Saturday, November 9, 2013

So Why Should I Believe You Now?

This week the FDA announced that trans-fats are to be removed from the American food supply, by taking them off the GRAS list - Generally Recognized As Safe.  Interestingly, some of the most "heart-safe" recommended foods, like margarine and artificial coffee creamer, at the ones to be banned. 

So last Saturday they were safe and this Saturday they're poison?  You were wrong last week?  So why should I believe you're right now? 

In the case of Trans fats, I've been convinced they're something to be avoided since about 1997, but that's not the point.  I could be wrong in choosing what I decide to eat, and hurt nobody but myself.  They decide and hurt hundreds of millions.  I started leaning this way after reading "The Oiling of America" back then combined with data coming out of the Harvard Nurse's and Physician's Studies around the same time.  (BTW, I'm not sure of the web site and I'm a bit skeptical of the coconut oil industry, but they feature this piece and came up high in Bing. )  

So where does the GRAS list come from?  Same place "My Plate" or food pyramid comes from.  They tell you it's Science!! but it's more like politics and influence peddling. 

The FDA needs to be cut back in size by about 2/3 to 3/4.  Considering how badly their vaunted protection of the food and supply has screwed up and killed Americans (one example), it's not like they're doing much protection anyway. 

General rule in life: if the recommends anything, they're probably wrong. 
(This wretched stuff goes away, and good riddance.  I prefer heavy cream.)


  1. The FDA exists only to promote -- by lying for -- big pharma, big chemical and the industrialized "food" (really, food-like substances in place of real food) interests. They routinely ignore even the solid research of their own in house scientific staff -- i.e., the way that aspartame was approved over the strenuous objections of their staff -- and the way they 'retire' or outright fire researchers who stand in defiance to the desired crony capitalism results. For the most part the USDA is a political clone, an ally in deceit with the FDA for the same crony interests. To paraphrase you, anything the .gov recommends is probably a lie calculated to reward special interests, not the general public, their subjects.

    While I'm sure that the coconut industry is being corrupted by unsavory characters (contingents of the industrialized foodstuffs and chemical interests) if you stay with companies who helped build the industry you can rely on getting healthy, beneficial products. Besides using coconut oil for years in our cooking, I've personally observed a relative with Alzheimer make an astounding reversal of symptoms through the use of a coconut oil regime (remember the brain is 75% fats).

    And just about anything you read from Enig and/or Fallon justifies a high level of trust. Those two ladies are at the forefront of true nutritional research and validation. Just the fact that the above mentioned crony capitalism interests hate and constantly work to destroy them -- yet are totally unable to actually prove them scientifically wrong! -- speaks volumes to their research credibility.

    1. I wasn't very clear on the coconut oil industry comment, but I'm skeptical about the newcomers, especially those without a lot of emphasis on quality that I'm assuming are there. I've read there are places taking coconut oil that used to go into industrial uses and selling it as food without much change to the way they handle it. "I read it on the internet, it must be true", right?

      Likewise, I've read the reports on coconut oil and Alzheimer's outcomes. We have two brands in the kitchen; one with a coconut taste and the other that's tasteless, for whatever use we want.

      Enig and Fallon changed my world view, while my wife was getting her bone marrow transplant. At a time when we had bought into the "low fat fad"/mantra, I learned a lot from them.

  2. Thanks for the link on "The Oiling of America", I am totally blown away! It just proved the cynicism I feel towards all government is pretty much justified. So, science has been corrupted by politics and influence peddling in all areas... sh*t. Why should I ever believe government research again?

  3. Why should I ever believe government research again?

    Indeed. But, the bigger question is "why is government involved in this in the first place?" Which is a question that needs to be asked a lot and answered firmly.

    That the FDA condemns, and penalizes, off label uses for drugs should be enough to cut off their funding. It's completely reasonable (more on that word later) that there be a mechanism to determine if a medicine's (or food's) contents match the package label, and even perhaps identify that some of those contents may pose a hazard to certain individuals, or in certain circumstances. From that point, STFU and leave the choices to those directly involved.

    But how is the consumer to know what is and is not the correct choice? In some areas, medicine, for example, some people - let's call them "doctors" and "pharmacists" - spend years in school learning about that and their entire professional lives adding to that knowledge. It's understood, or should be, that life is not perfect, and even highly motivated and well-studied doctors can make mistakes (I find it interesting that bureaucrats never seem to make mistakes, or at least one rarely hears about them).

    Life is not a spectator sport; participation is rewarded, and just like certificates of deposit and sex, there are penalties for early withdrawal. I'll wager when Mrs. Graybeard was going through her ordeal there was no information so trivial that you didn't research it to the best of your ability, from every source you could find. I'll also wager that by the time both of you came out the other side (congrats, BTW), you knew more about what was affecting her, and curing her, than a substantial percentage of the medical profession. You were a participant, not a spectator, and you acted like one.

    Which is how life should be. I realize than many consumers have been the unwilling, and unwitting, victims of another government travesty - education, or, rather, the lack thereof. Lack of education is fixable; we do that all the time in the tech biz. Stupid, however, is both unrepairable and terminal. I suspect that despite the plethora of examples seemingly confirming it, Real Stupid is not as common as it appears. Should the FDA, or .gov et al protect the Stupid? We're back to "reasonable." What is the "reasonable" level of protection that government should perform, and for what value of Stupid is government involvement warranted? And, who determines what that particular value is?

    Governments exist to control; that's their purpose and mission, and they attract people whose default setting is to exercise control. The bigger government is, the more it seeks to control, and government will always make itself bigger by expanding its supposed mission. The only solution is to periodically enforce retrenchment.

    1. Really excellent comment, Alien. When you said, I'll wager when Mrs. Graybeard was going through her ordeal there was no information so trivial that you didn't research it to the best of your ability, from every source you could find. you're right on the mark. We went with the idea that while her oncologist will know lots more about every kind of cancer there is, there's no reason we can't know as much about this cancer as anyone.

      We are well beyond the point where enforcing retrenchment is the only feasible way to survive. The Code of Federal Regulations has just gotten too unmanageably huge. There's no way to keep up with the 6000 + regulations that they create every 90 days. They're involved in every little nuance of our lives and it's just going to get worse.

  4. So far I've not seen a single argument for the continued existence of the FDA, not unlike all other federal agencies.

    It would be interesting to compile a table with two headings - things the FDA has been proven horribly wrong about, and things the FDA has not yet been proven horribly wrong about.

    How can they be taken seriously after the Thalidomide horrors? And no prosecutions.

    Oh, but remember - vaccines are both safe and effective?


  5. Two points: 1. Are transfats bad for you? No evidence that they are but a considerable body of propaganda of which most comes from the usual suspects in food fads. I wish it were so easy to know what foods are good and what foods are bad. But in our thousands of years of history and our much shorter but more recent 100 years or so of advanced science we still don't know. Maybe it is impossible to know. Sure peanut butter or shell fish or almost any protein can make some people sick or even kill them but that does not equate to a "bad food". The same thing is true with trans-fats. That is some people have a genetic propensity to have heart disease, high cholesterol or other problems that some foods contribute to. But not everyone. Most people can eat trans-fats or good fats or bad fats and still live longer then the average life expectancy and never develop heart disease. Some people die from heart attacks in their 40's as did their fathers and grandfathers before them. Would limiting or eliminating trans-fats from the diets of people genetically predisposed to heart disease or high cholesterol be beneficial to them? Absolutely. Is that a good enough reason to limit or eliminate trans-fats for the other 80% of the worlds populations?
    2. The proper way to deal with food or additives in our food supply is; First if there is absolute proof that something is potentially harmful for everyone (like raw milk or the melamine found in some Chinese imported products) then ban it. The science will support the decision and this is what the FDA was intended to do. But if it is something that the foodinista's are opposed to or is merely a problem for a minority of people then the correct remedy is to inform people. Let them know what the real science is and let them know which products contain it and allow each person to make their own decisions. If the FDA does this and then targets salt and sugar then clearly it is time for a purge at the FDA because either there are no more scientists in charge or they are afraid to speak up.

    1. IMO, that isn't the take away. The most useful things I've read about trans fats come not from "food fads" but from the Harvard Nurses' and Physicians' studies, run by Walter Willet. These are among the most widely respected and widely quoted studies in medicine. Dr. Willet was among the first of the top-line researchers who started saying the low fat diet wasn't proving out statistically, and that wholesale substitution of carbohydrate for fat wasn't as good for us as the low fat diet zealots were saying. This was almost 20 years ago. He also said the studies implicated trans-fats back then. Trans-fats don't occur in nature except in trace amounts; after all, the other term for "shelf stability" (their selling point) is that bacteria and fungi can't metabolize them. I personally think it's remarkable that we're able to use this foreign source at all.

      I would also dispute grouping whole milk with melamine. Melamine is a toxic, nitrogen bearing organic compound used to falsify protein assays (by showing lots of nitrogen). It doesn't naturally occur in milk; the producers used it to cheat. Raw milk, on the other hand, is generally obtained from farmers who go out of their way to ensure its safety without pasteurizing it. It's not like it's completely risk-free (as if anything is...), it's just that it's safer than other food sources. For example, between 1998 and 2008, two people's deaths were traced to raw milk (CDC report) while the 2011 European outbreak of contaminated salad vegetables killed over 45 people in that one summer. 45 in one outbreak over one summer vs. 2 in ten years? Which is safer: raw milk or raw spinach?

  6. The question remains; are trans-fats harmful? Or is this a risk for certain people only? The answer is simpler then some would think. Let me use the raw milk example to demonstrate. If you gave raw milk tainted with any of the serious germs found in raw milk (salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, brucellosis, yersiniosis, listeriosis, staphylococcal enterotoxin poisoning, streptococcal infections, tuberculosis and E. Coli 0157:H7 infection) to everyone in the world then everyone would probably get infected from it. Because these diseases are not only dangerous to a minority of people they are dangerous to all of us. However if you gave trans-fats to everyone in the world 80% - 90% would be unaffected by it while a minority of people may show elevated cholesterol and other symptoms. So is it the trans-fats that are dangerous or is it a genetic propensity to high cholesterol that is dangerous? But it gets murkier. Most people who have heart attacks do not have high cholesterol and most people who have high cholesterol don’t have heart attacks. Hmmm! But wait! Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for life and studies have shown that trying to limit cholesterol by diet is actually more harmful for most people then high cholesterol is. So where is the truth? I admit I don't know, but neither do the nurses and physicians. Does that seem too extreme? Let me explain where they went wrong. You and I studied technical subjects in college and we learned statistics and higher math. Doctors and nurses (who I love and respect) generally did not. They would find it significant that something like trans-fats caused 10% or so of their patients to have an increase in cholesterol and might not understand that the reason this statistical anomaly occurred is because there are some people who are affected by trans-fats and they might come to the conclusion that it affects all people in the same way and their 10% hit is a good statistical indicator of this. It is not of course anymore then thinking that peanut butter is deadly to everyone, it is only deadly to those individuals with a specific allergy. One last point about trans-fats. It does indeed improve shelf life but not because bacteria and fungi cannot grow in it but for the simpler reason that it reduces the oxidation of the oil and thus prevents it from becoming rancid.

  7. I didn't group milk with melamine because China had milk tainted with it. I merely used it as an example of a real food contamination that should be regulated. Food poisoning, or more accurately poisoning from tainted food is fairly common and in our past history it was far more common. Before pasteurization millions of people died from contaminated milk. Today that is rarely a problem in the 1st world because we pasteurize milk. Some small amount of milk is sold raw and every now and then someone dies from it and slightly more often someone gets very sick from it. Contrary to popular belief farmers cannot kill all the germs by cleaning the cows teats or keeping the equipment clean. And even more important the farmer, no matter how well meaning and sincere he is, cannot tell if the milk is tainted with one of the many deadly bacteria commonly found in raw milk or not. Drinking raw milk is a crap shoot. However I don't care what others choose to do. The FDA regulates this mostly to prevent any raw milk from entering the food chain. If you want to buy a cow and milk it you can drink it. In some states a dairy can sell it to you and in some states they can even sell it in stores. But always under specific rules. Where most people who indulge in raw milk get into trouble is when they try to bypass these rules. But to your question about spinach: Well it also applies to all greens. I myself will not eat greens (salad) anymore unless it's cooked. This is a weakness in our food supply that I can't accept anymore then I would drink raw milk.
    In a very small town quite close to me they have over 50 cases of pertussis this year compared to zero last year. This is because they are an agricultural community with a lot of legal and illegal Mexican labor. This is a real (no I mean REAL) risk to our kids and adults but because of politics we won't do anything about it. What kind of upside down system is it that labels trans-fats as so dangerous we must prohibit it but allows a serious health risk because it fits someone's political agenda?

    1. Sorry I got that wrong about the melamine. And I should probably say I don't do raw milk (or any milk, for that matter - I eat cheeses and use cream in my coffee, but no milk). My interest in that topic is just curiosity over why the feds should be so wrapped up about raw milk that they send SWAT teams to "health food" stores and mount year long sting operations against Amish farmers. I assume it's because big food importers and food companies have armies of lawyers to tie the up, while with mom and pop stores or Amish farmers are easier to bully. Bullies always prey on the weak.

      I think we're more on the same page than not. Part of my point, after all, was that I choose to avoid trans-fats but think the government shouldn't be involved. As I said in the 3rd paragraph, if I'm wrong, I hurt only myself; if they're wrong they hurt millions. Allow your understanding of them hurting people to include keeping folks from eating safe foods that have better shelf life and other properties trans fats bring, not just that hurting them means keeping dangerous foods on the market. Either taking them off the market or leaving them on it could end up hurting someone.

    2. I think that law enforcement is overdoing the swat teams at all levels not just the fed. They really need to scale this back.
      Here is my theory about the raids on farms etc. These farms broke the law, sometimes multiple times. Then they decided to be "cute" and broke the law in ways they thought were grey areas. I have a good friend who would always cut through a corner store parking lot if the light ahead was red and come out the other parking lot driveway effectively making a left and avoiding the light. I told him it was illegal and his standard response was I decided to go to the store then changed my mind. Cute! But sure enough he got a traffic ticket for "evading a traffic control devise". He tried his cute answer on the cop but it didn't work. So what these farmers, or at least some of them have done, is stopped selling raw milk after getting caught a few times and decided they could instead rent out the cows. They aren't selling raw milk don'tcha see they are miling these rented cows and letting people take their mik home from these rented cows. Cute! My understanding is that the FDA does not care if you drink raw milk. The farmer can drink it, you and I can drink it, but we cannot introduce it into the food chain. Selling it introduces it into the food chain. The consumer down the road can't tell they are getting raw milk when they buy it or are served it by someone who got the raw milk and mislabeled it or combined it with a prepared food product. The only way to prevent it is with laws that prescribe what the farmer and food preparers do. When one of them gets "cute" to get around the law (especially when they are caught multiple times) they are a repeat offender with a disrespect for the law. Should that require drawn guns or swat teams? Probably not but the police certainly have a right to protect themselves and because the offender intentionally is trying to evade the law they present a danger that someone who innocently breaks a law does not.

      I am in total agreement with you about banning (or not banning) trans-fats. I am a junk food junkie. I think McDonalds has ruined the worlds best French fries because of law suits and the food police. Last night while eating my el cheapo box of potato sticks I thought they just don't taste as good as they used to. Don't know for sure it's because they stopped using trans fats but I bet that's the answer. I would actually be OK with them banning a food or anything added to food providing they did so based on solid science. I just don't see the solid science for banning trans-fats (or HFCS, or sugar, or salt, etc.). If I saw something I could believe in I would cut it from my diet right away. But I suspect it is just the latest foodie anti-fad and this too will pass and next year it will be something else I like.

  8. And now they are going to allow importing of chickens from ... you guessed it ... CHINA of all places!!
    Have we not learned to distrust any food product for man or animal coming to the US from that country? I live in the Philippines and I won't touch most pharmaceuticals here which also come from China. And gov't organizations like the FDA are complicit in poisoning Americans.

    1. Sigh... I'm getting to understand and agree with all those people who are saying not to buy any farm raised animals or plants unless you can personally meet the farmer and know them.

      Or grow them yourself.

  9. I forgot one recent story I heard about the Dairy industry working with aspertame makers to add this "sweetener" to milk as a way to get kids to drink more milk because it does a body good. Right! How do you spell collusion to make a buck by poisoning people under the guise of making milk taste better? I thought that was what PB&J sandwiches were for, or at least chocolate or strawberry flavored milk. But aspertame sweetened milk? Yeeech!