In This Issue

 

Kraft and Philip Morris Scientists Caught Comparing Notes

 

Economics of Fast Food: It’s the Burgers Stupid

 

Industrialized Food Linked to Mental Illness

 

Kellogg and Nick Sued Over Food Marketing

 

Update on Connecticut’s School Food Battle

 

Florida Students Protest Candy Sale

 

Suing the Pants Off SpongeBob

 

Upcoming Lecture Series on Food Politics

 

Seeking International Stories

 

Recommended Resource

 
Quote, Unquote
   
  Their collaboration on brain research "certainly sounds ominous."
  Lloyd Kolbe, Indiana University health sciences professor, on Kraft and Philip Morris
   
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 

Email this page to a friend or coworker
 

   
  Follow this link to subscribe to this newsletter.
   
  To unsubscribe, just hit reply and ask to be removed.
   
  We have a strict privacy policy and do not share your personal information with anyone except in the newsletter mailing process.
 
 

 
   

February 2006

Editor’s Note

You couldn't have missed the media frenzy over the "low-fat diet" study not showing lower disease risks. Here's what the headlines should have read: "$415 million of tax dollars wasted on improperly designed research." As I wrote in my letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the explanation for the results is that subjects failed to actually attain a low-fat regimen. Humans evolved on a low-fat diet based on mostly plant foods that came from nature. For an excellent debunking of this study, please visit Dr. John McDougall's website:
http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006other/060200lowfat.htm.

Brief News from Big Food

Kraft and Philip Morris Scientists Caught Comparing Notes

In a follow-up report to an extensive three-part series on Kraft and obesity, the Chicago Tribune (Kraft is headquartered in Illinois) published an article entitled: “Where there's smoke, there might be food research, too: Documents indicate Kraft, Philip Morris shared expertise on how the brain processes tastes, smells.” Many people don’t realize that the company responsible for Oreos, Cheese Whiz, and Oscar Meyer wieners is owned by the same parent company (Altria) of the makers of Marlboro and Virginia Slims. The Tribune has dug into documents spanning the mid-1980s though 2001, made available through tobacco litigation against Philip Morris.

The documents reveal that Kraft and Philip Morris discussed investing jointly in brain scans to study how the brain processes tastes and smells. For example, a 1997 planning memo proposed investing in "neuroimaging," or brain scans, and research on sensory neuroreceptors, which are sites on brain cells that process smells and tastes. Also, a 1998 memo suggested that Kraft and Philip Morris collaborate on foods and drinks "engineered to influence" a customer's mood or sense of fullness. The paper said that because Philip Morris has released few documents since 2001, it’s difficult to determine if the cigarette maker and Kraft have collaborated in recent years.

Source: Chicago Tribune, 01/29/06 (with links to documents)http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0601290254jan29,1,3082179.story?coll=chi-business-hed


Economics of Fast Food: It’s the Burgers Stupid

The business magazine Forbes has revealed the economic truth behind the fast food trend of placing so-called healthier items on menus. "The No. 1 entree ordered by men in America is a hamburger," says Henry Balzer, a vice president with NPD Foodworld who tracks data on eating habits. "And the No. 1 entree among women is French fries, followed by a hamburger." Industry surveys show that the number of people concerned about the amount of fat they consume has actually declined over the years—to 30% today from over 50% in 1994—the group's latest survey showed. The article also says “the 80-20 rule” is going strong, meaning that 80% of the company's revenue can be attributed to 20% of its products, led by its flagship burgers and fries. Forbes explains:

 

Certainly, soups and salads have added incremental revenue, since they serve that segment that has made a commitment to healthier eating. They also make for effective window dressing, helping to keep critics and regulators quiet. But a fast-food fixture that has measured its success in terms of "billions served" can't live on lightweight salads that people can get anywhere. It must beef up sales of Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. Given the 80-20 rule, a 5% drop in burger and fries sales, coupled with a 10% gain in "new menu" items would net out to a 2% drop in revenue. For a $20 billion company like McDonald's, that's a $400 million hit.


 

 

 


 

Source: Forbes, 01/19/06
http://www.forbes.com/business/2006/01/18/mcdonalds-burgers-salads-cx_tvr_0119mcd.html


Industrialized Food Linked to Mental Illness

In January, two British reports came to the same worrying conclusion: that diet plays an important part in mental illness. The Mental Health Foundation says that studies clearly linked attention deficit disorder, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and schizophrenia to junk food and the absence of essential fats, vitamins and minerals in industrialized diets. Another report released by the advocacy group Sustain found: "Food can have an immediate and lasting effect on mental health and behavior because of the way it affects the structure and function of the brain.” Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "We are well aware of the effect of diet upon our physical health. But we are only just beginning to understand how the brain as an organ is influenced by the nutrients it derives from the foods we eat and how diets have an impact on our mental health." Researchers said the proliferation of industrialized farming had introduced pesticides and altered the body fat composition of animals due to the diet they are now fed. Report researcher Courtney Van de Weyer said: "The good news is that the diet for a healthy mind is the same as the diet for a healthy body. The bad news is that, unless there is a radical overhaul of food and farming policies there won't be healthy and nutritious foods available in the future for people to eat."

Sources:
Sydney Morning Herald, 01/17/06
Sunday Express (Scottish edition), 01/29/06
To read both reports:http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/page.cfm?pagecode=PRFM#reports

Fighting Back: Legal Strategies and Other Good News

Kellogg and Nick Sued Over Food Marketing

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have announced their intention to sue Kellogg and Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon, for marketing junk food to children. The case will be filed in Massachusetts under that state’s consumer protection statute. The groups will ask a Massachusetts court to enjoin the companies from marketing junk foods to audiences where 15 percent or more of the audience is under age eight, and to cease marketing junk foods through web sites, toy giveaways, contests, and other techniques aimed at that age group. "The thrust of Nickelodeon's and Kellogg's likely defense will be to blame parents, since parents ultimately are responsible for their kids' diets," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “Parents are also responsible for making sure their young kids don't get hit by cars. But if someone's recklessly driving around your neighborhood at 80 miles an hour, you're going to want to stop them."

"For over thirty years, public health advocates have urged companies to stop marketing junk food to children," said Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "Even as rates of childhood obesity have soared, neither Viacom nor Kellogg has listened. We can no longer stand by as our children's health is sacrificed for corporate profits." Massachusetts' consumer protection law requires 30 days' notice of such a lawsuit, which the plaintiffs served on the defendants on January 18. For more on this story, see In My Opinion, below.

Sources:
Center for Science in the Public Interest (press release, letter to defendants)
http://www.cspinet.org/new/200601181.html
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (FAQs about lawsuit)
http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/lawsuitfaq.htm


Update on Connecticut’s School Food Battle

Readers of Informed Eating will recall how Connecticut school nutrition advocates worked tirelessly last spring to get a controversial bill through the state legislature (despite heavy lobbying by Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola), only to be turned away by the governor when she vetoed the bill. Now, the advocates are back, this time with a compromise plan that comes pre-approved by the governor herself. The new bill would impose a total ban during the school day on the sale of soda and sports drinks. School cafeterias and vending machines would be limited to the sale of water, low-fat or skim milk, non-dairy milk and juice. The bill would leave other food standards voluntary, but encourage schools by tripling the current lunch subsidy for districts that adhere to new state rules. "What we have today to announce is the best and the strongest bill in terms of standards for nutritious beverages in the country," said Connecticut Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams, who championed last year’s bill. The measure will be introduced in the three-month legislative session that ends in May. Will Coke and Pepsi fight it again? Stay tuned.

Source: Hartford Courant, 02/02/06
http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-junkfood0202.artfeb02,0,4645234.story?coll=hc-headlines-politics-state


Florida Students Protest Candy Sale

Proving that kids can be smarter than adults, more than a dozen elementary school students in Florida refused to sell candy and chips to raise money because they learned in class about the health dangers of such snacks. "If they tell us to don't eat junk food and then after school we sell it, that disobeys what they said," explained 10-year-old Daphnie Auguste, a member of the defiant class of 19 gifted fourth- and fifth-graders. The students have until the end of February to raise the remaining $12,000 needed for a weeklong trip in May to Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Source: kfmb.com, 02/03/06
http://www.kfmb.com/story.php?id=37523

IN MY OPINION, by Michele Simon

Suing the Pants Off SpongeBob

Litigation may be the one weapon left in the fight against corporate America's fattening of children.

The case may sound silly, but it's not. SpongeBob SquarePants is being hauled into court in Massachusetts. His crime? Exploiting young children and contributing to escalating rates of obesity and diabetes. How can a cartoon character be guilty of such things? By corporate marketing run amok.

For complete article published on Alternet, 02/01/06:
http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/31585/


Upcoming Lecture Series on Food Politics 

We on the west coast are lucky that New York University has temporarily loaned us Food Politics author Marion Nestle. A visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley this spring, Professor Nestle is hosting a timely lecture series on the politics of food. CIFC’s Michele Simon is honored to be part of the stellar line-up of speakers. You can hear Simon explain “How Big Food Resists Government Regulation: Corporate Spin in the Obesity Debate” on March 1 at 4pm. The event is free and located in Room 250 of the Goldman School of Public Policy on the UC Berkeley campus.

For details on the entire series: (PDF)
http://www.informedeating.org/Lectureposter.pdf


Seeking International Stories of Battling Big Food

CIFC’s Michele Simon is currently writing a book that will expose how the food industry is attempting to block nutrition advocacy efforts. To avoid being too “Ameri-centric”, she is currently seeking stories from other countries. If you are involved with, or know of any battles against Big Food “across the pond” or anywhere else, please contact Michele Simon at: Michele@informedeating.org or (510) 465-0322. Thank you!


Recommended Resource

Once upon a time, CIFC offered cooking classes to help people with the practical tools they need to transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet. But now, we just refer you to others more skilled at this piece of the puzzle. Top of our list is Compassionate Cooks, who is “dedicated to empowering people to make informed food choices (see why we like them?) and to debunking myths about vegetarianism.” If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t miss their upcoming popular class called “Demystifying Tofu and Tempeh,” on February 25. If you’re not in the Bay Area, you can still order the DVD. For details on both, visit: http://www.compassionatecooks.com.




PO Box 16053
Oakland, CA 94610

The Center for Informed Food Choices is a nonprofit organization that advocates for a whole foods, plant-based diet and educates about the politics of food.

CIFC is proud to make Informed Eating available as a free public service. Unlike industry publications, it is not underwritten by corporate sponsors. We would greatly appreciate your support for this newsletter and our other important policy work. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.informedeating.org or call (510) 465-0322.

Informed Eating is written and edited by Michele Simon. You may contact her at Michele@informedeating.org. Michele Simon is available for lectures and workshops in your community and can speak on a variety of food policy topics. For more information, visit: http://www.informedeating.org/lectures.html.

 

We encourage you to pass this newsletter along to friends.

2006 Informed Eating  -  All Rights Reserved