Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Jun 2 2008

Wonderful Copenhagen!

I’m in Copenhagen this week at the Nordic Nutrition meetings and did my usual tourist thing. I went to supermarkets to check out the products and the health claims. What a disappointment. Denmark doesn’t allow health claims, or at least not many. In Denmark, food is just food. I couldn’t find a mention of vitamins (the Danes don’t permit vitamin or mineral fortification except for iodine in salt), omega-3’s, antioxidants, or cholesterol-lowering, and the breakfast cereal aisle was scanty and only a few packages had cartoons.  But this peaceful situation will not last much longer. The E.U. rules are coming and with them will come health claims and all the marketing hype and confusion that inevitably accompany them. Too bad.

Jun 1 2008

Pet food recall settlement: what to do

A couple of informative posts, one on ConsumerAffairs.com and another on InjuryBoard.com discuss details of the $24 million pet food recall settlement. The New Jersey judge has given preliminary approval but further approval is needed and the next hearing is not until October 14. In the meantime, if you have or had a pet caught up in the recall, here are the people to contact:

In re Pet Food Products Liability Litigation, Claims Administrator
c/o Heffler, Radetich & Saitta LLP,
P.O. Box 890,
Philadelphia, PA 19105-0890

1-800-392-7785

www.petfoodsettlement.com

Jun 1 2008

NY Times editorial: “the worst way of farming”

In case you missed it, the New York Times has an editorial on the Pew Commission report (I am a member of the Commission, as I explained on a previous post) and on a similar report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. As the editorial explains, farm policies have turned “animal husbandry…into animal abuse,” and policies about animal confinement need rethinking and revision. My question: how about enforcing existing laws while we are at it?

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Jun 1 2008

Waste not, want not?

This week’s question for me from Eating Liberally’s kat has to do with food waste and the world food crisis.  I do go on and on about this one.  It’s a worry.

May 31 2008

Organic standards for fish: postponed

As I explain in What to Eat, USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) can’t figure out what to do about certifying fish as organic.  Organics are about production methods.  Wild fish eat whatever, wherever, and their production is uncontrolled.  Farm fish are fed whatever.  According to Food Chemical News (June 2), the NOSB held hearings on the use of fish meal and fish oil in organic aquaculture last month and postponed a decision until fall.  The issue:  is it OK for farmed salmon to “eat meal and oil derived from carcasses, viscera and trimmings from processed wild caught fish certified as ‘organic’ by foreign suppliers,”  when there are no U.S. standards for such certification.   I’d say no.  How about you?

May 30 2008

USDA’s corporate challenge: the road to healthville?

I’ve just gotten a press release from the USDA announcing its “road to healthville” challenge. On June 10, the USDA will hold a multi-media event featuring “dozens of some of the Nation’s leading corporations stepping forward to help stem the tide of overweight and obesity among America’s young people with specific new, out-of-the-box initiatives. The program will be hosted by CNPP Executive Director Dr. Brian Wansink.”  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what food corporations will come up with.  Why am I thinking that out-of-the-box will not include stop marketing junk foods to kids, let alone making them.

May 29 2008

And now, healthy Kool-Aid

Thanks to Michele Simon for sending this link to an AOL deadpan description of how companies are making healthier junk food. Those of us who think “healthier junk food” is an oxymoron wonder how the addition of vitamin E to Kool-Aid is going to do much good for anyone but Kraft must think it will entice you to buy it. Water, anyone?

May 28 2008

Childhood obesity: no longer a problem?

In what the New York Times today calls a “hint of hope,” the CDC reports that rates of childhood obesity among American children haven’t budged since 1999 (well, maybe except for Hispanic boys and non-Hispanic black girls). As the accompanying JAMA editorial makes clear, the favorable trends still leave plenty of work to do; the rise in childhood obesity that started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, has not declined and pediatricians are still seeing more young people with chronic disease risk factors than they used to. And then there are those troubling racial and ethnic disparities….

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