One of the more attention-getting work stoppages so far has been at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where 45 percent of employees have been sent home and many of the agencys day-to-day activities, most notably food safety inspections, are on hold until the budget impasse is over. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition So, 91 percent of seafood that Americans consume, which the United States imports, is not being inspected, currently. The same goes for the nearly 50 percent of fruits and 20 percent of vegetables consumed in the US but imported from abroad. And though many of inspections here in the US are still being carried out through state and local agencies, reporting any problems encountered at the federal level could be difficult. Detection [of problems] wont be the issue,” says Neal Hooker, a professor of food policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University in Columbus.Management of, say, a product recall, and helping local public-health agencies work more effectively, those parts will be harder to do. The government shutdown has closed down a large part of the FDA, and its food monitoring activities in particular. FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities, reads a Health and Human Services memo detailing a contingency plan in the case of a government funding stoppage. FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs, and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making. RECOMMENDED: Government shutdown quiz The FDA will maintain certain emergency services during the shutdown, including managing high-risk food recalls and other critical public health issues, per the memo. But the lack of routine health inspections, and the management oversight of more routine food supply hiccups that the FDA deals with on a day-to-day basis begs two questions: Is the countrys food supply safe without the FDA, and will its temporary shuttering have any lasting effect beyond the government shutdown? Food-safety advocates worry that even a short-term lapse in the FDAs activities could be a notable setback for the agency. The FDA, in partnership with the states, inspects about 80 facilities a day, and theyre not sending people to do those routine inspections, says Caroline Smith DeWaal , the food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington. She notes that individual state agencies, which actually conduct a large portion of inspections, will continue operating, but its unclear how long they can go on without federal oversight and the fees the FDA pays such agencies to conduct inspections on its behalf. The inspections themselves arent the biggest issue, says Dr. Hooker. Its not that every plant is expecting to have a visit, in the immediate future, he notes; depending on the type of food facility, some establishments are inspected as infrequently as every three to five years. Youre reducing the probability of an inspection by such a tiny number. Theres no long-lived impact other than the number of inspections in that queue.
U.S. corn supplies have been tight since the size of last years harvest was hit by severe drought. But after high acreage seeded with corn this spring and largely favorable summer weather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts record U.S. corn output this year. That should push corn prices lower. Current levels mark a drastic turnaround since food prices soared to new heights in early 2011 amid global supply constraints for cereals, sugar and cocoa. Rising food prices helped spark the unrestknown as the Arab Springthat analysts say ultimately ousted the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The London-based International Grains Council this month said world corn production during the 2013-14 crop year will hit 943.2 million tons. It also predicted that world wheat production will increase to 692.6 million tons, reflecting better prospects for the European crop than previously expected and a larger harvest out of Russia and Ukraine. Still, despite ample supplies of cereals, the UN warned that food shortages continue to plague certain countries.
World Food Prices Continue to Decline on Cheaper Cereal
On the plaintiffs’ side, bigger sandwiches and, presumably, waistlines. Memorable Quote: Plaintiff Jason Leslie: “They advertise in all these commercials, ‘Footlong, Footlong, Footlong,’ and now I feel like an idiot. I can’t believe I fell for that trick. The sandwiches are anywhere between a half-inch to an inch shorter… I feel cheated.” See more: 25 Ways to Use Sriracha The Case of the Impostor Nu-Metal Band: In 2005, the mask-wearing members of the heavy-metal band Slipknot took Burger King to court, claiming that the fast-food chain’s TV ads featuring a fictional band called Coq Roq were a blatant ripoff of Slipknot’s signature, uh, style. Burger King countersued, saying that Coq Roq owed more to makeup-heavy groups like KISS and GWAR, and that if anyone were guilty of unabashedly copying other heavy-metal bands, it was Slipknot itself. Both lawsuits were later quietly dropped, but the real winner was the TV-watching public, because Burger King let the obnoxious Coq Roq ads go off to the great mosh pit in the sky. Status: Suit and countersuit both dropped. At Stake: The credit for a particularly schlocky form of heavy metal that already verged on self-parody anyway. Memorable Quotes: Cease-and-desist letter from Slipknot attorney Howard Weitzman: “Slipknot is a popular ‘heavy metal’ band.” Response from Burger King attorneys seeking judgment for declaratory relief: “Bob your head/Push out your beak/Bob your head/Shake your lean white meat.” The Case of the Missing Beef: In 2011, an Alabama law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell, claiming that the chain’s “seasoned beef” is so full of filler that it doesn’t actually qualify as beef under federal guidelines. Taco Bell responded with full-page ads nationwide crowing about its taco filling’s 88-percent beef content. The firm later dropped the lawsuit, saying it was satisfied that Taco Bell made changes to its marketing and product info.
Fast-food giants want pizza the action in Africa
Domino’s Pizza opens its first store in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, in 2012. KFC in Accra, Ghana. The chain has more than 700 restaurants in Africa. The opening of a new KFC in Ibadan, Nigeria. HIDE CAPTION Fast Food Continent – Burger King Fast Food Continent U.S. fast food brands are increasingly opening branches across Africa KFC has outlets in 14 African countries, with over 700 KFCs in South Africa Pizza chain Domino’s plans three more African branches by the end of this year African branches often introduce new dishes to cater to local tastes (CNN) — Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic renaissance is fueling an investment drive by fast food joints looking to tap the continent’s growing middle class. The likes of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Domino’s pizza are opening up in African growth markets from Nigeria to Angola to give consumers a taste of U.S. cuisine. Elias Schulze, managing partner of The Africa Group , a boutique Africa-focused investment consultancy, said U.S. takeout stores are rapidly becoming “aspirational brands” for cosmopolitan Africans with disposable income. He said: “An upwardly mobile, confident, Western-leaning and young consumer class bodes well for an American burger boom.” And the battle for the African market is well underway. This year, Yum! Brands — owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — is expanding into Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.