Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 21 2007

Meat recalls: Keeping up

I’ve just discovered Meat & Poultry, an excellent source of information about current recalls and other industry gossip. The site describes two new E. coli O157:H7 recalls, which now must be added to the “sudden spike” of 14 others this year. Are incidents and outbreaks increasing because the industry is getting sloppier, or is the surveillance system getting better? Whatever. If we had a farm-to-table food safety system, we might be able to answer this question and do something about it.

Oct 19 2007

New rules for grass-fed

The USDA has just come out with a proposal for voluntary rules to govern use of the term “grass-fed” in marketing food animals. Reading Federal Register notices is always a lot of fun but if you don’t feel like wading through the fine print responses to comments on this issue, skip right to page 58637 and read the section titled “claim and standard.” As of November 15, if meat is labeled grass-fed, the animals have to have been fed grass, hay, and vitamin supplements. That’s all. No grain. As I read it, the animals don’t have to be outside grazing, but maybe I misunderstand? Check it out!

And here’s what the New York Times has to say about this rule.

Oct 19 2007

Eating Liberally: Cartoons on Healthy Foods?

My Eating Liberally question this week is about whether is makes sense to put cartoons on vegetable packages to encourage kids to eat more healthfully. I think not, of course, but here’s Disney doing just that. Is this a reasonable strategy? Weigh in please.

Oct 18 2007

Environmental influences on obesity

Personal responsibility won’t do the trick. A new report from the U.K. government describes the extent of environmental influences on obesity and warns that fixing the problem requires major intervention and is likely to take decades. Worth reading, no?

Oct 18 2007

More on the military food service scandal

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times ran stories today about the deepening scandal over graft and corruption in Iraq food service. The Journal article comes with a nifty illustration of the chain of companies involved in supplying peanut butter, calzones, and frozen French fries to the troops, easily explaining where there might be plenty of room for kickbacks. According to the Times, the key company under investigation, Public Warehousing, was paid a billion dollars by the military for its part in the chain. Expensive calories, those.

Oct 18 2007

Charge kids more for junk foods?

A high school in Pittsburgh, worried about kids’ weight, is charging kids an extra 50 cents for lunch if they want French fries. I wonder. Will this encourage kids to eat more vegetables?

Oct 17 2007

Food service to the military?

I was riveted by today’s Wall Street Journal account of how corporations are–among other manifestations of fraud and corruption–overcharging the military for food service in Iraq. Look at what kind of food they are supplying, let alone how much it costs: more than $2.7 million per month for chicken wings and nearly $750,000 per month for egg rolls? That’s a lot of egg rolls. I wonder how many per person that turns out to be.

Oct 17 2007

More on health claims: coca-cola

While we are on the subject of health claims, can those be the reasons why Coca-Cola is off to China to look for medicinals that can be added to its drinks? The entire point of putting “healthy” ingredients into foods is to be able to make health claims for them. These “functional foods,” as I keep saying, are not really about health. They are about marketing.

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