by Marion Nestle

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Nov 2 2007

The revolving door: better than ever!

Such things never cease to amaze. The Grocery Manufacturers of America, a lobbying and trade organization for the retail food industry, has just recruited Robert Brackett as its new senior vice president in charge of regulatory affairs. And who could possibly be better qualified. To take this job, Mr. Brackett will be leaving his position as director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the part of FDA that deals with food issues. I hope they are paying him tons of money.

Oct 30 2007

Chocolate is a health food! (well, maybe)

I am so happy to hear that the French chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, is marketing a probiotic chocolate–one packed with friendly bacteria like the kind in yogurt. Only the company claims that chocolate is a better source of probiotic bacteria than yogurt. And you only need to eat half an ounce a day! Chocoholics rejoice! Skeptics roll your eyes! Personally, I like my chocolate unfunctional. File this one under Techno-Foods.

Oct 30 2007

Food theater: Milk-n-Honey

This play, described by the New York Times as a Brecht-like primer on the politics of food, is followed by an After Show Café, with free cupcakes and fair-trade certified coffee from the Lower Eastside Girls Club, where the audience can meet the actors and special guests. Anna Lappe (co-author of Grub) is hosting two special guests: Eric Schlosser on Sunday November 11, 3:00pm to 5:30pm, and yours truly on Wednesday November 14, 7:30pm to 10:00pm. Anna says you can find the showtimes and order tickets at this site.

Oct 25 2007

Calorie labeling: New York City tries again

The New York City Board of Health announced yesterday that it would seek public comment on its revised proposal to require chain restaurants to post calories someplace where customers can actually see them. The new proposal replaces the original proposal that was stuck down by the courts a few weeks ago. This time, the requirement will apply to all chain restaurants that have 15 or more outlets in the country. Amazingly, this encompasses 10% of New York City restaurants. Not so amazingly, the restaurant industry is not so happy about this and, according to today’s New York Times, has not decided yet whether to go back to the courts. You have thoughts about this? Send them in and go to the hearing on November 27.

Oct 24 2007

The selling of Alli

Glaxo, the company that makes Alli (a.k.a. Xenical), says it has sold 2 million packages of the diet drug since June when the FDA approved over-the-counter sales. How did Glaxo do this? In interesting ways, says the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times says the company says 70% of people taking the drug say they are losing weight. Maybe so, but under some coercion. Eat too much fat while taking the drug and you can expect some messy side effects.  There has to be a better way….

Oct 24 2007

Doritos and the Colbert presidential campaign: A good source of funding?

Eating Liberally’s “kat” took me to see Frank Rich’s interview with Stephen Colbert last night and what fun that was! But no such thing as a free event, apparently. Today, kat wants to know what I think about Doritos’ sponsorship of Colbert’s campaign. Take a look at her question and my response and weigh in on this, please. Even if it’s a joke…?

Oct 21 2007

School food getting better?

A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds “considerable improvements” in school food in recent years. In response to concerns about childhood obesity, schools are making changes in food availability and physical activity requirements. Well, maybe some schools. If you are an optimist, you will be cheered by what’s happening: nearly 30% of schools have banned junk foods from vending machines, when only 4% did so in 2000. If you are a pessimist, you will shudder to hear that soft drinks are still sold in 75% of high schools. And oh great: schools selling bottled water have grown from 30% to 46% (what ever happened to good, clean, free water?). The New York Times summary of the report is worth a look, as is the fact sheet from the CDC.

Oct 21 2007

Food banks going under?

Food banks, according to the New York Times, are encountering “distressing trends.” They are overwhelmed with increasing demands but warehouses are empty. How did this happen? Food banks started as a way to help food companies dispose of excess inventory–almost out of date products, those slightly damaged, or otherwise unusable–and feed people in need of assistance. As inventory control methods have improved, companies have less to give away. And government donations for emergency food assistance also have declined. But wait! Is feeding the poor from these kinds of donations good public policy? Shouldn’t we have a better and more reliable system for making sure than no American goes hungry? Just asking…

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