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April 19, 2010

FDA Pressured to Combat Rising ‘Food Fraud’

Representatives of the US food industry are saying that the FDA isn’t doing enough to stop the rise of fraudulently mislabeled food. From a March 30, 2010, Washington Post article:

John Spink, an expert on food and packaging fraud at Michigan State University, estimates that 5 to 7 percent of the U.S. food supply is affected but acknowledges the number could be greater. . . .

At the FDA's first public meeting on food fraud last year, groups across the industry complained that it is not doing enough. . . .

Despite growing imports, the FDA inspects just 2 percent of fish coming into the United States from other countries.

The National Seafood Inspection Service, part of the Marine Fisheries Service, routinely examines seafood products for species substitution. It issued a report finding that over a nine year period, between 1988 and 1997, the samples they took showed that an overall 34% of all seafood products tested was mislabeled.

Worse yet, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a study on fish sold as red snapper. They concluded that between 60% and 94% of the fish sold as red snapper in the US are mislabeled.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Hiep Phung for preparing this post.  Mr. Phung is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.


April 19, 2010 in Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Study shows fatty foods may cause drug-like addiction -- similar brain responses to cupcakes and cocaine

According to a study published March 28, 2010, online in Nature Neuroscience journal, researchers have found that fatty foods may be addictive. When rats are exposed to high-fat junk foods their brains react similarly to when they are exposed to cocaine. This research, which confirms previous studies, is further evidence that the same addictive reaction between the brain and junk food may occur in humans.

The researchers divided similar rats into three groups.  Each group had unlimited access to regular rat chow, and in addition each group received either: 1) nothing else -- just regular rat chow, 2) some fattening human foods for one hour a day (plus unlimited rat chow), or 3) access to fattening human foods for 18-23 hours per day (plus unlimited rat chow). The study measured calories eaten, weight gain, and brain reward center response.  Rats with access to the high-fat palatable foods showed reduced brain responses, as well as increased calorie consumption and weight gain.

From a CNN Health Article describing the study:

Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain, according to Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Florida. Eventually the pleasure centers "crash," and achieving the same pleasure--or even just feeling normal--requires increasing amounts of the drug or food, says Kenny, the lead author of the study.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law students Scott Allen and Lauren Sparks for preparing this post.  Mr. Allen and Ms. Sparks are students of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

April 19, 2010 in Obesity, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack