Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 20 2008

10 things the food industry doesn’t want you to know

Adam Voiland of U.S. News and World Report interviewed David Ludwig and me for this story based on our recent JAMA article.  He’s packed a lot of information into these 10 categories, which start with #1, the billions advertisers spend on marketing to kids, and end with #10, food industry attacks on critics (this means me).  Check out the links!

Oct 19 2008

Melamine is in what?

Melamine-laden milk powder made in China has made its way into Chinese infant formula, of course, but is also turning up in candy in New Zealand, croissants in Japan, M&Ms in South Korea, and coffee drinks in the United States.  Now the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) warns that melamine has been found in something more exotic.  Would you believe chocolate-flavored “willy” syrup.  You don’t know what this is?  Consider it a caloric sex toy.   If you have used it already, the FSA says not to worry.  The melamine dose is too low to do harm.  Whew.

Thanks (I think) to blogger Doctor Yoni Freedhoff for passing this one along.

Oct 17 2008

Consumer surveys are always fun

And this one is international.  Ketchum Public Relations asked about 1000 people in the U.S., the U.K, Germany, Argentina, and China what they thought about a bunch of issues about food choice.  The results are interesting, if not particularly credible.  For example, 44% say they are confused about which foods are good for them, and only 30% or so would rank profit as the highest priority if they were CEO of a global food company.  That’s the difference between consumers and people who go to business school, I guess.  Enjoy and have a sane weekend.

Oct 16 2008

Bottled water backlash hits Pepsi

Andrew Martin begins his account of the latest Pepsi quarterly report like this: “Tap water is making a comeback.  That’s bad news for PepsiCo’s profits.”  Sales are down 10%.  Why?  People aren’t buying as much soda or bottled water.  Score one for the environmental movement.

The Environmental Working Group says the plastic bottles are bad for the environment but that’s not all.  Its latest report tests the waters and finds plenty of fertilizer and drug residues in them. Oh great.

Oct 15 2008

The irony of too little and too much food

Surely, this collection of items is nothing if not ironic.  The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has issued its 2008 Global Hunger Index, which maps 33 countries with alarmingly high rates of hunger.  And then we have Taco Bell’s new Big Bell Box; it racks up 1670 calories with the drink and more than 3 grams of sodium (about 7 grams of salt).  We also have the Heart Attack Grill, which I guess is not really a joke.

I thank Andy Bellatti and Hugh Joseph for pointing these out (I think).

Oct 14 2008

The food industry and childhood obesity

My commentary with Dr. David Ludwig, author of Ending the Food Fight, has just been published in the October 15 JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association).  Here’s the title: Can the food industry play a constructive role in the obesity epidemic?  Well, can it?  I have my doubts, but read it and see what you think.

Oct 14 2008

GAO: FDA must do better on produce safety and food labeling

For decades, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been pressing the FDA to do a better job of regulating the food supply.  These days, the GAO is dealing with produce safety.  It worries that the FDA has no formal program in place to protect the safety of fresh produce when it is so obvious that such a program is needed.  The GAO also scolds the FDA for not keeping up with monitoring of food labels.  The FDA has too much to do and not enough resources.  But, says GAO, the FDA would do better if it took this watchdog agency’s advice–but it doesn’t.  Why not?  The GAO doesn’t say so, but it’s politics, of course.  The food industry is ever vigilant against regulation.   This stance goes against the food industry’s best interest, in my view.  Yours?

Oct 12 2008

The New York Times Magazine food issue

It’s a good one, with terrific articles by Michael Pollan on farm policy for the next administration, David Rieff on what to do about agriculture in Africa, and Mark Bittman on why food should be taken seriously.  Read, think, and enjoy!

P.S. And for fun, check out Safire on the meaning of “locavore” and “functional food.”

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