“The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it is taking the first step toward banning dangerous trans fats that are found in a variety of processed foods. The agency said in a statement that the fats, used in a number of products from margarine and coffee creamer to frozen pizza, are a major health concern for Americans despite lower consumption of the dangerous, artery-clogging fats over the last twenty years.” [Chicago Tribune, our earlier coverage] More: Julie Gunlock, IWF; Scott Shackford, Reason; Michelle Minton, CEI (logic of removing ingredient from GRAS list based on long-term cumulative health effects could point toward regulating salt, sugar).
From comments: “Trans fats are pretty rare in my experience at this point outside of, ironically, military rations.” [L.C. Burgundy] More: Via Jacob Grier, Olga Khazan at The Atlantic recalls the days when the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) denounced restaurant chains for using saturated fat. The ensuing pressure campaign resulted in a widespread switchover to supposedly healthier trans-fat.
London Mayor Boris Johnson on the Jon Stewart show. [Telegraph] Meanwhile, @pourmecoffee notes that “Each winning player gets time with Stanley Cup to do anything they want with it, except drink sugary drinks if you’re in NY.” Per Michael Jacobson of the CSPI, soft drinks are the “single biggest source of calories in the American diet.” Really? [ACSH] More: “Soda jerk: Bloomberg’s proposed ban is about power, not public health” [Shikha Dalmia, The Daily]
This just in: NYC Board of Health members also eye size limits on movie theater popcorn and milkshakes.
The promotional claims that General Mills makes about its snack product seem to be accurate enough, but the busybody Center for Science in the Public Interest says the company should be calling attention to other, less positive nutritional facts too. Stephen Richer wonders whether dating profiles are going to have to begin listing the candidate’s less appealing qualities. [WLF Legal Pulse]
It’s long been known that the processes by which food is browned, whether in the frying pan, grill, rotisserie or stewpot, generate a variety of chemicals with alarmingly hard-to-pronounce names. David Oliver thinks the flap over 4-methylimidazole in the familiar cola ingredient, “caramel coloring,” is likely to go the same way as the flap over supposed cancer risk from acrylamide in French fries, potato chips and many other foods.
P.S. Per commenter Jerry, I’ve jumped to conclusions, and the “caramel coloring” found in sodas is generated by other chemical processes, not by caramelization.
- Update: Australian judge tells Men at Work to pay 5% of royalties to “Kookaburra” owner, far less than was demanded [Lowering the Bar, earlier here and here]
- McDonald’s CEO pushes back vs. ogrish CSPI’s anti-Happy Meal campaign [Stoll, Mangu-Ward] “Milk, Coke and the Calorie Police” [Jason Kuznicki, Cato]
- “Lawyer sues basketball star LeBron James, alleging he is his father” [CNN, BLT] Update: judge tosses suit.
- Small business tort liability costs estimated at $133 billion [NERA study (PDF) for Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (press release) via PoL]
- Crawlers, robots.txt and fear of litigation: “Some closure on my collision with Facebook” [Pete Warden]
- Now what was Citizens United supposed to open the floodgates for, exactly? [Bainbridge]
- DOJ “entered into undisclosed agreement with Amex to freeze out the employment of exec who ultimately was cleared of wrongdoing” [Podgor, Kirkendall via Steele]
- Easter egg in financial regulation bill could result in new pressure for gender, ethnic quotas across wide sectors of economy [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Real Clear Politics; Mark Perry with some figures on the degree of gender balance in Dodd’s and Frank’s committees]
- The report in the Washington Post that the Food and Drug Administration intends to work toward mandatory limits on salt in processed food provoked some negative public reaction, and now the agency has issued a public statement not exactly denying the story, but complaining that it “leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor has it made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.” Emphasis added to point out the cagey phrasings: there is no denial that the agency’s leadership intends to do all these things in the future, exactly as the Post reported.
- In what is known as coordinated publicity, the trial balloon, if a trial balloon it was, was sent up to coincide with the release of a large National Institute of Medicine report pushing for salt reductions. More: WSJ Health Blog;
- In more coordinated publicity, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) held a conference call with reporters demanding that the agency move faster to regulate salt. “I don’t want this to take 10 years. … This is a public health crisis,” said DeLauro (via Carter Wood at ShopFloor, who comments and in a separate post points out some CSPI lawyer angles);
- Welcome listeners from Ray Dunaway’s morning show on WTIC Hartford, where I discussed these issues this morning.
- And here’s an apparently new group calling itself “My Food, My Choice” that has come up with a good epithet for NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s squad of food regulators: “bland-lords“.
- More: Stanley Goldfarb, Weekly Standard.
Nation’s Restaurant News (via Russell Jackson): “A New Jersey Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Denny’s Corp. of perpetrating fraud by not disclosing the amount of sodium in its food. The lawsuit, the first sodium-related case against a restaurant company, was filed this summer by a New Jersey man with help from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group.” Earlier here and here. Update/clarification: judge gave leave to amend, so action is expected to continue.