Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Jan 19 2008

After an outcry from consumers…

  • Pennsylvania backs down from its decision to ban labels on milk cartons that say the cows were not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone.
  • A European ethics panel says cloned animals should not be allowed on the market.
  • McDonald’s backs down from its “food prize” program (Happy Meals for good grades) in Florida.
    All that in just one day. Signs of a social movement anyone?
Jan 17 2008

The latest government anti-obesity campaign?

Michele Simon of Appetite for Profit fame sends me this link to AdFreak.com’s account of the Advertising Council’s  latest pro bono campaign for the Department of Health and Human Services: placing itty bitty tee-shirts in laundromat dryers with the slogan “Shrink a few sizes.”  Michele can’t tell if it’s a joke and neither can I.  Surely they have to be kidding?  Does anyone know for sure?

Jan 16 2008

FDA seeks public comment on food labels and health claims

The FDA must be hearing lots of complaints about food labels and health claims because it is asking for comments on the best way to calculate the percent daily value (DV), and on what nutrients get displayed.  It is considering removing “Calories from Fat,” for example, and requiring the amount of  monounsaturated fat to be listed. Want to comment on these ideas or suggest others?  Go to this FDA site.  As for health claims, the FDA plans to reevaluate the ones for soy and heart disease, fat and cancer, antioxidant vitamins and cancers, and selenium and cancers based on recent research.  To comment, go to the Federal Register.

Jan 16 2008

Today’s question: calcium absorption

Amanda asks: “I also read that once you take the fat out of milk, it is difficult to absorb the calcium from it. Marion, can you state whether this is true?”

Oops. No. Where this idea came from, I can only guess. Fat is required for absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A and E but minerals like calcium are water-soluble so would be expected to be absorbed better from watery solutions. As it turns out, calcium absorption has been measured under all kinds of fat conditions. The result: about the same proportion is absorbed from dairy products–about 30%–no matter how much fat they have. We tend to absorb smaller proportions of calcium from foods that contain a lot of oxalates (spinach and rhubarb for example). When dairy products are added to spinach, more of the spinach calcium is absorbed, so maybe that’s where the idea came from. Does this help?

And while we are on the subject, how’s this for a proposed solution to the non-problem of calcium absorption: genetically modified carrots! Bet you never thought of that one.

Jan 15 2008

FDA rules that cloned animals are safe to eat; USDA says whoa

As predicted, the FDA says cloned animals are just fine to eat and, therefore, do not need to be labeled in any special way. According to Food Chemical News, the FDA acknowledges that people have raised “moral, religious and ethical concerns,” but emphasizes that it performed “strictly a science-based evaluation” as it is required by law to do. Yes indeed. Whenever I hear “science-based,” I know that something political is going on, in this case avoidance of those pesky “moral, religious, and ethical concerns.” Maybe that’s why the USDA says slow down. Also according to Food Chemical News, USDA “has asked cloning firms to extend their voluntary moratorium on introducing meat and milk from clones into the marketplace to enable a smooth transition for such products.”. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Even if cloned animals are safe, they are not necessarily acceptable–and the USDA seems to understand this.

And just for fun, take a look at some of the comments on this decision.

Jan 15 2008

Everything you want to know about childhood obesity

Thanks to Joel Moskowitz of the UC Berkeley Center for Family and Community Health for sending this link to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and its special research issue on the epidemic of childhood obesity. Lots of interesting stuff here. Enjoy!

Jan 15 2008

Fat politics video game?

I’ve just been sent a link to a videogame said to be about the politics of nutrition.  The game supposedly explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition and socioeconomics in the United States.  I can view the trailer but can’t get it downloaded on the computer I’m currently using.  I’m curious to see what it’s like?  Interesting?  Useful?  For what age groups?  Give it a try?  Thanks!

Jan 15 2008

Oh no! Chocolate-eating linked to weak bones?

Ordinarily I don’t pay too much attention to studies of single foods or nutrients on health because so many of them are “nutri-fluff”–attention getting, but not necessarily meaningful to health. But this one is such a good example of the genre that I thought I’d share it. Today’s foodproduction.com (Europe) talks about a study of chocolate consumption and bone density in 1000 older women (aged 70 to 85). Those who consumed the most chocolate (type not specified) had the thinnest and weakest bones.  Does this mean that eating chocolate is bad for bones?  Of course not.  It could mean that women who eat a lot of chocolate are not eating healthfully, getting enough physical activity, or doing any number of other things that do not promote bone strength.  When it comes to studies of single foods or nutrients, context is everything!

Page 240 of 278« First...238239240241242...Last »