Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Feb 22 2008

American Meat Institute’s comments on recall

The recall of 143 million pounds of hamburger is a big blow to the image of the meat industry, and its lobbying groups are hard at work. Calling calls for more regulation “simply outrageous,” the Institute argues that what was caught on the Human Society’s notorious videotape is not typical: We will not let a video from what appears to have been a tragic anomaly stand as the poster child for our industry.

And if you were wondering what happened to the recalled meat, the USDA gives an accounting: 50.3 million lbs were distributed as part of the national school lunch program; of that, 19.6 million were consumed; 15.2 million are identified and on hold; and 15.5
million still being traced.   But what about the remaining 93 million?  All eaten?

Feb 21 2008

Salt connected to obesity?

I’ve always said that the research on salt is complicated, not least because it is so difficult to separate out the effects of salt itself from the junk food company it keeps.  So a new British study provides some confirming evidence: kids who eat a lot of salt also drink a lot of soft drinks.  Guilt by association!  The effects of salt on hypertension also might be influenced by everything else in the diet.  That’s why it’s so difficult to make sense of research on one dietary factor at a time.

Feb 20 2008

Healthy School Food: How one city does it

Thanks to Dana Woldow of the San Francisco Unified School District for sending this link to resources for making school meals healthier. Check out the salad bar video (way down at the bottom of the list of links). The city now has salad bars in 25 schools.

Feb 20 2008

The latest junk food marketing gimmick: food miles

You have to hand it to the British for thinking this one up: locally grown potato chips. If low-fat labels on food products encourage people to eat more calories (as they apparently do), will locally grown have the same effect?

Feb 19 2008

Colbert on McDonald’s

Thanks to Alexandra Lewin for forwarding this link to the Colbert Report on McDonald’s report card gimmick. Interesting production values!

Feb 19 2008

Teaching kids to eat real food?

I have just received this lovely invitation from Eileen Dolbeare to track a 30-day experiment (she calls it Fresh Mouth) that she is running for her three junk-food loving boys, ages 4 to 6. She says: “We’re an average American family trying to eat better and enjoy it more. We’ll convince our three little kids that fresh food is about pleasure, rituals and family – and not about red dye #40, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.” You can track her blog, watch the progress of the experiment, and cheer her on.

Feb 19 2008

Marketing junk food to Hispanic kids

A study from Johns Hopkins has done for Hispanic TV what decades of studies have done for general TV: analyzed the number and content of televised food commercials. Guess what: one-third of food commercials on Spanish-language TV are directed to kids and most of these are for junk foods or sodas. Surprise!

Feb 19 2008

National Restaurant Association (NRA): calorie labeling

From the NRA website:

“The NRA does not support legislation or regulation which requires mandatory nutritional labeling on menus or menu boards. Restaurants should have flexibility and freedom in how they may choose to provide nutrition data to their customers. The National Restaurant Association opposes any proposal that includes a one-size-fits-all menu-labeling approach.”

The site links to a nifty map of state and local proposals, as well as to summaries of pending legislation on this and other issues that worry the NRA. This group should be worried. It is fighting its customers who care about health, which seems like an odd business strategy.