Last week, Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director took to a variety of forums to speak out on an FDA proposal to force an "added sugar" label onto the agency-mandated Nutrition Facts panel.
Why oppose the proposed “added sugar” label? Because it's flawed for many reasons. Mandatory “added sugar” labeling may violate the First Amendment. Use of the term "added sugar" is also misleading, as it creates a deceptive health halo around products like orange juice and apple juice, which are high in naturally occurring sugar but contain no added sugar. The “added sugar” label also raises this question: why stop at mandating added sugar on food labels? Why not added salt, added caffeine, and added allergens like soy and dairy? Why not label for added protein and added carbs
Why? Because the "added sugar" label was never intended to provide consumers with more information. Instead, it’s intended to punish food companies that some public-health activists don’t like.
"By forcing what amounts to an added-sugar warning on the label, the government is attempting to skew consumer demand," Linnekin told the L.A. Times.
But the lack of an "added sugar" label doesn’t mean food companies can hide how much sugar is in their food. Quite the opposite, actually. Thanks to existing FDA regulations, the mandatory Nutrition Facts panel already requires food makers to inform consumers exactly how much sugar is in a given serving of food. Another requirement for listing the carbohydrate content of foods also tells consumers how many carbs, which includes all sugars, are in that same serving of food. And FDA rules for food ingredient labeling, meanwhile, requires that every component of a food, including sugar, be listed prominently in descending order of weight.
Linnekin also appeared on KCRW’s excellent To the Point program to discuss the added sugar proposal alongside fellow guest Dr. Robert Lustig, whose soapbox is perhaps the largest in this country on the topic of regulations and sugar. Fellow guetss also included Evan Halper of the L.A. Times and Renee Sharp of the Environmental Working Group. Lustig and Sharp strongly endorsed the FDA proposal because it would finally clear up food labels. But what of the information that's already there?
"If all of that information isn’t clear enough," Linnekin wrote in his weekly Reason column later in the week, "then it’s incumbent on proponents of mandating still more information to explain how adding the term 'added sugar'" is the solution.
Earlier this month, Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin sat down in the Washington, DC studio of Hearst Television to tape a segment on a current food trend in California, in which sales of foods via Facebook have become increasingly common (if still uncommon). The subsequent report aired recently on California television station KCRA.
From the transcript:
Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin is an activist who has been pushing to ensure people have freedom to eat the foods they want.
"[People marketing food on Facebook] are not making a million dollars," Linnekin said. "It's not like they are suddenly becoming this baron of underground food in California. They are making a little bit here and a little bit there."
In other words, this is a small, local trend that's likely to stay small and local. Interestingly, the trend may have arisen due to the restrictive nature of California's cottage food law.
Unlike many state cottage food laws, which permit the sale of countless home-prepared foods--and which only bar sales of potentially hazardous foods--California's law enumerates a short list of foods people may sell and bans everything else. That's a tremendous shortcoming with the law, as Linnekin notes in the report.
"Kale chips for example. Potato chips. Not potentially hazardous, and yet not on the list," Linnekin said. "And so therefore, you can't sell them."
Watch the KCRA report here. And read Linnekin's 2011 Reason magazine print article on underground food sales via social media in New York City (specifically, lobster rolls and grilled cheese sandwiches) here.
Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin Discusses Plans for New Federal Food Safety Agency on HuffPost Live
Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin took part in a HuffPost Live discussion yesterday on a new proposal by President Obama to strip the FDA and USDA of their dual (and often dueling) food-safety oversight authority. The proposal calls for the creation of a single new sub-agency within the Dept. of Health and Human Services--where the FDA is housed--to oversee federal food-safety efforts.
Linnekin appeared on HuffPost Live alongisde host Alyona Minkovski and fellow guests Christopher Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America and Robert Brackett of the Institute for Food Safety and Health. The segment runs about 20 minutes. Watch it by clicking on the video at right or at this link.
And be sure to click here to see more of our media appearances.
Earlier this month, Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared with host Kennedy on the Fox Business Channel show The Independents to discuss the often-difficult regulatory environment for food trucks. Click on the image below to watch the segment.
For see and read more about what Keep Food Legal has to say on food trucks, click here.
As a variety of food issues around the country have heated up over the past month--from the battle in Washington over the USDA's failed school lunch program to the New York City's last-ditch effort to revive its soda ban--you may have noticed that Keep Food Legal has been all over the news in recent weeks.
Keep Food Legal executive director Linnekin spoke to Dennis Miller earlier this month, in one of his regular appearances on the iconoclastic star's popular, nationally syndicated radio show, about the soda ban and the school lunch fight.
That same week, Linnekin told Politico that "he would be 'stunned' if the state appeals court overturned the decision" of two lower courts in New York State that both rejected the soda ban.
Local NBC TV affiliates from Los Angeles to Connecticut to Mississippi recently featured our comments on a Center for Science in the Public Interest meeting that discussed ways to crack down soda consumption by targeting individual rights. Read more details--and our remarks--at the NBC News website.
Linnekin also recently sat down with Stossel host John Stossel and disucssed school lunches, the slanted Katie Court food documentary Fed Up, and the Founding Fathers' vision of food freedom on a segment of the popular Fox Business Channel TV show. View that clip below and here.
Keep up to date with breaking food freedom news and all of Keep Food Legal's media appearances by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. You can support our work advancing the cause of food freedom by donating today.
As you've no doubt noted, we here at Keep Food Legal are most vocal in our opposition to the many regulations around the country that restrict the rights of individuals to buy or sell the foods of their own choosing. That's largely a function of the pervasiveness of such rules.
But our longstanding definition of "food freedom" includes much more than buying and selling food. Specifically, we define "food freedom" as "the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing."
Sharing food might seem at first glance to be the least controversial facet of food freedom. But food sharing--particularly when it involves the homeless and less fortunate--has faced a growing attack in cities around the country for several years now.
In his latest Reason online column, Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin looked at bans on sharing food with those in need and found such bans to be spreading. That's unfortunate, as Linnekin wrote last year about our hope that these unconstitutional bans (as Linnekin described in a 2012 column) were in retreat.
But it's true. These bans are spreading.
Here's Conor Friedersdorf, who notes our opposition to bans on sharing food in an excellent Orange County Register column today.
"'Starting in about 2006, several cities began arresting, fining and otherwise oppressing private individuals and nonprofits that feed the homeless and less fortunate,' says Baylen Linnekin, who heads the organization Keep Food Legal. 'Since then, other cities have followed suit.'"
Friedersdorf makes a key point worth repeating: opposition to bans on sharing food with the homeless and less fortunate knows no ideology.
"If there’s anything conservatives, liberals and libertarians ought to be able to agree on, it’s the goodness of private charities meeting their needs," he writes. "Denying food to these people because of its uncertain fiber content, or the fact that no one wants them around, hurts the most downtrodden."
Last month may have been the most active--and worst--month for food freedom in recent American history. The month took off with Pres. Obama signing a subsidy-heavy Farm Bill into law, reached cruising altitude with rumblings of a nationwide lawsuit against food producers, and touched back down with a series of proposals--including a plan to expand the USDA's lousy school lunch program and a costly and misguided FDA proposal to change America's food labels.
Who's fighting back against this awfulness? Keep Food Legal, that's who. We've been a vocal (and quotable) opponent of this slew of regulatory challenges facing consumers and producers alike.
For example, Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin has been quoted over the past week in two Politico stories on the proposed new regulations.
Asked to comment for a Politico piece that rightly paints the food industry as "under siege," thanks to the slew of new regulations proposed by the Obama administration, Linnekin urged the president to rein in his food-agency heads.
"'I wish the administration would take a step back,' said Baylen Linnekin, executive director of Keep Food Legal, a food freedom advocacy group, and a professor at American University. 'I would imagine [the food industry] has the same whiplash as someone like me or you who has just been trying to keep up with these changes.'"
In another Politico story, Linnekin spoke out against proposed changes to the FDA's labeling scheme for packaged foods.
"Baylen Linnekin, executive director of Keep Food Legal and a professor at American University, said he thinks the new labeling overhaul is misguided and will likely provide little or no benefit.
"'This is a case of pointy-headed academics thinking that their labeling changes are going to have an impact in the real world,' said Linnekin. 'While additions to the labels might make FDA and advocates happy, it’s likely the case that consumer behavior won’t change.'"
Linnekin also used his regular monthly appearance on Dennis Miller's popular syndicated radio show last week to speak out against the USDA and FDA actions in particular. Linnekin told Miller the proposed FDA labels were "likely to have little to no impact on consumers, just like the existing labels."
And in his most recent weekly Reason column, Linnekin describes how--when viewed as a whole--these and other recently proposed food regulations appear to be part of a pervasive new campaign against food freedom.
"February 2014 may go down as the worst month for food freedom since the New Deal era," writes Linnekin.
We will continue to fight to turn the tide in favor of food freedom. But we've got powerful foes in powerful places. Won't you please help support our work by donating today?