Consider this the next time you wonder how far government officials will go to protect you: former FDA Commissioner David Kessler used to dumpster dive for nutritional data that chain restaurants were unwilling to hand over. Kessler, who rummaged through rubbish in slacks and padded gardening gloves, was looking for the ingredient labels that suppliers are required to print on all inter-state food shipments. Kessler’s findings were both dirty and disturbing…
The labels showed the foods were bathed in salt, fat and sugars, beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Eggrolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times. The “egg rolls,” which are deep-fried in fat, contain chicken that has been chopped up like meatloaf to give it a “melt in the mouth” quality that also makes it faster to eat. By the time a diner has finished this appetizer, she has consumed 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium.
Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner’s brain to crave more, Kessler said. For many, the come-on offered by Lay’s Potato Chips — “Betcha can’t eat just one” — is scientifically accurate. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want, Kessler found.
Kessler equates big food with big tobacco, accusing industrial food producers of mucking with our brain chemistry to encourage overeating. He’s written a book, The End of Overeating, based in part on his dumpster diving discoveries.
David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Resist; Now He Knows Why [The Washington Post via Consumer Law & Policy Blog]