“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.
“[Glenn] Richter has been collecting food from places like the Ohav Zedek synagogue and bringing it to homeless shelters for more than 20 years, but recently his donation, including a ‘cholent‘ or carrot stew, was turned away because the Bloomberg administration wants to monitor the salt, fat and fiber eaten by the homeless. … Richter said that over the years he’s delivered more than two tons of food to the homeless.” The NYC mayor says he’s not planning to reconsider the recently adopted policy. [CBS-NY] Earlier here (Connecticut), here (N.J.: “retail food establishment”), here, etc.
I just joined listeners at San Diego’s KOGO to talk about the FDA/USDA initiative to regulate salt content in food, about which you can read here and here. Deadline for filing comments is tomorrow; the most direct link I know of for doing so is here (use “Individual Consumer” as category of comment unless that doesn’t apply).
If the Food and Drug Administration continues down its current path, it could begin ordering mandatory salt reductions in processed and restaurant foods ranging from pretzels to cold cuts to take-out chicken nuggets. As I explain at Cato at Liberty, time is running out for public comment on the FDA’s plans to enter the field. Earlier here, etc.
With a “Request for Comments, Data, and Information” (PDF), the Food and Drug Administration has begun laying the groundwork for mandatory sodium reductions in food processing. Caleb Brown interviewed me for a Cato podcast on the subject. For more on the furor over H.J. Heinz’s unpopular reformulation of HP Sauce at the suggestion of the British government, see Telegraph and Daily Mail accounts.
This week has brought one nudge forward and one push back for the paternalistic “food policy” crowd, or so I argue in a new opinion piece for the New York Daily News (& welcome Instapundit/Glenn Reynolds readers, Center for Consumer Freedom “Quote of the Week“).
I’ve got a new opinion piece up at the Daily Caller on the USDA’s new nutritional chart. And tune in to C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern when I’m scheduled to be a guest on this subject.
More: Link to C-SPAN video here, and more at Cato at Liberty.
Modern American government has been dispensing nutritional advice for quite a while, and enough of it has been misguided, erroneous or even harmful that you’d think there’d be a lesson of humility to be learned. Instead, we get a bossier-than-ever crop of new regulators like Thomas Frieden et al [Steven Malanga, City Journal]
If it turns out they’re right, will there be someone we can sue? [Oliver; more on government's tendency to expose the public to risk]
Amid much hoopla, the Center for Science in the Public Interest had filed a suit on behalf of a New Jersey man claiming Denny’s hadn’t adequately warned its meals were salty. Now an appeals court has upheld the dismissal of the suit’s consumer-fraud theory, meaning that the complainant would be able to proceed only by proving actual personal injury [Abnormal Use, Home News Tribune via NJLRA; earlier here, here, etc.]
In today’s Washington Times: my take on the growing aggressiveness of “public health” officialdom in pushing scare campaigns about everyday consumption risks, including Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial new campaigns against sweetened drinks and (even more misleadingly) salty foods, as well as the FDA’s proposal to put corpse photos on cigarette packs. It begins:
The Puritans held that reminders of mortality had an edifying effect on the living, which is why they sometimes would illustrate even literature for young children with drawings of death’s-heads and skeletons. Something of the same spirit seems to animate our ever-advancing movement for mandatory public health. The Food and Drug Administration has just floated the idea of requiring cigarette packs to carry rotating pictures that would include corpses – yes, actual corpses – as well as close-ups of grotesque medical disorders that can afflict smokers.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s superactivist Health Department has begun public ad campaigns about the health risks of everyday foods, including a controversial YouTube video portraying soda drinkers as pouring globs of shimmery yellow fat into their open mouths and – just out – an ad showing an innocent-looking can of chicken-with-rice soup as bursting with dangerous salt. Whether or not you live in New York, you’re likely to be seeing more of this sort of thing because the mayor’s crew tends to set the pace for activist public-health efforts nationwide; the Obama administration, for example, picked Bloomberg lieutenant Thomas R. Frieden to head the influential Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why should government use our own tax dollars to propagandize and hector us about the risks of salted snacks, chocolate milk or the other temptations of today’s supermarket aisle? The Bloomberg-Obama camp seems to feel that government dietary advice is superior to other sources of information we might draw on because (1) it’s more objective, independent and pure of motive and (2) it can draw on better science.
Whole thing here, and more on Bloomberg’s anti-soup crusade at the New York Post, Reason, and ACSH. More: My Food My Choice.