Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Place at the Table

On March 1, A Place at the Table, a powerful new documentary will be released in select theaters and for streaming via iTunes and On Demand.
Fifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.
Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Horsemeat Scandal Turns into a Food Safety Crisis

From Alberto Alemanno's blog, February 20, 2013 12:00 AM
Although the current horsemeat scandal has been depicted as an instance of fraud and mislabeling generated by a single source, it is progressively escalating into a broader food safety crisis that reveals some flaws in our EU food safety system. Yet relying on country-of-origin-labelling – as many have invoked it – to tackle misleading labeling of food ingredients might be the wrong answer to the good question raised by this unfortunate story. . . . 
Alberto reviews facts and the timeline of events in the scandal and then provides an analysis that identifies the flaws of the current EU regulatory framework and provides some recommendations.

Please link directly to Alberto's blog for the rest of the article and a number of interesting comments on the scandal, Horsemeat Scandal Turns into a Food Safety Crisis.

Resources: Antibiotic Use in Livestock and Resistance in Meat

I just posted on Agricultural Law on this topic and you may find the resources I relied on helpful. Much of the following is excerpted from my post:

 The FDA recently published its 2011 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals.  This report is required under the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments, codified in the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act at 21 U.S.C. § 360b. Sponsors of applications for new animal drugs that contain an active antimicrobial ingredient are required report to the FDA each year, providing data on the amount of sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals. The law also now requires that FDA make the information compiled public.

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) also issued its 2011 report this month, reporting on the antimicrobial resistant bacteria it found on meat products. NARMS is a joint project of the FDA, the CDC and 11 state public health laboratories, and it tests retail meat products for the presence of antimicrobial resistant strains of bacteria.

Few major media outlets covered the release of these reports.  Fortunately, some food safety experts provided excellent commentary to explain the reports. Here are some important links.
Some summary information:

Overall antimicrobial drug use in livestock production is up about 2.3%.  In 2011, 29.9 million pounds of antimicrobial drugs were used in livestock production. Contrast this with the 7.7 million pounds of antimicrobial drugs used for humans during the same time period.

Not all of the drugs used in livestock production are used for human treatment. The 2011 data shows a welcome decline in the use of Sulfa drugs, often used in humans. In contrast, Ionophores, which are not currently used to treat humans, showed an increase in animal use, largely in poultry production.

However, Dr. Wallinga noted that:
Penicillins and tetracyclines sold for animal use increased for the second year in a row. From 11.5 million pounds in 2009, sales rose to 14.4 million pounds in 2011. The two classes of antibiotics remain the most commonly used antibiotics in livestock and poultry, despite their obvious import for treating infections in people as well. In 2011, animal sales accounted for 38 percent of total penicillin sales and 98 percent of total tetracycline sales, including in humans.
One of the concerns about the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is that we are encouraging the development of antibiotic resistant strains of dangerous bacteria. This is where the study of antimicrobial resistance in retail meat is important. Summarizing the NARMS report, Helena Bottemiller noted that:
Drug resistance among Salmonella isolates increased all around. In 2010, the percentage of isolates that showed drug resistance was about 50 percent, while in 2011 it had increased to nearly 55 percent. 
Resistance to cephalosporins, a class of drugs the FDA restricted in early 2012, increased between 2002 and 2011. Third generation cephalosporin resistance increased, in chicken from 10 to 33 percent and in ground turkey from 8 to 22 percent. . . .
The NARMS data also indicate that there was a significant increase in ampicillin resistance over the last decade among retail chicken, from nearly 17 percent to around 40 percent, and in ground turkey isolates from 16 percent to 58 percent. Ampicillin can be used in human medicine to treat infections, including Salmonella. 
More than 27 percent of all chicken isolates showed resistance to five or more classes of antibiotics and in ground turkey isolates researchers found 10 different serotypes with resistance to six or more classes of antibiotics.
The Animal Health Institute, the lobbying organization for the veterinary pharmaceutical companies has not commented on the recent reports, but has consistently maintained that "[a]nimal antibiotics make our food supply safer and people healthier. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals. In doing so, they also reduce the chance of bacterial transmission from animals to humans."  While antibiotics are clearly needed in animal production for the treatment of disease, the data indicates that their continual use in feed as a disease prevention method and to promote rapid growth is problematic.

Representative Louise Slaughter, a long time proponent of legislation to reduce antibiotic use in livestock production addressed the report through a press release titled, We Are Standing on the Brink of a Public Health Catastrophe.

Last October, IATP published a bibliography of studies, No Time to Lose: 147 Studies Supporting Public Health Action to Reduce Antibiotic Overuse in Food Animals.  

Susan Schneider

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New SSRN Food Law & Policy Network

We are pleased to announce a new Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) Subject Matter eJournal - Food Law & Policy eJournal.

View Papers:

Editor: Alberto Alemanno, Associate Professor of Law, HEC Paris - Law Department

Description: This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts with an aim to promote and bring together the rapidly emerging scholarship focusing on the regulation of food. At a time in which this area of law is progressively acquiring some autonomy vis-a-vis other areas of law, such as Administrative Law, and - given its international vocation - International Trade and International Health law, this eJournal nurtures the ambition to provide a one-stop shop for virtually all food-related papers published today at the global level. While the focus of this eJournal is predominantly the regulation of food products, their production methods and their marketing opportunities, it also extends to: agriculture and food law, human rights and food law (including the right to food and labor issues), antitrust and food law, international trade of food, food quality as well as food information (e.g. labeling schemes). Issues related to intellectual property aspects of food (e.g. geographical indications) are also pertinent to this Journal. Given the recent attention by food law regimes to the nutritional aspects of food, this eJournal also covers the regulation of nutritional and health claims, food reformulation and other nutritional-related measures such as fiscal measures. It equally covers the regulation of food and beverages. As witnessed by its advisory board, the scope of this eJournal is genuinely global and as such it reflects the increasingly globalized food supply chain and the broader discourse of food studies. Due to the inherently interdisciplinary and international nature of food regulation, this eJournal will also host papers coming not only from other disciplines than law but also from all over the world.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Welcome to the Food Law Professors blog

Jim Chen and I set up this blog to provide an additional way for our group -  law professors who teach, write, research, and otherwise explore areas of food law and policy -   to to communicate. Information that is posted here will be readily available to us, without the need for scrolling back through emails.

If you would like to post on this blog, you can send your posts to me for now. However, if you would like to post directly, I am happy to add you.

Susan (