Food

News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Food

NJ Consumers Call on Stop&Shop to Label GMOs, On Anniversary of Whole Foods Labeling Commitment

Consumers and advocates launched a campaign calling on Stop&Shop to label its store-brand products for ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on the one year anniversary of Whole Foods’ announcement that it will adopt labeling for all products in its stores.

Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Food

A Year of Progress

The past year has shown that food producers and retailers are listening to consumers’ desire for information and choices when it comes to GMOs.  It’s smart business to give customers what they want, and some companies are beginning to build the transparent marketplace that consumers deserve. This white paper summarizes companies' recent actions related to GMOs.

News Release | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to NJPIRG's new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013: Comparing Taxpayer Subsidies for Fresh Produce and Junk Food.”

Report | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Apples to Twinkies 2013

At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients. These subsidies are all the more egregious at a time when America is facing an obesity epidemic. Children are three times more likely to be obese than their counterparts three decades ago. With over 31 percent of the adolescent population now overweight or obese, and estimates of obesity-related medical costs reaching $150 billion per year, it is absurd that the federal government continues to finance the production of sweeteners and oil additives.

The concentrated distribution of subsidypayments further demonstrates how the current system fails to appropriately direct federal dollars. The system disproportionately benefits larger commodity cropproducers, sending tax subsidies to large, already-profitable players. These subsidies also do not fund all crops equally. Apples, the only fruit or vegetable to receive significant federal subsidies, garnered only $689 million over the same period. Had these subsidies gone directly to America’s 146 million taxpayers, the apple subsidies would enable each taxpayer to buy half an apple each year—but the annual junk food subsidies would add up to nearly 20 Twinkies each.

Key findings:

 

  • Of the total $292.5 billion allotted in agriculture subsidies, 3.8 percent of farmers collected $178.5 billion, while 62 percent of farms did not receive any federal funds.
  • Taxpayers spent $84.4 billion on corn production, $8.1 billion of which funded production of corn starch and sweeteners. Of the total domestic corn produced, 9.6 percent ended up in junk food and beverages as sweeteners or thickeners.
  • Soy subsidies rank fifth on the list of subsidized crops, costing taxpayers $27.8 billion. Since 1995, soy oils have consumed approximately $11.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies.
  • With the money used to subsidize corn and soy junk food ingredients, the government could buy almost 52 billion Twinkies—enough to circle the Earth 132 times when placed end to end, or meet the caloric needs of the entire U.S. population for 12 days.
Issue | Health Care

Fighting The High Cost Of Rx Drugs

Brand-name drug companies have been paying off generic drug makers to delay competition and keep prices high. This widespread pay-for-delay scheme needs to be put to an end. 

News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

FDA Protects Public by Releasing Two Long-Delayed Food Safety Rules

Statement of Jennifer Kim, NJPIRG State Director, on the FDA’s proposed new rules for food safety.

News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

New Report: American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Foods

Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by New Jersey PIRG.  Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year and costs over $77 billion in aggregated economic costs.  Here in New Jersey, in the last 21 months 121 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses linked directly to food recalls; the cost of these illnesses to our state's economy was over $5.1 million.

Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

Total Food Recall

This report is a snapshot look, from January 2011 to September 2012, at recalls that were directly linked to identified incidents of foodborne illness.  Failures in the rules and processes that protect our food supply have led to numerous high-volume recalls over the past two years that left many New Jerseyans sickened, and at least 37 Americans dead.  And the economic costs of the illnesses caused by food products recalled over the past 21 months come to over $5.1 million in our state.

Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Food, Tax

Apples to Twinkies 2012:

At a time when America is facing an obesity epidemic, crushing debt and a weak economy, billions of taxpayer dollars are subsidizing junk food ingredients.

In this report, we find that in 2011, over $1.28 billion in taxpayer subsidies went to junk food ingredients, bringing the total to a staggering $18.2 billion since 1995. To put that figure in perspective, $18.2 billion is enough to buy 2.9 billion Twinkies every year - 21 for every single American taxpayer.

In contrast, only $637 million has gone to subsidies for apples since 1995.

That's enough to buy 77 million apples per year on average - just half of one apple per taxpayer.

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