The “right to know” is the rallying cry of more and more Americans who are fed up with our unappetizing, unhealthy, secretive food system. Consumers are demanding that Big Food/Ag draw back the curtain on unsavory industry practices, shocking nutritional information and unlabeled ingredients. So what’s industry’s response? They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep consumers in the dark. The “right to know” movement is currently on fire in California where Proposition 37, if passed, will mandate the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Industry is spending millions to derail the measure because passage of GMO labeling in the nation’s most populated state will mean that GMO ingredients will be labeled nationwide. A federal menu labeling law, which mandates calorie counts on menus and menu boards at chain food establishments, is in the FDA rule writing stage, yet certain industry sectors are lobbying fiercely to be exempted. Pizza chains, movie theaters, groceries and convenience stores are demanding exemptions, even though Congress specified that these sectors comply when the bill was enacted in 2010. Shouldn’t consumers have the right to know, at point of purchase, the caloric content of menu items at chain establishments? The recent “pink slime” uproar, in which shocked Americans discovered that ammoniated lean finely textured beef (LFTB) was secretly being added to ground beef, is now headed to court. A review of the history of LFTB reveals that the beef industry was hellbent on ensuring that Americans would never learn that it had been mixed into 70 percent of America’s ground beef supply. The “pink slime” debacle is this year’s “poster child” for thwarting transparency. The consumer’s right to know is even being thwarted on America’s farms. In states where shocking farm food safety practices and animal abuses have been revealed (often through hidden camera investigations), industry ensures that ag-gag laws are proposed. In other words, once shocking abuses are revealed on a factory farm, state legislators are urged to criminalize undercover investigations on farms. Talk about obstructing democracy! Something is desperately wrong when Big Food and Big Ag get to call the shots on what the consumer does and doesn’t know about the food we eat. Ironically, the food industry preaches the mantra of “personal responsibility,” yet contradicts itself by thwarting the consumer’s right to basic information. How can anyone make informed decisions about food choices when industry works so hard to hide so much? If it were up to Big Food and Big Ag, Americans would know little about their food or how it’s produced – except for the happy, coercive marketing messages they promote 24/7 to entice you into purchasing more of their products. The right to know exactly what’s in your food and how it’s being produced should be fundamental in any democracy. That it’s not, and that Americans have to advocate for food system transparency, is testimony to the dangerous political power of the industrialized food industry.

  • Ruby

    Such a ridiculous blustering whining blaming article. Way to exercise your American right to know nothing, to believe anything, to hate everything and to be about as stupid as you want to be. Now that’s democracy!

  • Couldn’t agree more. What’s a consumer to do?
    I’m thankful to Food Safety News for reporting this. How are you advocating for change? The article would be more helpful if it listed all the advocacy groups working on this.

  • I absolutely agree with the article. How can anyone make informed decisions about food choices when industry works so hard to hide so much? Anyone dealing with food allergies and food intolerances needs to know exactly what is in the food products sold to them by stores yet it has taken years to get even basic information put on food labels. The food industry takes food secrecy seriously. The question is how can the allergic consumer know what is safe for them to eat when the manufacturer refuses to identify the ingredients used. It’s not a matter of casual interest it’s a matter of safety. Just label it.

  • Roger

    Proposition 37 targets grocers. Smaller specialty grocers will be hit hardest. It is a $10,000 fine for each questionable product anyone finds on the store shelf. Say goodbye to specialty products in little neighborhood grocery stores. When this law comes on line our teams will systematically sue Mom & Pop producers and grocers into oblivion….and get paid handsomely to do it. Prop 37 supporters aren’t thinking clearly. Most of them anyway.

  • jim

    Don’t stop with Big Food and Big Ag. Americans have a right to know about Big Electronics and how many calories they could be burning by going out to play rather than sitting around watching their big screen tv’s, playing video games and texting on their hand-helds.

  • Might as well label this corporate front magnet.
    Agree with writer’s assertions. Not going to get into the usual debates with the corporate front crowd.

  • Foodsci

    @Jean How does GMO labeling especially Prop 37 as written help anyone with a food allergy? You do know that’s part of the approval process, right?