Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Old Macdonald Has Too Many Antibiotics

A story written by Sabrina Tavernise that appeared in the New York Times on July 30, 2013, reports on a study being conducted in Flagstaff, Arizona to determine how many people in one American city are getting urinary infections from meat from the grocery store.

Lance Price, a microbiologist at George Washington University has done his research on antibiotics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.  Dr. Price has been sounding the alarm about antibiotic resistance for a number of years.  He recently told a Congressional committee that evidence of the ill effects of antibiotics in farming was overwhelming.

He thinks the FDA's efforts to limit antibiotic use on farms have been weak.  In 1977 (36 years ago!) the FDA said it would begin to ban some agricultural uses of antibiotics.  But the House and Senate appropriations committees - dominated by agricultural interests - passed resolutions against the ban, and the FDA retreated.  Surprise, surprise.

David White, Ph.D., is the chief science officer in FDA’s Office of Food and Veterinary Medicine.  The following is a quote from the FDA article titled "Fighting the Impact of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria."

The fundamental concern over the agricultural use of antibiotics arises from the potential that resistant bacterial strains can be transferred to humans via direct contact, or ingestion of food derived from treated animals. This is a legitimate concern as epidemiological and microbiological data show that resistant bacteria from food animals can reach humans via the food supply. And most classes of antimicrobials used in animals have human counterparts. Therefore, resistance to an animal drug might translate into resistance to a human drug.

Antibiotics are given to animals for various reasons, including: 1) treatment of sick animals; 2) prevention of illness in healthy animals; and 3) control of disease in a group of animals when some in the group show overt signs of disease.

Antibiotics are also used to improve feed efficiency and weight gain in healthy animals, a practice the FDA has been working to change. In 2012, FDA released a guidance document for the animal health and animal agriculture industries that focuses on two primary principles: 1) limiting medically important antimicrobial drugs to uses in food-producing animals that are considered necessary for assuring animal health; and 2) limiting such drugs to uses in food-producing animals that include veterinary oversight or consultation. We think that this voluntary approach will move us forward in the quickest way possible, and it doesn't rule out future regulation.

Another example of how our government cares more about protecting the providers of food than the consumers of food.  Apparently, the FDA, after decades of studies showing that eating meat from animals fed antibiotics is a factor in antibiotic resistance, still feels that "voluntary" compliance is the way to go.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Interviews of former executives of the food giants reveal that, since retirement, most of them have an entirely different view of the products they once sold.  One, upon visiting his doctor and discovering that the cartilage in his knee was pretty much gone, decided that he would have to start managing his weight with diet instead of exercise.  As he roamed the aisles of his grocery store, he said, "Can't eat this, can't eat that."  And, predictably, he began saying, "We shouldn't sell this, we shouldn't sell that."

Another story involved a man who had spent his entire working life on developing Lunchables.  His family had grown up eating the prepared lunches and were proud of their Dad for inventing such a popular food item.  When his daughter graduated from college and went to her new job for the first time, she proudly showed up with her bright yellow packaged Lunchable.  The first remark she heard was, "Oh my God, don't you know what those things do to a landfill! And all those nitrites in that ham!"  

Working for the "corporate cookers" is like living in an ivory tower.  You become so dedicated to selling more and more and more that you lose track of the fact that real people are buying, eating and disposing of those products.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Now They Are Killing Us With Food

Why can't we solve the problem of obesity in the U.S? Michael Moss, in his book, "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" tells us, in no uncertain terms, why our government will not help, and, in fact, is complicit in making this epidemic worse.  By focusing on the three things that make food most appealing, Moss shows us how the giant corporations who control our food supply have made it nearly impossible to have a healthy diet.  

"The transition of food to being an industrial product really has been a fundamental problem," according to Walter Willett, the chair of Harvard's Department of Nutrition.  "First, the actual processing has stripped away the nutritional value of the food.  Most of the grains have been converted to starches.  We have sugar in concentrated form, and many of the fats have been concentrated and then, worst of all, hydrogenated, which creates transfatty acids with very adverse effects on health."

"Kelly Brownell, a Yale professor of psychology and public health, says, 'As a culture, we've become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies (owned by the tobacco companies) do the very same thing.  And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.'"

One of the most important factors in my giving up cigarettes was watching the government grilling of the 7 heads of the biggest tobacco companies and seeing them sit there and tell lie after lie.  They all innocently claimed they had no idea that smoking was harmful!  At that moment, I swore I would never again give a dime of my money to those lying bastards. And I thought that I hadn't given any more money to them.  I was wrong.

Not satisfied with killing people with cigarettes, Philip Morris acquired General Foods and Kraft.  Now it could kill people with fat and sugar - it would just take a bit longer.  But that was all right because the longer people lived, and the fatter they got, the more money Philip Morris would make.  Moss says, "By 1990, Philip Morris had all but cornered the market for cigarettes.  With the purchase of General Foods and Kraft, it had also become a consumer goods goliath, posting $3.5 billion in annual profits on $51.2 billion in sales.  Half of its revenue came from food."

So now I swear again that I will never give those liars another dime of my money.  Here is a short list of products I bet you didn't know were made by the same folks that brought you Marlboro cigarettes: 

Capri Sun juice boxes
Kraft Singles
Maxwell House
Oscar Meyer 
Philadelphia (cream cheese)

Next entry, I will talk about why each of those products should be labelled as "dangerous to your health."