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Gluten-free

As usual in the food politics world, the week brought good and bad news. We’ll start with the negative: a new study spearheaded by the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington D.C. reveals that U.S. food companies have substantially more input than consumers think when determining which food additives are deemed safe and which are not.

For starters, companies choose which additives they want to submit to the FDA for review. On top of that, representatives from the companies often make up part of the panel that votes on the final safety ruling. For a complete look at the additive review process, see Dr. Marion Nestle’s post.

But, like we promised, the news isn’t all bad. The FDA came out with federal standards for gluten-free labeling this week, meaning that if you’re shopping for gluten-free products, you can now do so with peace of mind.

In food politics news abroad:
The lab-grown burger is finally upon us. After a decade of research by Dutch scientists 20,000 muscle fibers of lab-grown beef were formed into a patty, cooked and served to a select few who deemed the meat passable, but severely lacking in tasty fat. 

Meanwhile, Germany’s Green political party has proposed mandating vegetarian workplace lunches once a week. According to Spiegel, the prospect of a sausage-less day has whipped Germans into a frenzy, similar to what happened when the since-retracted U.S.D.A “Meatless Monday” memo became known to the American public.

The Guardian reports on major food companies’ practice of capitalizing on the obesity crisis in England (and elsewhere) by pushing diet products as well as their more fattening counterparts.

Also in the news this week: