Food Law Weekly News Roundup 4/12/19

“Natural” meat products, Maryland’s oyster protection efforts, and Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month! This week’s news was all about, well, food!

1. Meatpacking company wins lawsuit over “Natural Choice” branding

Hormel foods, makers of Spam, won a lawsuit put forth against them by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), in which the ALDF alleged Hormel had been deceiving consumers with its “Natural Choice” product line. The Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that Hormel did not violate any consumer protection laws because its manufacturer labels containing “natural” were approved by the USDA, and thus the same term could be used in its advertising. In handing down this ruling, the court reaffirmed the precedent for use of the term “natural” in meat products. The scope is limited to not containing an artificial ingredient, added color, and minimal processing. Other production processes like the use of antibiotics, hormones, and preservatives remain outside of this scope. Critics of the ruling cite findings in which the same pigs used for making Spam (clearly, not a natural product) were used in the new “Natural Choice” product line. This leaves it up to consumers to determine for themselves what the term “natural” really means when it comes to meat products. With so many different brands, labels, and government guidelines, what is “natural” and what is not can often become indistinguishable.

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2. Maryland oyster bill finally enacted

The harvesting of wild oysters in five major oyster sanctuaries within the Chesapeake Bay will now be prohibited. This comes after a months long dispute between the Maryland legislature and Governor Larry Hogan, in which the bill passed in the House, was vetoed by Hogan, and then had its veto overridden by the Senate last week. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Chesapeake oyster population is at less than 1 percent of its historic levels. Those opposed to the bill included the Maryland Waterman’s Association, arguing that the bill would threaten commercial harvesters’ income. If they want want to continue to harvest, they will have to do so in the 55 other oyster sanctuaries in Maryland, which remain unprotected by the law.

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3. National food waste reduction strategy announced

April is Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month. As such the USDA, EPA, and FDA have announced a joint strategy to reduce food waste. The six priority areas include:

  1. Enhance Interagency Coordination
  2. Increase Consumer Education and Outreach Efforts
  3. Improve Coordination and Guidance on Food Loss and Waste Measurement
  4. Clarify and Communicate Information on Food Safety, Food Date Labels, and Food Donations
  5. Collaborate with Private Industry to Reduce Food Loss and Waste Across the Supply Chain
  6. Encourage Food Waste Reduction by Federal Agencies in their Respective Facilities

For more info:


Jacob Gersen

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