Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Feb 8 2016

McDonald’s Australia style: Why can’t they do this in the USA?

The McDonald’s closest to the part of the University of Sydney where I am working temporarily, looks like no McDonald’s I’ve ever seen.

Under The Corner, it says McCafe.  This place is a Maccas, as they call them here.

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The Corner offers an acceptable salad bar.

And slogans:

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An improvement?  Yes, but why not in the U.S.?

Feb 6 2016

Weekend Reading: Forked! (It’s just out)

Saru Jayaraman.  Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.  Oxford University Press, 2016.

I did a blurb for this one, for good reason.  Saru Jayaraman is doing important work on behalf of low-wage restaurant workers, most of them immigrants and women.  This book is her manifesto.

That restaurant workers can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour, and require taxpayer-supported food assistance to survive, is a national scandal.  Forked tells the stories of enlightened restaurant owners who treat and pay workers decently, with immediate returns in employee loyalty, better customer service—and profits.  This book should inspire all restaurant owners to take the “high road,” and all of us restaurant customers to demand that they do.

Read it and join the campaign for decent pay for restaurant workers, farm workers, and everyone else who is excluded from minimum-wage requirements.

Feb 5 2016

Chipotle’s food safety woes

Conspiracy theorists cannot believe that Chipotle’s ongoing food safety problems—and its consequent legal woes—can be due to anything other than deliberate sabotage.  Much as I love conspiracy theories—and my favorite is to blame the Center for Consumer Freedom—I suspect the problems are related more to supply-chain issues and the need to establish a stronger internal culture of food safety.  This means getting every employee to follow food safety rules to the letter—but also in spirit.

The company has done the right thing by recruiting help from a top food-safety consulting firm.

In the meantime, here’s what’s happening to its stock prices.Capture

Additions:

Feb 4 2016

Five more industry-sponsored marketing studies. The score 110:11.

Here are some recent additions to my ever-growing collection of industry-funded food and nutrition studies or commentaries with results favorable to the sponsor’s interests.  These bring the total since last March to 110 with favorable results versus 11 with those that must have disappointed the sponsor.

Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness. Paul M Wise, Laura Nattress, Linda J Flammer, and Gary K Beauchamp. Am J Clin Nutr 2016; 103:50-60.  doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.112300

  • Conclusions: This experiment provides empirical evidence that changes in consumption of simple sugars influence perceived sweet taste intensity. More work is needed to determine whether sugar intake ultimately shifts preferences for sweet foods and beverages.
  • Supported by PepsiCo Inc. and Monell Chemical Senses Center institutional funds.
  • Comment: This study shows that if you eat less sugar, even low-sugar foods taste sweet.  Soft drink companies are under pressure to reduce sugar.  If these results are correct, soda companies ought to be able to get away with reducing their sugar content—at least if customers get used to consuming less sugar and accept drinks that are not so intensely sweet. 

Consuming yellow pea fiber reduces voluntary energy intake and body fat in overweight/obese adults in a 12-week randomized controlled trial.  Jennifer E. Lambertemail, Jill A. Parnellemail, Jasmine M. Tunnicliffe, Jay Han, Troy Sturzenegger, Raylene A. Reimer. Clinical Nutrition, Article in press published online January 11, 2016.  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2015.12.016

  • Conclusions:  In the absence of other lifestyle changes, incorporating 15 g/day yellow pea fiber may yield small but significant metabolic benefits and aid in obesity management.
  • Funding: The study was funded by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and Alberta Pulse Growers Commission.

Effect of flavored milk vs plain milk on total milk intake and nutrient provision in children.  Flavia Fayet-Moore. Nutrition Reviews Jan;74(1):1-17. doi: Here’10.1093/nutrit/nuv031. Epub 2015 Nov 3.

  • Conclusions: There is no association between flavored milk intake and weight status among normal-weight children, and some contradictory effects of flavored milk intake have been observed in subgroups of overweight children. Flavored milk is a palatable beverage choice that helps children to meet calcium targets.
  • Financial disclosures. The author received a research grant from Nestlé Australia Ltd to conduct.

Does milk consumption contribute to cardiometabolic health and overall diet quality?  Lamarche B, Givens I, Soedamah-Muthu S, Krauss RM, Jakobsen MU, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Pan A, Després J-P, Canadian Journal of Cardiology (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2015.12.033.

  • Conclusion: The evidence to date suggests a neutral effect of milk intake per se on several health-related outcomes. The possibility that milk intake is simply a marker of higher nutritional quality diets cannot be ruled out and needs to be further examined in future studies.
  • Authors’ disclosures (in supplementary online material): BL is Chair of Nutrition at Laval University, which Board of Directors include a representative from Provigo-Loblaws. BL has received funding from Agri-food and Agriculture Canada, the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), Dairy Australia and Dairy Research Institute to study dairy and health. He serves as the Chair of the independent, peer-review Expert Scientific Advisory Council of DFC. BL has also received honoraria from DFC as invited speaker in various conferences. MUJ has received honoraria from the Global Dairy Platform to review the observational epidemiological evidence of associations between intake of trans fatty acids and risk of CHD and from the European Milk Forum as an invited speaker at symposia. IG is Chair of Food Chain Nutrition at the University of Reading. He has received funding from the UK Dairy Council, AHDB Dairy, the Barham Benevolent Trust and the UK Medical Research Council for studies on dairy and health. He has also received honoraria from the Dairy Council as an invited speaker at various conferences. He serves on various committees including being the Deputy Chair of the UK Food Standards Agency committee concerned with food chain related aspects of food safety. SSSM previously received unrestricted research grants from Global Dairy Platform, Dairy Research Institute and Dairy Australia for projects related to dairy effects on lipoproteins and mortality. RMK has received grant support from Dairy Management, Inc. Other authors have no disclosures related to the content of this paper.

Including “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts Panel: How Consumers Perceive the Proposed Change.  Idamarie Laquatra, Kris Sollid, Marianne Smith Edge, Jason Pelzel, John Turner.  Published Online: June 09, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.04.017|

  • Conclusion: In this analysis, rather than improving consumer understanding about the amount of total sugars in a product, NFPs with “Added Sugars” declarations were misleading and the resulting misperception influenced purchase intent.
  • Statement of potential conflict of interest: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
  • Funding support: This research was commissioned and funded by the International Food Information Council Foundation and conducted by Turner Research Network of Atlanta, GA. More details about the International Food Information Council Foundation can be found at http://www.foodinsight.org/pages/faqs.
  • Comment: IFIC is funded by food and beverage companies (see SourceWatch).  The FDA is currently considering putting a line for Added Sugars on food labels.  Food companies, understandably, oppose this idea.
Feb 3 2016

Where are we on GMO politics: an update

State GMO labeling bills: While Congress dithers, states are getting busy.  The Sunlight Foundation’s SCOUT database on state GMO legislative initiatives is searchable.  Examples:

Detente between producers of GMO and labeling advocates: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held a meeting to attempt to forge some kind of accord between producers of GMO foods and advocates for GMO labels.  By all reports, it didn’t work.  Earlier, Vilsack tried to negotiate detente between GMO producers and producers of organic foods.  That didn’t work either.

GMO Salmon: The FDA says it will not allow imports of GMO salmon.  Since GMO salmon are produced in Canada and Panama, this action in effect bans GMO salmon from the US food supply.  The FDA is working on labeling guidelines and probably wants them out before allowing imports.

Monsanto’s conversation:  Monsanto’s interactive website invites you to be part of the conversation.  Aything you like.  Someone from Monsanto will respond.  This site is clearly keeping Monsanto’s PR staff on its toes. Here is just one example:

Feb 2 2016

Food-Navigator’s Special Edition: Food for kids!

I greatly enjoy Food-Navigator’s collections of articles on specific topics.  Here’s one on marketing foods to kids.

While there is some evidence that the tide may now be turning on childhood obesity, 8.4% of US 2-5 year-olds; 17.7% of 6-11 year-olds and 20.5% of 12-19-year-olds are still obese, and many are lacking in essential nutrients from potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, to vitamin D. So how can the food industry respond to these concerns and develop more nutritious, but appealing snacks, meals and beverages for kids?

Addition, February 3: A reader reminds me that Food-Navigator published a guide to creating successful children’s brands a couple of months ago.

Feb 1 2016

A food politics souvenir of Auckland

On my way to Australia, I stopped in Auckland.

The Auckland train station is clean and beautiful—and a perfect site for advertising Coca-Cola.IMG_20160118_1439519

A short ferry ride lands you in vineyards.

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Food thoughts to ponder early on a Monday morning in Sydney (Sunday afternoon in New York).

Jan 30 2016

Weekend Reading: From Farm to Canal Street

Valerie Inbruce.  From Farm to Canal Street: Chinatown’s Alternative Food Network in the Global Marketplace.  Cornell University Press, 2015.

I live in downtown Manhattan, love to wander through the open-air food markets in Chinatown, and have always wondered how the extraordinarily fresh and exotic vegetables and fruits get there.  Who grows them, and where?

The answers: supply chains based on family connections (of course), in Florida, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Inbruce views the supply chains as an alternative to industrial food systems, one that provides vegetables of outstanding quality at low cost, while supporting small farmers.

Instructors of courses in food systems: this book belongs in your syllabus.  It is essential reading for anyone interested in who produces food for urban areas and how it gets into cities.

 

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