Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Mar 6 2008

Food chains: the 143 million pound recall

OK. So we know much of the recalled hamburger meat was eaten by school children but where did the rest of it go? Into packaged meals, apparently. The Wall Street Journal has a nifty account of how this meat ended up in packaged Boston Market lasagna (Heinz), Progresso soup (General Mills), and Hot Pockets sandwiches (Nestlé–no relation) .  These companies have recalled 35,000 to 49,000 cases of products, each.  Yum.

Mar 6 2008

Action from the FDA!

According to one of the European e-newsletters that gets sent to me, the FDA Commissioner is asking for serious help: more employees, more money, expanded authority from Congress, and more cooperation from industry. This may sound like just what everyone else has been screaming about for years, but the Commissioner is a political appointee. This sounds to me like real courage. Let’s hope he gets the FDA what it needs.

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Mar 4 2008

Nestle’s corporate social responsibility: shared value?

Nestle (No relation. I just can’t figure out how to enter the accent mark) has released its first report on corporate social and environmental responsibility. The report, Shared Value, available online in four languages, takes an interesting approach.  It couples each of its social goals with the benefits to its business. Two examples: Reducing the environmental footprint and reducing our operating costs,” and “Helping farmers improve earnings and assuring our supply of raw materials.” What to make of this? This question is very much on my mind these days because I’ve been asked to write something addressing the question, “Is there anything the food industry can do to play a constructive role in doing something about childhood obesity?” Is there? I’m collecting opinions.

Mar 4 2008

Calorie Labeling Fallout: Critic Resigns

New York City’s calorie labeling proposal, ever mired in controversy (and still in the courts), has just produced its first casualty. David Allison, president-elect of The Obesity Society, has just announced that he is resigning his presidency. Members of the society, distressed that he worked as a paid expert for the State Restaurant Association while testifying in opposition to the ciry health department’s calorie labeling plan. Apparently, this was going too far even for a society that accepts one or two million a year from drug companies. Conflicts of interest galore!

Addition: Here’s what the New York Times says about all this.

Mar 3 2008

NY State Council on Food Policy listens

This one got by me somehow but I’ve just gotten a notice that the Council is holding “listening sessions” in New York City on April 3 (this link is to a calendar of sessions for several state commissions; scroll down to the appropriate date to get the details). The Council is interested in hearing about “how to maximize participation in food and nutrition assistance programs, increase consumer awareness and knowledge about healthy eating, and improve access to safe and nutritious foods. Speakers get 3 minutes to discuss such matters. And here’s what the Council is about and who’s on it.

Mar 1 2008

USDA asks for help with its science homework

The USDA is gearing up to appoint a committee to re-do the next round of Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010. It looks like there will be a big push to make them “science-based” again (as if they weren’t always science-based). USDA is asking for help with the science and is recruiting volunteers to become “Nutrition Evidence Library Abstractors” who will read and write abstracts of scientific studies as the basis of the committee’s work.   Sound like fun?  Could be.

Mar 1 2008

Eating Liberally asks Marion: Wal-Mart

This week’s Eating Liberally’s Ask Marion question: Can Wal-Mart contribute to sustainability?  It’s a stretch, but I tried to address the question.

Feb 27 2008

Functional oreos!

Thanks to Dr. Freedhoff for passing along his Weighty Matters blog post about Voortman’s new Omega-3 Zeer-Oh cookies. He got them in Canada. Maybe we will get to have them here soon? OK, so sugar is the first ingredient. But they are “Zero grams trans fat!”

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