Thanks to CSPI’s Margo Wootan for sending the link to this nifty video about school lunch lobbying (she is featured in it, eloquently). The video, made by the American News Project, takes place at a January 28 hearing on school lunch nutrition regulations run by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The IOM is working on developing science-based criteria for the nutritional quality of school meals. Take a look at who is in the audience. Question: What are they doing there? Answer: The USDA buys enormous quantities of food commodities to supply schools enrolled in federal school meal programs. The video gets a 5-star YouTube rating, and for good reason.
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I am interested to see that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has taken on Topps marketing as a new campaign, and for good reason. Topps, famous for chewing gum and baseball trading cards, makes a bunch of candies aimed at kids, one of them in the shape of infant feeding bottles. Disney is now using a kids’ music group – the Jonas Brothers - to promote the baby bottle candy. Not a good idea.
In 2007, Michael Eisner, the former head of Disney bought Topps from the family firm that had owned it for decades. Long before the sale, I once had lunch with Arthur Shorin, the former owner of Topps. I was impressed by his responsible attitude about marketing candy to children. He was facing a difficult problem. Without doing irresponsible marketing, he couldn’t sell enough candy to stay in business. Hence the sale to Eisner. At the time, Mr. Shorin said “This will be a change in ownership, not a change in direction.” Well, that’s business for you.
Update February 20: thanks to Dan for the correction. Fixed.
Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a class-action lawsuit against Coca-Cola, the parent company of Glaceau Vitamin Water. Vitamin Water, says CSPI, makes sugary drinks that promote obesity but positions these products as healthful because they contain added vitamins and herbs. Does this make them healthier? No, but it certainly makes them sell better.
The childhood obesity team at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sends along its new year’s greeting: “great anti-junk food marketing” moments in 2008. These mostly focus on progress in industry self-regulation (voluntary) but also on congressional legislation to restrict marketing and put healthier foods in schools. Food marketing to kids is the point of food industry vulnerability. Food companies must stop marketing junk foods to kids. Voluntary self-regulation is notoriously ineffective. Legislative intervention is essential. Maybe this will be possible under the new administration? Fingers crossed.
As calorie labeling initiatives spread across the country, it’s fun to keep track of them. The latest is Westchester County, New York. The easiest way to get the complete list is from the menu labeling web page produced by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
April 9 update: Ulster County New York has just passed one. Here’s the latest map from CSPI.
May 6 update: Here’s where to track CSPI’s 2009 legislative summaries.
Center for Science in the Public Interest has a new study out on the nutrient composition of kids’ meals in fast food restaurants. Of course they are all (OK, just 93%) too high in calories. Of course the default option includes sodas (Subway is the sole exception). If calories were on menu boards, would parents think twice about ordering these things? Might be worth a try, given that the average child under 18, or so reports USA Today, eats 167 meals a year in restaurants.
Thanks (I think) to Hugh Joseph for forwarding the YouTube video, “The guy from CSPI.” When I see things like this, I assume they are bought and paid for by the Center for Consumer Freedom, but it doesn’t say who made it or who paid for it. I’m curious: how much does it cost to produce something like this, and who paid for it? Anybody know?
Center for Science in the Public Interest has posted a collection of photos of New York City menu boards with calorie labeling. Take a look and see what you think of how this requirement is working.