Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 28 2007

Pyramid for moms

The USDA has just announced its new MyPyramid for moms–for the special nutritional needs of women who are pregnant, nursing, or expecting twins, triplets, or more. You log in a bunch of information about yourself and your condition, and bingo! You get your own private dietary prescription. Anyone out there pregnant or nursing? Try it and see if it’s useful.

Oct 27 2007

ConAgra’s Peanut Butter Recall: the story

CIO, the magazine for corporate Chief Information Officers, has an interesting report on this year’s recall of Peter Pan peanut butter. It’s written from the standpoint of company data managers, the folks responsible for setting up tracking systems for product recalls. Fine, but what about food safety systems?

Oct 26 2007

USDA taking action on E. coli, and about time too

According to news reports, the USDA has just announced that it plans to hold companies accountable for producing safe beef. USDA safety officials say they are taking aggressive steps (see list) to reduce outbreaks from E. coli and other pathogens. As I keep saying, companies know how to produce safe meat, but need some encouragement (translation: enforcement) to do so. The USDA absolutely has the mandate to enforce food safety regulations and let’s hope it really does.

Oct 26 2007

Update on the unchanging farm bill

The Senate Agricultural Committee voted to continue $288 billion in farm subsidies, as well it might. Its members must have lots of friends among the top 1% of subsidy beneficiaries, those who (according to the Chicago Tribune) collectively get 17% of the cash–an average of $377,484 each. At this point, nobody expects much good to come out of the farm bill, due to be voted on next week. Reformers say they just don’t have the votes. I guess we’ll just have to start organizing now for the next round.

Oct 25 2007

Sneaky veggies: a good strategy?

Sneaking vegetables into desserts so kids will eat healthier foods seems like such a bad idea that I can’t believe anyone would do a book on it let alone two people with virtually identical recipes. Never mind plagiarism. Mimi Sheraton, the delightfully outspoken former restaurant critic of the New York Times writes on “A plague on both their houses.” She cites reasons: it’s the wrong nutrition message, it’s lying too your kids, there are better ways to get kids to eat foods they think they don’t like, and the amounts of vegetables sneaked into those brownies are too small to matter much. On this last point, she quotes me. Isn’t teaching kids to be adventurous eaters worth doing? Or am I missing some point here?

Oct 25 2007

Calorie labeling: New York City tries again

The New York City Board of Health announced yesterday that it would seek public comment on its revised proposal to require chain restaurants to post calories someplace where customers can actually see them. The new proposal replaces the original proposal that was stuck down by the courts a few weeks ago. This time, the requirement will apply to all chain restaurants that have 15 or more outlets in the country. Amazingly, this encompasses 10% of New York City restaurants. Not so amazingly, the restaurant industry is not so happy about this and, according to today’s New York Times, has not decided yet whether to go back to the courts. You have thoughts about this? Send them in and go to the hearing on November 27.

Oct 24 2007

Doing something about diabetes and obesity in New York City

City University and the Public Health Association of New York City have just released their long-awaited report, “Reversing the Diabetes and Obesity Epidemics in New York City: A Call to Action.”  The report focuses on public health–rather than individual–causes of these problems and makes recommendations about how to change the environment to make it more conducive to eating better (less, I call it) and moving more.   It’s a good place to go for data on the extent of these problems.  Enjoy (?)

Oct 24 2007

The selling of Alli

Glaxo, the company that makes Alli (a.k.a. Xenical), says it has sold 2 million packages of the diet drug since June when the FDA approved over-the-counter sales. How did Glaxo do this? In interesting ways, says the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times says the company says 70% of people taking the drug say they are losing weight. Maybe so, but under some coercion. Eat too much fat while taking the drug and you can expect some messy side effects.  There has to be a better way….