Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
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!

Jan 15 2008

Food allergies

This week’s “Ask Marion” question on Eating Liberally is about food allergies, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone–too little known, and too much at stake.  Take a look.

Jan 15 2008

What’s natural?

Without a precise FDA definition, “natural” can be practically anything a food producer says it is. Is high fructose corn syrup “natural?” Candy makers think so.  The FDA says it isn’t sure whether “natural” is an issue for consumers.  Oh.  Is it?

Jan 14 2008

USDA seeks food industry action against obesity

According to Food Chemical News (this link may only be available to subscribers), the USDA is about to launch “Project M.O.M” (Mothers and Others and MyPyramid), a program that challenges food businesses to develop plans to counter childhood obesity through diet and activity. One problem: programs must be based on the Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Stay tuned.


Jan 14 2008

Low-calorie restaurant meals: really?

I’m just getting caught up with the Wall Street Journal’s report on calories in “low-calorie” meals served in chain restaurants. It’s worth a look. The reporter sent meals to a laboratory to test for calories. The good news: most calorie contents were as advertised. The not so good news: the calories are as advertised if–and only if–you don’t eat side dishes or additions like bread, cheese, or salad dressing. If you do, the calories go way up. And calories count. Alas.

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