In the United States, school canteens nibbled by lobbies


Overconsumption of red meat? Ultra-processed foods? Excess salt? In the United States, these subjects seem to become taboo, in view of the governmental directives coming soon to the school canteens and to the programs of food aid. The State Department for Agriculture (USDA) has indeed excluded these issues from its field of study in anticipation of nutritional recommendations it is about to disseminate for the period 2020-2024. According to Washington Post who scrutinized the USDA's studies, these aggression-rousing questions were ignored even though government-appointed health experts are supposed to discuss 80 public health issues, such as the "Links between meal frequency and cardiovascular risk".

Outline of canteen menus

This is a clear retreat compared to the latest recommendations issued in 2015 under the presidency of Barack Obama. At the time, USDA experts had set limits for added sugars for the first time and pointed to a correlation between red meat consumption and certain types of cancer. Experts also suggested eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A report that was highly displeasing to the agri-food industry who had spent nearly $ 77 million in vain trying to influence members of Congress and thus protect their interests.

Since the election of Donald Trump, the heavyweights of market food seem to have taken over. Of the twenty experts appointed by the USDA to develop the outline of menus in school canteens, no less than thirteen are linked to agri-food lobbies, according to a count of Washington Post, against "only" two in 2015. Among the current members is the Dr Ronald Kleinman, a doctor who stated in 2011 that the consumption of Coca-Cola was healthy and wanted to dispel any "Parents' needless concern about the health of their children"or Carol Boushey, representative of the National Cattlemen 's Beef Association and Barbara Schneeman of the International Life Sciences Institute, an organization funded by Nestlé, McDonald and Monsanto.

Weight of the influential food industry

A few weeks before the release of the 2020-2024 nutritional recommendations, the question of consumption thresholds for soft drinks, frozen pizzas or cookies under the weight of the influential food industry, while overweight young people represent nearly 32% children and adolescents aged 2-19 in the United States versus 17% in France.

This change of course of the state administration was already denounced in July by thirty associations including the American Institute for Cancer Research or the American Association of Pediatricians, who called for an opening of debates to outside researchers . A request remained unanswered.

Paul Poirot

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