Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lockyer's Warning Label Push Against Junk Food Neglects Personal Responsibility

Bill Lockyer going after food companies, but ignoring individual choices

In what is likely to be a precursor to a renewed effort to blame fast food and junk food companies on the obesity epidemic, a state attorney general sought a court order on Friday against nine major food manufacturers and distributors primarily of French fries and potato chip products demanding that they put warning labels on them.

Just last month, a public advocacy group pushed to have warning labels placed on sugary soft drinks because of the health dangers overconsuming those products could cause. But now California Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued this press release on Friday stating his concern over the existence of a chemical called acrylamide commonly found in food products that are fried at high temperatures. Lockyer claims he has scientific data that states this chemical is known to cause cancer.

“In taking this action, I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips or french fries,” Lockyer remarked. “I know from personal experience that, while these snacks may not be a necessary part of a healthy diet, they sure taste good. But I, and all consumers, should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat. Proposition 65 requires companies to tell us when we’re exposed to potentially dangerous toxins in our food. The law benefits us all, and as Attorney General, I have a duty to enforce it.”

Proposition 65 is the California state law that was enacted by public ballot in 1986 to protect the citizens of that state about the chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals. An annual list of known carcinogens is published by the Governor.

At first glance, it appears Lockyer has established a pretty solid case for filing a lawsuit against the likes of food giants Burger King, Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, KFC, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Wendy's and others in Los Angeles County Superior Court for violating Proposition 65.

But he touched on something in his quote above that is very telling. While he doesn't want to tell individuals that they should stop eating products like French fries and Pringles, Lockyer would much rather go after the companies that make these products. Huh?

If Lockyer truly cares so much about the health of the citizens of California, then he needs to call for an immediate cessation of business for all fast food restaurants that sell fried foods, grocery and convenience stores that sell potato products, and manufacturers of these products in that state. If the people of California are in such grave danger because of this substance which has been in foods for many decades, then why hasn't he taken this seemingly necessary emergency action?

Why hasn't Lockyer done this? Because he knows his hyperbolic media show on Friday was nothing more than a politician propping himself up as some big health superhero for his own personal political gain. In fact, Lockyer gave himself an easy out for when he fails in this effort by including in his press release that he doesn't want to cause any "undue public alarm and unnecessary warning signs" about eating these foods. Then what in the world do you think filing a lawsuit against all those companies has done?

People will open the newspaper or at a web site to read the headline about this story and have one of two reactions: 1) Ignore it and keep on eating fast food and potato chips as they always have, or 2) Stop eating these products completely. Why would there be any middle ground on this? If you believe Lockyer is right about these products, you certainly wouldn't want to put any of these products in your mouth again. You can make rat poison taste very good, but you still wouldn't eat it, right? And if you don't believe the warning labels are necessary, then your current habits will go unchanged.

But here's a dirty little secret Lockyer conveniently neglected to mention in his rampage against fast food -- French fries and potato chips aren't the only products that contain acrylamide. Here are some of the other popular foods, especially among children, which contain this supposedly dangerous substance (I bet you've had some of these products before):

Gerber baby food, Tyson chicken, Boca burgers, Pepperidge Farm breads, Sara Lee bagels, Cheerios cereal, Lucky Charms cereal, Raisin Bran, Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn, Snyder's Veggie Crisps, Smucker's peanut butter, Keebler Town House Crackers, Hershey's Cocoa, Nabisco Teddy Grahams, Maxwell House coffee, Folger's Coffee, and Lipton Recipe Secrets soup & dip mix, just to name a few.

Again, if these products are causing adults and children the imminent danger that Lockyer is purporting, then why isn't he going after all of the manufacturers of THOSE products, too? Do they not have the same responsibility to adhere to the law as well?

By the way, looking at that list of foods above, do you notice something that is glaringly obvious to me? Do you see anything in common about all of those products? You guessed it. That's right! THEY'RE ALL LOADED WITH CARBOHYDRATES!!!

NONE of those products should be consumed when you are livin' la vida low-carb. If you are on a low-carb lifestyle, then you need not worry about Lockyer's warning because you're not eating those foods anyway. See, yet another BONUS reason why you should be following a low-carb program. It will protect you against the danger of harmful, toxic cancer agents found in foods. :-)

Although this does not affect me directly because I don't live in California and I don't eat these products, it is still interesting to see how people want to keep blaming everyone else except for the individual who puts that garbage food into their mouths. We have the freedom to make our own choices, good or bad, and must live with the consequences of our actions. We don't need a politician who is trying to boost his public image so he can run for governor someday telling us what foods we should be avoiding. That is a choice that you and I must decide for ourselves.

All I know is eliminating sugar, white flour and starch from my diet in 2004 was the best thing I could have ever done for my body. Losing 180 pounds was incredibly gratifying and now I'm as healthy as I have ever been in my entire life. That's a great feeling that nobody can take away from me or try to make me feel guilty about (yes, some people do!).

If you learn nothing else from this story, then remember this. You are the one who decides what needs to go into your body to give you the energy to live while trying to keep your weight in check. People like Lockyer are not legally able to force you to eat a certain way, but they would if they could. How about making that choice for yourself? Start living the low-carb life today. I'll be happy to give you a helping hand along the way at my blog.


Blogger Connie said...

Interesting item, Jimmy.

Boca burgers has acrylamide? Where did you get this list, Jimmy?


8/27/2005 9:16 PM  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

Hey Connie....not Jimmy, but they're listed on a page maintained by the FDA (created in 2002) online here:

Makes sense that they do since they are soy based (carbohydrate) and the ppb depends on how they're cooked!

Boca Burgers Grilled Vegetable burgers (not baked) 58ppb

Boca Burgers Grilled Vegetable burgers (baked) 116ppb

8/28/2005 2:20 PM  

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