Disclaimer : This is not a real interview unless you count the voices in my head as being the ones interviewed.
Why isn’t this even being discussed in our political debates. I have read that more than 2/3 of U.S. adults are considered overweight. By eating a more nutritious diet, many diseases related to heart diseases, strokes, diabetes, and cancer can be reduced by $71 billion a year. With rising health insurance rates, the quickest and easiest way to reduce health costs is in our food, and to be more active.
My interview with the FDA : For the first time the FDA has set a daily cap for sugar. The goal is for Americans to limit added sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. That amounts to most people about 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, per day. That is the same as one can of Coke. Add low fat yogurt, granola, whole grain breads , ketchup, pasta sauce etc. Dr. Frank Hu, a member of the dietary guidelines committee, states there is a lot of hidden sugar in our food supply, it’s not just in sweets.
Me: Thanks for meeting me today, and congratulations on setting a limit on what our sugar intake should be.
FDA: Thanks for having me, it was a long time coming, we knew we had to do something.
Me: Let’s get right to the meat of it, what difference will it make if you set the limits of 50 grams per day but no one in the food industry changes the way they make our food.
FDA: It’s about choices and what you eat. You have to see that if you have more than the 50 grams of sugar we recommend it is not healthy for you.
Me: I take a look at my refrigerator and say I eat one Yoplait Yogurt , now with 25% less sugar, 2 pieces of wheat bread- dry, and a glass of 8 oz of cold milk, I am at 36 grams. I haven’t even left my breakfast table and I am one 8 oz glass of milk away from almost being 50 grams. What am we supposed to eat the rest of the day?
FDA: Like I said, it is all about the choices you make. By the way, milk isn’t included because it is not considered an added sugar. Lactose is considered a natural sugar.
Me: (staring at him in disbelief) Thanks for clearing that up. So I am down to 25 grams of added sugar, half way to our “limit” per day and I just finished breakfast. For dinner I have spaghetti with 3/4 cup of sauce, which has an astounding 21 grams of added sugar in spaghetti sauce. Do you not regulate these industries?
FDA: Yes we do.
Me: Then why would you allow companies that make spaghetti sauce to add so much sugar? By The way, I had a salad with my spaghetti with two teaspoons of salad dressing, another 6 grams of added sugar. It was “fat-free” also. Now I am over 50 grams and I didn’t even eat lunch.
FDA: Choices you make as a consumer affect how and what you eat. You have to stay away from processed foods.
Me: (flabbergasted) Stay away from processed foods? 80% of the grocery store is processed foods. The 20% that isn’t is priced where a lot of families can not afford them. They are forced to eat processed foods.
FDA: Is that a question ?
Me: According to my research the FDA :
- Protects the public health by assuring that foods (except for meat from livestock, poultry and some egg products which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled; ensuring that human and veterinary drugs, and vaccines and other biological products and medical devices intended for human use are safe and effective
FDA: That is correct.
Me: I read an article where Michael Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for food states: “We simply do not have the information to vouch for the safety of many of these chemicals,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food. At a pace far faster than in previous years, companies are adding secret ingredients to everything from energy drinks to granola bars. But the more widespread concern among food-safety advocates and some federal regulators is the quickening trend of companies opting for an expedited certification process to a degree never intended when it was established 17 years ago to, in part, help businesses. A voluntary certification system has nearly replaced one that relied on a more formal, time-consuming review — where the FDA, rather than companies, made the final determination on what is safe. The result is that consumers have little way of being certain that the food products they buy won’t harm them.
“We aren’t saying we have a public health crisis,” Taylor said. “But we do have questions about whether we can do what people expect of us.”
FDA: I have not read that article nor can I comment on it at this time.
Me: Why not attack the food industry that the FDA has allowed to put so much sugar and other junk in our foods for the benefit of making a dollar instead of recommending unattainable guidelines on how much sugar we should have?
FDA: We are in the process of.. (I rudely interrupt)
Me: What can you tell me about the foods that are banned in other countries but is still allowed in the United States. Foods such as pink slime, that is used as an additive to bulk up cheap meat. Found in: Hot dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets. Health Hazards: This ‘meat’ is more likely to carry pathogens because it’s pulled from the bone. Banned in: European Union.
Genetically Engineered Foods that are modified for insect resistant but cause damages to animals and humans alike. Found in: Papayas, corn, and many other crops. Health Hazards: Animals fed GE foods have suffered intestinal and organ damage, tumors, birth defects, premature death and in some cases, sterility by the third generation. Banned in: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Synthetic hormones that are added to our beef and milk cattle. Health Hazards: Cancer Banned in: European Union, Japan, Australia, and China.
The poison arsenic which is added to chicken to make their veins look pinker and healthier. I don’t know about you but I would rather eat a healthy chicken instead of one given poison to give the appearance of healthy. Health Hazards: Cancer Banned in: European Union.
Ractopamine is a drug that makes its way into most pig and cattle feed. Similar stuff is commonly used in asthma medication and makes animals more muscular while reducing fat and increasing profit margins. Health Hazards: Weight gain, increased heart rate, insomnia, headaches, and tremors. Banned in: This additive has been banned in the European Union, Russia, and even China.
Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is an emulsifier – it stops flavouring from separating and floating to the surface of sports drinks. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical used in flame retardant that is considered corrosive and toxic. Health Hazards: Thyroid issues, autoimmune disease, major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, hearing loss and cancer amongst rats. Banned in: Over 100 countries. Can I repeat that, banned in over 100 countries but still legal in the US.
Shall I continue?
FDA: I believe this interview is over. Have a good day.
Me: Wait, I have more. Color additives such as red 40 and yellow 5 are artificially created from coal tar and petroleum. Research has shown that bland coloured food is far less appealing to customers, so companies pump food full of this stuff. Found in: Pretty much everything we eat, from candy to macaroni and cheese. Health Hazards: Brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity in children. Banned in: Much of the European Union.
Olestra. This fat substitute has been known to cause anal leakage and reduce the amount of vitamins found in the human body. Found in: Fat-free chips Health Hazards: Oily anal leakage and vitamin depletion Banned in: UK and Canada, amongst many others.
Antibiotics are commonly used on US farms to promote animal growth and combat the unnatural and squalid conditions of their pens. Around 80% of all antibiotic use in the US is in cows, salmon and other animals. Found in: Meat Health Hazards: The overuse of antibiotics may be linked to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria that make people sick. Banned in: European Union, Australia and New Zealand.
Where are you going? Don’t the citizens of the United States deserve better food?
I really don’t have any good songs to go with this so..
Mr. Jaws by Dickie Goodman – I remember listening to this on 8 track. It’s funny how some things stick with you. It had the Streak and Camp Grenada on it. Think it was a K-Tel or something.
Interview by Carly Simon –
Questions by Jack Johnson –
Complicated Questions by Finger Eleven –