The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has just released its 2014 Sugary Drink FACTS report.
Some of the findings:
Useful Rudd Center resources:
As explained in the press release (also in English), the guidelines include ten steps to health diets
Traditionally, families based their diets on natural and minimally processed foods. The guidelines are based on the actual, traditional dietary patterns of a substantial proportion of the Brazilian population of all ages and classes throughout the country.
Carlos Monteiro, the Brazilian nutrition professor listed as the technical formulator of the guidelines, was in Washington DC last week to speak at a conference on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Monteiro’s speech is here. Tweets sent during the meeting are here.
I hope everybody listened.
I was happy to be asked to do a blurb for this one:
This book is a treasure. Its clear and lively chapters on global food history instantly explain why food has become an essential entry point into the most intellectually challenging problems of our time. Any reader interested in the role of food in history, culture, or politics, its production or consumption, or the teaching of critical thinking will find this book hard to put down.
The issue: The White House is supposed to sign off or reply within 90 days, or formally request an extension. That’s not happening with menu calorie labeling or four others:
What’s going on? Politics, of course. But I can only speculate on what they might be.
I attended the first day of the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow conference at Stone Barns, worth the trip to hear Mark Bittman’s inspiring keynote. My summary: feeding the growing world’s population is not about increasing food production; it’s about ending poverty.
Fortunately, the Times is making videos of the sessions available online.
But never mind all that. Check out Bittman’s speech.
A colleague and reader who recently took over a small food business wanted to continue to make it possible for people enrolled in SNAP—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. Food Stamps—to buy his products.
The business had already followed the steps needed to become an authorized SNAP retailer and had been accepting Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT cards) for a couple of years.
His new ownership required him to start over. He filed the application with the USDA last April. As he explained last week:
About six months later now, after repeated follow-up and efforts to move it along and resubmitted paperwork and things not mailed back, we’re finally learning that our accounts were approved for use in August. Probably the 8th person we spoke to since starting was able to tell this to us nonchalantly today. Everyone prior has had *virtually* no idea what’s going on or good answers for us other than “start over” or “I’ll have someone call you.”
Six months to set up EBT, surely among the largest transaction types in the country (in terms of the funding body and the process). The USDA & FNS must be woefully understaffed….
So our EBT accounts were finally approved and activated. What’s fascinating then is the number of companies that reach out to tell us (paraphrasing) that “due to recent changes in the Farm Bill, retailers are no longer able to get free processing equipment from the USDA so call us today to get low-cost equipment and a low-cost monthly flat-fee for your EBT processing needs.”
Obviously our bi-cameral, newly monocular Congress will only care about fraud with respect to EBT. So any responses to bureaucratic inefficiency will not likely result in reform, only reduction.
Alas, he is right about that. Although Congress, in passing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (a.k.a. the Farm Bill), did not make the deep cuts in SNAP that many Republicans wanted, it did make some mean-spirited changes.
Section 4002: The Secretary shall require participating retail food stores to pay 100% of the costs of acquiring, and arrange for the implementation of, electronic benefit point-of-sale equipment and supplies, including related services (exceptions: farmers’ markets, nonprofit food coops, etc). So yes, my reader’s small business has to pay for this.
Here’a another example:
Section 4018: Prohibiting Government-Sponsored Recruitment Activities. No funds authorized shall be used by the Secretary for:
It’s possible that the long delay in USDA approval of his EBT accounts could be due to staff incompetence, but it’s clear that Congress does not want anything done to promote SNAP or make it work well for anyone involved in the system.
Let’s hope the USDA is better about approving the eligibility of recipients.
As of August 2014, 46.5 million Americans received SNAP benefits at an average of $124 per month. The USDA needs to do a better job of serving them and the retailers they buy from.
It’s been 4 years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act authorizing menu labels to go national.
In 2011, the FDA proposed rules for public comment. It proposed final rules in 2013:
But the FDA has never released the final rules.
The rumors I’m hearing say they are being held up by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
I first wrote about the delay in April 2013.
I complained about the delay again four months ago, when rumors suggested that it was due to pressures from owners of pizza chains and movie theaters.
I quoted Politico Pro Agriculture on the White House-induced delay:
It was three months ago today that the White House first received FDA’s final rules for calorie labels on menus and vending machines, and by the Office of Management and budget’s own rules, that means time is up. Interagency review at OMB is supposed to take no more than 90 days before the final release of a measure, though that timeframe is often extended with little explanation on more controversial initiatives. While OMB is always mum on its schedule for rule reviews and releases, the end of the standard review period is sometimes a hint that something will be coming, if not today — the day before a long weekend — then soon. In the meantime, brush up on the issue here: http://politico.pro/1mKNcFr and here: http://politico.pro/1lzZLDe.
Come on White House OMB: the election is over. Let the FDA release the rules, please.
This is about public education, which is supposed to be bipartisan.
I did a blurb for this one:
Regulating Health Foods systematically organizes the widely disparate definitions, regulations, and policies used internationally to govern functional foods, supplements and nutraceuticals, and does so from the standpoint of the industry and its regulators. Food scientists, regulators, and industry professionals will especially appreciate its detailed international perspective.
This is a book for policy wonks and students who want to find out how various countries regulate food labels, or who would llike to know such things as how Codex Alimentarius guidelines apply to health claims. The authors, who work at Canadian Universities, have pulled together vast amounts of detailed information about label regulations by country, with commentary. Here is an example:
Japan currently provides an interesting mix between a purely generic system and a purely product-specific one. Although the system is decidedly more product-specific. Standardized FOSHU [Food for Specific Health Uses] lowers the costs to individual firms seeking claims on ingredients with well-established ingredient-health effect relationships. At the same time, there are potentially significant returns to investment for firms wishing to market a new product with health benefits.