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Consumer Alerts
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed by President Obama PDF Print E-mail

Courtesy of Community Alliance with Family Farmers Policy Director David Runsten

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that we have been working on for the past two years was signed by President Obama.

As our coalition wrote: "this capped a long fight by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and its members and allies for food safety rules that protect consumers without curbing the growing movement toward fresh, local and regional food. The food safety bill passed by the House in July of 2009 would have imposed a one size fits all regulatory system biased toward  industrial agriculture with a regressive registration fee, expensive food safety plans, and regular on-farm FDA inspections regardless of the degree of the potential risk for food borne illness.  The new regulatory burdens threatened to erect formidable barriers to the developing local and regional markets for many small and moderate sized farms."

It is hard to call it a complete victory since we have been playing defense the whole time. We decided to try to improve the bill in the Senate because we were convinced it would pass and, as you can see, it passed. I think our coalition did improve it by getting rid of across-the-board fees on producers, requiring harmonization with environmental laws and the National Organic Program, limiting paperwork requirements, and finally providing some possible exemptions for small producers and local food.

What does the law really do? "The FSMA requires manufacturers and farmers to develop strategies to prevent contamination and then continually test to make sure they work. The legislation also gives the FDA the authority to recall food; currently, it must rely on food companies to pull products voluntarily from the shelves. The law also gives the FDA access to internal records at farms and food-production facilities. Under the law, importers would be required for the first time to verify that products and ingredients from overseas meet U.S. safety standards. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said that there are some steps the agency can take without increased funding, including moving forward with production standards for growing fruits and vegetables. The FDA wants to have the produce regulations in a year."

What I want to stress to you is that this is just one stop on a long road and there are a lot of regulatory proceedings ahead of us. We will need to continue to participate to make sure that the FDA considers the potential impacts of its actions on all producers. I have been encouraged in this respect by the FDA's recent shell egg rule. Here is the language from the recent final rule:

Over 4,000 farm sites have 3,000 or more egg-laying hens, representing 99 percent of all domestic egg-laying hens and accounting for 99 percent of total egg production. There are an additional 65,000 farms with fewer than 3,000 egg-laying hens, accounting for the balance of eggs produced (Ref. 26). Persons who produce shell eggs from a farm operating with 3,000 or more laying hens, unless that farm sells all of its eggs directly to consumers or does not produce shell eggs for the table market, are subject to this final rule (21 CFR 118.1(a)).

The FDA exempted small farms--65,000 out of 69,000 farms--because the benefits did not exceed the costs of applying the rule to them. And even the bigger farms would be exempt if they sold all of their eggs directly to consumers.

The Tester-Hagan amendment to the bill provides some possible exemptions from federal regulation to small food facilities and local food. The amendment, sponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC),will provide a size appropriate and less costly alternative to preventative control plans and produce standards for farmers who:

  • Direct market more than 50% of their products directly to consumers, stores or restaurants,
  • Have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000,
  • Sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 275 miles, and
  • Provide their customers with their name, address and contact information.

The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act only authorizes the FDA to do certain things, it doesn't appropriate any funds to do them. That will be a battle in the next Congress.

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Notice to our customers

Recall Alert: Nana’s Cookies

Nana’s Cookies has voluntarily recalled several varieties of cookies due to the possibility of salmonella contamination in walnuts.

The Co-op does not currently have any of the affected batches of cookies in stock, but if you have purchased any of the following varieties with the Best Sell Dates indicated, please return them for a full refund.

  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Best Sell Dates:  08/30/2011, 09/15/2011 and 10/15/2011;
  • No Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Best Sell Date:  09/15/2011;
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies Best Sell Date:  08/30/2011; and
  • Double Chocolate Cookies Best Sell Dates:  09/15/2011 and 10/15/2011.

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op sends this notice to our customers as a part of the fulfillment of our purpose “to be a trusted source of natural foods and products and a reliable source for consumer information.”

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is proud to be a supporting retailer of the Non-GMO Project PDF Print E-mail

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, seed companies and consumers.

Our shared belief is that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified products, and our common mission is to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO choices. Curious what a GMO is? Learn More HERE

What a ‘sweet surprise’! HFCS contains more fructose than believed PDF Print E-mail


One of industry's main arguments against critics' targeting high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as Public Health Enemy No. 1 has been that HFCS and table sugar are chemically similar. Manufacturers have stated over and over that the most common form of HFCS in use in processed food is at most 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose -- not significantly different from white sugar's 50/50 fructose/glucose makeup. If you want to read up on the heated debate about whether this focus on the chemistry is misplaced, feel free.

Now it turns out that the actual amount of fructose in HFCS in particular food products has never been officially disclosed, just assumed. And that assumption, much to the surprise of even the biggest HFCS-is-bad skeptics, has just been proven way off.

Researchers from the University of Southern California decided to test actual brand-name sodas -- including Coke, Pepsi, and Sprite -- to confirm their exact sugar content and makeup. They found that the HFCS in the vast majority contained far more than the presumed 55 percent fructose: in the case of those three brands, it was actually 65 percent fructose.

Why is this important? It's because research has shown fructose to be particularly harmful to human health. Unlike excess glucose, which passes through our digestive tract and is excreted, 100 percent of fructose that's consumed is taken up by the liver. Once there, fructose causes increased fat deposition in the abdominal cavity and increased blood levels of triglycerides -- both of which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. So, over a lifetime, the HFCS in the 53 gallons of soda per year the average American drinks thus increases their fructose consumption compared to table sugar, and probably adds up to big health problems.

It's easy to dismiss fears about HFCS when you can convince yourself that it's just sugar under a different name (no, not that name). But now we're learning that HFCS, as it's used in soda -- which for many Americans is the largest source of their HFCS consumption -- is different, and in the worst possible way: it's significantly higher in fructose.

Since this has been the food industry's dirty little secret until now, we have no way of knowing how long soda drinkers have been enjoying their pop "Now With Extra Fructose!"

Perhaps it's been a recent development, or perhaps HFCS producers have been making this higher fructose concoction for decades. Either way, this new study has gotten nutritionist Marion Nestle's attention. And given that she was one of the most vocal critics of earlier work vilifying HFCS, perhaps now the media will start asking some hard questions about whether HFCS is in fact innocent of all charges, and it's just the American sweet tooth to blame for all our ills. I can't wait to hear how the Corn Refiners Association is going to respond to this one.

P.S. You hipsters who like to down a Mexican Coke with your burritos, thinking it's made with table sugar (sucrose), not HFCS, might want to go back to the agua fresca. The USC investigators found no sucrose in the Coke, just glucose and fructose. Either Mexican Coke is being made with HFCS, or its manufacturers have for some reason split sucrose into its constituent glucose and fructose, Nestle says.

Tom is a writer and a media & technology consultant who thinks that wrecking the planet is a bad idea. He twitters and blogs here and at Beyond Green about food policy, alternative energy, climate science and politics as well as the multiple and various effects of living on a warming planet.

National Egg Recall PDF Print E-mail

Notice to all of our customers!

None of the eggs that the Co-op carries were affected by the recent national egg recall.


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