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Hawaii weighs lifting taxes on groceries, rent PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SAM EIFLING, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 February 2014 07:54

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii would exempt groceries and medical services from its general excise tax if bills advancing through the Legislature become law.

Lawmakers heard a chorus of support Thursday from policy analysts, poverty advocates and the food industry for the proposal to stop taxing groceries.

It is not yet known what such a cut would cost the state. The initial estimate is $200 million for fiscal 2015 and $490 million in subsequent years, said Joshua Wisch, deputy director of the state Department of Taxation.

"The one thing we do know is, it's costing our residents, in particular our low-income residents, a great deal," said Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's lone Republican member, who represents Hawaii Kai and introduced the proposal, Senate Bill 2169.

Kelii Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, told the Senate Committee on Human Services that a family of four in Hawaii spends an average of $1,000 a month on groceries. Cutting state taxes, he said, would save such a family $450 a year.

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New rules would ensure safety of infant formula PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 February 2014 07:28

WASHINGTON (AP) — After nearly two decades of study, the Food and Drug Administration announced rules Thursday designed to make sure that infant formula is safe and nutritious.

Most formula makers already abide by the practices, but the FDA now will have rules on the books that ensure formula manufacturers test their products for salmonella and other pathogens before distribution. The rules also require formula companies to prove to the FDA that they are including specific nutrients — proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals — in their products.

It is already law that formula must include those nutrients, which help babies stay healthy. But the new rules will help the FDA keep tabs on companies to make sure they are following the law. The rule would require manufacturers to provide data to the FDA proving that their formulas support normal physical growth and that ingredients are of sufficient quality.

"The FDA sets high quality standards for infant formulas because nutritional deficiencies during this critical time of development can have a significant impact on a child's long-term health and well-being," Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, said.

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Yogurt spat throws off routines of Sochi Olympians PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by KARL RITTER, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 February 2014 07:51

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — U.S. Olympians will have to make do without the team's official yogurt — depriving them of a source of protein and potentially disturbing their daily routines as they prepare for the biggest competition of their lives.

Some 5,000 cups of Greek yogurt from Team USA sponsor Chobani isn't getting to Sochi because of a customs dispute with Russia.

U.S. halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck said Friday that to traveling athletes, getting food from home is part of feeling fit and healthy. "And having the yogurt there, that helps you, gives you protein, gives you nutrition."

But teammate Lyman Currier said part of being an elite athlete is dealing with the unexpected, "so whether we have our yogurt or not, we'll be able to adapt."


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Food industry seeks voluntary GMO labeling PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 16:09

WASHINGTON (AP) — People who want to know more about genetically modified ingredients in their food would be able to get it on some packages, but not others, under a plan the industry is pushing.

Large food companies worried they might be forced to add "genetically modified" to packaging are proposing voluntary labeling of those engineered foods, so the companies could decide whether to use them or not.

The effort is an attempt to head off state-by-state efforts to require mandatory labeling. Recent ballot initiatives in California and Washington state failed, but several state legislatures are considering labeling requirements, and opponents of engineered ingredients are aggressively pushing for new laws in several states.

The move comes as consumers demand to know more about what's in their food. There's very little science that says genetically engineered foods are unsafe. But opponents say there's too much unknown about seeds that are altered in labs to have certain traits, and that consumers have a right to know if they are eating them. The seeds are engineered for a variety of reasons, many of them to resist herbicides or insects.

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