06 February 2009

Food Standards Agency shows its ignorance

The following article appeared in the Guardian a couple of days ago. It demonstrates yet again that we are living in an asylum that's being run by the inmates.

People urged to cut out foods with 'killer' fats
guardian.co.uk by Rebecca Smithers on 4 February 2009

The food watchdog is to launch a multi-million campaign to urge people to cut out foods with "killer" fats amid growing evidence that families of all classes are eating far too many crisps, biscuits, cakes and pastries.

The Food Standards Agency will next week underline the strong links between heart disease and diets high in saturated fats, featuring "striking heart-shaped" images in popular foods.

Significantly the agency's research has shown that saturated fat consumption is too high across all social groupings, so the campaign will attempt to reach families from all classes and on various budgets. Middle-class cheese eaters, for example, will be urged to cut back on high-fat hard cheese products and to eat less cheese by grating it rather than eating it in blocks.

One image in the campaign reveals cheese coming through a grater in a heart shape, while another picture shows a "balanced" meal of salmon, peas and broccoli arranged in a heart.

According to the FSA, Britons are eating 20% more than the maximum recommended amount of saturated fat. The campaign will aim to educate consumers about the relationship between saturated fat and heart health, and will provide tips on shopping, preparation and cooking to help adults choose lower saturated fat options. The wide-ranging TV and media campaign will start next week, backed by leaflets, posters, flyers, recipe cards, postcards and shopping guides.

Last year the government announced a series of initiatives to crack down on saturated fats, including the appointment of a "tsar", Susan Jebb, of the government's Medical Research Council, to lead an academic group looking at strategies to reduce saturated fat consumption.

Cutting levels of fat intake by 20% would save an estimated 3,500 deaths a year, the FSA says. Although Britain's consumption of saturated fats has been falling over the past 20 years, largely due to people switching from full-fat to semi-skimmed milk, scientists say it is still too high. The fats make up almost one seventh of the average Briton's calorie intake.

Food manufacturers are also being encouraged to play their part by reformulating products. Snacks such as crisps are high in both salt and saturated fats, for example, but recipes have been altered so that many brands now contain 70% less fat than before.

Claire Hughes, nutritionist with Marks & Spencer, said: "We welcome any campaign from the FSA that helps educate consumers about a healthy diet, and how they can make more informed choices about what they eat."

The FSA hitlist

Foods high in saturated fat, which the FSA wants us to eat less often:

• Meat pies, sausages, meat with visible white fat
• Hard cheese
• Butter, and lard, spreads containing palm oil
• Pastry, cakes and biscuits
• Cream, soured cream, and crème fraîche
• Coconut oil or coconut cream

MY RESPONSE:

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) was correct to indict the fats found in crisps, biscuits, cakes and pastries. But these are NOT saturated fats; they are artifically hydrogenated fats which merely resemble saturated fats. There is a huge difference between the two as far as our health is concerned; lumping the two together is highly misleading.

When we talk about saturated fats these days, the popular perception is that we are talking about animal fats. But animal fats are entirely healthy. Indeed, when all the fats we ate were from animal sources -- butter, lard, dripping, cream, et cetera -- the chronic degenerative diseases that plague our lives today were either very rare or non-existent. Evidence over the last decade or so indicates that for optimum health, animal fats should provide upwards of 50% of calorie intake. We should be eating more of them, not less.

An FSA campaign aimed at cutting the consumption of crisps, biscuits, cakes and pastries, may have a useful purpose as the fats used in these have been shown to be harmful, as have the starches they include. But if the safest fats of all -- the fats found in meat, sausages, cheese, cream, butter, and tropical oils such as coconut oil -- are also to be targeted, then our health will only decline even more rapidly than it is at present.

It is no coincidence that diseases such as diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's and more have taken off since 'healthy eating' was introduced by the COMA Report of 1984. These are classic cases of cause and effect. 'Healthy eating' is not the answer to the problem, it IS the problem. Until that is acknowledged, our health will only get worse.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Barry

Heaven help us from the 'food fascists'!

I was trying to explain to someone at work the other day how it's the carbs not the fats that need to be watched if you want to loose weight and be healthy. (She had just joined weightwatchers and was about to embark on a low fat diet as well as wondering whether she should get a cholesterol test). You just get a blank look and comments such as 'why would the government tell us to lower our fat intake then?' People are so indoctrinated these days that if you disagree with the 'official' advice then you are obviously mad and misguided! How long until there are food police in the supermarkets checking what you are buying?

Tanya

Anonymous said...

Just realised what I typed lose not loose!
Tanya

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that Susan Jebb receives funding from the Flour Advisory Bureau. She is duty bound not to implicate carbs as the true culprits.

Anonymous said...

If I remember rightly she also has links with the sugar industry!

Tanya

Anonymous said...

You are correct, she has lectured at functions sponsored by Tate and Lyle and she produced an anti low carb report in return for £20,000 from the Flour Advisory Board.

Susie

Anonymous said...

Ive just seen the latest sat fat advert from the FSA and it seems wrong. The ad shows liquid fat being poured down a sink, straight from the fridge, that is NOT sat fat unless they have heated it up, in which case the ad is misleading and breaks the rules of truthfulness. And since when were arteries (not veins mind where blood moves slower and has to pass through valves) cold plastic pipes? More scaremongering bunk. Unfortunately there will be so many people who will be swayed by this and turn to the poly marges for consolation. It makes me sad.

Julia

ps can I ask Barry if he has an opinion on Ezekiel bread made from sprouted soaked grains?

Barry Groves said...

Hi Julia

I've just read about this BBC propaganda online (I'm in Lanzarote at present for the sun and Vitamin D)

Yes, it is mendacious, misleading and potentially criminal in my opinion. They are really describing polyunsaturated cooking oils, which contain very litle saturated fatty acids. I'm working on a very strong response.

Don't let it make you sad, it should make you angry. It's our money they are wasting on this harmful crap.

I also plan to be more proactive when I return. If you can't beat them from the outside, join them!

I'm afraid I can't help much with Ezekiel bread as I have no experience of it.

Have you seen http://www.nobeliefs.com/washingtonnews/EzekielBread.htm

Whatever, it's still going to be high carb - and probably expensive.

Anonymous said...

Barry, thank you for your very swift reply. I hope to see you at work from within very shortly. You should be pleased to know that I have seen your name mentioned several times in comments to the press so the word is getting out, albeit rather slowly.

I am sad that people are so easily deceived by people in white coats but I am also mad at the authorities that perpetuate this stuff and we cannot argue against it because 'they''know'.

Re the Ezekiel bread, it is a moderately high carb bread but has all its vits and mins intact because it doesn't use flour that has been stripped. I thought sprouted bread might be a 'healthier option' as it uses traditional methods of baking rather than modern fluff.

Enjoy the sunshine while I dig out more snow from my front path.

Julia

Mathew Iredale said...

Barry is right, the obvious response to this is anger; quite frankly, the current advert and accompanying pseudo-scientific 'advice' makes me livid.

Leaving aside several decades of research (which clearly exonerates saturated fat) there are so many holes in the basic 'sat fat is bad' argument that it beggars belief. E.g. the fact that saturated fat intake in the UK fell from 46.8g/d to 29.2g/d from 1980-2000 (as a BBC article actually mentions!) whilst obesity, heart disease, etc. have risen; the fact that animal based products are available all year round (thus making them readily available to our hunter-gatherer forebears), whereas the supposedly 'healthy' oils are contained in highly inaccessible (until the last few hundred years) plant and fish oils. Do these people imagine that our ancestors spent their time and effort finding and processing rape seeds, sunflower seeds, etc., or fishing for tuna in the ocean, when they could have just caught, killed and skinned readily available game? And if not, how have we managed to survive for so many millennia on 'bad fat'?

I suspect, but it is mainly backed up by anecdotal evidence, that the problem is that most nutritionists lack basic scientific training/understanding. They do not appreciate the complexities of human metabolism, the archaeological and anthropological evidence supporting our early, low-carb diet, a basic understanding of the biochemistry of the foods that we eat and how the body processes them and they simply do not know about, still less care to understand, the numerous examples of clinical and epidemiological research which do not support their position.

The only clear conclusion that one can draw is that they are staggeringly ignorant of the science. Or that they are aware of it, but for reasons best known to them, choose to ignore it.

Either way, it is a damning indictment of the majority of nutritionists and of their governing body.

Mathew Iredale said...

Further to my last comment, it speaks volumes that the blog of the Food Standards Agency's Chief Scientist, Andrew Wadge (called, without apparent irony, hungry for science), contains no actual scientific research to back up its various 'facts'.

You can see for yourself here:
http://www.fsascience.net/

Wendy said...

Hi,
I agree with all the comments; and to Barry: "sock it to 'em!" As long as 'people' keep shouting the other side of the argument regards sat fat we might get heard sooner rather than later. It's getting pretty rediculous all these adverts dictating what's good and what's supposedly bad for us to eat (or pill to pop). I was watching the sci fi channel on monday and saw the new FSA tv advert goodness knows how many times! It annoyed me imensely so I have sent in an official complaint about it's misleading contents to the Advertising Standards Authority in UK. I wonder if the other commentors on here would do the same? The more complaints they get they'll have to take notice. Power of the People and all that...

Wendy MSc

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy

How did you phrase your complaint? I want to complain too - it made me so angry. I think it would be a good idea to put my complaint in a similar vein.

Tanya

Norma Laming said...

Barry I've read both your recent books and you were kind enough to reply when I emailed you about my RA. The big problem is how does one present to the medical profession? As you say in your book, we have an individual responsibility to take informed decisions but I've just been told that my cholesterol is 6.59 and needs wathching and that there is an assocition between inflammation and cholesterol.

Now, with the best will in the world I cannot hold in my head all that is set out in Trick and Treat and if I mention it to my doctor I will be a middle aged cranky woman who has - forgive me - read a cranky book. If I give him the book the first two chapters he will read will be criticising the medical profession and He probably won't get further than that.

I too, like your other correspondents, have passed on the earlier book on Healthy Nutrition to a friend and she flatly didn't believe it and said it went against everything that was known.

It is very hard to take your advice!

Norma said...

By the way, if I can add to the above, I am utterly convinced by what you say and though I didn't mean to lose weight when I started eating as you recommend I have lost the chubby edges that were there.

How does one resist the command and control nature of the NHS?

Good wishes,
N

Barry Groves said...

Hi all

How we resist doctors and the NHS.

It's not easy. But we - and they - have to realise that we pay their salaries and they work for us. We are not on this earth to give them a good living at our expense.

However, don't be confrontational; be courteous but decline 'treatment' you feel is inappropriate.

If your doctor suggests, say, statins, and you are not convinced that they are right for you, just say: "No, thank you". If he/she insists, use the information in Trick and Treat and on internet sites such as mine(obviously :-)) and http://www.thincs.org and others.

Write the evidence down and present it to your doctor, telling him of your concerns and saying that, in view of this, you don't want to take the risk.

You may have seen in the news that ALL people over the age of 50 are going to be put on statins.

Patents are running out and no new drugs are being produced. The drug companies are in a bit of a panic. For this reason, there is a concerted effort on the part of the drug companies to maximise what they have. Getting the whole population on drugs that they have to take for life is one way to do that without having to do any more work.

But lack of statins is not why we are getting sicker; bad advice and incorrect nutrition is the cause.

Eat a truly healthy diet and you won't have to visit your doctor. If you don't see him, he can't browbeat you.

Barry

Megan said...

I made a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the liquid 'saturated fat' being poured down the sink.

Barry, can I ask if you have come across the LIPGENE study? When I was doing some research online on the advice given by the Food Standards Agency I came across one of its conclusions that saturated fat is bad for us - surprise!

However, from what I've been able to find out so far it doesn't look as if the participants were given 'real' saturated fat in the trials, as the food was supplied by Unilever Bestfoods - now Unilever UK Foods.

Norma said...

Hell's bells! I'm 50 in September!! Yes I will write down all the information. I wouldn't go to the doctor if it weren't for the RA and it's hard work to limit the contact once the door is open: if they do a blood test for one thing then tick another box at the same time.

To be fair, they believe that they are doing the right thing and helping.

Wendy said...

Reply to Tanya:
Hiya, I phrased my complaint about the FSA tv advert to the ASA as reasonable as possible, avoiding being 'confrontational' (in a similar way Barry proposes approaching Docs!) I figure 'they' will have to take notice as long as the complaint is related to the advert CONTENTS (based on the image the advert portrays). I wrote something along the lines: '...kitchen sink piping and the comparison to the 'clogging' of people's 'pipes' (arteries), is very misleading, disturbing and fear-mongering. Human 'pipes' are nothing like a U-bend as shown in the advert, nor the same temperature; once absorbed into the body (37.5 degrees internal temp) saturated fat is 'liquid'. And when saturated fat has been digested and broken down into 'fatty acids', in the human 'pipes' it is nothing like shown in the Advert...Far from looking like a clogged U-bend the digested saturated fat are utilised or burnt by the body for energy...'
Hope this helps.

I think the more people that complain in whatever way might make the FSA and Advertising Standards Authority start to take more notice regards sat fat.

Wendy

Barry Groves said...

hi Megan

I do know of the LIPGENE study but, unfortunately, its findings are published in two journals that I don't subscribe to.

However, I note in the abstract to a 2005 publication:
"Features of the 5-year work programme include a major human nutrition intervention study in eight European cities, development of a sustainable vegetable oil product naturally rich in long-chain n-3 fatty acids, and identification of a protocol for feeding dairy cows that will result in milk with a more favourable fatty acid composition."

So they are definitely looking at ways to make our natural foods less healthy.

The real problem for them is that no-one can make a lot of money out of real food. It has to be bastardised in some way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy

Many thanks. Sounds like a good angle.

Hi Barry

It makes me so cross that such a lot of our food is messed about with. We go to France and it breaks my heart to see all the processed food/lowfat spreads etc. They used to get it pretty much right but now seem to be going the same way as the rest of us.

It worries me that soon we won't be able to get anything that isn't processed in one way or another. It's really hard educating children as well. A couple of years ago my daughter came home from school telling me that it was bad to eat cheese. I explained how that was wrong but she told me that her teacher had said it - part of the 'healthy food' indoctrination that is spouted everywhere. It was a bit rich really seeing as that particular teacher used chocolate and sweets as rewards in class! We are rearing a generation of children with completely distorted views on how food should be. Thankfully now my daughter takes more notice of what I tell her about food than school!

Tanya

Barry Groves said...

Hi Tanya

Yes, this action and misinformation in schools is really worrying. I think this is the worst aspect of so-called 'healthy eating' promotion as it will leave a whole generation devoid of the truth, and at the mercy of corporate greed.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote "Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action."

If things were bad enough for him to have said that 200 years ago, I wonder what he would have made of today's insidious, harmful propaganda.

I will be putting a article on second-opinions.co.uk this afternoon. It will slam the FSA, pulling no punches. And I'll give them the right to reply. See what they say - or don't say! I will be on by 4:00pm (GMT)

It's time to get my hands really dirty.

Megan said...

Thanks for your quick response, Barry.

Yes, all the blurb I've read about the LIPGENE project fills me with fear and dread.

If you do happen to get hold of the details of the diet would you be so good as to put it on your blog please?

Will we all be forced to keeping a cow in the back garden and making our own cream, butter and cheese?

Waiting with bated breath for your Second Opinion article.

Thanks again,
Megan

Barry Groves said...

Hi Megan

It's online at http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/fsa-ignorance.html


Barry

Megan said...

It's excellent, Barry! I've emailed you.

I had a reply from the Advertising Standards Authority, saying "Our concern when assessing TV ads is how they will be taken by those who see them. We can and do act when we feel that an ad is likely to cause harm or mislead consumers to their detriment, however, in those cases where technical inaccuracy is likely to have neither effect we believe that there is little to be gained from intervention."

So it seems the ASA believe it's fine for people to get sick and die so long as it's only down to "a technicality"!

I despair sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry

Have you had any reply from the FSA yet about your excellent article?

Tanya

Barry Groves said...

Hi Tanya

No! But before I went to Lanzarote a month ago I sent copies of Trick and Treat to several people who have influence over government and their quangos. Now that I am back in the UK, I'll follow these up and see if I can get to talk man to man with any of them.

And, Megan, I think I might bring up such 'technicalities' as lies!

Barry

Megan said...

I wish you the best of luck if you're trying to counteract the influence of the saintly Dr Susan Jebb OBE ! Her tentacles seem to spread far and wide.

I've tried to get answers from the FSA on saturated fat studies, as well as from the WCRF UK regarding their latest warning on red meat, to no avail.

The WCRF did send me a link to the list of references used (1082 of 'em!) and I had great fun in my blog disecting it!

Megan said...

Barry, have you had any joy from your distribution of Trick and Treat among the influential?

Barry Groves said...

Hi Megan

No joy yet. I sent one to my MP, David Cameron, but the recent death of his son has mucked up his schedule. Another went to the academic director at the NHS's National Institute for health Research. I have high hopes of this one. But it takes time.

I also complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the sat-fat ads on TV. I received a reply this morning saying they don't think the ads are misleading or harmful! I won't let this one drop.

Barry

Megan said...

Hi Barry,

I'm glad you're not letting it drop with the ASA.

I'm not sure how to email you, so do you mind if I put this here?

I wondered if you would possibly help to publicise a Diet and Health Survey on which I have collaborated with Amanda from The Cake & Biscuit Diet website?

We believe that low-carb is the healthiest diet, and would like this to be the biggest survey of weight-loss dieting and their health implications.

This is the link - http://www.cake-and-biscuit-diet.com/Questionnaire.aspx

Thanks
Megan
http://lowcarbjottings.blogspot.com/

Barry Groves said...

Hi Megan

My e-mail address is at the end of my profile on the right-hand side of this blog page.

You and Amanda have both got very good blogs, which I enjoy reading. I wish I had more time to write on mine - I tend to put it on my wesites instead.

I tried to do the questionnaire but I found it impossible to complete. Possibly because my 'dieting' days are so long ago.

Megan said...

Hi Barry, thank you for the kind words. Thanks also for trying to fill in the questionnaire, but I do understand why you found it difficult. Hopefully some people will have picked it up from here :).

Megan

Nuttygran said...

Hi Mr Groves,
Why on earth don't the FSA target the real culprit, Sugar!! As the late Prof' Yudkin said "Pure White & Deadly." So many 'foods' are loaded with sugar. Many which are marked 'fat free' have as much as 50% sugar.
Thank you for your website, I am still learning about the 'net but I'm glad I have found it.

Barry Groves said...

Hi Nuttygran

You're joking, aren't you? There is far too much money behind sugar. The FDA wouldn't dare to target it.

Mind you, if and when H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is passed by the US government and comes into law, sugar could well be banned unless Monsanto are supplying the seeds for the sugar cane.

Or am I being too cynical?

The fact that we and our health are being manipulated for the profit of the food and health industries is what Trick and Treat is all about.

In Trick and Treat, I suggested that we should take control of our own health. However, H.R. 875 looks like it will target organic farmers, farmers markets, and even those of us who grow foods in our own gardens for our own use.

We really must stand up against those whose only aim in life seems to be to make as much money as possible regardless of the consequenses to the rest of the world. Is that really 'The American Dream'?

Oldyouth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nuttygran said...

A woman I know used to insist on adding sugar to her tea/coffee she said ones body needed sugar. She is now diabetic..

Nuttygran said...

I wonder if anyone would care to cast there vote here.
: http://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/

Barry Groves said...

Hi Nuttygran

Have just voted and would recommend that others do as well.

Barry

Nuttygran said...

Thank you Barry. I wasn't sure if it was OK to post the address on this site but I thought it was important.

Alex said...

The FSA anti-saturated fat TV adverts have caught the attention of US stand-up comic and writer Tom Naughton (of the film 'Fat Head')n who has written this witty comeback: http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2009/09/14/bogus-science-is-draining/

Barry Groves said...

Good one, Alex. I like the comments as well. I wonder if the incompetents at the FSA ever look at the derision and scorn they engender.

Surely the FSA must realise that pushing out the nonsense they do can only damage their credibility. Or could it possibly be that their real aim is to give us all a good laugh?

Barry

Alex said...

The comments to that post have stacked up since I first viewed it. You are right - they are great comments. Maybe you should send a copy of that page to the FSA to show them just how ridiculously inept their dietary advice is - and they are - to the more discerning and intelligent viewers and readers!

Barry Groves said...

Hi Alex

It has grown, hasn't it?

Yours is a good idea. I was thinking along similar lines, but also thinking of adding some damning real science as well. Like the benefits of saturated fat in heart disease - with references, of course, because I doubt anybody at the FSA will know of them.

Barry

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