Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 16 2008

Bottled water backlash hits Pepsi

Andrew Martin begins his account of the latest Pepsi quarterly report like this: “Tap water is making a comeback.  That’s bad news for PepsiCo’s profits.”  Sales are down 10%.  Why?  People aren’t buying as much soda or bottled water.  Score one for the environmental movement.

The Environmental Working Group says the plastic bottles are bad for the environment but that’s not all.  Its latest report tests the waters and finds plenty of fertilizer and drug residues in them. Oh great.

Oct 15 2008

The irony of too little and too much food

Surely, this collection of items is nothing if not ironic.  The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has issued its 2008 Global Hunger Index, which maps 33 countries with alarmingly high rates of hunger.  And then we have Taco Bell’s new Big Bell Box; it racks up 1670 calories with the drink and more than 3 grams of sodium (about 7 grams of salt).  We also have the Heart Attack Grill, which I guess is not really a joke.

I thank Andy Bellatti and Hugh Joseph for pointing these out (I think).

Oct 14 2008

The food industry and childhood obesity

My commentary with Dr. David Ludwig, author of Ending the Food Fight, has just been published in the October 15 JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association).  Here’s the title: Can the food industry play a constructive role in the obesity epidemic?  Well, can it?  I have my doubts, but read it and see what you think.

Oct 14 2008

GAO: FDA must do better on produce safety and food labeling

For decades, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been pressing the FDA to do a better job of regulating the food supply.  These days, the GAO is dealing with produce safety.  It worries that the FDA has no formal program in place to protect the safety of fresh produce when it is so obvious that such a program is needed.  The GAO also scolds the FDA for not keeping up with monitoring of food labels.  The FDA has too much to do and not enough resources.  But, says GAO, the FDA would do better if it took this watchdog agency’s advice–but it doesn’t.  Why not?  The GAO doesn’t say so, but it’s politics, of course.  The food industry is ever vigilant against regulation.   This stance goes against the food industry’s best interest, in my view.  Yours?

Oct 12 2008

The New York Times Magazine food issue

It’s a good one, with terrific articles by Michael Pollan on farm policy for the next administration, David Rieff on what to do about agriculture in Africa, and Mark Bittman on why food should be taken seriously.  Read, think, and enjoy!

P.S. And for fun, check out Safire on the meaning of “locavore” and “functional food.”

Oct 12 2008

More melamine numerology: China and Canada agree

The Wall Street Journal reports that China has new guidelines on allowable levels of melamine in foods: 1 ppm (mg/kg) in infant formula and 2.5 ppm in other foods.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency agrees and is requiring importers of foods from China to document that their products meet these standards.  According to the October 10 Food Chemical News (which I can’t link to), the number of infants affected by melamine-contaminated infant formula is nearly 94,000, with 30,000 cases in central Henan province and 16,000 in Hebei province, both near where the source of the problem, the Sanlu Dairy group, is located.

Oct 10 2008

Wal-Mart in action: a map!

Thanks to Andy Bellatti of Small Bites for sending the link to this most instructive “flowing” map of the growth of Wal-Mart across America from 1962 to 2007.  Have some Jell-O from the previous post (see comments on it), sit back, and enjoy.

Oct 9 2008

Kraft’s excellent adventure: alcohol in Jell-O?

Thanks for Michele Simon of the alcohol industry watchdog, the Marin Institute, for telling me about Kraft’s creative idea for selling more Jell-O: mixed drinks. You have to be 21 or over to look at the site and, I guess, be 21 or over to eat Jell-O?  Why do I think this will be a tough sell?  Or maybe it won’t?

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