Posts Tagged ‘Fda’

Theater Owners Don't Want You To Know A Large Popcorn Is Like Eating 3 Big Macs

23 Mar

The FDA is reportedly set to announce a decision that would force movie theater operators to post calorie counts next to their items in the same way that restaurant chains must. Not surprisingly, the theater owners are popping mad about this possibility.

According to a piece in today's L.A. Times, the National Association of Theatre Owners has been lobbying the FDA and congressional staff members to exempt movie theaters from the nutritional labeling requirement.

"We're not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves," the group's general counsel told the paper. "It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie."

Of course, movie theater food is often more expensive than dinner... and profitable for the theater chains.

The Times quotes the CFO of Regal Entertainment Group as saying, "We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 cents or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn't really hurt me that much."

But it might be hurting the people that eat the popcorn. A 2009 study by the spoilsports at the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that a large popcorn serving contained upward of 1,460 calories, almost as much as downing three Big Macs (approx. 1,600 calories).

Should theaters have to post calorie counts just like everyone else, or is movie theater food somehow different than restaurant food?

What's in the popcorn? Cinemas would rather not have to say [L.A. Times]


Nutri-Grain, Fake Color, and Why Do American Kids Deserve Less than Europeans?

02 Dec

Take a look at the two packages for Kellogg’ Nutri-Grain cereal bars. One is made here for us. The other is made in the UK for Europeans. Both use food coloring to achieve a more “strawberry-ish” color.

In the UK, the coloring is achieved using beetroot. But in the US, the coloring is Red No. 40, a dye that has been associated with hyperactivity, and some types of cancer.

Why not use the beetroot? The answer is that Kellogg’s probably saves half a penny on each bar using an artificial dye rather than using a natural one.

So why does Kellogg’s use the beets in Europe? Because in Europe the regulator has required WARNING LABELS on products with Red 40. Just like cigarettes. Kellogg’s did the bottom line calculation and decided the loss in sales would cause much more damage than the savings on the food dye.

But in the US, the FDA has given red 40 a GRAS status (Generally recognized as Safe). The reason is one of approach:

In Europe manufacturers need to prove an ingredient is SAFE beyond a shadow of a doubt for it to be approved for use.

In the US researchers need to prove an ingredient is DANGEROUS beyond a shadow of a doubt for it to be banned.

Bummer. But as CSPI reports, the FDA is planning to review the matter:

The news that the Food and Drug Administration, in response to CSPI’s 2008 petition, will convene an advisory committee meeting to discuss the link between food dyes and children’s behavior is welcome and overdue. Yellow 5, Red 40, and other commonly used food dyes have long been shown in numerous clinical studies to impair children’s behavior. But for years, FDA—which actually commissioned one of the first controlled studies—dismissed the mounting evidence against the dyes. read more…

Maybe there is hope for change. After all, our kids deserve better.

What you need to know:

Since we’re talking about a product many families have in their pantry, we thought you’d like to know what else is lurking inside. Here’s how Fooducate’s iphone app rates Nutri-Grain:

This is the ingredient list:

Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Strawberry Puree Concentrate, Glycerin, Sugar, Water, Sodium Alginate, Modified Corn Starch, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Methylcellulose, Caramel Color, Malic Acid, Red No. 40), Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Whole Wheat Flour, Sunflower and/or Soybean Oil with TBHQ for Freshness, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Contains Two Percent or Less of Honey, Dextrose, Calcium Carbonate, Soluble Corn Fiber, Nonfat Dry Milk, Wheat Bran, Salt, Cellulose, Potassium Bicarbonate (Leavening), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Mono- and Diglycerides, Propylene Glycol Esters of Fatty Acids, Soy Lecithin, Wheat Gluten, Niacinamide, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Carrageenan, Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Guar Gum, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid.

Mostly sugar and fillers, questionable preservatives, and artificial flavors. Sounds more like a candy bar than a cereal bar.

Even if Kellogg’s gets around to changing the coloring to beets, consider this a snack, just like Snickers, not  wholesome way to start off the day.

What to do at the supermarket:

Don’t buy candy masquerading as a healthy food. If a bar starts off with sugars as the first ingredients, put it back and choose something else.

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Big Pharma Goes Before Supreme Court To Get State Lawsuits Banned [Wyeth]

07 Oct

"Pre-emption" is a legal doctrine that says the federal government can claim all regulatory power over an area or subject, barring states from acting on their own. The drug maker Wyeth has brought a case before the Supreme Court arguing that a woman in Vermont, who lost her arm due to a drug complication that Wyeth knew about but did not publicize, cannot sue them in state court because of pre-emption. Wyeth says that only the FDA has the power to regulate it—and since the FDA approved Wyeth's drug label, it's the FDA's responsibility. We think Wyeth is pretending to care about federal-versus-state power in an attempt to weasel out of any responsibility.

We understand why Wyeth would pursue this line of reasoning—after all, if they win, then it will put an end to personal lawsuits against drug companies. But if Wyeth got its way, the result would require a huge expansion in the FDA's role in bringing drugs to market and monitoring them afterward, because the FDA would have to shoulder the burden of responsible drug testing and labeling. If the FDA took over this responsibility, it would have to balloon to an enormous and almost certainly unwieldy government agency, and it would likely slow down the time it takes to bring new drugs to market.

On the other hand, it's quite possible that the FDA would simply hobble along in an underfunded, understaffed state, paralyzed by bureaucratic jams and strangled by politicians and the lobbyists who feed them.

This is why we think Wyeth is being duplicitous, by arguing for one thing—greater federal regulation—while knowing that in reality, having only the FDA to answer to will mean less risk of being held responsible for mistakes, incomplete research, or inappropriate marketing.

We're sure Wyeth would love to have it both ways, with limited regulatory oversight combined with the protection of a federal agency that's largely toothless. We hope the Supreme Court tells Wyeth to pay the Vermont woman her $7 million—and to label its drugs more clearly if it wants to avoid such payouts in the future.

"Consumer Issues Top Supreme Court's Docket" [NPR]
"Plainfield Pianist's Case Could Affect Nation" [WCAX] (Thanks to Michael Belisle!)
(Photo: Getty)

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