Last updated on July 29th, 2018
Protecting and Promoting Public Health and Product Safety
Most of us are aware that the Food and Drug Administration has the responsibility of protecting us from harmful drugs and foods. Fewer know that they rely on the research and advice of health organizations as well as other interested parties. Those parties include everyone from consumer advocates to elected officials and corporate lobbyists. While we can appreciate the need for FDA protection, I do wonder if we are being duped, or merely ‘over-protected’.
I’m not the only one asking….”Who are they really protecting? The public? The pharmaceutical and food companies? Themselves?” Many suspect it’s all of the above.
Our Perception of the Quality and Safety of Food is a Prime Example
I once wrote an article about dog food and the disgusting ingredients allowable by U.S. law. I don’t usually eat dog food, but after reading the FDA’s food recall list…I’m considered it.
I shouldn’t be surprised at the recalls. The FDA’s watchdog group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, (CSPI) gave us fair warning back in 2009 when they published “The Ten Riskiest Foods Regulated by the FDA”. Lettuce and eggs were at the top of the list.
I shudder to think how many tossed salads and egg salad sandwiches I ate over the past 9 years. It gives ‘living on the edge’ new meaning.
What About Fats and Sugar?
There is the opinion that the FDA may be outdated when it comes to defining healthy foods. Some nutrition scientists say it makes no sense that almonds and avocados fail to meet the FDA's definition of “healthy” because they're too high in total fat, while some sugar-laden (but low-fat) breakfast cereals do.
What About Scientific Studies?
A highly effective strategy taken by special interest groups is to promote pseudo-scientific studies that are designed to create a specific result. If you do a little research you’ll find articles citing truly scientific replicate tests that dispute the whole thing.
Take the saturated fat scare in the 1980’s which led to huge sales of Margarine made with Trans Fats. That was backed by international medical societies and charities.
In the early 1990's medical research revealed that Trans Fats were seriously bad for your health.
Other Prominent Protective Perks From Our Public Health Agencies
The FDA also has the arduous task of protecting us from the dangers of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
Their rulings are the reason we are subject to all those disclaimers at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. You know, the announcer quietly blazes through 15 or more dangerous side effects right before the spot ends with grandpa playing a merry game of catch with his adorable grandson.
Most of us appreciate this type of over-protection, but what continues to irk me is that despite the scary disclaimers, it seems perfectly okay to heavily promote many drugs and foods even though we’re told they aren’t “100% safe to ingest”.
We also don’t see many sensational news headlines reporting people getting sick or dying from risky drugs and dodgy foods.
Frankly, I don’t think the media could handle it. According to Harvard University Center for Ethics,
How Many People Get Sick Each Year From Food?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that each year
Scary Product Headlines That Get Published
We do see a lot terrifying media reports about the possible dangers of smoking alternatives like vapor products. Fear-mongering about a hot topic makes for great click bait.
These alarming headlines appear despite the fact that vapor product safety is still under review by the FDA. Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has admitted that vaping is much safer than smoking.
Curiously, the FDA has not yet allowed ecig companies to promote their products as being safer than cigarettes.
What’s more, there has not been a single death from vaping.
I know it’s the FDA’s job to to protect and promote public health and product safety, but our public health defenders are supposed to wield great strength in protecting us from the things they deem harmful. How can you operate when powerful interest groups and lobbyist try to jeopardize your role as a public protector?
The Interest Groups That Advise the FDA
Many corporate and political special interest groups are relentlessly lobbying against the FDA’s Food Safety Modification Act which now includes all tobacco products, including those that can just deliver nicotine.
Wouldn’t you know, the food, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries are the most powerful lobbies….and they have a lot of influence.
We can only hope that Dr. Gottlieb can remain cool, calm and focused on the public interest.
Choose Your Favorite Fear Factor
What FDA report scares you the most? I personally believe that disclaimers at the end of drug commercials are far scarier than sensational stories about advanced vaporizers exploding, or producing minuscule amounts of formaldehyde.
I also believe in eating anything you want in moderation.
Check out: The fat in your diet is not making you fat
It’s up to the consumer to look out for special interest groups that work hard to counteract current FDA safety recommendations and those under review.
Fed up with fear-mongering? Angry that you won’t enjoy another salad? You’ll feel better after reading Tim Dowling’s hilarious article “Everything Gives You Cancer”.
I wish you good health.