Archive for June, 2011

Meat Safety Politics: A Decade of Inaction at USDA on Non-O157 E. coli

In the wake of the horrible E. coli outbreak in Germany, many food safety advocates are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to get off the dime and expand required beef testing to strains beyond the standard 0157:H7. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 160,000 people in the United States are sickened each year by non-O157 E. coli. Six serotypes, known as the “Big Six” (E. coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) are currently under scrutiny. Far from being a new issue, the evidence for why we need expanded testing has been available for at least 20 years, maybe even 30. According to the petition filed against USDA by the law firm Marler Clark , as early as the 1980s, non-0157 strains were first identified globally. The first outbreaks were reported in the U.S. in the 1990s. What has happened since? Quite a lot, but little of which can be called progress.
You can read the timeline in my article at Food Safety News.

Appetite For Profit: Penetrating Food Industry Spin (book review)

After your book has been out for a few years,  it’s rare to have it reviewed. So I am grateful to Hank Will, editor of GRIT Magazine, for not only reading my book, but for writing so glowingly about it. I am especially pleased because Hank is also a farmer who obviously cares a lot about how our food is produced. He writes: “Published in 2006, but even more relevant today, Appetite For Profit puts corporate nutrition spin, lobby groups, front organizations and political jockeying squarely in the spotlight.” Read the rest at


Interview by the “Diet Dectective”

Here is a nice interview of me by syndicated columnist Charles Stuart Platkin.

First Lady Recommends Limiting Screen Time for Children

It seems some thought I was a tad too harsh in my critique of the new MyPlate, the federal government’s latest attempt to teach Americans how to eat right. So in the spirit of recognizing positive moves coming from Washington D.C., here is some good news.

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Will Germany Crisis Affect USDA Policymaking?

Thanks to Food Safety News for allowing me to cross-post my articles; here is my first.

In the midst of what has tragically become the deadliest E. coli outbreak in history, serious questions are being raised about the need to step up testing here to protect the American public from a similar calamity. Food safety experts and consumer groups have for several years now recommended that USDA require testing in ground beef beyond the most commonly tested E. coli strain, 0157:H7.

As recently reported by Food Safety News, the USDA has at last drafted a notice of rulemaking (how agencies promulgate laws) to expand the definition of “adulterant” to include 6 non-0157:H7 STECs (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli), which would force industry to test for these other strains. But now the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) appears to be holding things up.

The question is, why?

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Why we need MyPolicy instead of MyPlate

Last week, I didn’t really have much to say about the replacement of USDA’s infamous food pyramid with the new plate image, which is why I was happy to cross-post Andy Bellatti’s take, which I obviously agree with. But this week a couple of media outlets asked for my opinion, and it should come as no surprise that I do actually have one, in particular in response to the many other reactions.

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USDA Replaces Pyramid with Plate: New Illustration, Same Problems (guest post by Andy Bellatti)

Having written about the previous USDA pyramid update in my book, I was less enthused this time around. So I am happy to cross-post this take by my colleague Andy Bellatti, budding nutritionist and blogger, whose sentiments I share and without whom I’d have no one to exchange exasperation with on Twitter.


Since last week, the arrival of the United States Department of Agriculture’s new “food icon” (aka “My Plate” or “the new food pyramid”) has been the hot topic in nutrition and public health circles. Alas, this morning, the much-speculated-about illustration was finally revealed.

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