Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Jan 9 2008

The FDA’s New Year’s Gift: Posters!

The FDA has produced electronic posters giving the nutrient content of raw fruits, raw vegetables, and cooked seafood (purchased raw). Why? I’m guessing because real foods don’t come with Nutrition Facts labels and you have to go to the USDA’s nutrient composition data base to find out what the details are. You can download the posters in small, medium, large, and extra-large, or just in text format. If you care about which fruit or vegetable has the most of any one nutrient, here’s an easy way to find out. Have fun with them!

Jan 9 2008

Krispy Kreme goes healthy?

They’ve just agreed to remove the trans fats. So now their donuts will be “Trans fat-free.” Progress? I wonder what the new frying oil will be….

Jan 8 2008

More on “health” drinks

The latest “Let’s Ask Marion” on Eating Liberally is up, this one on those advertisements for Coca-Cola “pomegranate-blueberry” (with hardly any of each) drinks posted earlier and which agency in the federal government regulates such things.

Jan 8 2008

Starbucks in trouble?

Here is an example of how crazy our food system is.  Starbucks, according to the Chicago Tribune, is in trouble.  Why?  “while overall revenue and earnings continued to increase at rates better than 20 percent in its fiscal 2007 fourth quarter [which sounds pretty good to me]…there was a 1 percent slip in average transactions per store in the United States [oops].”  That’s all it takes for Wall Street to start predicting doom, apparently.

Jan 8 2008

Chocolate health claims: an explanation?

A comment on the previous post about chocolate asks why chocolate manufacturers think they have to put health claims on candy.  The simple answer is that health claims are the only things that sell food these days.  And chocolate candy is in trouble–you aren’t eating enough of it to keep these corporations growing fast enough.  And on top of all that, the companies are all being sued for price fixing which, alas, is illegal. Health claims are an “eat more” marketing strategy.  I think health claims–all of them–should be illegal.  That isn’t going to happen but we could make our displeasure with such misleading marketing known to the companies.

Jan 7 2008

Bananas are low fat!

Thanks to Kerry Trueman for sharp eyed reading of the latest in banana advertising (do bananas need this?). Check the sticker she found on a Chiquita banana. Aren’t you happy to know this? Haven’t you been buying enough bananas lately? Here it is:

Here it is:

Jan 7 2008

What nerve! Benefits of chocolate questioned

Food Production Daily, my source of much interesting information about European production of functional foods, today reveals the bitter truth about chocolate. It quotes an article in The Lancet revealing that most of the beneficial antioxidants in cocoa are removed during processing. But a spokesperson for the chocolate industry says (my emphasis): “Anyone already on a healthy and balanced diet should be able to indulge occasionally in one or two squares of dark chocolate and benefit from a few health benefits as well.”

But of course. As I am always saying, promoting the health benefits of chocolate is about marketing, not health.

Jan 5 2008

Physical Activity is Increasing! (?)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says physical activity is increasing among U.S. adults. At least that’s what U.S. adults say they are doing. It’s almost as hard to get good information about activity as it is to get information about diet. The latest results could be true. They are consistent with some studies, but not others. If so, it’s good news but doesn’t this mean that weight gain must be due to overeating, not to too little activity (at least across the population)?

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