The monthly recap below appeared in FIC's May e-Newsletter. If you would like to receive monthly updates and other urgent alerts via email, please sign up here.
Whistleblowers Divulge Food Safety Concerns About HIMP Poultry Plan
Last month, GAP's Food Integrity Campaign publicly released affidavits from three anonymous USDA inspectors that illustrate serious problems at deregulated HIMP (HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project) pilot poultry plants, where over 10,000 birds can move through the line each hour per federal inspector! The affidavits were released in conjunction with a New York Times article, which triggered a domino effect of media coverage spotlighting the fact that USDA’s own employees oppose the agency program.
Just some of the subsequent news coverage covering HIMP included Reuters, Kansas City Star, The Daily, and Food Safety News.
FIC started an online petition aimed at USDA, giving citizens the opportunity to voice personal disapproval of expanding HIMP. FIC joined federal inspectors and other consumer groups (with their own petitions) to hand deliver more than 188,000 combined collected signatures opposing the program.
FIC also coordinated an interview between one of the anonymous USDA whistleblowers and ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. The day after this exposé aired, the USDA announced a one-month extension to the public comment period for the proposal. You can submit a comment here!
Stay updated on news coverage and other developments on FIC's HIMP info page.
GAP Client Spearheads Study on HFCS & Autism Correlation
GAP client and whistleblower Renee Dufault spearheaded a study recently published in Clinical Epigenetics that details the role of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the growing autism epidemic.
Key findings include:
- Consumption of HFCS is linked to the dietary loss of zinc, which interferes with the elimination of toxic chemicals like mercury and pesticides that affect brain development.
- HFCS consumption can impact levels of other minerals, including calcium. Inadequate levels of calcium can impair the body's ability to rid itself of organophosphates, a class of pesticides (found in foods frequently consumed by children) recognized as especially toxic to the young developing brain.
Learn more about the study and Dufault's ongoing commitment to food ingredient safety on the FIC blog!
Ag Gag Update: Two States Down, But Missouri Bill Looming
Several states have threatened to pass legislation criminalizing whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing at farm facilities via undercover video. Listen to FIC Director Amanda Hitt talk about these Ag Gag bills on Heritage Radio Network.
Legislation in Tennessee and Nebraska were fortunately added to the list of Ag Gag bills that have died, leaving only Minnesota and Missouri with pending bills in the current legislative session. The language in Missouri's bill, which recently made it through the House of Representatives, is particularly alarming, and goes beyond even that of Iowa's legislation that became law in March. FIC blogged about the irony of the "Show-Me State" effort to prevent agriculture industry insiders from revealing the truth to the consuming public.
FIC continues to work with coalition partners on strategy moving forward in anticipation of dead bills that may be resurrected next session.
Eye on Monsanto
What's new with agribusiness giant Monsanto? In addition to developing new controversial herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn – whose potential negative impact on other crops even biotech supporters fear – the company has been busy bullying legislators who are considering bills that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Monsanto's threat to sue the State of Vermont if it passed such a law resulted in a delayed vote, hindering the possibility of getting the bill through both houses before the session's end. Even when the bill did make it through the House Agriculture Committee, it included an amendment that would delay the bill's implementation until 365 days after California and at least two Northeastern states enact similar laws.
- The USDA announced it will let the beef industry voluntarily label products containing 'pink slime,' but that's not enough. Just as whistleblower Kit Foshee told the audience at FIC's food whistleblower conference more than a year earlier, consumers should be able to know what's in their beef. Foshee also said his former employer (and maker of pink slime) Beef Products, Inc. should be held accountable for its alleged misrepresentation of data. Follow this interactive timeline to see Foshee’s efforts over the years to raise concerns about pink slime.
- Burger King made headlines last week after saying it will only purchase cage-free eggs and gestation-crate-free pork by 2017. The move shows the influence that consumer demand for food integrity can have on the industry.
Join FIC for Trivia Tuesday!
What happens to rejected cattle or other inedible remains after they are sent to a "rendering" plant?
Get the facts on this lesser known process in our food system by following FIC on Twitter for today's Trivia Tuesday!