This regular publication by DLA Piper lawyers focuses on helping clients navigate the ever-changing business, legal and regulatory landscape.

  • Poll indicates strong support by parents for school lunch standards. On September 8, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association released a poll showing strong support among parents of school-age kids for national nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold to students during the school day. Specifically, 72 percent of parents support standards for school meals and snacks, and 91 percent support a requirement that schools include a serving of fruits or vegetables at each meal. This finding comes as the Obama Administration attempts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals and snacks nationwide.
  • CDC reports that most US children consume too much sodium. The Centers for Disease Control, in a report released September 9, concluded that more than 90 percent of children in the US ages 6 to 18 eat more sodium than recommended, putting them at increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. About 43 percent of this sodium comes from the 10 foods that kids eat most often: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes and soups.
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association will share its database on food additives with FDA.The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation’s largest food companies, announced August 27 that it will give the FDA access to a large database of safety information that it maintains concerning chemicals commonly used in processed foods. The database relates both to new proposed additives and to those that are already commonly used. Both the FDA and many critics of the food industry have applauded the move, which was taken voluntarily by the association.
  • Ghirardelli settles labeling lawsuit regarding white chocolate. On August 26, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., a subsidiary of the Swiss company Lindt & Sprungli, agreed to settle a consumer class action alleging its “Premium Baking Chips – Classic White” misled consumers by claiming to contain white chocolate. Under US law, a product labeled as white chocolate must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter. The baking chips are made solely from pure vanilla and whole milk powder. Ghirardelli agreed to pay $5.25 million to a settlement fund to resolve the case.
  • Arkansas rice must still be tested frequently for GMOs. The Arkansas State Plant Board’s seed committee has rejected, by a nearly unanimous voice vote, a proposal by the Arkansas Seed Dealers Association to reduce the number of times rice dealers must test their rice seeds for genetically modified organisms. Arkansas is the nation’s largest producer of long-grain rice, accounting for nearly 60 percent of US production.
  • General Mills announces acquisition of natural-food manufacturer Annie’s. General Mills has moved to expand its presence in the fast-growing natural and organics market by announcing an $820 million deal to acquire Annie’s, a Berkeley, California-based manufacturer with annual sales slightly above $200 million. The transaction requires antitrust review by the federal government. A General Mills official said the company’s supply chain, sales and marketing resources will help ensure Annie’s products reach a broader audience.
  • Senators urge OMB to provide more funding for food safety act. US Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), wrote to the Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, urging the OMB to increase the funding of key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act for FY2016 and not to rely on industry fees, which Congress has consistently rejected. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sam Farr (D-CA) sent a similar letter to OMB and HHS on August 27, stating that “[o]nce the major rules are completed in the upcoming year, FDA will require additional funding to fully implement FSMA.”