by Marion Nestle

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Apr 13 2011

Let’s Ask Marion: Does Factory Farming Have a Future?

This is one of a series of occasional Q and A’s from Eating Liberally’s Kerry Trueman.

Submitted by KAT on Wed, 04/13/2011 – 9:12am.

(With a click of her mouse, EatingLiberally’s kat, aka Kerry Trueman, corners Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of Pet Food Politics, What to Eat and Food Politicsūüôā

KAT: We talk a lot about the factory farms that provide most of our meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, but most Americans have no idea what really goes on inside a CAFO, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.

You, however, saw a number of these fetid facilities firsthand when you served on the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production a couple of years ago. And industrial livestock production’s role in degrading our environment, undermining our health, abusing animals and exploiting workers in the name of efficiency has been well-documented, most recently in Dan Imhoff’s massive, and massively disturbing, coffee table book CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories.

Given all the problems inherent in industrial livestock production, do you see a future for factory farming?

Dr. Nestle: I do not think factory farming is going away. Most people like meat and want to eat it, and do so the minute they get enough money to buy it.

I think a more realistic question is this: Can factory farming be done better? The interesting thing about the Pew Commission’s investigations was that we were taken to factory farms where people were trying to do things right, or at least better. Even so, it was mind-boggling to see an egg facility that gave whole new meaning to the term “free range.” And these eggs were organic, yet. The hens were not caged, but there were thousands of them all over each other. This place did a fabulous job of composting waste and the place did not smell bad. But it did not in any way resemble anyone’s fantasy of chickens scratching around in the dirt.

Factory farming raises issues about its effects on the animals, the environment, the local communities, and food safety. As someone invested in public health and food safety, I care about all of those. The effects on the animals are obvious, and those will never go away no matter how well everything else is done.

But the everything else could be done much, much better. The first big issue is animal waste. It stinks. It’s potentially dangerous. Most communities have laws that forbid this level of waste accumulation, but the laws are not enforced, often because the communities are poor and disenfranchised.

The second is antibiotics, particularly the use of antibiotic drugs as growth promoters. This selects for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and is, to say the least, not a good idea.

The factory farming system could be greatly improved by forcing the farms to manage waste and restricting use of antibiotics. This will not solve the fundamental problems, but it will help.

I’m hoping that more environmentally friendly meat production will expand, and factory farming will contract. That would be better for public health in the short and long run.

NOTE: If you’re in the NYC area, please join Eating Liberally and Kitchen Table Talks this Thursday, April 14th at NYU’s Fales Library, 6:30 p.m. to hear Dr. Nestle, Dan Imhoff, and Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss address the question “What’s the Matter with Mass-Produced Meat?” The discussion will be moderated by Paula Crossfield of Civil Eats. Event details here.

Dec 13 2010

FDA says 29 million pounds of antibiotics used in food animals last year

I was interested to read FoodSafetyNews this morning and learn about the FDA’s new count of the number and pounds of antibiotics used to promote the growth of farm animals used as food.

Because this is the first time the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has produced such a count, it is not possible to say whether the numbers are going up or down.¬† But the agency is now requiring meat producers to report on antibiotic use so we now have a baseline for measuring progress.

The FDA has been concerned about the use and misuse of animal antibiotics for some time now, so much so that in June it issued guidance on The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals.

In the Federal Register notice announcing the guidance, the FDA explains:

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs creates selective evolutionary pressure that enables antimicrobial resistant bacteria to increase in numbers more rapidly than antimicrobial susceptible bacteria and thus increases the opportunity for
individuals to become infected by resistant bacteria. Because antimicrobial drug use contributes to the emergence of drug resistant organisms, these important drugs must be used judiciously in both animal and human medicine to slow the development of resistance. Using these drugs judiciously means that unnecessary or inappropriate use should be avoided….

In regard to the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals, concerns have been raised by the public and components of the scientific and public health communities that a significant contributing factor to antimicrobial resistance is the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in foodproducing animals for production or growth-enhancing purposes.

The overuse of antibiotics in farm animal production was a key focus of the 2009 report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. Our conclusion: the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is an enormous risk to public health and should be stopped.

The FDA report may be short and issued without comment, but it is a sign that the FDA is taking steps to address this serious public health problem.

Sep 5 2010

San Francisco Chronicle column: nutrition advice to doctors

This month’s San Francisco Chronicle column evolved in answer to a question from a former colleague at the UCSF School of Medicine.

Q: What do you think doctors should be telling patients about how best to care for themselves and their families, nutritionally?

A: I had my chance when, long ago, I ran a nutrition education program for medical and other health professions students and practitioners at UCSF.

Then, as now, it was obvious that just about every patient who landed in the hospital needed nutrition intervention. Practically everyone who visited the outpatient clinic either wanted or needed nutrition advice.

Then, as now, few doctors were taught anything about nutrition, let alone the details of what they needed to know to help patients address dietary concerns.

In today’s health care environment, even doctors with advanced nutrition training do not have time to use it. Blame this on how our health care system systematically rewards doctors for treatment of disease, not its prevention.

What doctors need to tell patients about nutrition depends on who the patients are. If people are sick, doctors need to talk to them about how dietary changes and improvements will help them recover and prevent further illness.

But I’m guessing that your question refers to healthy patients who want to stay that way. With these people, what doctors do and say can have profound effects. Doctors are authority figures and their advice is taken seriously.

As a standard part of patient care, doctors routinely ask about drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Even if they only have a minute, adding one more question about diet can do much good. If nothing else, it conveys that diet matters to health.

Given the reality of time constraints, my wish list for what to do next is necessarily short.

Tell patients that healthy eating simply means three things: variety, minimal processing and moderation.

Variety means choosing many different kinds of foods from the various food groups: meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains. It counts because foods vary in nutrient content. Varying foods within and among food groups takes care of needs for nutrients without having to think about them. People who consume adequate amounts of varied diets rarely exhibit nutrient deficiencies. It’s the most restrictive diets that are likely to be deficient in one or another nutrient.

Minimal processing means that the foods should be as close as possible to how they came from the animal or plant. The greater the level of processing, the less the foods resemble their origins, the less nutritious they may be, and the more salt, sugar and calories get added to disguise the changes.

Minimal processing excludes foods high in salt and sugars and low in fiber, as well as sugary sodas and juice drinks, those popularly known as junk foods.

My definition of minimal processing is only slightly facetious: Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients or an ingredient you can’t pronounce.

Moderation is about balancing calorie intake with expenditure and maintaining a healthy weight through food choices and physical activity.

These are general principles. Beyond them, nutrition advice must be personalized to the particular individual or family. To do that quickly:

  • Ask patients what they and their children eat. You can start with a waiting-room questionnaire that probes typical intake of foods and supplements.
  • Screen the responses for variety, minimal processing, moderation and excessive or unusual supplement use. Note whether body weights are within healthy ranges.
  • Reassure patients whose diets are varied, minimally balanced and moderate that they are doing wonderful things for their health and should keep doing what they are doing.
  • Refer observations that need further discussion to a nutritionist.

Doctors: You don’t have to do it all. Making it clear that diet matters is often enough to encourage patients to make better dietary choices. Use the services of a nutritionist. Nutritionists are professionally trained to answer patients’ questions about diet and health and to counsel them on dietary interventions.

Patients (meaning everybody): Tell your doctors that you want their advice about diet and health and expect them to know something about it.

Aug 28 2009

Antibiotics in farm animals: the fight is on

I served as a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production which issued its final report in April 2008.  Our most important recommendation: reduce the widespread use of antibiotics as growth promoters and as a routine method of preventing infections.  Why?  Because of increasing evidence of human resistance to the kinds of antibiotics used in farm animal production and to related antibiotics.

You think everyone involved in production of farm animals understands the dangers of continued overuse of these drugs?¬† Not a chance.¬† A coalition of 20 meat producing groups has asked Congress not to restrict their use of antibiotics.¬† The American Meat Institute has issued a statement condemning our report.¬† The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has done even more.¬† It just issued its own report taking on the Pew Commission’s antibiotic recommendations.¬† Why the ferocity and why now?¬† Congress has submitted a bill – the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (PAMTA) – that would restrict use of several antibiotics in farm animal production.

Ralph Loglisci, who was the Pew Commission’s communication director, has an excellent blog post dealing with the AVMA statement.¬† If you want to understand what all this is about, take a look at it.

While these debates continue, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are increasingly turning up in our food supply.  Tell your representatives to support PAMTA!

Nov 25 2008

Publications

This page lists books and articles. Books start under the first photo, and articles under the second.

Witt Program on Activism, DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx NY, 12-8-09

BOOKS: For more information on books, click here

  • 2022:¬† Nestle M.¬†¬†SLOW COOKED: AN UNEXPECTED LIFE IN FOOD POLITICS.¬† University of California Press.¬†¬†
  • 2020:¬†Nestle M, Trueman K.¬† LET’S ASK MARION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE POLITICS OF FOOD, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH, University of California Press.
  • 2018:¬†Nestle M.¬†¬†UNSAVORY TRUTH: HOW FOOD COMPANIES SKEW THE SCIENCE OF WHAT WE EAT,¬†Basic Books.¬† Portuguese (Brazil) edition,¬†2019.
  • 2015:¬†Nestle M. ¬†SODA POLITICS: TAKING ON BIG SODA (AND WINNING),¬†Oxford University Press.¬† Paperback,¬†2017.
  • 2013:¬†Nestle M. ¬†EAT, DRINK, VOTE: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO FOOD POLITICS,¬†Rodale Books.
  • 2012: Nestle M, Nesheim M. WHY CALORIES COUNT: FROM SCIENCE TO POLITICS, University of California Press. ¬†Paperback, 2013.
  • 2010: Nestle M, Nesheim MC. FEED YOUR PET RIGHT, Free Press/Simon & Schuster.
  • 2008: Nestle M. PET FOOD POLITICS: THE CHIHUAHUA IN THE COAL MINE, University of California Press. Paperback, 2010.
  • 2006: Nestle M. WHAT TO EAT, North Point Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Paperback, 2007. Hebrew (Israel) edition, 2007.
  • 2003: Nestle M. SAFE FOOD:¬†BACTERIA, BIOTECHNOLOGY, AND BIOTERRORISM, University of California Press. ¬†Paperback 2004; Chinese edition 2004, Japanese edition¬†2009.¬†Revised and expanded edition¬†retitled¬†SAFE FOOD:¬†THE POLITICS OF FOOD SAFETY, 2010. ¬†¬†
  • 2002:¬†Nestle M. FOOD POLITICS: HOW THE FOOD INDUSTRY INFLUENCES NUTRITION AND HEALTH, University of California Press. Paperback 2003;¬†Revised and expanded edition 2007;¬†Chinese edition, 2004;¬†Japanese edition, 2005;¬†10th Anniversary Edition with a Foreword by Michael Pollan,¬†2013.
  • 1985: Nestle M. NUTRITION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE. Greenbrae CA: Jones Medical Publications. Asian edition, 1986. Greek edition, 1987.

Edited Books

Dr. Nestle at FAO 082

ARTICLES (SELECTED): For the most part, these are columns, professional articles, book chapters, letters, and book reviews for which links or pdf’s are available (or will be when I get time to find or create them). Additional publications are listed in the c.v. link in the About page.

2023

2022

2021

  • Young LR, Nestle M.¬† Portion Sizes of Ultra-Processed Foods in the United States, 2002 to 2021. American Journal of Public Health 2021;111(12):2223-2226.
  • Carlos Augusto Monteiro,Mark Lawrence, Christopher Millett, Marion Nestle, Barry M Popkin, Gyorgy Scrinis, Boyd Swinburn.¬† The need to reshape global food processing: a call to the United Nations Food Systems Summit. ¬†BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e006885. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2021-006885
  • Nestle M.¬† Public health nutrition deserves more attention.¬† Review of Jones-Smith J, ed. Public Health Nutrition: Essentials for Practitioners (Johns Hopkins Press, 2020).¬† American Journal of Public Heath. 2021;111(4):533-535.
  • Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, Ahmed S, Bailey Z, Bassett MT, Bird M, Bor J, Bor D, Carrasquillo O, Chowkwanyun M, Dickman SL, Fisher S, Gaffney A, Galea S, Gottfried RN, Grumbach K, Guyatt G, Hansen H, Landrigan PH, Lighty M, McKee M, McCormick D, McGretor A, Mirza R, Morris JE, Mukherjee JS, Nestle M, Prine L, Saadi A, Schiff D, Shapiro M, Tesema L, Venkataramani A.¬† Public policy and health in the Trump era: A Lancet Commission Report.¬† The Lancet, February 10, 2021.
  • Nestle M.¬† Review of Jessica Harris, Vintage Postcards from the African World: In the Dignity of Their Work and the Joy of Their Play.¬† Food, Culture, and Society, 2021;743-744.

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2002 – 2005

  • Nestle M. Preventing childhood diabetes: The need for public health intervention (editorial). American Journal of Public Health 2005;95:1497-1499.
  • Nestle M. Increasing portion sizes in American diets: more calories, more obesity (commentary). Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2003;103:39-40.
  • Berg J, Nestle M, Bentley A. Food studies. In: Katz SH, Weaver WW, eds. The Scribner Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Vol 2. New York: Charles Scribner‚Äôs Sons, 2003:16-18.

  • Nestle M. The ironic politics of obesity (editorial). Science 2003:299:781.

  • Nestle M. Not good enough to eat (commentary). New Scientist 2003;177 (February 22):25.

  • Nestle M. Hearty Fare? Review of Faergeman, O. Coronary Heart Disease: Genes, Drugs, and the Agricultural Connection. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2003. Nature 2003;425:902.
  • Nestle M. Thinking about food (letter). Wilson Quarterly Autumn 2003 [27(4)]:4.

  • Young LR, Nestle M. The contribution of expanding Portion Sizes to the U.S. obesity epidemic. American Journal of Public Health 2002;92:246-249.
  • Mahabir S, Coit D, Liebes L, Brady MS, Lewis JJ, Roush G, Nestle M, Fay D, Berwick M. Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of dietary supplementation of a-tocopherol on mutagen sensitivity levels in melanoma patients: a pilot trial. Melanoma Research 2002;12:83-90.
  • Byers T, Nestle M, McTeirnan A, Doyle C, Currie-Williams A, Gansler T, Thun M, and the American Cancer Society 2001 Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention: Reducing the Risk of Cancer with Healthy Food Choices and Physical Activity. CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2002;52:92-119.
  • Fried EJ, Nestle M. The growing political movement against soft drinks in schools (commentary). Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;288:2181.

2001

  • Nestle M. Genetically engineered ‚Äúgolden‚ÄĚ rice unlike to overcome vitamin A deficiency (letter). Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2001;101:289-290.
  • Nestle M. Nutrition and women‚Äôs health: the politics of dietary advice [editorial]. Journal of the American Medical Women‚Äôs Association 2001;56:42-43.

  • Kumanyika SK, Morssink CB, Nestle M. Minority women and advocacy for women‚Äôs health. American Journal of Public Health 2001;91:1383-1388.

  • Nestle M. Food company sponsorship of nutrition research and professional activities: A conflict of interest? Public Health Nutrition 2001;4:1015-1022.
  • Nestle M. Review of: Bendich A, Deckelbaum RJ, eds. Primary and Secondary Preventive Nutrition (Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, 2001). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001;74:704.

2000

1999

  • Nestle M. Hunger in America: A Matter of Policy. Social Research 1999;66(1): 257-282.
  • Nestle M. Commentary [dietary guidelines]. Food Policy 1999;24(2-3):307-310.
  • Nestle M. Meat or wheat for the next millennium? Plenary lecture: animal v. plant foods in human diets and health: is the historical record unequivocal? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 1999;58:211-218 (online here).
  • Nestle M. Heart disease‚Äôs decline (letter). New York Times, August 12, 1999:A18.
  • Nestle M. Dietary supplement advertising: a matter of politics, not science. Journal of Nutrition Education 1999;31:278-282.

1998

1987-1997

  • Nestle M.Broccoli sprouts as inducers of carcinogen-detoxifying enzyme systems: clinical, dietary, and policy implications [Commentary].Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 1997;94:11149-11151.

  • Nestle M.The role of chocolate in the American diet: nutritional perspectives.In: Szogyi A, ed.Chocolate, Food of the Gods.Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997:111-124.
  • Nestle M.Epidemiologists‚Äô Paradise.Junshi C, Campbell TC, Junyao L, Peto R.Diet, Life-style, and Mortality in China: A Study of the Characteristics of 65 Chinese Counties.NY: Oxford University Press, 1990 [book review].BioScience 1991;41:725-726.

  • Nestle M. National nutrition monitoring policy: the continuing need for legislative intervention. J Nutrition Education 1990;22:141-144.
  • Nestle M, Porter DV. Evolution of federal dietary guidance policy: from food adequacy to chronic disease prevention.Caduceus: A Museum Journal for the Health Sciences 1990;6(2):43-67.

  • McGinnis JM, Nestle M. The Surgeon General‚Äôs report on nutrition and health: policy implications and implementation strategies. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition1989;49:23-28.
  • Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. The Surgeon General‚Äôs Report on Nutrition and Health. Publ. No. (PHS) 88-50210. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988, 712 pages [Managing Editor]. Reprint: Prima Publishing, 1989. Reprint: Warner Books, 1989.

  • Nestle M. Promoting health and preventing disease: national nutrition objectives for 1990 and 2000. Food Technology 1988;42(2):103-107.
  • Nestle M, Lee PR, Baron, RB. Nutrition policy update. ¬†In: Weininger J, Briggs GM, eds.¬† Nutrition Update, Vol 1.¬† New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1983:285-313.

1968-1972 Dissertation and Postdoctoral Papers

Nestle M, Sussman M.  The effect of cyclic-AMP on morphogenesis and enzyme accumulation in Dictyostelium discoideum.  Developmental Biology 1972;28:545-554.

Nestle M, Roberts WK.  An extracellular nuclease from Serratia marcescens. II. Specificity of the enzyme.  Journal of Biological Chemistry 1969;244:5219-5225.

Nestle M, Roberts WK.  An extracellular nuclease from Serratia marcescens. I.  Purification and some properties of the enzyme.  Journal of Biological Chemistry 1969;244:5213-5218.

Nestle M, Roberts WK.  Separation of ribonucleosides and ribonucleotides by a one-dimensional paper chromatographic system. Analytical Biochemistry 1968;22:349-351.

 

 

Jun 20 2007

Tyson Antibiotic-Free Chicken

In a full-page ad in today’s New York Times, Tyson Foods announces that all of its Tyson brand fresh chicken will be raised without antibiotics and marketed as “100% All Natural Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics–No Hormones Administered and No Artificial Ingredients.”

Tyson deserves applause for taking an important step toward greater food safety. Use of antibiotics as growth promoters increases chicken growth rates by about 10%, but non-therapeutic use of antibiotics increases antibiotic resistance in chicken bacteria. Resistant bacteria can spread to poultry workers, their families, and beyond, meaning that if the bacteria make people sick, the antibiotics will be useless as treatment. Tyson is a huge company that sells more than $26 billion worth of beef, chicken, and pork annually. If it eliminates non-therapeutic antibiotics, other companies may be encouraged to do the same.

The ad implies that only Tyson brand chicken is eliminating antibiotics and that its traditional chicken–undoubtedly the vast majority of what it produces–will continue to be treated with these drugs. If so, Tyson is positioning this particular chicken as a premium brand quite likely to be sold at a premium price. Watch for this at your grocery store.

As for No Hormones Administered: A footnote in tiny print at the bottom of the illustrated package label says “federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in chicken.” Chickens are never treated with hormones anyway.

Finally, “100% All Natural” simply means that the chicken has no artificial ingredients and is minimally processed. It does NOT mean that the chicken is Certified Organic or that the chickens are raised under uncrowded conditions, an issue I discuss in the What to Eat chapter titled “Meat: Organic versus “Natural.”

Take a look at the ad and tell me what you think.