Friday, August 7, 2009

Misdirected Loyalty

The primary interest of the FDA is to protect food manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.  How better to do that than to keep food guidelines minimal, therefore allowing the public to eat foods detrimental to their health, which keeps them sick, which consequently results in their dependent on drugs?  Ingenious. No wonder it's they are billion dollar industries.  Take a look at all the things the FDA has failed to protect us from (CSPI Newsroom):

  • OBESITY. The agency has done essentially nothing to reduce obesity despite the alarming statistics of obesity on a rapid rise. Even with a food that’s a major contributor to obesity—soda—FDA has declined to place health notices on cans and bottles require added sugars to be listed separately on labels, or to require multi-serving containers to list the number of calories for the whole container.
  • HEART DISEASE. One of the most potent promoters of heart disease is the trans fat in partially hydrogenated oil, but he FDA has done nothing to get restaurants to disclose or eliminate it. In 2004, CSPI petitioned the agency to ban partially hydrogenated oil and, until such a ban, to require disclosure in restaurants, but the FDA has not acted. The result: thousands of unnecessary premature deaths every year.
  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. Perhaps the single most harmful substance in the food supply gets zero attention from the FDA—sodium chloride, or salt. CSPI and the American Medical Association want FDA to revoke the “Generally Regarded as Safe” status of salt and to treat it as a food additive, subject to reasonable upper limits in packaged foods. In 2004, the head of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimated that cutting the sodium content of the food supply in half would save 150,000 lives per year.
  • FRADUALENT LABELS. Of 11,000 employees, the FDA tasks a grand total of four people at headquarters to police food labels. Thus, supermarket shelves are graced with "carrot cake" virtually without carrots, fruitless "fruit snacks" made with high fructose corn syrup, "whole wheat" products with a lot of white flour, and so on. The most significant FDA labeling initiative in recent years was an initiative to let manufacturers place misleading “qualified health claims” on food labels. FDA’s own research found that the program confused consumers, but the program, championed by food companies, continues.
  • FOOD SAFETY. Faced with the emergence of dangerous chemicals (such as mercury or acrylamide) in food, the FDA takes years before acting—and even then, its response is typically tepid. Faced with outbreaks of bacterial pathogens in food, FDA is similarly nonresponsive: Salmonella in eggs could be all but eliminated with finalized on-farm regulations to control the hazard, but those have been delayed for years. Shellfish contaminated with deadly Vibrio vulnificus kill 20 or so people every summer, but FDA relies on an industry-funded partnership with state governments to ensure shellfish safety.