Junk Science By Lee Ann Fisher Baron

2134 words - 9 pages

In Lee Ann Fisher Baron’s “Junk Science,” she claims that the “food industry with the help of federal regulators” sometimes use “[a science that] bypasses [the] system of peer review. Presented directly to the public by…‘experts’ or ‘activists,’ often with little or no supporting evidence, this ‘junk science’ undermines the ability…[for] everyday consumers to make rational decisions” (921). Yet Americans still have a lot of faith in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to a 2013 Pew Research study, 65% of Americans are “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” of the FDA. When it comes to what people put in their bodies, the FDA has a moral obligation to be truthful and transparent. The bottom line of the FDA’s myriad of responsibilities is to help protect the health of Americans. Deciding what to eat is a critical part of living healthily, and consumers must be able to trust that this massive government agency is informing them properly of the contents of food. While the FDA does an excellent job in many areas, it has flaws in other areas. One of its flaws is allowing the food industry to print food labels that are deceptive, unclear, or simply not true (known as misbranding). This is quite the hot topic because a Google search for “Should I trust food labels” returns well over 20 million results, many of which are blog posts from online writers begging their readers not to trust food labels. HowStuffWorks, a division of Discovery Communications, published an online article whose author claims that “[the food industry] will put what they want on labels. They know the game….” While the food industry is partially at blame for misbranding, the FDA is allowing it to happen. If a mother tells her children that it is okay to steal, her children are going to steal. Like any company, the food industry will push the limit in order to maximize profits, and because the FDA is in charge of setting such limits, the FDA is at fault. Despite having worked to eliminate it since the early 1900’s, the FDA currently allows for misbranding in many different ways because it lacks the power, authority, and resources to regulate food labels in the way it ought to. In contrast, the food industry misbrands for mostly economic reasons.
Throughout the 1900’s, the FDA has made substantial positive changes to its regulatory standards concerning food labeling, but is has not gotten to where it needs to be. Eric C. Wall, a student at Harvard University, detailed the FDA’s history and provided the following information. Even after more than 100 years of hard work and negotiating with other federal groups and the food industry, the FDA still allows misbranding even though it was supposedly outlawed through the 1906 Federal Food and Drugs Act (5). In 1913, Congress declared that food packaging must include a statement of the amount of food in a given package (5). “Slack fill” (intentionally filling only a portion of a package with food) and deceptive packaging...

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