Food & Water Watch Testifies at House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing
Washington, DC, This morning Food & Water Watch will be testifying at one of the most important consumer protection hearings that Congress will conduct before it adjourns next month. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the use of carbon monoxide (CO) in meat and fish packaging, a process that the consumer group considers misleading and deceptive to American consumers.
We believe that both the FDA and USDA have let consumers down in a number of ways on this issue,” stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, who will be testifying on behalf of the organization. Consumers have a right to know what we are feeding our families.”
Whereas meat not treated with carbon monoxide will begin naturally to oxidize and turn brown after approximately 10 to 12 days, meat treated with carbon monoxide in modified atmosphere packaging will retain its color and mask spoilage even when improperly stored for weeks at a time. In a national poll conducted in September 2006, 63% of adults believed that ‚the freshness of meat is directly related to the color of the meat.” With this process consumers are unable to accurately determine if the meat is fresh, especially because the meat is not required to be labeled as treated with carbon monoxide.
Consumers are unaware of the deception and possible food safety risks these types of carbon monoxide-treated packaging represent,” stated Hauter. Supermarket chains and meat and poultry processors have begun to recognize this and have voluntarily banned this questionable technology from their shelves and food practices.”
Tyson Foods, the largest protein processor in the country, is just one of the companies that has announced they will stop using carbon monoxide in its modified atmosphere packaging systems. Supermarket chains such as Giant Foods, Stop & Shop, and Safeway have also announced they will stop carrying CO-treated meat products.
While these voluntary actions should be commended, we believe that Congress needs to enact legislation to prevent these companies from reneging on their current policies, and ensure other companies include consumer safety as a top priority in their decisions,” Hauter said.
The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding the hearing‚ Diminished Capacity: Can the FDA Assure the Safety and Security of the Nation’s Food Supply? Part IV, Deception in Labeling” at 11am.