Did You Know You Can Be Sued By A Food Producer For Making Disparaging Comments About Their Food?

libel2Wikipedia: Food Libel Laws:

Food libel laws, also known as food disparagement laws and informally as veggie libel laws, are laws passed in thirteen U.S. states that make it easier for food producers to sue their critics for libel. These thirteen states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

Food libel laws typically allow a food manufacturer or processor to sue a person or group who makes disparaging comments about their food products.

Wikipedia says they’re known informally as veggie libel laws, maybe because the notable cases involved disparaging comments against the beef industry?

  1. Oprah Winfrey in the Amarillo Texas beef trial was sued for exclaiming, after her guest discussed beef industry practices, that his revelations “stopped me cold from eating another hamburger!”
  2. In the McLibel case, 2 people were sued by McDonald’s after distributing a pamphlet accusing the company of, among other things, production of unhealthful food and cruelty towards animals.

BPA, An Endocrine Disruptor, Should Be Banned

This diagram from the US Geological Survey shows how pesticides, many of which act as endocrine disruptors, move throughout the environment and may come to rest on “organic” fields and pastures.

I have been harping for years now about endocrine disruptors in food. Even at very tiny doses, doses lower than that thought to cause cancer, they increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.

Regarding diabetes, remember this study?
A Strong Dose-Response Relation Between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Diabetes, Diabetes Care, 2006

I wrote about it a lot. From the abstract:

OBJECTIVE – Low-level exposure to some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has recently become a focus because of their possible link with the risk of diabetes.

RESULTS – Compared with subjects with serum concentrations below the limit of detection, after adjustment for age, sex, race and ethnicity, poverty income ratio, BMI, and waist circumference, diabetes prevalence was strongly positively associated with lipid-adjusted serum concentrations of all six POPs. When the participants were classified according to the sum of category numbers of the six POPs, adjusted odds ratios were 1.0, 14.0, 14.7, 38.3, and 37.7 (P for trend < 0.001). The association was consistent in stratified analyses and stronger in younger participants, Mexican Americans, and obese individuals.

CONCLUSIONS – There were striking dose-response relations between serum concentrations of six selected POPs and the prevalence of diabetes. The strong graded association could offer a compelling challenge to future epidemiologic and toxicological research.

The odds ratios were atronomical. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have an undeniable role in the development of diabetes.

Notes from Lee’s work:

  • If you were overweight or obese but had low levels of POPS, you had a lower risk of diabetes than if you were lean but had high levels. POPs contributed more to diabetes than weight.
  • “Chronic lifetime exposure to low doses of POPs could be stronger than in those with short-term exposure to high doses of POPs.”
  • “Reverse causality [that having diabetes leads to higher POP levels] is unlikely because the metabolism of POPs in mammalian systems is intractable; the half-life of the compounds ranges from 7 to 10 years in humans.”
  • POPs are detectable in the blood of greater than 80% of those tested.
  • Greater than 90% of POPs comes from animal foods in the general population without occupational or accidental exposures.”
  • Pesticides are widely distributed in the environment. There’s no such thing as an unaffected pasture. So, organic meat, eggs, and dairy are not necessarily lowers in POPs. Sometimes they are higher (This post describes organic eggs that had over 3 times the EPA limit of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp).

Many POPs are endocrine disruptors. I’ve said for years that BPA, an endocrine disruptor used in plastics and can linings, should be banned. Here’s Dr. Greger in a recent video:


Transcript

Highlights (although the whole video is great):

The number of new chemicals is increasing exponentially – we’re talking 12,000 new substances a day. Yet, data aren’t available on the hazards of even some of the high volume chemicals. BPA is one of the highest volume chemicals, with billions of pounds produced each year. And, studies have “raised concerns about its possible implication in the cause of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, chronic respiratory and kidney diseases and breast cancer.”

The fact that there are significant adverse effects in populations exposed to BPA at concentrations thousands of times lower than the official tolerable daily limit indicates that the safe exposure to BPA may be much lower than previously thought in humans.

As the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones concluded, even infinitesimally low levels of exposure – indeed, any level of exposure at all – may cause problems, nearly three billion dollars’ worth of problems every year, just counting the estimated effects of BPA on childhood obesity and heart disease alone.

Endocrine disruptors are harmful. To reduce our exposure we need to ban BPA (and its emerging replacements BPS and BPF), and reduce livestock exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

How Much Do Americans Spend On Food?

The medium household income in the US was $57,616 in September 2016. Half of households had income above that, half below.

That’s income for a family, not one person. It’s middle America: not poor, not rich. It varies by geographic area and by race but it’s a good workable number. Let’s work with it.

How much of that income do Americans spend on food? The USDA says about 9.8%:

The share of income spent on total food began to flatten in 2000, as inflation-adjusted incomes for many Americans have stagnated or fallen over the last decade or so. In 2014, Americans spent 5.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food at home and 4.3 percent on food away from home.

Americans earning a medium income spend about $5,646/year, or $470/month, or $118/week on food. If there are 21 meals in a week, that’s about $5.62 per meal for the household. Of course, you can play with those meal numbers. Still, that’s the ballpark. That is middle America.

How do the new meal kit delivery services compare?

One of the services, Blue Apron, charges $69.92 for just 2 meals for a family of 4. That’s about $35/meal. Compare that to the $5.62/meal I just calculated. Another, Purple Carrot, charges $74 for 2 meals for a family of 4. (Purple Carrot was the business Mark Bittman left his job as a New York Times columnist to join. At the time he said it was “aimed for upper middle class families.” He was correct.

When you hear or read about these services, know that they are for the privileged, not for the “masses” as Civil Eats claimed.

How much do you spend on food?

Study: “Flaxseed Induced One Of The Most Potent Antihypertensive Effects Achieved By A Dietary Intervention”

flaxseedsYou have to see this. Just 4 tablespoons of ground flax seed a day lowered their blood pressure as good as drugs. The top number (systolic) went down by 10 to 15 points, the bottom (diastolic) down by 7 points:

Potent Antihypertensive Action of Dietary Flaxseed in Hypertensive Patients, Hypertension, December 2013

It was a very good, gold-standard study:

In this prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, patients (110 in total) ingested a variety of foods that contained 30 g of milled flaxseed or placebo each day over 6 months.

Results:

SBP was ≈10 mm Hg lower, and DBP was ≈7 mm Hg lower in the flaxseed group compared with placebo after 6 months. Patients who entered the trial with a SBP ≥140 mm Hg at baseline obtained a significant reduction of 15 mm Hg in SBP and 7 mm Hg in DBP from flaxseed ingestion.

It wasn’t because the flaxseed caused weight loss:

Patient body weights were not significantly different between the 2 groups at any time.

Conclusion:

In summary, flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention.

Look at this drop. You can see a significant drop after just one month:

Figure 4. Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure among hypertensive patients (BP ≥140/90 mm Hg) on flaxseed (FX) at baseline, 1 month, and 6 months. *P=0.04 baseline vs 1 month; †P=0.002 baseline vs 6 months; ‡P=0.01 baseline vs 1 month; §P=0.003 baseline vs 6 months. PL indicates placebo.

Notes:

  • One tablespoon of ground flaxseed weighs about 7 grams, so 30 grams is about 4 tablespoons. That’s about 1/4 cup ground.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure is anything over 140/90 mm Hg. A good goal is to get that top number down to 120 or below.
  • “The dietary factors that influence blood pressure (BP) have traditionally included Na+, K+, caloric content, caffeine, and alcohol.” They all raise BP except for K+ (potassium) which lowers it.
  • “Compliance was carefully monitored through plasma ALA and enterolignan levels.”
  • “A reduction of 7 mm Hg in DBP would be expected to result in a 46% and 29% decrease in the incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease, respectively. A 10 mm Hg decrease in SBP would result in a 36% and 27% decrease in the incidence of stroke and myocardial infarctions, respectively.”
  • “The magnitude of this decrease in BP demonstrated by dietary flaxseed, therefore, is as good or better than other nutritional intervention and comparable to many drugs.”
  • “Patients with BP values in the normal range did not appear to respond to flaxseed with a decrease in BP, which may be dangerous.” You don’t want healthy people fainting just because they eat flaxseed.
  • “Four components within flaxseed may be responsible for the changes in BP: ALA, lignans, fiber, peptides, or a synergistic action of all 4 components together.” ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid.