Natural Foods Merchandiser


Fair Trade for Green Beans
Allegro Coffee Co. says it has hired an independent auditor to confirm that it is paying at or above current fair-trade coffee prices. Ernst & Young LLP will audit the Thornton, Colo., company's specialty green coffee costs twice a year to make sure the prices paid always exceed the cost of production.

In 2001, Allegro purchased about 2.1 million pounds of specialty green coffee for about $1.38 per pound. Transportation, import fees and taxes added another 21 cents per pound. Allegro paid about $1.74 per pound, including fees and taxes, for organic beans. The commodity price per pound for coffee is about 50 cents.

TransFair USA, a nonprofit certifier of fair-trade coffees, based in Oakland, Calif., says its co-op farmers receive $1.26 per pound for conventional coffee and $1.41 per pound for organic beans.

Reality Bites
McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC turned Caesar Barber into an unhealthy fat man, the Bronx, N.Y., man claims in a lawsuit against the fast-food chains. Barber, who weighs 272 pounds and has had two heart attacks and suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, claims he was deceived into believing the cheap, quick food he has consumed since the 1950s was good for him. He says restaurants should list ingredients on their menus.

The National Restaurant Association says Barber's claim is merely an attempt to capitalize on the Surgeon General's 2001 report, which said about 300,000 deaths a year in the United States result from obesity.

Whole-Wheat Bread Bashed
The American Council on Science and Health, based in New York, has filed a notice of intent to sue Whole Foods Market Inc. under California's Proposition 65 law, claiming the naturals retail chain sells whole-wheat and organic bread that contains acrylamide. Acrylamide, which can cause cancer in animals, is found in fries, potato chips, water, coffee and starchy foods that are baked or fried.

ACSH, a nonprofit education consortium founded to help consumers sort real health risks from the hype, claims it filed the suit to illustrate the absurdity of Proposition 65, which requires manufacturers to label or discontinue products containing potentially toxic chemicals. The law does not specify how much of the toxic chemical constitutes a risky exposure. Whole Foods and the California attorney general have until mid-September to respond to the filing.

In a similar case brought by two environmental groups, the attorney general's office said it would not pursue an acrylamide action against Burger King that would force the fast-food company to label its packaging.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 9/p. 14

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