“Pink Slime” Controversy
“Pink slime” has received much attention recently from consumers, public health advocates, and the media. The low-cost filler, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB), has been used in ground beef products for years. It is made by mixing beef scraps and connective tissue sprayed with ammonia to kill bacteria created through the industrial production of livestock.
Public outrage ensued when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that they planned to purchase 7 million pounds of LFTB for school lunches. A petition to remove the product from school lunches drew hundreds of thousands of signatures and sparked media backlash. Fast food outlets and grocery stores also sell beef containing LFTB.
Knowledge of this practice is not new. The New York Times published a story about it in 2009 and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has spoken out about the issue. Earlier this year, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King announced that they would no longer use beef containing LFTB.
It poses no health risk and does not need to be labeled because it does not constitute an ingredient separate from beef, according to the USDA. The safety of other forms of processed meat has been questioned.
The USDA announced that the National School Lunch Program will let schools decide whether or not to buy ground beef that contains the filler, resulting in many schools rejecting it for next year’s menus. National supermarket operators, such as Supervalu, Food Lion, and Safeway, have stopped purchasing ground beef that contains LFTB. Suppliers have been affected by consumer and media attention: AFA Foods filed for bankruptcy and Beef Products, Inc., the largest producer, temporarily suspended operations at three of its four plants.
Just Published by the Rudd Center
Effectiveness of Front-of-Package Food Labeling Systems
The British Multiple Traffic Light (MTL) front-of-package labeling system, in which red, yellow, and green symbols are used to show which foods might be eaten sparingly, in moderation, or freely, has most consistently helped consumers identify healthier products, according to a review article on front-of-package labeling systems published in Public Health Nutrition.
The authors suggested that front-of-package labels should convey calories per serving, daily caloric requirements, and specific nutrient levels. Highlighted nutrients should be associated with the most prevalent health problems in the United States and labels should be prominent in size and displayed on the top-right of the package.
The authors reviewed studies published between January 2004 and February 2011 that examined consumer preferences, understanding, and use of different labeling systems. The studies also looked at label impact on purchasing patterns and product reformulation by industry.
The paper was coauthored by the Rudd Center’s Christina Roberto, MS, MPhil, MPhil, Yale University doctoral student in Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology; Marie Bragg, MS, MPhil, Yale University doctoral student in Clinical Psychology; Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Deputy Director; and Kelly Brownell, PhD, Director; and Kristy Hawley, MPH, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Peggy Liu, Duke University doctoral student in Business.
Irresponsible Messages from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine?
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently launched a commercial promoting a new "Sit Next to a Vegan" option that they proposed to American Airlines. The proposal gives passengers an option to reserve the seat next to them for a vegan (who is presumed to be thinner), so that they don't have to sit next to an obese passenger.
These tactics and messages are highly stigmatizing to individuals who are overweight or obese, according to a recent blog on Medscape by Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives. If PCRM is truly interested in promoting veganism, public health, or reducing obesity, they should use messages that support and empower obese persons to become healthier rather than instilling shame and stigma towards them. When individuals feel blamed, stigmatized, or shamed about their weight, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors and avoidance of physical activity, both of which can reinforce weight gain and impair weight loss efforts.
The blog is the latest in a series about weight bias by Dr. Puhl on Medscape, a part of WebMD Health Professional Network (free online registration required).
Link Between Policies to Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity
Food insecurity and obesity have often been viewed as separate public health problems but recent research indicates that people with unreliable access to food are also more likely to be obese. However, many interventions designed to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic also can address hunger, according to a brief recently released by the Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Some policies outlined in "Making the Connection: Linking Policies that Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity" include establishing healthy food financing initiatives to increase access to nutritious foods; supporting farm-to-institution and farm-to-school and school garden programs; increasing free- and reduced-price school meals; and partnering with the private sector to increase the value of federal nutrition assistance benefits for healthful foods.
Upcoming Seminar Speakers
April 18, 12:30 pm
May 2, 12:30 pm
May 16, 12:30 pm
May 31, 1:30 pm
Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held at the Rudd Center. The seminars are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The full schedule for the Spring Seminar Series is available online and for download.
Rudd Center Spotlight: Jean Kilbourne
Jean Kilbourne, author, lecturer, and filmmaker who is internationally recognized for her work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising, will present Falling in Love with Food: Connection and Disconnection in Food Advertising on May 2 during the Rudd Center’s Spring Seminar Series.
Ms. Kilbourne’s work links the power of images in the media with public health problems such as eating disorders, violence against women, and addiction. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world.
Her book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, won the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology. She is also known for her book So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids.
She has twice received the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities and was named one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses by The New York Times Magazine.
Her prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including The Today Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
She has served as an advisor to the U.S. Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.
According to Susan Faludi, American feminist, journalist, and author, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture — advertising. We owe her a great debt.”
Best and Worst Marketing Practices
Peeps Magical Moments Tour
Employment Opportunity at the Rudd Center
Design, establish, and conduct original independent studies examining weight bias in the media, the presence of weight bias in school settings and health care, the impact of weight stigma on health, and interventions to reduce weight bias in diverse settings. Work closely with and report to the Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives.
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Filmmaker; Co-Founder and Executive Director, FoodCorps
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Timothy D. Lytton, JD
Albert and Angela Farone Distinguished Professor of Law, Albany Law School
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