USA Today Promotes Stricter Food Labeling

     For nearly 800 years, long before the days of outsourcing, world oil markets and the Internet, there has been a global economy of sorts. Since the days of Marco Polo and the spice trade, people have been getting their foods from all over the world.

     But USA Today promoted more regulation by portraying imported food as a threat to food safety and citing left-wing food police experts in the July 11 USA Today.

     “The absence of information is a shield for those who are not exercising proper care in protecting the safety of the food supply,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the radical Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

     DeWaal, food safety director for CSPI, supported stricter labeling along with Marion Nestle, a known donor to, who was also quoted by the newspaper.

     USA Today’s Elizabeth Weise scrutinized where imported food found in grocery stores comes from and how it is labeled in a cover story, but promoted more regulation in a sidebar.

     But, food is relatively safe under current U.S. regulations. According to the Center for Disease Control, only 5,000 deaths occur annually from food poisoning, a very small fraction compared to the over 300 million people in the United States.

     CSPI has a history of meddling in what food manufacturers place on their packaging. In June, CSPI was instrumental in having several long-time cartoon characters removed from the front of Kellogg’s cereal boxes. It's anti-food agenda has resulted in campaigns for trans fat bans, and attacks on almost every food and drink imaginable.

     Many common grocery items – from bananas to coffee – come from all over the world. However, Weise’s story gave a mostly pro-regulation perspective on legislative efforts to impose country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on more products. Currently seafood is labeled, but food police groups are advocating that beef, pork, peanut, and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables fall under the requirements.

     Weise did include comments from Regina Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) but buried them in the last two paragraphs of her story. She also overlooked the negative impacts of stricter regulation.

     J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, warned in a recent editorial that U.S. – international trade could be negatively impacted by new COOL standards.


     “They (protectionist proponents of the rule) hope the tracking, segregating, and labeling of different meat products will cause domestic packers to reject livestock or meat with a foreign heritage,” wrote Boyle in an editorial in the July 9 issue of Ag Weekly. “But will our trading partners simply sit back and continue to import our goods while we build walls to keep their products out? Not likely.”


     Cost is another significant factor downplayed by USA Today. Boyle also said that the retail grocery industry calculate that COOL for seafood – already in effect – have cost 10 times more to implement than the U.S. Department of Agriculture originally estimated.


     “In terms of the cost of the country-of-origin labeling, we estimate it to be in the millions,” said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the GMA told the Business & Media Institute. “That’s several categories of food, not just fish and seafood.”


     Those consequences were downplayed and ignored by USA Today, which used left-wing arguments to make the pro-regulation case.

     “The real reason (some in the food industry are opposed to COOL) is that if consumers knew how far food traveled, they might be upset about it,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University. “Or if they knew that the food was being grown in countries where the sanitation standards aren't as high as ours, they might raise their eyebrows.”

     Nestle, a devoted food policewoman and Huffington Post contributor frequently advocates for more regulation on the food industry. She also contributed $1,300 to the radical left-winged group in 2004.


     She downplayed the role of personal responsibility in the Jan. 29 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News.


     “In my experience, the restaurant industry has been hugely resistant to taking any responsibility for the obesity problem — shockingly and unnecessarily so,” Nestle said. “Instead, the National Restaurant Association invokes personal responsibility and hides behind the Center for Consumer Freedom.”