The USDA says it will be taking samples of meat and poultry products that contain ingredients derived from milk to find out whether they contain melamine and, if so, how much. It will be sampling five kinds of products: baby foods, cooked sausages, breaded chicken, meatballs, and meat and poultry wrapped in dough (including calzones). Great. I’m hoping they will be using the same kinds of methods used by FDA and coordinating closely with that agency. If ever we needed a reason to have just ONE food safety agency instead of the multiple ones we have now (USDA, FDA, EPA, etc), melamine is as good as any.
Food Democracy is circulating a petition to the Obama transition team to appoint a USDA Secretary who cares about sustainability (what a concept!). Click on the link to join the movement! If you want to read more about this, see Nicholas Kristof’s column linked to my post on December 10 and Michael Pollan’s magazine piece linked to the one on October 12.
The Nestlé (no relation to me company is pledging to restrict its marketing to children to products that meet industry-wide nutritional criteria. This is a small step in the right direction but suffers from the same problems that beset all such initiatives: the nutritional criteria are established to permit lots of a company’s products to qualify, and not much accountability is built into the system. Will efforts like this do any good? We will have to wait and see.
Here is Bill Moyer’s recent interview with Michael Pollan, talking about what the new president can and cannot do for American agriculture. Worth a look.
12/11 update: Take a look at today’s New York Times where Nicholas Kristof enthusiastically supports the idea that Obama should appoint a “Secretary of Food.”
The BMJ has an interesting editorial this week about American calorie labeling (disclosure: I was interviewed for it). Maybe Great Britain will do this too?
I love keeping track of the revolving door between government food agencies and the food industry. Thanks to Food Chemical News for this latest example: Beth Johnson, interim undersecretary for food safety at USDA, resigned today to take a position as executive vice president of public affairs at the National Restaurant Association.
Let’s wish her well on the new job and hope she helps restaurant owners stay out of food safety troubles.
I’m deluged with messages about Burger King’s “Whopper Virgin” commercials and requests to comment on them. What could Burger King’s PR people be thinking? Probably that if they produced something outrageous, everyone would write about it, as I am now doing. Burger King spent a fortune to go to the ends of the earth and ask people who supposedly had never eaten a hamburger before whether they preferred a Whopper to some other unnamed hamburger. The results are to be announced tomorrow (Monday). Want to hazard a guess as to how this brilliant study will come out?
It’s hard to know what’s worse: the poor quality of the sponsored science, the offensiveness of the “Whopper Virgin” concept, or the condescension to the people living in those remote areas. As they say in PR, ink is ink.
December 9 Update: Guess which one won.