VISALIA, Calif. — Citing pressure from retailers including Vons and Safeway, California's Central Valley dairy co-op has announced that it will phase out the use of rBST, the controversial artificial growth hormone. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that rBST is safe to use in dairy production, consumer concern about the artificial hormone has been growing recently, and its use in many conventional dairy operations is often cited by consumers as a reason for choosing organic dairy products. Dean Foods last year discontinued the use of rBST in several of its dairies in the Northeast, and several smaller operations have since followed suit. Central Valley supplies private-label brands, as well as brands including Foster Farms, Knudsen Farms and Producers Dairy.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Joining cities such as New York and Philadelphia, and mimicking pending legislation in dozens of municipalities around the country, California and Maryland are now vying to be the first states to enact statewide bans on trans fats in restaurants. The California Assembly's Health Committee has approved a bill aiming to phase out ingredients containing trans fats by 2009; similarly, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee is considering two bills that would ban trans fat in restaurants, schools and government buildings by 2009. Trans fats, which are found in partially hydrogenated oils popular for frying foods and baking pastries and breads, have come under increasing fire from consumer advocacy groups and local governments as research indicates they significantly raise the risk of heart disease.
WASHINGTON — The Produce Marketing Association here announced the addition of a food safety lunch general session to its “Consumer Trends 2007” Produce Solutions Conference, to be held March 22-24 in Charlotte, N.C. Representatives from PMA and Markon Cooperative will provide the latest information on food safety from a consumer's perspective, discuss the legislative solutions being explored and provide an update on the multimillion-dollar initiative that PMA has undertaken to rebuild consumer and buyer confidence through research, training, verification and communications.