Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stood by its decision, denying a petition asking it to reevaluate the use of eight ortho-phthalates in food-contacting packaging materials. In this episode of the Xtalks Food Podcast, Sydney talks about the public petition, which was put forward by EarthJustice, a non-profit organization advocating for environmental sustainability, as well as Dr. Katherine K. O’Brien, a Canadian-American pediatric infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist, among other parties, as well as what ortho-phthalates are. EarthJustice and Dr. O’Brien’s petition has experienced years of exchanges between civil society groups and the FDA, with intervention from the US Congress as well. Civil society organizations initiated the petition in 2016, driven by worries about the impact of phthalates on human health as they migrate from packaging and processing equipment into food. Vera wonders whether studies that suggest ortho-phthalates can seep into food are valid and Sydney agrees that for the moment, these chemicals are likely nothing to worry about in food packaging.
Also in this episode, Sydney talks about McDonald’s, which is gearing up to pilot a fresh restaurant concept, called “CosMc’s,” whose name derives from a lesser-known McDonald’s character — a robotic alien. In the past, McDonald’s has tried out smaller restaurant models like McDonald’s Express. Whether CosMc’s will mirror these earlier ventures remains to be seen. But recently, the company has struck gold with its character-based marketing. A prime example is Grimace, whose limited-edition purple shake triggered a TikTok frenzy. Domestically, McDonald’s locations that have been open for at least 13 months witnessed a 10.3 percent increase in sales in the quarter ending on June 30, thanks partly to Grimace’s birthday event and the accompanying promotional meal and shake that launched on June 12. Looking forward, McDonald’s is set to experiment with various types of locations, including the new CosMc’s concept and other possibilities for compact-format stores. Vera and Sydney wonder whether CosMc’s will find as much success as McDonald’s other campaigns but agree that the fast-food chain has perfected viral marketing and promotions.
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