Archive for December, 2011

Lawsuit Alleges Frito-Lay’s GMO Snacks Aren’t “Natural”

In August, I reported on a lawsuit against ConAgra for deceptive labeling of its Wesson brand of cooking oils as "natural." The case alleges that the products contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), which are not by any stretch of the imagination, natural. A similar case was recently filed in California (by the same class action firm - Milberg) against Frito-Lay -- the snacks division of food and beverage giant PepsiCo.

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2012: The Year to Stop Playing Nice

Instead of a potentially depressing year-in-review post, I decided to look ahead. (But do see Andy Bellatti’s amusing compilation of 2011 food news.) Given all the defeats and set-backs this year due to powerful food industry lobbying, the good food movement should by now be collectively shouting: I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

If you feel that way, I have two words of advice: get political.

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List of Groups to Donate to – Courtesy of Corporate Lobbyists

I had been planning to blog about groups that I make end-of-year donations to when a handy list came along that closely overlaps with mine. Ironically, it's from an industry front group called the Washington Legal Foundation. These corporate shills recently started a silly website called Eating Away Our Freedoms. (They even trademarked the name, that's how clever they think it is.) The best part (in addition to the creative re-do of the federal MyPlate image above) is the page called, "Who's Eating Away Our Freedoms?" - a list of my favorite colleagues (such as Marion Nestle and Mark Bittman) and non-profit organizations, complete with links to their websites. Two groups I have close working relationships with and whom I especially recommend you donate to are: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Corporate Accountability International. I also highly recommend Food Democracy Now and MapLight.


Take Action: Don’t let Big Food Market Junk Food to Kids

The following is from Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy with Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has been leading the fight for decades to stop junk food marketing to children. She writes in response to my previous post.

We need everyone’s help to make sure that the Administration does not use this as an excuse to abandon the guidelines. The industry lobbied hard and got the FTC stripped of its ability to regulate food marketing to kids in 1980. If it succeeds in keeping the government from issuing even voluntary recommendations, the government will never be able to go near food marketing to kids again. Let the Administration know you don’t want them to also cave to industry pressure. Take action here.

Congress to Kids: Drop Dead

Last month, when Congress declared pizza a vegetable, it was hard to believe things could get much worse. But never underestimate politicians’ ability to put corporate interests ahead of children’s health. In the massive budget bill just passed, Congress stuck in language to require the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a cost/benefit analysis before finalizing a report that would provide the food industry with science-based nutrition guidelines for marketing to children. Experts from four federal agencies put heads together, and for the past two years have tried to complete its charge (which ironically, came from Congress in the first place) amidst powerful industry push-back.

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Sorry Mrs. O, But Jumping Jacks Won’t Cut It

At a recent summit on childhood obesity, the first lady announced a shift in her well-known Let’s Move campaign — away from food reform and toward an increased focus on exercise. Instead of “forcing [children] to eat their vegetables,” she told her audience, “it’s getting them to go out there and have fun.” Yes, you heard that right. The first lady actually said that eating vegetables is a chore. And that playing is a preferable focus for her campaign because it’s easier. Read rest at Grist…

Front of Package Labeling: An Exercise in Futility?

Food industry cartoons intended to preempt FDA (

(The following is by Andy Bellatti, a Seattle-based dietitian, cross-posted from his Small Bites blog)

The current issue of the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition includes a commentary co-authored by myself and public health attorney Michele Simon. The piece is a response to the recent – and ongoing – debate surrounding front of package labeling.

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A White House Chef Defends the First Lady

Marion Nestle, the author of Food Politics, recently got a reminder that food is indeed political, right up to the nation’s highest office. On November 30, the first lady made a speech in which she announced that her Let’s Move campaign (on childhood obesity) would have a renewed focus on physical fitness, to combat “the crisis of inactivity that we see among our kids.”

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Easy Legal Fix to San Francisco Happy Meal Law

Last week, McDonald’s made national headlines when it announced it had allegedly found a work-around to a San Francisco law designed to curb the predatory practice of using toys to lure kids into a lifetime of fast food. But as I wrote for Grist, I am not convinced McDonald’s convenient trick to charge ten cents instead of give the toy away is actually in compliance.

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Twinkies for Breakfast? Kids’ Cereals Fail Industry’s own Lame Nutrition Guidelines

Today the Environmental Working Group (best known for its “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-laden produce) released a not very surprising report detailing the insane amounts of sugar in children’s cereals. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, won the top prize,  packing more sugar (20 grams per cup) than a Hostess Twinkie.

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