GMO-Free & Fewer Calories Too! Big Food Makes Some PR Moves

Last week, the food industry congratulated itself for cutting calories from its products after one major corporation, General Mills, announced that Cheerios would henceforth be free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Both stories generated plenty of media attention, and in an era when food companies are widely criticized for their poor quality foods, the industry needs all the good press it can get. But if you scratch just below the surface with both of these stories you’ll find little more than meaningless “changes” made for appearance’s sake. Read more

Got Organic Milk? New Study Says It’s Healthier

Remember that Stanford study last year that claimed organic foods were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts? It made national headlines seeming to vindicate critics of organic farming practices and confirming to skeptics that organics are nothing more than a marketing scheme. I criticized that study when it appeared as did many others but it damaged the reputation of organic farming in the minds of many Americans. Read more

McDonald’s Fall Surprise: There’s No Pumpkin in that Latte

Forty-eight grams of sugar—that’s how much sweetener is in one medium sized Pumpkin Spiced Latte from McDonald’s. The ads for this Autumnal drink are everywhere lately, but what’s absent is any indication of what comprises this “seasonal treat.”

Most people could never guess just how much sugar it contains: 12 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar in an entire day and for men it’s nine. Those 12 teaspoons are more sugar than the average person should consume in a two-day period. Read more

Shut Down This: Our Food Safety, Health & Welfare at Stake

While Congress battles it out over health care reform, the resulting government shutdown will have far-reaching impacts on food safety, environmental protections, food production, and farming. It also has serious implications for the health and nutrition of many Americans. Depending on the duration of the shut down, it could be nothing less than catastrophic for a great number of people. Read more

The FDA: Working Hard to Protect Industry

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made two moves in recent days that seemingly address consumer concerns on some hot button issues. First, it banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) based epoxy resins in coatings for baby formula packaging. Second, it proposed a limit on how much arsenic is allowed in apple juice. Looking more closely at these decisions, however, it seems that FDA is really more interested in appeasing industry, than doing its duty to protect the public.  Read more

New Report: Big Food Co-Opts Nutrition Group’s Message

If there is one topic that Americans are generally confused about it’s nutrition. Although the word simply means the materials necessary in the form of food to support life, our cultural understanding of it has shifted dramatically—with various industries co-opting the word and changing its meaning. Michael Pollan calls this “nutritionism” in his book In Defense of Food. “No idea could be more sympathetic to manufacturers of processed foods,” he writes. “Nutritionism supplies the ultimate justification for processing food by implying that with a judicious application of food science, fake foods can be made even more nutritious than the real thing.”

Convincing people of the healthfulness of these new foods—processed foods that have been refined, stripped, and altered, with synthetic vitamins, added whole grains, or antioxidants put back in—requires experts to help convey this message. In addition to the billions of dollars spent on advertising directly for food products, Big Food companies also recruit America’s nutrition professionals to spread their gospel. This is the topic of public health lawyer, Michele Simon’s new report which details “the food industry’s deep infiltration of the nation’s top nutrition organization.” Read more