Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply.
Diamond’s transgression was to make “financial investments to educate the public and supply them with walnuts,” as William Faloon of Life Extension magazine put it. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. These claims, Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: “Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts”; and “The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.”
This evidence was apparently not good enough for the FDA, which told Diamond that its walnuts were “misbranded” because the “product bears health claims that are not authorized by the FDA.”
The FDA’s letter continues: “We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.” Furthermore, the products are also “misbranded” because they “are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes.” Who knew you had to have directions to eat walnuts?
“The FDA’s language,” Faloon writes, “resembles that of an out-of-control police state where tyranny [reigns] over rationality.” He adds:
This kind of bureaucratic tyranny sends a strong signal to the food industry not to innovate in a way that informs the public about foods that protect against disease. While consumers increasingly reach for healthier dietary choices, the federal government wants to deny food companies the ability to convey findings from scientific studies about their products.
Walnuts aren’t the only food whose health benefits the FDA has tried to suppress. Producers of pomegranate juice and green tea, among others, have felt the bureaucrats’ wrath whenever they have suggested that their products are good for people.
Meanwhile, Faloon points out, foods that have little to no redeeming value are advertised endlessly, often with dubious health claims attached. For example, Frito-Lay is permitted to make all kinds of claims about its fat-laden, fried products, including that Lay’s potato chips are “heart healthy.” Faloon concludes that “the FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy foods. They prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life span by increasing degenerative disease risk.”
Faloon thinks he knows why this is the case. First, by stifling competition from makers of more healthful alternatives, junk food manufacturers, who he says “heavily lobb[y]” the federal government for favorable treatment, will rake in ever greater profits. Second, by making it less likely that Americans will consume healthful foods, big pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers stand to gain by selling more “expensive cardiac drugs, stents, and coronary bypass procedures” to those made ill by their diets.
But people are starting to fight back against the FDA’s tactics. “The makers of pomegranate juice, for example, have sued the FTC for censoring their First Amendment right to communicate scientific information to the public,” Faloon reports. Congress is also getting into the act with a bill, the Free Speech About Science Act (H.R. 1364), that, Faloon writes, “protects basic free speech rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public.”
Of course, if the Constitution were being followed as intended, none of this would be necessary. The FDA would not exist; but if it did, as a creation of Congress it would have no power to censor any speech whatsoever. If companies are making false claims about their products, the market will quickly punish them for it, and genuine fraud can be handled through the courts. In the absence of a government agency supposedly guaranteeing the safety of their food and drugs and the truthfulness of producers’ claims, consumers would become more discerning, as indeed they already are becoming despite the FDA’s attempts to prevent the dissemination of scientific research. Besides, as Faloon observed, “If anyone still thinks that federal agencies like the FDA protect the public, this proclamation that healthy foods are illegal drugs exposes the government’s sordid charade.”
What the FDA Allows You to Hear
The number of people logging on to the website of Diamond Foods was miniscule. I suspect that before the FDA took this draconian action, hardly anyone even knew this website existed.
What the public hears loud and clear, however, are endless advertisements for artery-clogging junk foods. Fast food chains relentlessly promote their 99-cent double-cheese burger as being bigger than their rivals. These advertisements induce many consumers to salivate for these toxic calories that are a contributing cause of coronary artery disease. Yet the FDA does not utter a peep in suggesting that their advertising be curtailed.
On the contrary, the FDA has issued waves of warning letters to companies making foods (pomegranate juice, green tea, and walnuts) that protect against atherosclerosis. The FDA is blatantly demanding that these companies stop informing the public about the scientifically validated health benefits these foods provide.
The FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy foods. They prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life span by increasing degenerative disease risk.
Frito-Lay® is a subsidiary of the PepsiCo, Inc., makers of Pepsi-Cola. Frito-Lay® sells $12 billion a year of products that include:
|Lays® Potato Chips|
You might not associate these mostly-fried snack foods as being good for you, but the FDA has no problem allowing the Frito-Lay® website to state the following:
“Frito-Lay® snacks start with real farm-grown ingredients. You might be surprised at how much good stuff goes into your favorite snack. Good stuff like potatoes, which naturally contain vitamin C and essential minerals. Or corn, one of the world’s most popular grains, packed with thiamin, vitamin B6, and phosphorous—all necessary for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles.
“And it’s not just the obvious ingredients. Our all-natural sunflower, corn and soybean oils contain good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower total and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and maintain HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which can support a healthy heart. Even salt, when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, is essential for the body.”
Wow! Based on what Frito-Lay® is allowed to state, it sounds like we should be living on these snacks. Who would want to ingest walnuts, pomegranate, or green tea (which the FDA is attacking) when these fat calorie-laden, mostly-fried carbohydrates are so widely available?
According to the Frito Lay® website, Lays® potato chips are “heart healthy” because the level of saturated fat was reduced and replaced with sunflower oil. Scientific studies do show that when a polyunsaturated fat (like sunflower oil) is substituted for saturatedfat, favorable changes in blood cholesterol occur.
Fatally omitted from the Frito-Lay® website is the fact that sunflower oil supplies lots of omega-6 fats, but no omega-3s. The American diet already contains too many omega-6 fats and woefully inadequate omega-3s.
Excess omega-6 fats in the diet in the absence of adequate omega-3s produce devastating effects, including the production of pro-inflammatory compounds that contribute to virtually every age-related disease, including atherosclerosis.
For the FDA to allow Frito-Lay® to pretend there are heart benefits to ingesting their unhealthy snack products, while censoring the ability of walnut companies to make scientifically substantiated claims, is tantamount to treason against the health of the American public.
Don’t Forget the Acrylamides
When carbohydrate foods are cooked at high temperature (as occurs when potatoes are fried in sunflower oil to make potato chips), a toxic compound called acrylamide is formed.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “acrylamide is considered to be a mutagen and a probable human carcinogen, based mainly on studies in laboratory animals. Scientists do not yet know with any certainty whether the levels of acrylamide typically found in some foods pose a health risk for humans.”
In response to these kinds of concerns, the FDA funded a massive study to ascertain the acrylamide content of various foods. The FDA found that potato chips and other fried carbohydrate foods were especially high in acrylamides.
The FDA, however, has not stopped companies selling high acrylamide–containing fried carbohydrates from promoting these foods as “healthy.”
Pharmaceutical Companies Benefit From FDA’s Misdeeds
As the aging population develops coronary atherosclerosis, pharmaceutical companies stand to reap tens of billions of dollars each year in profits. An obstacle standing in their way is scientific evidence showing that a healthy diet can prevent heart disease from developing in many people.
It is thus in the economic interests of pharmaceutical giants that the FDA forcibly censor the ability of companies making heart healthy foods to inform the public of the underlying science. The fewer consumers who know the facts about walnuts, pomegranate, and green tea, the greater the demand will be for expensive cardiac drugs, stents, and coronary bypass procedures.
Once again, the FDA overtly functions to enrich Big Pharma, while the public shoulders the financial burden of today’s health care cost crisis.
In this particular case, however, processed food companies also stand to profit from the FDA’s attacks on healthy foods as competition from walnut growers is stifled.
FDA/FTC Wants More Control Over What You Are Allowed to Learn
The FDA and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) are proposing new regulations that will stifle the ability of natural food companies to disseminate scientific research findings.
The reality is that natural foods do not carry high prescription drug price markups, so it would be economically impossible to conduct the same kinds of voluminous clinical studies as pharmaceutical companies do. As readers of this column know, many of the clinical studies the FDA relies on to approve new drugs are fraudulent to begin with. So even if it were feasible to conduct more clinical research on foods and supplements, that still does not guarantee the precise accuracy the FTC is seeking.
If these agency proposals are enacted, consumers will be barred from learning about new ways to protect their health until a food or nutrient meets stringent new requirements. A look at the warning letter the FDA sent to Diamond Foods is a frightening example of how scientific information can be harshly censored by unelected bureaucrats.
If anyone still thinks that federal agencies like the FDA protect the public, this proclamation that healthy foods are illegal drugs exposes the government’s sordid charade.
Companies That Sell Healthy Foods Try to Fight Back
The combined sales of the companies attacked by the FDA are only a fraction of those of food giant Frito-Lay®. Yet some of these companies are fighting back against the FDA’s absurd position that it is illegal to disseminate scientific research showing the favorable effects these foods produce in the body. The makers of pomegranate juice, for example, have sued the FTC for censoring their First Amendment right to communicate scientific information to the public.
As a consumer, you should be outraged that disease-promoting foods are protected by the federal government, while nutritious foods are censored. There is no scientific rationale for the FDA to do this. On the contrary, the dangerous foods ubiquitously advertised in the media are replacing cigarettes as the leading killers in modern society.
The federal government is heavily lobbied by companies selling processed foods. As many have revealed long ago, an insidious activity of lobbyists is to incite federal agencies and prosecutors to eliminate free competition in the marketplace.
The simple fact is that walnuts are healthy to eat, while carbohydrates fried in fat are not. The FDA permits companies selling disease-promoting foods to deceive the public, while it suppresses the dissemination of peer-reviewed scientific information about healthy foods.