Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 12 2017

Global Meat News Special Edition: Pork!

I subscribe to GlobalMeatNews.com to keep me up on the international meat business.  It has just published a collection of its articles—on pork.

Special Edition: Pork

Pork is the most eaten meat in world and maintaining the position is anything but easy. In this special newsletter, GlobalMeatNews explores the breakthroughs, scandals and market trends that continue to kept traders on their toes.

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Oct 11 2017

On my mind: The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals

When I give talks these days, I usually wear a pin—the O in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development GOals (SDGs).  These were authorized by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 to be achieved by 2030.

Each goal has specific sub-goals.  These are listed here in interactive format.  Food comes up in several, but mainly in Goal 2 (End Hunger) and a bit in Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).  Here are the first three sub-goals for Goal 2:

The SDGs have sparked many organizations to take action.  The U.N. makes taking small actions easy for individuals by producing “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World“—things you can do from your couch, your home, or outside your home.

Here’s the U.N. report on how progress toward the goals looked in 2016.

I wish chronic disease prevention was more prominent in these goals, which would make food more prominent, but this is a start and well worth knowing about.

Oct 10 2017

FDA says love is not a food ingredient

Food regulation is no trivial matter.  Every word on a food label has a Federal Register notice and Code of Federal Regulation section behind it.

Consequently, I was amused to learn that the FDA was not amused when it found the word “love” in the ingredient list of granola from Nashoba Brook Bakery.  The FDA issued a warning letter with this presumably non-ironic statement:

Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient “Love”. Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name [21 CFR 101.4(a)(1). “Love” is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.

From its website, the bakery looks like it makes great stuff, but its owners must not be familiar with FDA’s byzantine regulatory requirements.  The warning letter also chided the bakery for a long list of food safety violations, among them:

  • Approximately five flies in the ready-to-eat cooling area and processing area of the facility, all near or on food.
  • One approximately 1″ long crawling insect underneath exposed ready-to-eat foods in the pastry area, including focaccia breads, 7-Grain rolls, and brioche rolls.
  • The mixing employee was wearing a blue plastic bracelet while working with raw dough. The bracelet came into repeated contact with raw dough and dough varieties.
  • A production employee wore a nose ring and earrings while handling and shaping raw dough.

I hope the bakery gets its regulatory and food safety act together right away.

Personally, I like a little love in my granola.

Oct 9 2017

Belgium’s new food pyramid

Belgium has produced a new food guide “pyramid,” upside down.  Its advice:

  • Drink water
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Eat less dairy and meat, particularly those high in fat
  • Eat a lot less junk food, sugary drinks, and alcohol

Nothing new here, really, except for making the advice so graphically clear.

As Quartz puts it, “the new food pyramid in Belgium sticks meat next to candy and pizza.”

USDA: take note.

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Oct 6 2017

Weekend reading: Nutrition and Food Systems

HLPE [High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition]. Nutrition and food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome, 2017.

This report takes a food systems approach to recommendations for reducing the double burden of malnutrition—obesity in the presence of widespread hunger and its consequences.

This report aims to analyse how food systems influence diets and nutrition. It offers three significant additions to previous frameworks. First, it emphasizes the role of diets as a core link between food systems and their health and nutrition outcomes. Second, it highlights the central role of the food environment in facilitating healthy and sustainable consumer food choices. Third, it takes into account the impacts of agriculture and food systems on sustainability in its three dimensions (economic, social and environmental). 2. A food system gathers all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes. This report pays specific attention to nutrition and health outcomes of food systems. It identifies three constituent elements of food systems, as entry and exit points for nutrition: food supply chains; food environments; and consumer behaviour.

Oct 5 2017

FoodNavigator-USA’s special edition on protein

Protein occurs in most foods but is especially abundant in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Most of us get more than twice the amount we need on a daily basis.

But protein comes with a health aura.  It sells.

Hence: the food industry’s great interest in developing protein ingredients for food products.

FoodNavigator-USA, ever on top of current food trends, summarizes recent developments.

Special Edition: Protein in focus

While Americans typically get enough, there is no sign that the protein trend is going away, with growing numbers of food and beverage brands seeking to add additional protein to their wares or highlight the protein that’s always been there. We take a closer look…

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Oct 4 2017

Food security: a roundup of new reports: international and domestic

International

For the past few weeks I’ve been collecting reports on food security.  I’ve already posted the most recent report on worldwide trends (not good) from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Here are two more on global trends:

In an editorial triggered by the FAO report, The Lancet announces a major effort to address global food security:

In 2018, The Lancet will launch four food-related initiatives: the EAT-Lancet Commission, the LancetObesity Commission, a Series on health and agriculture, and a Series on the double burden of malnutrition. Each of these projects will reinforce a different aspect of the global call for equitable and sustainable provision of food to be a priority: recommending how policy makers approach food systems inclusive of health, cultural respect, agriculture, production, transport, trade, and retailing.

U.S. Domestic

In the meantime, food security remains a significant issue in the U.S., as indicated by this collection of recent reports, mostly from USDA:

Oct 3 2017

The state of obesity, U.S. 2017

Where are we in obesity prevalence?  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), are keeping score for us.   Their report gives figures state by state.  Since I live in New York, I’m highlighting its figures.

ADULT OBESITY PREVALENCE

This looks like good news.  The increase is slowing down and maybe trends are leveling off at long last.

 

CHILDREN’S PREVALENCE OF OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY

 

This also looks hopeful.  The prevalence is level or declining in most states.

But, as Richard Besser of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and John Auerbach of Trust For America’s Health explain in an editorial in The Hill,

One of the best ways to bring down those adult obesity rates in every state is to prevent children from becoming overweight or obese in the first place…Unfortunately, there are signs that we are moving in the wrong direction—and not just on school meals…These kinds of threats put at grave risk the progress our nation has achieved. To accelerate progress in addressing obesity, we urge policymakers to support proven programs like school meals and SNAP that put kids on a healthier track for their entire lives, and maintain full funding for agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are responsible for protecting the health of kids and adults nationwide.

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