Tuesday, June 27, 2006

FDA Calls Cocoa Via Bars Adulterated, Misbranded

I'm going to dive into the chocolate business, so this does nothing to cheer me up. To make it short, the FDA is wagging a finger at MasterFoods USA's Cocoa Via "functional" bars. Why?

1) They used folic acid in their product, which isn't expressly permitted.
2) The FDA claims the product isn't heart-healthy as claimed, despite the presence of plant sterol esters shown to lower LDL cholesterol as part of a low fat, low cholesterol diet, which a piece of chocolate certainly can be.

This is utterly insane, and I suggest that anyone that gives a damn about freedom write the FDA to tell it to shut up, and then go buy a pack of Cocoa Via bars to show 'em what-for.

The criticism ill-founded - in our system of law, something need not be permitted expressly to be legal, merely not prohibited to be legal. If there's a legal prohibition to using folic acid, there's another silly problem to deal with altogether. If they don't like this, they can uproot their organization and go regulate France, I'm sure they'd welcome them.

On the second count, this is both bad science, and a hollow attempt to regulate a food product as medicine. Saturated fats may have been damned by plenty of doctors, but I'm not convinced that it's quite fair.

Take a charming study of the effects of dairy consumption (I'll link in comments if anyone is interested) - it showed an alarming correlation between dairy consumption and cancers, tumors, etc. In short, all sorts of wretchedness. The conclusion is that a healthy diet has no place for these things. But where was the study undertaken? In a population where milk products have been almost unutilized over thousands of years. China.

For sakes, ~93% of the whole damn country is lactose-intolerant! Is there even a shade of a chance that there's a bit of a problem here? I think so. If they included some Mongols in their study, or for god's sake, Swedes (~2% intolerant prevalence), would the results have differed? Who knows, but silliness like this just clouds the water.

A more specific criticism of the whole "saturated fat is bad" argument is here: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=40
More than anything, I think it shows the silliness of allowing government to regulate claims rather than a civil court.

And of all the things we don't need, the government telling us what candy we can't have is about the last.


David said...

I love this story not just because you make a good point but because it offers great rhetoric. "The government is denying you chocolate!" And then millions of women rise up and overthrow it.

Tim said...

Heh, not just women, David ;-)

I read that the average Oaxacan in Mexico eats 5.5 pounds of chocolate a year (I wonder how sweetened it is, or if they're counting just raw bean?). I think I'm well on my way there - I manage more than 100 grams a week easily, so I think I may be a double-doppio Oaxacan a heart.

My medicine of the moment is a delicious "Rossiskiy" bittersweet chocolate filled with cocoa nibs - crushed up chocolate beans. You get a bit of sweet, smooth delight, then crunchy, bitter, heady pleasure.

My wife's favorite? Curry-coconut milk chocolate.

All this chocolate, you'd think I'd get fat - but that's the interesting thing - I eat sour cream, tasty pig parts (the belly, for example), butter, etc. Basically whatever I want. But in reasonable portions, basically three times a day, with minimal snacking. Cutting out the bags of chips and pretzels is a MASSIVE help.