Bottomline: Food manufacturers are no different from tire or television manufacturers. Their primary allegiance is to stockholders to make a profit. They do so by reducing costs and raising prices. The name of the game is buying materials as cheaply as possible and selling finished products as high as possible, what the market will bear, whether it’s canned peaches, cream puffs or microwaveable casseroles. Legally or illegally. And the lines are often blurred.
As Byron Beerbower, Compliance Manager, Michigan Dept of Agriculture and Rural Development says, “In the food end of the world, where profit margins are measured in pennies or parts of pennies, if you can substitute something of lesser value and sell it for a higher value, you make a lot more money.“
Over two third’s (2/3’s) of our food dollar goes to marketing these processed foods, which food companies do with bright, often misrepresented labels, exaggerated or misleading claims in separate advertising (not on product labels) backed by plenty of psychological research, playing on emotions with warm and fuzzy commercials giving the impression you will be thin, beautiful, and sexy if you consume these products.
As awareness about health increases, we see more and more artificially-concocted “technofoods” with manufacturers touting their products as beneficial, whether they are or not. I’ve actually coined a new term for this: “healthifying” which you can read about in my “Rainbow of Foods and Dietary Trends” chapter from my book, Truly Cultured.
Who’s protecting Us? Depending upon the food, the USDA, FDA, federal and state agencies have jurisdiction here. Budgets are tight, yet, are they doing their jobs? Evidence keeps mounting to question this.
In October 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) gave the FDA failing grades for preventing false and misleading labeling. GAO found that while the number of food firms and products has increased dramatically, the FDA’s oversight and enforcement actions “have not kept pace.” As a result, the “FDA has little assurance that companies comply with food labeling laws and regulations,” says the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Food Labeling Chaos” report.
So, whadda we gonna do about it? Isn’t it time we Get REAL with this? Read my conclusions and the simplest actions you can take to be assured that you and your family are getting safer, healthier foods in my “9 Ways the Fake Food Alert Can Help Your Family Eat Better” sequel on www.YourTango.com.