A new piece of legislation being introduced by Congress is about to make America's food companies a little less transparent. The Big Food lobbyists responsible for familiar ad campaigns like "The Incredible, Edible Egg," "Got Milk," and "Pork, the Other White Meat" are seeking a government-regulated exemption from public scrutiny. The exemption would protect large agricultural organizations' ad groups from the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), excluding them from the prying eyes of the public.
The proposed bill prevents the ad groups from having to comply with FOIA requests to publically release certain documents—documents that are often integral to journalistic investigations. With this legislation, The House Appropriations Committee urged the USDA to recognize that these ad campaigns are "not agencies of the federal government," and thus shouldn't be subject to FOIA laws.
- Google Wants to Deliver Your Groceries
- Cereal Sales Are Falling and Big Companies Are Getting Nervous
- It's Illegal for Scotch Makers to Share Their Recipes
As the Associated Press points out, this bill comes in response to an embarrassing moment for the American Egg Board last year, when a campaign to eliminate the sale of vegan mayonnaise competitor Just Mayo in Whole Foods was exposed. The release of those documents lead to a USDA investigation into the Egg Board's activities, and a condemnation that cost the head of the board her job.