News bites, July 2001

This article was originally published in July 2001

McDonald’s goes organic?

McDonald’s has announced that it will add natural and organic foods to its menu.

The fast food franchise giant reportedly is buying a minority interest in U.K.-based Pret A Manger, a natural fast food chain that’s currently expanding into the U.S. and Asia. (National Nutritional Foods Association)

Japan third large organic market

Analysts say Japan is shaping up as the third largest organic market in the world. Interest in organically produced food, drinks and cosmetics is growing in Japan, supported by a number of cultural factors. Analysts say the link with nature is closer than in North America or Europe, eating is viewed as a cultural asset, and the desire for high-quality consumer goods is matched by a willingness to pay a higher price for quality. (Nürnberg Global Fairs)

Country of origin labels

A federal proposal to label foods with the “country of origin” is under consideration. Many U. S. farmers support such labeling, saying it’s hard to compete under trade agreements that lack international standards for food and environmental safety, and workers’ rights. The farmers are lobbying lawmakers to make food safety a core issue in negotiating future trade pacts. (Capital Press)

Frito Lay seals tainted food records

The Frito Lay company has moved to seal the records on consumer complaints of contaminated chips. From 1991-1994, Frito Lay received hundreds of complaints that products smelled and tasted like gasoline, paint thinner, cleaning solvents, and other toxic contaminants. Company tests show many products were contaminated, but Frito Lay never told consumers who complained, instead sending them coupons for free product. Several complaints were from Washington and Oregon (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

GE superweeds

An expert panel on superweeds in Canada reports that most of the canola superweeds are not vulnerable to herbicides. Genetically engineered canola has escaped farmers’ fields, crossbred with related plants, and sprouted in fields across Canada. (National Nutritional Foods Association)

Genetic contamination law

The state of Maine has passed a law to address genetic contamination of wild plants and organic crops by genetically engineered (GE) crops. The law requires GE seed dealers to keep a list of anyone growing GE plants in Maine. It also permits the Commissioner of Agriculture to inspect the list when asked to investigate a claim of cross-contamination. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association says the bill falls short of setting liability for genetic contamination, but will instruct growers on how to minimize gene pollution. (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association)

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