Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Quote Roundup

It’s Friday, and my attention span is shot after a very long work week that will likely stretch into my weekend. So, for all of us short on attention and time this rainy, cool Friday afternoon, here are some lovely food tidbits and issues, a couple excerpts and links to the full story.

A couple bits from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood:
"Our Achilles heel is the discussion about obesity," Coca-Cola Co. Chief Creative Officer Esther Lee confessed to attendees at the Venice Festival of Media last week. "It's gone from a small, manageable U.S. issue to a huge global issue. It dilutes our marketing and works against it. It's a huge, huge issue."
Hmmm. Define "manageable issue." Is that one that quickly fades from the radar and life goes back to business as usual? Look, you make soda. That's fine. Just quit marketing it to kids, or make some healthy options, too. Maybe you could make more money doing the right thing, even.

Food marketers fear as FTC issues mandatory requests for information from 44 food, beverage and quick-service restaurant chains this summer. The FTC wants to understand the full scope of these companies’ marketing practices targeted to kids. As an interesting twist, FTC will also examine not just commercials, but practices of in-store promotions, events, packaging, internet marketing and product placement in video games, movies and TV programs.

Good. I am not anti-marketing, but marketing should have some standards, especially where our children are concerned. More importantly, FOOD MANUFACTURERS should have some integrity in what they make and ask marketers to target to kids. You can read a 9-part summary of the obesity issue and food marketing in my series here on this site. You can also find more at the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood site.

Shrek’s Fitness Role in Question
CCFC raises questions over using Shrek in Public Service Announcements to encourage children to exercise. Shrek is featured in sixteen separate food promotions for seventy different products.

The products include: McDonald's Happy Meals, Kellogg's Marshmallow Froot Loops cereal; Keebler E.L. FudgeDouble Stuffed cookies, "ogre-sized" Peanut Butter M&M's, Cheetos, and Kellogg's Frosted S'Mores Pop Tarts.

Kids, can you spell "Hypocrisy?" I thought you could. CCFC has a point, if kids are going to believe Shrek when he says "Exercise is good," why aren't they going to believe the same character when he is saying, basically, "Sugar and Saturated Fat are good?" Kids aren't dumb, they can add two and two. And, they know when it doesn't add up, as well.

A couple from the Center for Science in the Public Interest:
“If U.S. pets must serve as the ‘puppies in the coal mine,’ we urge FDA to heed the warning and take action now to ban grains and other grain products until the Chinese government and producers can guarantee that these imports are free of illegal and dangerous substances,” wrote CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson and CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal.
Center for Science in the Public Interest urges FDA to ban imports of wheat gluten, rice protein, and other grain products from China after the recent pet food issues. CSPI wants all imports banned until the FDA can certify that the products are free of contamination.

I am starting to wonder how many products contain this grain and how would I know? Why do we need grain from China? We grow it here, last time I checked. It's even subsidized by our government. Read the full article and the CSPI letter to the FDA here.

“The difference between the current USDA and new IOM school food standards is night and day,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. “Congress should support parents and protect kids by having USDA bring its disco-era nutrition standards in line with modern science.”
Can you hear the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, too?

CSPI wants the Institute of Medicine’s School Food Recommendations to replace 30-year-old standards. Imagine that!

Ah, I love these CSPI folks. I like the brutal honesty here. I've said that before, but every time I see a press release from them, I think the same thing all over again. Great quotes, great watchdog group, better than a pay-per-view dose of Ultimate Cage Fighting in my book. You can read more here.

The thing is, none of these groups are asking manufacturers, marketers or government to do anything except the right thing; tell the truth, be consistent, care about the quality of your product and the people who buy it. Makes you wonder why they are issues at all.

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