The United States is in the midst of a public health epidemic due to poor diet. While much of the focus has been on obvious culprits such as sugary soft drinks and fast food, dairy foods often get a pass. The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. But the context of how people consume dairy matters.
Posts Tagged ‘deceptive health claims’
Last year in this space I asked if it was time for the Food and Drug Administration to define how food makers can and cannot make “natural” claims on their labels. With Americans looking for healthier options, more food companies are jumping on the natural bandwagon, despite many overly processed products being anything but.
Last week I attended a conference in Washington DC with the lofty title: “3rd Advanced Regulatory and Compliance Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing & Advertising.” The event’s main sponsor was the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, whose numerous mega-corporate food clients include Cargill, Dean Foods, and Nestlé. In addition, the firm represents (under the heading of “crop protection“) Big Biotech players such as Bayer, Dow, and DuPont. The presenters were almost all industry lawyers, with a few government types. Not one member of the plaintiffs bar or anyone from a public interest organization was a speaker, and it seemed most of the audience was also from industry.
Ask a Food Lawyer: Why are some foods containing partially hydrogenated oils labeled “zero grams trans fat”?
Nutrition Facts for Land O Lakes “Fresh Buttery Taste” Spread
Serving Size: 1 tbsp (14g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 70
Total Fat 8 g 12%
Saturated Fat 2 g 10%
Trans Fat 0 g
Ingredients: Liquid Soybean Oil, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Buttermilk*, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Contains Less Than 2% of Salt, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Cream*, Distilled Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color).
Short Answer: Because FDA says it’s OK to lie to you.
Labeling is one of the more complex areas of food law, full of statutes, regulations, exemptions, and exceptions. In 1990, Congress updated food labeling law with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to require specific types of nutrition labels on most food products. The handy Nutrition Facts panel you see on foods today displaying calorie, carbohydrate, fat, protein, and other nutrient amounts is the result of FDA implementing this law.
Last year, I wrote about this topic out of frustration that lists like this one tend to neglect an entire profession. It seems one year later, this serious omission continues to persist. And just to prove my point, my 2013 list does not repeat any of the lawyers I listed in 2012, but be sure to check them out too as they are still deserving of the recognition.
In what is becoming an all too familiar sight, the major food corporations recently teamed up with the First Lady’s Partnership for a Healthier America to announce their latest PR attempt to look like they are helping Americans eat healthier. A group calling itself the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, led by the CEO of PepsiCo–the nation’s largest junk food and sugary beverage pusher–claims to have delivered on its promise made in 2010 (a commitment, get it?) to reduce calories “in the marketplace” by 1.5 trillion. They further claim to have exceeded this goal, and all this a full three years ahead of schedule. The quotes by all involved were practically giddy.
Last week, Monster Beverage filed an unusual lawsuit against the San Francisco City Attorney’s office to stop an attempt to place restrictions on the company’s highly caffeinated and potentially harmful products aimed at youth. This aggressive move is a form of backlash against using the legal system to hold the food and beverage industry’s accountable for deceptive marketing practices.
Continue reading →
Hope to see you at one of these venues. To have me speak in your area, contact me here.
New York City
March 20: CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College
• Force Fed: How Food Industry Disinformation Undermines Public Health
For details, see PDF flyer.
Consuming Kids Summit: Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers
• Is This Even Legal? Demystifying the Laws on Marketing to Children (panel)
• Slowing Down the Clown: Policy Tools to Protect Children from Fast Food in Your Area (workshop)
April 9: Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College, Los Angeles
• Force Fed: Deconstructing Food Industry Lies
Class begins at 1:30pm; Room: Lower Herrick.
June 18-20: 7th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, Long Beach
• Marketing healthy foods to children: Do the ends justify the means? (panel discussion)
Is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Silencing its Members Who Object to McDonald’s Sponsoring Lunch?
2/28 Postscript: In happy news, Tara Marino reports that after an exchange with Lauren Fox (social media manager for AND), she will be reinstated. Fox claimed that Marino’s comments were not the reason for her removal but rather AND was deleting all non-members of the Academy. Marino provided her member number, which cleared things up. However, still no word back from the California affiliate.
I received the following email from registered dietitian Tara Marino who says she was recently “deleted” from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics LinkedIn group after expressing support for my report on the organization’s questionable corporate sponsors. (See previous post on a similar silencing attempt.)