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Michael F. Jacobson's Blog (Page 1)

February 25, 2011 - 12:51pm

Food marketers have long had a special knack for euphemism.  (If you didn’t believe me I’d offer you a Rocky Mountain oyster.)  But even as someone who has watched the food industry closely for 40 years, sometimes even I can get taken by surprise.

One such case is an innocent-sounding ingredient that appears on Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other soft drinks: “caramel coloring.”  Now, I’ve long urged Americans to drink less soda.  It’s a nutritionally worthless beverage...

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November 22, 2010 - 3:19pm

When Congress comes back for the post-election session, there will be little time and many competing priorities. One that must be addressed is child nutrition. Child nutrition may not have the political cachet of some of the big-ticket items on Congress’ plate, but here are seven reasons why this bill should be a top priority for congressional action.

1. Better School Lunches! The child nutrition bill would improve the nutritional quality of school lunches. It provides money for schools to buy more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also would ensure that school funds aren’t siphoned off to pay for a la carte junk foods, like pizza or French fries. Schools would get access to more model menus, healthy recipes that kids like in other schools, and additional advice and support to serve healthy meals.

2. Junk...

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November 22, 2010 - 2:09pm

Wouldn’t it be great to walk through the supermarket and be able to identify the healthiest products at a glance? Without even turning the package over and looking at Nutrition Facts panels?

Well, of course the healthiest foods in the supermarkets often don’t come in packages at all: fresh fruits and vegetables. But for everything else, we rely on labels. And while Nutrition Facts labels are great and give consumers a great deal of useful information to guide their choices, they aren’t as visible as the companies’ marketing claims on the fronts of packages. Zooming through the supermarket, we can easily see that a box of cereal offers “IMMUNITY” to some unspecified disease … but we have to pick up the box and flip it around only to find that the cereal is high in sugar, low in fiber, and so on.

Front-of-package nutrition labeling is one...

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November 22, 2010 - 12:36pm

Monday, November 29 is our last best hope for the Senate to pass food safety reform. That’s something I hope we can be thankful for next week.

Part of the point of Thanksgiving is to appreciate the incredible bounty of foods we enjoy and often take for granted. Imagine what the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock would have thought had they walked into a modern supermarket … filled with an eye-popping variety of exotic fruits and vegetables from all over the world; abundant meat, poultry, and eggs; and what would likely have surprised them the most—the thousands of boxed, canned, and frozen packaged foods to choose from.

But for all of our amazing advances in agriculture and food processing, eating—whether on Thanksgiving or any other day of the week—is still a surprisingly risky undertaking. Despite our heroic crop yields, far-...

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