- Government (including the writers of school lunch regulations) has pushed us toward a less healthy diet, part 73: the case for full-fat milk is looking stronger than ever [Time]
- “Obama’s latest food crackdown: Salt” [Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico]
- Paternalist objections to the assumption of risk doctrine, and some answers [Avihay Dorfman via Benjamin Zipursky]
- Really, what harm can another cigarette tax hike or two do? (map: “Prevalence of illicit tobacco in 2013,” Francesco Calderoni) Tobacco is human rights issue, claims a Georgetown Law center on health and law;
- Vaping as dangerous as smoking? Really? Jacob Sullum challenges Dr. Margaret Cuomo;
- Australian physicians group urges drastic new restrictions on alcohol access, including higher purchase age, 0.0 blood alcohol driving limit, “interventions” for pregnant women [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Delay FDA menu labeling rules? Tinker? No, repeal [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- European trade negotiators would like to keep cheeses and beverages on American shelves from bearing names like Parmesan, Gouda, feta, Champagne, port, and sherry unless made over there. Nein danke, no grazie, non merci [William Watson, Cato] Weird how EU laws prevent spirits producers from being completely honest with consumers [Jacob Grier]
- Regressive-yet-progressive: “Taxing soda fits the narrative in which the obese are oppressed and soda manufacturers are the oppressors.” [Arnold Kling]
- New research (“no consensus among scientists on whether a population-wide reduction of salt was associated with better health outcomes”) could be blow to Gotham’s sodium regulation cause [Dan Goldberg, Politico New York] “Suit Halts NYC’s Misguided Restaurant Salt Warning Labels” [Linnekin]
- Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]
- Chef turned Amish traditional sausage maker in rural Maine finds that regulation is a grind [Linnekin]
Bloomberg-era nannying continues under Mayor Bill de Blasio: “The [New York City] Board of Health voted unanimously to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker emblems on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium.” [Associated Press] There are several problems with this, beginning with the coercion: it’s not the proper role of government to force itself on the marketplace as a diet and health adviser. The salt guidelines themselves, moreover, are so rigorous in their demands for salt restriction that only one in ten Americans currently succeeds in meeting them; while some persons (notably cardiac patients) can lower their risk by going on a salt-restricted diet, it seems to confer no benefit on many others and may even bring health risks of its own. Aside from breeding “warning fatigue” that encourages consumers to ignore increasingly complicated signage, the measure brings serious compliance costs, especially if restaurants try to introduce new offerings frequently or vary their offerings to reflect local or individual customer preferences. Finally, the de Blasio administration bypassed the City Council (which by design is answerable to the entire city, including consumer and business voters) in favor of going for an edict by the Board of Health. Mayor Bloomberg tried the same tactic with his soda ban, only to see it struck down by the courts.
The federal government officially recommends salt intake drastically lower than what most Americans consume — 2,300 milligrams a day compared with 3,500. Yet a vocal body of scientific critics say not only are such drastic reductions unneeded for those without specific risk factors such as high blood pressure, but cutting salt intake below 3,000 milligrams can pose its own health risks. [Washington Post]
Even as the FDA prepares ambitious new rules pressuring food makers to reduce the amount of salt in their wares — recipe regulation, as we’ve called it — a new study questions whether most people in Western countries really need to cut salt after all. The study, led by Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University, finds evidence consistent with sodium being a health risk for person with hypertension and those with the highest salt intake, but also suggests that most of the population is in the optimal zone for salt intake and that adding potassium-rich fruits and vegetables to the diet may be a superior way for many to fend off bad effects from sodium. The study ran jointly in the New England Journal of Medicine with a second which lays more emphasis on hazards of salt intake. [Yahoo News] More: Just One Minute, ACSH.
- Obama pick for USDA nutrition chief advances food-as-social-justice theme [Politico, Free Beacon and more, Jeff Stier/Des Moines Register]
- Hawaii GMO battle is one the whole nation should watch [Mark Strauss, io9]
- “Overprotective Government, Overweight Kids?” [Lenore Skenazy]
- “Cherry wars: The crazy economics of Michigan’s favorite pitted fruit” [Bridge Magazine]
- “FDA’s Artificial Trans Fat ‘Ban’: A Dangerous Step to Control Personal Dietary Choices” [Daren Bakst, Heritage via Michelle Minton, CEI]
- And in the wings: FDA readies crackdown on salt as ingredient [AP]
- French law mandating disclosure of whether restaurant food is made in house isn’t going well [Baylen Linnekin, more]
“In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.” [Gina Kolata, New York Times, on Institute of Medicine report; CBS News; Philadelphia Inquirer]
On Sunday the New York Times published a long, breathless screed attacking food company marketing (“Inside the hyper-engineered, savagely marketed, addiction-creating battle for ‘stomach share.'”) The article itself furnishes an example of empty, hype-fueled journalistic calories, or so I suggest in a new op-ed at the Daily Caller.