taking them and enjoying that fruity flavor? Our parents wanted to make sure we wouldn’t become deficient in the essential minerals and vitamins our bodies needed because we refused to eat the actual vegetables that were served with our meals. Boy, have things changed! Continue Reading

In the United States, two different regulatory organizations oversee food labeling for different product types. The first post in our blog series broke down which food products fall under the labeling jurisdiction for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as how the above affects a product’s statement of identity. Now that we’ve established that base, we will delve deeper into the various differences between USDA and FDA food labeling, from the way nutrition claims are handled to safe handling instructions and everything in between. Below are six essential differences between food labeling guidelines for the two regulatory bodies:

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When you go to the store and pick up a container of strawberry yogurt, you probably don’t put much thought into how it gets its strawberry flavor. Does it contain actual strawberries or does it only contain an artificial flavor? Both natural and artificial flavors are frequently used to impart or enhance specific flavors in food products.

Before we delve into how natural and artificial flavors affect labeling, let’s look at the difference between the two. The FDA considers a natural flavor to be an additive to a product, “which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” So, natural flavors generally come from plant or animal sources, such as the natural strawberry flavor for a yogurt. Conversely, any substance used to flavor a product that is not derived from one of the sources listed in the natural flavors definition is considered an artificial flavor by the FDA. Continue Reading

Food industry associations and consumer advocacy groups have influenced the development of many key U.S. food policies and regulations, but the impact of consumer lawsuits upon the regulatory process cannot be denied. Since 2008, the number of class action lawsuits filed against food and beverage companies has increased from approximately twenty to more than a hundred lawsuits annually in recent years. While some of the legal challenges could be dismissed as frivolous, several cases have fueled the evolution of significant labeling and safety regulatory initiatives that are now under consideration by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).    Continue Reading

In case you haven’t noticed, consumer demand for transparency in food production has been the at the center of the news in the past few months. Most recently, you may have been hearing a lot about the herbicide glyphosate due to its presence in a number of oat and honey products.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, glyphosate has been in use since 1974 and is now one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. It kills weeds by destroying proteins essential to their growth.  Continue Reading