Nutrition Label 2.0: Bigger, Bolder, Better

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama–known for her role in the Let’s Move! Campaign–announced the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed changes to The Nutrition Facts label. These are the first changes to the familiar black-and-white informational text box since its inception in 1993. And they couldn’t have arrived any sooner. Read more

The Year in Food: McD’s, Big Food Tweets, Best New Reads, & GMO Seeds

It’s almost the end of December, which means it’s time to look back at the year’s highlights and lowlights. In 2011, I opted for a straightforward chronological review of that year’s major food and nutrition issues. Last year, I took a more didactic approach, pointing out the lessons imparted by the year’s biggest food stories. This time around, I pay homage to high school yearbooks and take a look back at the year in food and nutrition via superlatives. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… the class of 2013. Read more

Coca-Cola’s Assault on Tap Water

While public health advocates have sung the praises of tap water for years, Coca-Cola has been focusing on its own covert assault on the affordable, healthful, and refreshing beverage. Unbeknownst to many in the nutrition and public health world, the soft drink giant launched a  “Cap the Tap” program–aimed at restaurants–in 2010, described in the following manner on the Coke Solutions Web site: Read more

Take Sodium Reduction Advice with a Grain of Salt

For years, the public health nutrition field has warned Americans about the risks associated with a high-sodium diet. This past April, the New York City Department of Health launched a sodium reduction campaign encouraging the purchase of lower-sodium packaged foods. More recently, The American Journal of Hypertension published a series of point-counterpoint articles debating the weight of the evidence supporting recommendations to reduce sodium. I worry that when the crux of the conversation focuses exclusively on sodium reduction, it overlooks a crucial part of the puzzle: The ratio of sodium to potassium in our diets.  Read more

Live Longer, Cut Out the Crap

Bolivian indigenous farmer Carmelo Flores made global headlines this week as “the oldest person to have ever lived.” Though that claim has yet to be verified, part of Mr. Flores’ story is that he attributes his longevity to a traditional Andean diet of quinoa, riverside mushrooms, and coca leaves. Not surprisingly, this has led to hyperbolic headlines, such as Australia’s Daily Telegraph‘s “Quinoa, Mushrooms, and Coca Kept Me Alive for 123 Years.” Read more

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Big Food Controversy

This past February, I created Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a group co-founded with 15 other registered dietitians that advocates for ethical and socially responsible sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This came on the heels of the release of public health lawyer Michele Simon’s thorough report “And Now A Word From Our Sponsors,” which took an in-depth look at the Academy’s Big Food ties, making national headlines. Read more

The Latest McFib: “Our Food Is Healthy”

Last week, in what is yet another example of Big Food’s symbiotic relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), McDonald’s Director of Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Cindy Goody, spoke to her fellow colleagues at the Utah Dietetic Association meeting about the chain’s new “healthy initiatives.” McDonald’s is such a good friend of AND that it is also a “gold sponsor” at next month’s California Dietetic Association meeting. Read more

New Book Digs up the Dirt on Processed Foods

You’ve heard of pink slime. You know trans fats are cardiovascular atrocities. You’re well aware that store-bought orange juice is essentially a scam. But no matter how great of a processed-food sleuth you are, chances are you’ve never set food inside a processing plant to see how many of these products are actually made.

Writer Melanie Warner, whose new expose-on-the-world-of-processed-foods book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, is out this week, spent the past year and a half doing exactly that. In her quest to explore the murky and convoluted world of soybean oil, milk protein concentrates (a key ingredient in processed cheese), and petroleum-based artificial dyes, she spoke to food scientists, uncovered disturbing regulatory loopholes in food law, and learned just how little we know about many of the food products on supermarket shelves.

After reading Pandora’s Lunchbox, I sent Melanie some burning questions via e-mail. Read more