Posts Tagged ‘Food Safety Modernization Act’

Diet, IQ Development, and Willful Ignorance

February 9, 2011
Aneta Blaszczyk, Stock.xchng

Too many Funions and she'll end up working the cash register in a convenience store.

As if raising a child or, simply, growing up weren’t all ready complicated enough, more and more research suggests those early, formative years before the age of 3 are crucial in a child’s later development. Most notably, diet plays a significant role not only in a child’s physical development but in his intellectual growth, as well.

Or, as the Telegraph tactfully headlined it: “Will junk food make your child stupid?”

If a question like that doesn’t strike guilt and fear into the hearts of any parent currently slipping her 2-year-old anything other than a whole-grain, organic, flax-seed and quinoa biscuit (no processed sugar, please) what will? In a story that’s been getting attention all over the place, researchers at Britain’s University of Bristol have linked diet with brain development in children under 3-years old.

“A diet, high in fats, sugars, and processed foods in early childhood may lower IQ, while a diet packed full of vitamins and nutrients may do the opposite,” a press release from Bristol University announced.

The report is just one of many from a long-term study of children born to 14,000 British mothers in 1991 and 1992. Parents of 3,966 of the children were asked in a questionnaire to detail the types and frequencies of foods their kids ate when they were 3, 4, 7, and 8-and-a-half years old.

“We have found some evidence to suggest that a diet associated with increasing consumption of foods that are high in fat, sugar and processed foods in early childhood is associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood,” lead researcher Kate Northstone, a research fellow in the department of social medicine at the University of Bristol, told Bloomberg Business Week.

Interestingly, this story appeared just as two other stories are making the rounds as well. One suggests that switching your infant to solid foods before the age of 4 months can contribute to obesity later on, and another reported by NPR, looks at the very real problem of food deserts, those areas in cities and rural areas where people simply don’t have access to food.

The connection between that latter story and the issue of junk food and intellectual development being, of course, the fact that many children simply don’t have access to good food because there isn’t any available to them.

All of this brings to mind Sarah Palin’s criticisms last year of Michelle Obama’s efforts through Let’s Move!, Palin’s insistence that programs like Let’s Move! and recent legislation for safer, healthier food somehow infringes upon the rights of people to make their own decisions about what they eat. She’s wrong, of course. As one columnist in Huffington Post noted last year:

[Palin’s] critical comments fail to recognize that, in too many instances, parents have become prisoners of school and community environments that restrict their child’s access to healthy food and physical activity options.

Has anyone explored the connection between a poor diet and willful ignorance?

Food Safety Law Won’t be Cheap, Industry Lobbyist Warns

February 2, 2011

As the Food Safety and Modernization Act kicks into motion, expenses to carry out its mission will also begin to pile up, as well. It won’t be cheap. According to a story in the ag weekly, Capital Press, expenses could require more than $1.6 billion in federal spending between this year and 2015.

Fees from food producers are expected to cover some of those costs but only some: less than $250 million. Other federal spending will cover another $335 million but the Food and Drug Administration could end up picking up at least $1.3 billion of the tab. Critics of the bill seem to be warning that the success of the new law could hinge entirely on just how generous the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are with funding and there’s little reason to expect they will be.

Concerns about the federal deficit will likely prevent full funding of the law, Capital Press reported John Bode as saying. Bode, a former USDA official and a lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, McDonald’s, and various other companies and organizations, was speaking at a trade show in Portland, Ore., last week.

In addition to the sheer cost of the undertaking, the new legislation will entail devising and codifying new rules for the safe production and harvest of foods and crops both for domestic and foreign producers. The FDA, Bode said, will have to develop responses for substances that aren’t even currently regarded as contaminants.