Remember the Southampton study of food colors and hyperactivity that I commented on some months ago? On the basis of that study, the British Food Standards Agency is asking food companies to voluntarily get rid of color additives in food products aimed at young children. Since those products are junk foods anyway, and everyone – especially anti-additive advocacy groups - wishes kids would eat less of them, the study gives the agency some ammunition. The point of color additives, after all, is to make junk foods look like they taste good. Kids don’t need junk foods or color additives, but I wish I felt more confident about the science.
Thanks to Eliza McEmrys for telling me about this:
“Hi Dr. Nestle,: Thank you for maintaining such an interesting blog!
Avoiding junk food is sign of illness? Who knew?
Canadian food companies argue that there is no point in banning food marketing to kids because the bans don’t keep kids from becoming obese. Maybe, but I’m just back from the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue in Washington, DC, a conference in which officials from Canada and Europe discussed what they were doing to address childhood obesity on the policy level. In a word–European countries are taking the challenge seriously and are doing a lot more than we are. I was most impressed by a report about Quebec, which banned marketing to kids in 1982. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but rates of childhood obesity are lower in Quebec than in any other Canadian province. But so are fast food sales so it’s no wonder food companies are upset.
The USDA says it has no intention of ending its recommended voluntary moratorium on introduction of meat and milk from cloned animals into the food supply. This continues to be an example of bizarre regulation. The government says it’s OK to eat such foods; it just thinks companies should not try to sell them. “Clone-free” labels, anyone?
The intrepid investigative reporting team of Donald Bartlett and James Steele has taken on Monsanto in the current issue of Vanity Fair, of all places (I am most familiar with their prize-winning but controversial work for Time, which fired them in 2006). Monsanto is the company that brought us genetically modified bovine growth hormone and Roundup-Ready corn and soybeans, and, of course Roundup itself. Bartlett and Steele have much to say about the company’s methods for enforcing its patent rights and casual dealings with worker safety. It’s a long article, but worth reading.
People keep asking me if I know anything about the presidential candidates’ positions on food policy. I didn’t, but thanks to Alexandra Lewin, a doctoral student at Cornell, I now do. She has just filed a summary of where the candidates stand on food issues – “Corporations, health, and the 2008 presidential race” – on the Corporations and Health Watch site. Take a look!