What Changed About Food in 2016?

I wrote a post back in July about the changes that are coming to the food labels. Although the changes are required to be in place until July 2018, the official change happened in 2016. You can read the details on that here.

Other than the food labels, there were some other changes in 2016 to the food that we eat.

FDA banned three toxic food packaging chemicals and is considering banning seven cancer-causing food flavoring chemicals. Way back in January, ​the FDA announced that it no longer approved of three chemicals commonly used to make grease, stain and water repelling food packaging. The banned chemicals are all PFC's (perfluorinated compounds). They were used to coat things like pizza boxes, pastry wrappers, take-out food containers, paper plates and even non-stick cookware. The FDA said that it made the change because they can no longer say there is "a reasonably certainty of no harm" from use of these chemicals in food contact products. In lab studies, these chemicals were linked to adverse effects on hormones, reproductive, developmental, neurological and immune systems, and to certain cancers. On the heels of this, the FDA also announced something even more important. They will review the safety of seven "flavoring" chemicals that fall under "artificial" or "natural" flavors on food labels. These chemicals are used to flavor ice cream, candy, baked goods, jellies, and beverages. I'm skeptical that the FDA will ban these, but at least they are on their radar.

Congress passed a bill that will require food companies to disclose GMOs. While this is a good thing, it’s not exactly what I would have liked to see. Food companies will have to reveal whether products contain GMO ingredients, but they won't have to print it on the package label. Instead, they can make that information available through a QR code. Shoppers would have to scan it with their smartphones. Small food companies also have the option of printing a website URL or a phone number that customers can call for more information. While a good first step, the law leaves many details of the new labeling scheme to be worked out by the USDA. A big detail is whether refined products like soy oil or sugar from beets will need to be labeled. While they are made from GMO crops, the final product doesn't contain any genetically modified material, such as proteins or DNA. Stay tuned on this one, the battle is just beginning.

Soda Taxes Continue to Pass. During the November election, five more cities passed soda taxes. Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages already existed in Berkeley and Philadelphia. Now Boulder, Colorado, three more California cities (San Francisco, Oakland and Albany) and Cook County in Illinois have elected to tax these beverages. The goal of the tax is to discouraging people from drinking sodas, sports drinks and other beverages that have added sugar. It’s very similar to cigarette taxes, which are aimed at discouraging people (especially young people) from spending more money on the products. Scientific studies have provided evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages contributes to obesity. While soda and other similar drinks are not the only reasons for the obesity epidemic, it’s universally understood that these drinks offer little to no nutritional value. The soda taxes range from one cent to two cents per ounce. So for a 20-ounce soda, you will pay an extra twenty to forty cents depending on location.

The USDA issued new guidelines advising meat, poultry, and egg suppliers to replace “sell by” and “use by” dates on products with a new “best if used by” date instead. Research showed that this new phrase is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety. The USDA felt that the use of different phrases to describe quality dates has caused consumer confusion and has led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe because it is past the date printed on the package. USDA estimates that 30% of food is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level.

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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,



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