The past 12 months have seen progress in food policies that are the essential steps needed to ensure better health for this generation and a better precedent for the next. Through working with wonderful like-minded partners including the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Jamie Olivers's Food Revolution team have been able to continue pushing for better standards and report on the latest news and updates to life changing legislation and regulations.
Here is a rundown of some of the big updates, highlights, challenges and what’s coming up in 2013.
Two years ago the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed into law, a landmark piece of legislation. Since then there have been many changes to school food, with many more to come!
As part of this act, new school meal regulations - which include more fruit and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium, less fat and calorie restrictions – came into play on July 1st this year and will mostly be phased in over a 3 year period.
While there has been a lot of great work by schools to meet these new regulations and ensure that students are eating the new healthier meals, there has also been some kick back. In response to this, the USDA announced earlier this month that they now allowing more flexibility on grain and protein restrictions.
Up next year are snack foods and beverages in schools, as the USDA will release proposed standards for anything sold from vending machines, schools stores, and cafeteria a la carte lines - anything outside of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.
Food and Beverage Marketing
Earlier in the year, Disney became the first major media company to establish a policy that all food and beverages marketed on its media outlets must comply with strict nutritional criteria. The policy, to be effective by 2015, will apply to Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online sites oriented to families. In addition, the company introduced a new "Mickey Check" logo for food items meeting Disney's updated nutritional standards.
However, unlike Disney, many companies such as Nickelodeon are yet to take responsibility for their way they market unhealthy food and beverages to children. We’re asking Nickelodeon to follow Disney’s lead and dunk the junk food ads to kids. Are you concerned about the food and beverages marketed to your kids? Take action at bit.ly/dump-the-junk!
The Soda Debate
In September this year Mayor Bloomberg successfully passed a proposal to ban the sale of sugar sweetened drinks and sodas, over 16 ounces and which contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces, from eateries, movie theatres and street carts across the city.
Following this, two cities in California, Richmond and El Monte, proposed high-visibility soda tax campaigns which sought to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and raise revenue to improve public health. While both of these proposals were defeated, they have opened the conversation for soda taxes and bans to be put in place across the country.
If you want to find out more about the effects of regular soda and sugar sweetened drinks has on you and your family’s health, watch The Real Bears and find out the unhappy truth about soda.
The Farm Bill
On September 30, the 2008 Farm Bill expired without Congress passing a new one.
While it was hoped that the bill would be picked up after the elections, no decisions have been made. It may be extended for up to a year, it may be included in fiscal cliff negotiations as there are savings in the bill (the Senate version proposed cuts of $23 billion with $4 billion from nutrition programs and the House version proposed cuts of $36 billion with $16 billion from nutrition programs), or the House could still take up the bill and vote on it in which case it would then go to the Senate-House conference for negotiation.
While it’s not clear yet what will happen and whether there will be a chance for improvements to made to the bill before it is passed, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on what is happening, and if you can act, how. Find out what’s happened so far here.
Maryland Banned the Use of Arsenic in Chicken Feed
On May 22, Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, signed a bill banning the use of arsenic in poultry feed, effective from the 1st of January 2013 making Maryland the first state to ban the use of arsenic in chicken feed. Do you know what’s happening in your state with regards to arsenic and other drugs and antibiotics being used in chicken and animal feed? Find out more here.
Global: Targets to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
At the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May this year, the historic target to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs (which include heart disease, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, and which overweight and obesity and poor diet are risk factors) by 25% by 2025 was set.
In addition to this, further targets and indicators relating to obesity and diabetes, salt intake, raised blood pressure, low fruit and vegetable intake, cancer incidence, total cholesterol, fat intake and marketing of foods and non-alcoholic drinks to children have also been agreed and will be adopted next year at the 66th World Health Assembly.
Find out about targets to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs here and see what policies and initiatives countries have already put in place here.
Time for even more of a Food Revolution in 2013? We think so!
Story by Jo Creed, posted Wed 19 Dec 2012, here on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website. Jo Creed is the Food Policy and Social Media Manager for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.