When Food Politics Get In The Way

The Lempert Report
December 28, 2015

Now is not the time to take giant steps backwards.

We can all agree that Americans are overweight, consume too much fat, sugars and sodium and need to shift our eating habits. So why is the Agriculture Appropriations bill, which provides almost $22 billion in discretionary funding and originally contained a lot of positive changes that would help Americans be more informed and make better food choices being debated, fought and most likely exclude certain key provisions?

Why shouldn’t food retailers post calorie and nutritional information on their menus? As we see more supermarket foodservice offerings it would be a huge plus to help consumers make better choices and buy more prepared foods from supermarkets.

Why shouldn’t partially hydrogenated oils be banned from all use? The science has proven them harmful. Having a lobby fighting to allow some use just doesn’t seem fair.

And in our schools, where the First Lady has pushed hard for better nutrition, why should a school not have to supply whole grains because they find it more difficult to source? and reversing a provision to continue to reduce sodium levels until further research is done? The salt debate is over 30 years old. It’s time to stop the debate. Studies have shown that as people of all ages reduce sodium levels it also reduces blood pressure levels.

And don’t we have a right to know where our foods are coming from? Country of Origin Labeling has made shopping for meats and seafood much more transparent. As we move into an era of cloned beef from China and more fish farming, consumers want more transparency not less and to repeal mandatory labeling is just a mistake. Citing trade retaliation by other nations doesn’t excuse our privilege to know the source of our foods. Last week’s Senate behind-the-scenes approval of the annual appropriations bill that de-authorized COOL labeling is a mistake with long term consequences and will undermine the food industry’s already fragile trust with consumers. 


As we have reported here many times before, Millennials and Gen Z want more information about our foods and the company that makes them. Now is not the time to take giant steps backwards.