What the Hormel Lawsuit Taught us About the "Natural" Food Label

What the Hormel Lawsuit Taught us About the "Natural" Food Label

In June 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), a non-profit law organization that aims to protect the rights and advance the interests of animals through the legal system, filed a lawsuit alleging that Hormel was misleading consumers through its “Natural Choice” product line of lunch meats and bacon. They filed the suit stating that it was in violation of the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act. The basis of the lawsuit was that the ALDF alleged that Hormel used the “natural” food label claim although the products contain additives, hormones, antibiotics, and artificial preservatives.

Surveys and research conducted over the last few years have found one thing in common: consumers don’t understand what “natural” means when they see this claim on food labels and packaging. In 2014, a survey conducted by Consumer Reports of over 1,000 people found that 66% think they term “natural” means the food item has no artificial ingredients, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms. In addition to the Consumer Reports survey, research has also shown that 47% of American consumers actively look for natural products and 65% consider natural products as “better.” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but natural doesn’t mean the product is better, and it doesn’t mean that the product is pesticide or GMO-free.

National Public Health Week: Healthy Communities

National Public Health Week: Healthy Communities

What is a healthy community? Is it one with bike lanes where you can safely travel to work and home? Is it one with fresh, healthy foods that are accessible to all the citizens? Is it one with safe, affordable housing, or one with clean drinking water? There is no one way to describe a healthy community, and the needs of a community may drive the health priorities that local leaders and citizens focus on. Did you know that the zip code in which we reside is a better predictor of our health than our genetic code? Because of this, public health professionals strive to improve the health of ALL communities so that no matter someone’s zip code, they have the same opportunity to live in a healthy environment as their neighbor who may live 5, 10, or even 20 miles down the road.  

In honor of National Public Health Week and today’s topic of healthy communities, I am highlighting a few communities and one state throughout the United States and the health initiatives and policies they have implemented to improve the health and safety of their community.

The FDA is Reforming their Role in Dietary Supplement Oversight.. Finally!

The FDA is Reforming their Role in Dietary Supplement Oversight.. Finally!

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it plans to overhaul regulations for the $50 billion a year dietary supplement industry. The FDA is planning much needed updates to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) which passed in 1994. Alongside this announcement, the FDA sent advisory and warning letters to supplement companies that were selling products with illegal claims or that contained unapproved drugs. Some companies that received the advisory and warning letters were claiming that their products prevented, treated or cured Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other serious diseases and health conditions. According to the press release, “three out of every four American consumers take a dietary supplement on a regular basis”. The overhaul of the 25-year-old Act is music to this public health dietitian’s ears!

Self-Care During the Holidays

Self-Care During the Holidays

The holidays- the time of year that is supposed to be full of joy, love, and time spent with friends and family. What we don’t talk or think about when it comes to the holidays are all the ways that we forget about self-care, and the stress that we put ourselves through. The past couple of years I have started really focusing on self-care this time of year and I want to share some of my recommendations for self-care with you.

Stay active this time of year. Exercise is one of the best ways to destress. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long gym workout or a group exercise class, it can be as simple as a 30-minute walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood. You’ll feel refreshed and reenergized!

Romaine Calm: Responding to Food Recalls

Romaine Calm: Responding to Food Recalls

It seems as though every week we are learning about a new food recall. Most recently, we were alerted to an E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce and salmonella in ground beef. Due to these recalls, TONS of romaine lettuce and ground beef will be tossed in the trash. Most recently, it was reported that more than 12 MILLION pounds of ground beef are being recalled. So, what can we as consumers do to ensure we are eating food that won’t make us sick, without contributing to our already astounding food waste problem and continuing to support farmers?