Fish labeling questioned
This spring, the Center for Food Safety sent letters to the attorneys general of 49 states, urging them to act against labeling seafood imports organic despite the fact that there are no U.S. organic seafood standards in place. "USDA's refusal to stop importers from calling their products ‘organic' when many of them use antibiotics, parasiticides or feed that would not be permitted under U.S. regulations is dishonest," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. The advocacy group is asking the USDA to enforce existing organic labeling laws for agricultural products until new organic seafood standards are finalized, a process that may take up to two years.
Large corporations sweet on stevia
Joining Cargill and Coca-Cola, Corn Products International is investing money in stevia, the super-sweet, low-calorie plant from South America. The Westchester, Ill.-based company foresees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's eventual approval of stevia as an artificial sweetener; the herb is already approved for consumer use in Japan, Brazil and China. CPI is working with a Japanese company to procure exclusive license of its patented stevia strain along with its manufacturing technology and marketing and distribution rights. The ingredient, to be marketed under the brand name Enliten, has a very high content of rebaudioside A, a stevia component with a sweetening power ranging from 300 to 400 times that of sugar.
Brown rice receives FDA health claim
The Food and Drug Administration has recognized brown rice as a whole grain, so it may now carry the whole-grain health claim. The FDA will allow packages of brown rice to state: "Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers." The FDA stated in a May announcement that all whole grains, regardless of dietary fiber content, may carry the claim. Previously, the fiber content of brown rice was considered too low. Rice is the most popular grain in the world, according to Joann Slavin, a registered dietitian and professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "In the United States, where chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancers are common, encouraging whole-grain brown-rice consumption could have a significant public health impact," she said.