Are We About to Reach the Third Wave of Food Consumerism?

Are We About to Reach the Third Wave of Food Consumerism? As I sat in a sun-drenched conference room overlooking Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood and the Potomac River on a clear cold winter day in 2003, a newly appointed senior health and wellness executive from one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies told […]

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Red, Yellow or Green? Score-carding Your Advocacy Communications Capabilities

Red, Yellow or Green? Score-carding Your Advocacy Communications Capabilities The Obama Administration has issued more than 20,000 new regulations and 235 Executive Orders since it came into office in 2009. The 114th Congress has passed more than 200 new laws since called into session in January of 2015. This virtual tidal wave of public policy […]

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Data and Time: An Interesting Paradox for Food Interventionists

Data and Time:  An Interesting Paradox for Food Interventionists By the end of the 1990’s, as data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mounted, society reached consensus that obesity had reached epidemic proportions among children and adults. Likewise, everyone agreed on the negative impact obesity and its related diseases have on the healthcare system, […]

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There is a Better Way: Government Should Expire its Interest in Food Expiration Dates

There is a Better Way: Government Should Expire its Interest in Food Expiration Dates When consumers want to know if something in their fridge is edible, most simply give it the old “whiff” test. If that still leaves doubt, they begin searching the package for information that helps them determine if the product is safe […]

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Why Soda Tax Proponents Are Ideological Outcasts

Why Soda Tax Proponents Are Ideological Outcasts   In today’s society and in an age of information overload, it is more important than ever that we look beyond headlines and 140-character opinions to separate urban legend from the truth. If you trust the headlines, you probably believe Americans are swimming in a sea of soft […]

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Who is Joe Donnelly and Can He Put an and End to the GMO Food Labeling Debate?

Who is Joe Donnelly and Can He Put an and End to the GMO Food Labeling Debate? Fans of the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrie, might remember the “How’s it going to end?” lapel pins worn by fans of the fictional reality show that followed the life of Carrie’s lead character, Truman. […]

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How a “Fail Fast, Fail Often” Culture Can Sink Your Trade Association

How a “Fail Fast, Fail Often” Culture Can Sink Your Trade Association If you are expecting this column to talk about how successful trade associations are member-driven, aligned with member objectives and “listen carefully” to their members, you can stop reading right now. I want to take a minute or two to talk about something […]

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On GMO Food Labeling, it Comes Down to Vilsack, Stabenow or the Courts

On GMO Food Labeling, it Comes Down to Vilsack, Stabenow or the Courts News that Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed to a $1.1 trillion spending bill that does not contain language banning states from implementing mandatory labeling schemes for foods made with the help of genetically modified crops (GMOs) hit hard. After four years […]

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A Clear View of Food Transparency Starts with an Honest Conversation

A Clear View of Food Transparency Starts with an Honest Conversation “I want food companies to tell us the truth about what’s in our food and I can decide what is best for me.’’ Those were the words of a Louisiana food shopper at the recent Food Integrity Summit: A Clear View of Transparency. The […]

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From Burlington, Vermont to New York City to Washington, DC: Handicapping the GMO Chess Match

From Burlington, Vermont to New York City to Washington, DC:  Handicapping the GMO Chess Match The food industry squared off with the Vermont Attorney General in a federal appeals courtroom in New York City last week. The stakes were high as both sides have much to gain or lose when the federal panel of judges […]

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Great Communicators Find a Way to “Slow the Game Down”

Great Communicators Find a Way to “Slow the Game Down” In the 2014 major motion picture, Draft Day, Kevin Costner’s character, Sonny Weaver, the mythological general manager of the Cleveland Browns, is under pressure to make a slam dunk number one pick in the National Football League draft. The owner, the head coach, the scouting […]

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Course Correction: Will Congress Get the School Meals Program Back on Track?

Course Correction:  Will Congress Get the School Meals Program Back on Track? Most of us remember the routine of rushing to the school cafeteria each school day to fuel up between classes and visit with friends. Often a topic of conversation among parents and children, the school food experience is changing. In most schools, dining […]

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“Selfish” Consumers & Ruthless Competition: Cause and Effect of Today’s Unpredictable Food Landscape

“Selfish” Consumers & Ruthless Competition: Cause and Effect of Today’s Unpredictable Food Landscape At home, at quick serve restaurants and fine dining establishments, Americans are changing the way we eat. Local, fresh and organic food and farm-to-table dining experiences are all the rage. After decades of shifting government nutrition advice, a tsunami of conflicting studies […]

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Throwing Darts at a Board Blindfolded: Why We Haven’t Hit the Obesity Bull’s Eye

Throwing Darts at a Board Blindfolded: Why We Haven’t Hit the Obesity Bull’s Eye When the Centers for Disease Control reported in February 2014 that obesity rates for children aged 2-5 had dropped 43% in the previous ten years the news was hailed by experts as the only evidence obesity rates have regressed among any […]

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Is the Food Industry Getting the Better of the Obamas when it comes to Food Policy?

Is the Food Industry Getting the Better of the Obamas when it comes to Food Policy? Senator Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008, combined with a twenty-seat Democratic majority in the United States Senate, and Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent shivers down the spine of many food industry advocates. […]

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Is the Food Industry Winning the Battle but Losing the War on GMOs?

Is the Food Industry Winning the Battle but Losing the War on GMOs? In an amazing turn of events, media outlets and social media users are castigating fast food favorite Chipotle for last week’s announcement that it is banning GMO ingredients from its restaurants. The Washington Post, New York Times, Forbes and a host of […]

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2015 Dietary Guidelines Recommendations: An Exercise in Surrealism

2015 Dietary Guidelines Recommendations: An Exercise in Surrealism When I read the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report and sat down at my computer to write this piece, I found myself staring blankly at the screen for an extended period of time not knowing where to start. After a while the only word that […]

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The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Process Fails Consumers

The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Process Fails Consumers Every five years, the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services and Agriculture are required by law to update the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for American, which are the basis for the federal government’s My Plate dietary advice for consumers.  They also serve as the basis for the […]

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Intrepidness: The Foundation of Effective Strategic Communications

Intrepidness: The Foundation of Effective Strategic Communications When it comes to strategic/crisis communications, I am often remided of a famous quote from theologian William Shedd, who said, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.” Most professionals realize that external communication is not without risk.  In fact, you’ve […]

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Theater vs. Substance: Sparks will Fly at Congressional Hearing on Genetically Modified Food Labeling

Theater vs. Substance:  Sparks will Fly at Congressional Hearing on Genetically Modified Food Labeling The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act tomorrow.  Although the timing of the hearing is odd since the 113th Congress is winding down and the bill […]

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Politics and Policy: How the Midterm Elections Will Impact the Food and Beverage Industry

Politics and Policy: How the Midterm Elections Will Impact the Food and Beverage Industry There is a good argument to be made that President Obama is the most imperial president in the post World War era.  Across virtually every sector of business – energy, financial services, pharmaceutical and others – this Administration has used the […]

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Posture, People and Platforms: The Three P’s of Effective Communication

Posture, People and Platforms: The Three P’s of Effective Communication Several times during my career, new employers asked me to re-build the organization’s communications function from scratch with little or no allegiance to the operating model of the past.  That is an exciting proposition, but it also comes with its own set of unique challenges. […]

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Mexico and California: The Waterloo for Soda Tax Proponents?

Mexico and California:  The Waterloo for Soda Tax Proponents? Last November, the Mexican government, with the help of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and in desperate attempt to curb its world-leading obesity rate, passed a 10% per liter tax on sugary drinks. Advocates hailed the measure as the silver bullet that will once […]

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Transparency and Consumer Trust: Success Hinges on Execution Far More than the Idea

Transparency and Consumer Trust: Success Hinges on Execution Far More than the Idea Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you know a big part of the consumer-led food revolution is driven by shoppers who want to know more about their food – where it comes from, how it is […]

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Will the anti-GMO Movement’s Dream Soon Become a Distant Memory?

Will the anti-GMO Movement’s Dream Soon Become a Distant Memory? Campaigns are by definition a zero sum game. One side wins, the other loses.  Each side is convinced its position is right.  They promote their position and attack their opponents when necessary. However, behind the bravado, those same people and organizations, deep down, wonder if […]

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The Big Miss: Trade Association Branding & Reputation Management

The Big Miss:  Trade Association Branding & Reputation Management “Branding” is a word embedded in corporate culture.  Companies seek to grow their brand identity to support sales and marketing, whether in a business-to-business environment or whether they are consumer-facing brands.  There are many elements to brand value, but essentially it boils down to awareness, respect […]

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Nanotechnology: The Next Big Battleground for CPG Companies

Nanotechnology: The Next Big Battleground for CPG Companies Last month, a food fight (pun intended) broke out between Mother Jones and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) over reports about a massive groundswell of new and unregulated nanotechnology in the food supply. The misleading allegations about the use of nanotechnology in milk and dairy products […]

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The Crusade Against Sugar Just Another Red Herring

The Crusade Against Sugar Just Another Red Herring  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are keenly aware of the latest fad in the nutrition and diet wars – sugar.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating it, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is researching it, activist organizations are attacking it, nutritionists are […]

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How First Lady Michelle Obama Can Avoid a Contentious Political Battle Over the School Lunch Program

How First Lady Michelle Obama Can Avoid a Contentious Political Battle Over the School Lunch Program In a rare move and a somewhat awkward political display, First Lady Michelle Obama gathered school officials at the White House yesterday to “rally support” for the Administration’s healthier school meals initiative. New school lunch rules were approved in […]

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Are you a “Ross Perot” or a “Problem Solving Sherpa” within Your Organization?

Are you a “Ross Perot” or a “Problem Solving Sherpa” within Your Organization? In 1992, Texas business tycoon Ross Perot conducted one of the most successful independent third party campaigns for the White House in modern American history, gaining nearly 19% of the vote. There was a lot of enthusiasm for Perot’s campaign. He was […]

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BPA and Sound Science: An Isolated Victory or a Roadmap for Success?

In 2008, the Canadian government set off a brush fire when it declared Bisphenol A (BPA) unsafe for use in baby bottles and sippy cups.

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A Stunning Development in the Vermont GMO Labeling Bill Most People Missed

A Stunning Development in the Vermont GMO Labeling Bill Most People Missed By now, anyone following the nation’s genetically modified food ingredient debate knows that Vermont recently passed the nation’s first unequivocal state mandatory GMO food ingredient labeling law. It calls for products derived from genetically modified crops to be labeled by July 1, 2016. […]

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Vermont GMO Labeling Law: Who’s the Real Winner?

Vermont GMO Labeling Law: Who’s the Real Winner? The State of Vermont is poised to enact the nation’s first unequivocal genetically modified food ingredient (GMOs) labeling legislation in the country. If it passes the House and is signed by the governor, as expected, food companies would have no choice but to label products containing GMOs […]

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PHO and GRAS: FDA’s Tool to “Run the Table” on the Food Industry?

PHO and GRAS: FDA’s Tool to “Run the Table” on the Food Industry? The food and beverage industry is one of the most regulated industries on the planet – and for good reason. The health and safety of the public is at stake. Food companies know it, regulators know it and consumers know it. Traditionally, […]

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The Battle Over GMOs: A Story of Microwave Ovens, Global Warming, Scientific Denial and the Politics of Fear

The Battle Over GMOs: A Story of Microwave Ovens, Global Warming, Scientific Denial and the Politics of Fear When microwave ovens emerged in earnest on the commercial market in the 1970’s, a coordinated effort was launched to discredit the technology behind one of the most revolutionary appliances in modern times. Scientists, academics, journalists, policymakers, consumers […]

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GMO Labeling: A Game-Changing Event That Avoided the Headlines?

GMO Labeling: A Game-Changing Event That Avoided the Headlines? It all started in California in 2012. Proponents of placing labels on foods made with GMO ingredients qualified their proposal for the state’s November election ballot. After a decade-long slumber, the GMO issue was back. Simple enough, many labeling opponents thought. Win in one of the […]

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