Michele Simon is turning into a pretty regular contributor to Food Safety News.
In recent weeks she has had two opinion pieces on the evil McDonald’s empire that is preying on kids by offering toys in their Happy Meals, and another piece on the cereal industry’s awful attempt to get kids to eat their product by adding sugar and using advertising catering to kids like Tony the Tiger.
Last week (Dec 19) in the opinion piece titled “Congress to Kids: Drop Dead” Michele added Kool-Aid to her list of “sugar atrocities.”
And in the same piece Ms. Simon attacked some Republican Presidents of the past as being an additional part of the evil empire that is in bed with “Big Food.”
I have had conversations with Michele, and I respect her right to have her own opinions, such as when I advised her that if everyone believed like she does that we should ban Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), a lot of the world’s children would not be able to afford meat.
Her reply: “And that would be a good thing.”
So I know where she is coming from, and since I write several blogs a month, I know they can stir up the masses. But I find myself today just having to respond to try and get some facts on the table. And maybe add an opinion or two of my own.
First of all, Kool-Aid was invented by Edward Perkins in his mother’s kitchen in Hastings, NE, in 1927. I was not alive then, but I did go to school in Hastings, as did my three sisters. We “drank the Kool-Aid” and we survived.
And by the way, Michelle did not tell us that Kool-Aid does sell a sugar-free product that comes in many different flavors. It is usually the parent’s choice what product they buy. Kraft has provided them a choice.
Sugar Frosted Flakes and its mascot, Tony the Tiger, came into being in 1951. And the company put toys in the box to entice young children at the time to beg their moms to buy them. I did, and I survived.
Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s in 1955. But I never saw one in Nebraska until much later.
Fast foods, toys in the packaging and sugary cereals are not new, but the obesity epidemic is new.
What are newer than these foods and the marketing of them to kids are things like computers in the shapes of Lightning McQueen and Dora, DVDs playing Thomas the Train movies, hand held Game Boys and Facebook.
Talk about marketing to children. But one could argue that children are becoming more sedentary thanks to electronics.
A person’s body fat content is almost always a simple result of the difference between calories ingested and calories spent. I ate all those “sugar atrocities” growing up (still do) but I burned off enough calories to graduate from high school weighing 165 pounds.
So now on to subject of the “attack” on Republican Presidents in the Dec. 19 Simon opinion piece.
Michele is lamenting the fact that a cost/benefit analysis is needed before a final report can be released that will give the food industry “science-based nutrition guidelines for marketing to children.”
In the commentary, it is strongly implied that “a nasty right-wing deregulation policy that dates back (surprise!) to the Reagan administration” is what is holding up the process. The next sentence then blames the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for killing proposed rules over the years, implying that this is all Reagan’s fault.
Reading further, “Since Ronald Reagan opened the OIRA office in 1981, Republicans have used it to particular advantage to pursue anti-regulatory agenda….”
I am not a lawyer, nor a student of politics, but OIRA came about as a part of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, passed by our 104th Congress, while Jimmy Carter was the sitting President. Reagan came into office in 1981, so he may have been there when OIRA first opened its doors, but the origination came under a Democratic administration.
OIRA is a part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is located within the Executive Office of the President of the United States.
Additionally, for readers who had never heard of OIRA until reading Michele’s story, or like me went to work in D.C. having never heard of it until I bumped up against it, the Administrator of OIRA is a presidential nominee, Senate-confirmed. Cass Sunstein currently sits in that chair, and works for the President himself.
Simply put, if you are blaming OIRA for something, then you are blaming the President. You are blaming the current President, that is, not Ronald Reagan who inherited OIRA from President Carter.
Opinions are usually free, so here is mine for the day. Food safety is not and should not be political. Both Republican and Democratic Presidents and Congresses have attempted to make our food safer. They may have differing views of how to get to the next step, but we do not slip backwards under Republican Administrations as implied in many blogs and OpEd pieces.
On Dec. 22 a Food Safety News article by D.C. correspondent Helena Bottemiller told how the White House Food Safety Working Group had released a 28-page report touting “Progress on Food Safety.”
This is what White Houses do, especially as election time nears. It is an impressive 28-page document. What it does not do, however, is note that many of the claims made are actually the result of initiatives that began during the Bush Administration.
These are initiatives like the Salmonella Improvement Plan and the Public Health Information System. PulseNet started in 1996 and changed the world of food safety by identifying outbreaks much more quickly and much more accurately than ever before. If you did not know that, you might come to the conclusion after reading the report that it was initiated by this administration.
I can only hope that the next President voted into office in November, 2012, agrees that food safety is not political, and that he proves that point by asking Dr. Hagen to continue on as the Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a Republican administration.