Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where FDA Advisories & Global Activism Meet

Oceana, a global organization "dedicated to restoring and protecting the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education" is not shy in using the work of the FDA to push forward their agenda at the supermarket level.

This organization is currently involved in an outreach program designed to inform, but is also designed to shake-down food retailers through its "Green List" and "Red List" programs of advocacy.

The "Green List" grocery operations are those who put up "Oceana" approved signs that warn consumers of the recent FDA alert about the potential mercury levels that may be found in certain species of fish - Okay, good (but must it be "Oceana Approved"?).

The "Red List", however, are those food retailers who do no currently abide to the requests and will of Oceana about the posting of the FDA advisory on mercury levels found in certain species of fish - Shake-Down. ("Oceana Approved" ... because "Oceana" decides who, for what, and why a company appears on the "Red List").

There has to be a better way to express a desire to educate through advocacy than a scarlet-letter, "Red List".

Excerpts from the Progressive Grocer Magazine -

Whole Foods, Safeway, and Wild Oats to Post Seafood Mercury Warnings
Progressive Grocer Magazine - JUNE 21, 2006


-- WASHINGTON -- Natural and organic retailer Whole Foods Market yesterday joined Safeway and Wild Oats as the first national supermarket chains to commit to posting signs giving consumers a government warning about mercury in certain kinds of seafood.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory in 2004 warning women of childbearing age and children to avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark due to the high mercury content of these fish. The FDA also advised them to limit albacore tuna and tuna steaks to no more than six ounces per week. The agency has determined that mercury contamination in these fish is high enough to threaten fetal development and children's health. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of women already have enough mercury in their systems to cause harm to a developing fetus.
----
Over the past year, Oceana and its members contacted major U.S. supermarket chains asking them to voluntarily post the signs. Savitz congratulated the three supermarket chains that made Oceana's "Green List" for committing to post signs in stores containing the FDA's advisory on which seafood contains mercury: Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Safeway -- including its Vons, Dominick's, and Tom Thumb banners.

Oceana's "Red List" of supermarkets -- those chains not posting the FDA advisory in their stores -- includes A&P, Ahold, Albertsons, Delhaize, Costco, Giant Eagle, IGA, Ingles, Kroger, Price Chopper, Publix, Shop Rite, Trader Joe's, U.S. Supermarkets General Holding Corp., Wal-Mart, Wegmans, and Winn-Dixie.

Also yesterday, in cities across the country, conservation and health advocacy groups held rallies outside local supermarkets as part of a new public education campaign warning customers of mercury contamination in seafood.

Read All>> (subscription)

The issue here is how does a retailer try to comply with the wishes of a special interest group only to possibly have that interest group step up its demands in the future?

Tell Ted Danson that the strategy of the "Green List" and PR - good! "Red List" and shake-down - bad!

A sampling of their links at Oceana:
» Greenpeace Blog» Mysteries of the Deep (Greenpeace)» Grist Magazine's Gristmill» Mother Jones Magazine's Ocean Report» Nature Guy's Blog» Orcagirl: In Search of the Pacific Northwest Killer Whale

You get the idea. Go Vegan!

The title of this article is a little confusing - Are the food retailers to post the "FDA Advisory" or are they issueing a "Warning"?

UPDATE:

This related story from the Idaho Statesman -

Protesters demand mercury warnings
Group wants Albertsons' notice about danger of fish to be more prominent
By
Rocky Barker - The Idaho Statesman Edition Date: 06-21-2006

Half a dozen protesters marched Tuesday around the plaque commemorating Joe Albertson's first supermarket to protest the grocery chain's lack of warnings about the dangers of mercury in fish.

Since last fall, Women's Voices for the Earth has been working to persuade Albertsons to provide clearly visible warning signs at the fish counters in all of its stores nationwide.

SuperValu, which now owns all Albertsons stores in Idaho, released a statement Tuesday saying it recognizes consumer concerns about mercury in fish and has provided customers with brochures with the latest information from the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

"Our company is committed to making sure that our associates and our customers have access to the most current and accurate information to help them make informed food choices when they shop with us," SuperValu said.
Read All>>

NOTE: About WVE

Women's Voices for the Earth is a grassroots environmental justice organization.

Our mission is to empower women, who historically have had little power in affecting environmental policy, to create an ecologically sustainable and socially just society.

WVE works regionally and nationally to eliminate and/or substantially reduce environmental toxics impacting human health, and to increase women's participation in environmental decision making.

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