What to know about the latest in the kitchen table wars
Washington, DC—The latest in a growing number of kitchen table disputes, a feud between the nation’s largest food service company and a large American-made kitchen table manufacturer has taken on new dimensions this week, as food companies compete to secure the most-profitable use of kitchen tables in the U.S. The debate pits Big Food against Big Ag on the same issues, from food safety to the environment.
The latest skirmish in the Kitchen Table Wars is over the design of the new high-tech kitchen table, a product that the Food and Drug Administration is considering regulating.
The Food and Chemical Toxicology Administration (FDA) has asked a group of industry groups to review a design proposal from the company Kite Products, a subsidiary of the New York-based American Fork Foods.
The FDA is examining Kite’s design, including its use of plastic and plastic-coated stainless steel, to make the table, known as the Kite Precision, a device that is meant to increase food safety.
The agency said it will review the proposal to see if it would be feasible to regulate the technology and to ensure it does not harm human health.
“We are concerned about the possibility that Kite could harm human or animal health by using plastics or coatings to increase the shelf life of food,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg wrote in a letter to the American Fork Companies, according to a copy of the letter obtained by National Review.
Hamburg wrote that the agency is considering “all options available to protect the public and minimize the risk of harm to consumers.”
Hamburg said the agency will “continue to review this matter as appropriate” and that the FDA is “actively exploring” ways to regulate Kite.
Kite is also the largest supplier of kitchen utensils and accessories to Big Food, according in a 2016 report by the Food Policy Alliance, a consumer advocacy group.
The company sells its products under the KITE brand name in North America, Europe and Asia, including China, India, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and the U to name a few.
The table is expected to sell for $500 to $1,200.
Big Food said it was unaware of the proposed design, but said it has “no reason to doubt the safety and quality of the product.”
The FDA’s review of Kite, which is being conducted by a committee, is expected in the first half of next year, according the agency.
Hamburg also urged the Food Innovation Alliance, the industry trade group, to investigate the company’s designs.
“It is our hope that the industry will work with FDA to determine if the agency should consider an independent investigation of this matter, and if so, how it will go about doing so,” she wrote.
Kites CEO Joe Stacey said the company has not been asked to provide the FDA with a proposal.
“There are some things that are proprietary that we have not been required to release,” Stacey told National Review, adding that the company “has been extremely diligent in making sure that it is in compliance with all applicable requirements.”
He said he would like to “meet with FDA at the earliest possible time” and would work with the agency to develop a proposal for regulation.
KITE said it’s not the first time the FDA has raised concerns about the design.
The first time Kite received a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM) for a kitchen table in 2012, the FDA asked for comments and submitted a report in January 2014, according a letter that the companies released to the National Review and obtained by The Washington Post.
The report said that Kites kitchen table would not comply with federal food safety standards and would not be safe for consumers.
“The proposed NPRM does not identify any food safety or food safety related requirements for the Kites product, but instead identifies specific concerns about certain aspects of the products design,” the report read.
“These concerns include the use of plastics, coatings, and other materials and the use and packaging of the Kiter Products products.
These concerns are not unique to Kiter products, but rather reflect general concerns with consumer-products products in general.”
The NPRM is required to inform the public of proposed rulemakings.
“When a product is developed, the company must identify, in writing, the risks, benefits, and potential for adverse health impacts,” the FDA said in a statement about the NPRM in December 2014.
“If a product has not yet been developed, a request for public comment is considered.
This allows the public to have input before the final rules are finalized.”
In a statement to The Washington Times, Stacey defended the Kith Kitchen Table, saying it was made in China and the company uses a variety of recycled materials and was designed to be “safe, durable, and eco-friendly.”
“We do our best to manufacture our kitchen tables using recycled materials, but we do not have to comply with any rules or regulations to produce these tables,” he said. Kith said