Assistant Agriculture Secretary Carol Tucker Foreman said yesterday that the food industry is seeking to block many new health and labeling requirements for foods by appealing to growing public fears of inflation.
"Certainly, the effort is being made" to suggest that "whatever regulations they don't like are inflationary," Foreman told a breakfst meeting of reporters.
Foreman, who supervises both the meat inspection and school lunch programs, also said that by April 1, she hopes to formulate new rules to ban "junk foods" from schools participating in the $2.7 billion school-lunch program.
The new rules would forbid sales of candy, gum, soda and possibly other items like botato chips during any hours when students have school-lunch periods.
The aim is to discourage students from purchasing non-nutritious foods in schools. The rules would apply to the 1979-80 school year. A smiliar proposal last year was never made final after objections from candy-makers and others.
Foreman said the meat industry had been arguing that potential sales of any pork and beef products which include powdered bone had been blocked by requirements that the label specify that powered bone is part of the product.
"Some meat industry spokesmen are arguing there's all this meat out there which could add to supplies and lower prices," an aide to Foreman said later. The same argument, the aide said, is being made aginst proposed extension of the labeling requirements on powdered bone to chicken products.
Richard Lyng, president of the American Meat Institite, said in response that the AMI "doesn't use scare tactics, but is using the facts." He said the labeling on bone "turned off consumers."
Foreman said other consumer labeling proposals coming under attack include a net-weight labeling plan and "I hear from industry that it's inflationary to have nutrition labeling and open dating" requirements and that "nitrosamine monitoring may curtail production of bacon."
The proposed net-weight labeling regulation would forbid inclusion of the weight of added water in the price-labels of certain meat products.
Nitrosamines are potent cancer-induring substances that may be formed in a food when nitrites -- commonly used as a preservative in bologna, bacon, ham and other cured meats -- combine during hearting with other substances present in the food.
The government, concluding that the main danger levels are in bacon, last year imposed a requirement that a substance reducing nitrosamine levels be added. Foreman also began a program to monitor bacon-processing plants for nitrosamines. A suit by the American Meat Institute to block these actions delayed the monitoring program from starting until December.
Foreman said that if it is found that nitrites by themselves also can cause cancer as suggested in some recent studies "We'll eliminate them."