Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Mar 11 2008

Bottled water vs. the environment

Bottled water is the target of environmental campaigns in the U.K as well as the U.S. My namesake, the Nestlé Corporation, appears to be under particular attack.  Acording to the British government, tap water “requires 300 times less energy than bottled water and does not create bottled packaging waste.”   I wonder how the company plans to rebut that argument. 

Mar 10 2008

Oxygen water–again?

I thought we were all done with the thoroughly discredited notion that extra-oxygenated water conferred special health benefits, but no such luck. It’s back with a vengeance and $4 million in advertising. This is one you can do at home (try shaking the bottle!).

Mar 9 2008

The meat recall saga continues

This week’s events:  The USDA won’t tell Congress the names of the stores or companies that received their share of the 143 million pounds of recalled meat; one of the packing plant’s employees, who makes $9 per hour, has been indicted for animal cruelty; and the role of the Humane Society in all of this is now called into question.  Stay tuned.

Mar 8 2008

Baseball food: lots of it!

Yesterday’s USA Today had a front page story on the latest method for selling bad seats at baseball games: raise the price and give people all they can eat. According to the Aramark manager at Atlanta’s Turner field, the typical customer takes 3.35 hot dogs, one 20-oz soda, one 7.9 bag of peanuts, one 3-oz nachos, and 32 oz popcorn. Anyone want to take a stab at adding up the calories? Hint: a 20-oz soda is 275.

Mar 6 2008

Food chains: the 143 million pound recall

OK. So we know much of the recalled hamburger meat was eaten by school children but where did the rest of it go? Into packaged meals, apparently. The Wall Street Journal has a nifty account of how this meat ended up in packaged Boston Market lasagna (Heinz), Progresso soup (General Mills), and Hot Pockets sandwiches (Nestlé–no relation) .  These companies have recalled 35,000 to 49,000 cases of products, each.  Yum.

Mar 6 2008

Action from the FDA!

According to one of the European e-newsletters that gets sent to me, the FDA Commissioner is asking for serious help: more employees, more money, expanded authority from Congress, and more cooperation from industry. This may sound like just what everyone else has been screaming about for years, but the Commissioner is a political appointee. This sounds to me like real courage. Let’s hope he gets the FDA what it needs.

Mar 4 2008

Nestle’s corporate social responsibility: shared value?

Nestle (No relation. I just can’t figure out how to enter the accent mark) has released its first report on corporate social and environmental responsibility. The report, Shared Value, available online in four languages, takes an interesting approach.  It couples each of its social goals with the benefits to its business. Two examples: Reducing the environmental footprint and reducing our operating costs,” and “Helping farmers improve earnings and assuring our supply of raw materials.” What to make of this? This question is very much on my mind these days because I’ve been asked to write something addressing the question, “Is there anything the food industry can do to play a constructive role in doing something about childhood obesity?” Is there? I’m collecting opinions.

Mar 4 2008

Calorie Labeling Fallout: Critic Resigns

New York City’s calorie labeling proposal, ever mired in controversy (and still in the courts), has just produced its first casualty. David Allison, president-elect of The Obesity Society, has just announced that he is resigning his presidency. Members of the society, distressed that he worked as a paid expert for the State Restaurant Association while testifying in opposition to the ciry health department’s calorie labeling plan. Apparently, this was going too far even for a society that accepts one or two million a year from drug companies. Conflicts of interest galore!

Addition: Here’s what the New York Times says about all this.