Having one of my essays anthologized in this just published book makes me really happy.
My contribution is an article titled “Regulating the Food Industry: An Aspirational Agenda” that was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Mark Bittman is the editor this year, and he has chosen a selection of articles that is remarkably diverse (which is why my scholarly paper is included).
I really enjoyed two pieces I hadn’t seen before: one by Hugh Merwin, which is basically an obituary of the chef Alain Sailhac, and the other by David Streitfield, which is on the food writer MFK Fisher.
I found Ligaya Mishan’s article “What we write about when we write about food” in the New York Times Style Magazine to be quite insightful, so I can definitely see why it was included.
There are many more excellent articles covering a wide range of subjects.
I’m incredibly honored to be among them. Regards, Mark
The USDA’s Pomological Collection is a visual feast
I came upon a notification for this video: Wonderful Fruit Watercolors from the USDA. In just five minutes, there is an epiphany.
Something beautiful during a difficult moment is just what we need this week.
The USDA has a collection of 7,500 hand-illustrated fruits and health , the majority of which were submitted by women. I was unaware of this before.
I’m glad to have learned about them. The National Agricultural Library has the illustrations available online.
Here, you can do an image search.
They are owned by the general population.
I looked for them, overwhelmed as I am by this year’s glut of Concord grapes.
Don’t they look appetizing enough to eat?
Knowing about this collection is a great pleasure as it is a national treasure.
Tags: Fruit, Vegetables, Food-art
The new food additive law in California is revolutionary!
The California Food Safety Act, or AB 418, is now in effect in California.
A person or business is prohibited from producing, selling, delivering, distributing, holding, or offering for sale in commerce any food product intended for human consumption that contains any of the following substances as of January 1, 2027:
Vegetable oil with bromination [Emulsifies citrus-flavored drinks; However, in adults, it can lead to headaches, dizziness, and memory loss, as well as fatty liver and heart lesions in youngsters]
Potassium bromate: a dough conditioner that may cause cancer in humans
Propylparaben: a preservative that interferes with endocrine processes
Red dye 3: [Outlawed in cosmetics due to possible carcinogenicity]
The bill deals with chemicals that are prohibited in Europe due to a number of health issues. Titanium dioxide was originally included, but that was removed after candy manufacturers objected and painted the legislation as a “Skittles ban.” Words to fight with, presumably.
Governor Newsom hinted that the prohibition is only in place until the FDA determines safe amounts for these additives in his remarks after signing the legislation. He added that it would not be necessary to enforce the prohibition until 2027. Governor Newsom of California has signed Bill Ab-418, which would prohibit specific food ingredients.
Health concerns about titanium dioxide and these additives have existed for a long time. For many years, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has advocated for prohibitions. A statement that summarized some of this history was:
Red 3 was identified as a carcinogen by the FDA in 1990 after they discovered it to be one in the 1980s. Red 3 was removed by the agency from skin-care products and cosmetics as a result. In the same year, the FDA declared that it will “take steps” to outlaw Red 3’s usage in food, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements. The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA last year to finally remove the hazardous pigment from the food supply after decades of delay. According to CSPI, it is hoped that the California legislation will spur national measures of a similar nature and force the FDA to remove the four chemicals.
12,000 goods may be impacted by the restriction, according to Bakery & Snacks. In California, a ban is a request for formulation using safer ingredients.
The FDA needs to take action now, and the sooner the better.
Naturally, some people disagree. Consider the National Confectioners Association, the trade group representing manufacturers of confections. It wrote the FDA to express its displeasure and released a statement saying, “California is once again making decisions based on soundbite rather than science.”
Basically, the letter tells us that candy companies will have to pay a hefty price to reformulate their products because there aren’t many alternatives to the prohibited chemicals.
Truly? Despite the fact that these ingredients are prohibited in Europe, there was still a lot of confectionery available when I last checked.
It would seem that manufacturers of candies would be pleased to swap out potentially dangerous ingredients for healthy ones and adjust their marketing appropriately, but sadly, that is not how the system operates.
Food firms are not social service or public health organizations, as I have said repeatedly. These are companies that put stockholders’ profitability ahead of CEOs’ pay. Their duty is to sell you confectionery at the best price, in large quantities.
Remember, we are discussing candy here, not nutritious stuff.
Conflicts of interest involving members of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are reported by US Right to Know.
One news release I got via email was from Gary Ruskin of US Right to Know. Report: Advisory Committee for the Dietary Guidelines: Nearly Half Have Conflicts of Interest.
According to a new report released today by the nonprofit public health research group US Right to Know, nine out of twenty members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical, or weight loss companies or industry groups with a stake in the guidelines’ outcome. Four more members might have had competing interests. According to the study, Abbott, Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, National Dairy Council, and Weight Watchers (WW) International were connected to two or more members of the DGAC.
My first thought was, “Only nine?” It was 19 out of 20 the last time.
A little history
HHS and USDA, the organizations in charge of the guidelines, released combined disclosures of committee members’ connections to business. These treated non-conflicts (National Science Foundation, Ohio Department of Medicaid) and conflicts (Mars, Egg Nutrition Center, Novo Nordisk) as equal, which is not the case.
The funding organizations have consistently maintained that it is hard to get health specialists who are not connected to the industry. I’m not on board. Simply put, I’ve been informed repeatedly that those like me who take care to avoid industry relationships are too biased to serve on such committees—I haven’t been invited to serve on a government committee since the publication of Food Politics.
Do ties to the industry affect the report? This is not as big of an issue as it formerly was. During my tenure on the DGAC in 1995, our committee formulated the research topics, conducted the necessary investigations, produced a research report, and drafted the Dietary Guidelines. The agencies edited only slightly.
That was altered in 2010 during the Bush II administration when the agencies began drafting the standards on their own.
The agencies authored the study questions in 2020 and did so eleven more for this round.
This implies the DGAC’s only remaining task is to evaluate the studies on topics selected by the agencies.
What Is the Right to Know in the US?
Initiating and co-authoring fifteen peer-reviewed public health papers, this group has shown the ways in which industry-funded organizations and the food and beverage sectors attempt to sway public opinion, scientific research, public health conferences, and dietary and nutrition-related government policy.
Leah Murphy, a reader, emailed me to raise concerns about USRTK’s funding (appendix D in the report).
“Feed the Truth, a 501c3 non-profit supported by the Lubetzky Family Foundation, provided funding for the report.”
The creator of the food company KIND is Daniel Lubetzky. My argument is that the report’s non-profit was funded by a food industry. And that appears to call into question the veracity of their report and might meet their criteria for a conflict of interest.