CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Nutritional value of many (most?) foods low

The nutritional value of most foods in one chain of grocery stores was ranked and most scored almost zero.

It's often argued that a double-standard is applied to complementary and alternative medicine, including dietary supplements and CAM nutritional therapies, and conventional care. We worry about adverse reactions from dietary supplements, or that claims about alternative health products being 'natural' or 'healthy' are unfounded. But the same concern is now being raised, in industry, with respect to conventional foods available in the grocery store.

The New York Times reports that marketing, not coherent, consensus health standards, set the claims for healthiness on most of the food and nutritional products we commonly purchase:

"Hannaford Brothers, developed a system called Guiding Stars that rated the nutritional value of nearly all the food and drinks at its stores from zero to three stars. Of the 27,000 products that were plugged into Hannaford's formula, 77 percent received no stars, including many, if not most, of the processed foods that advertise themselves as good for you....

"These included V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium), Campbell's Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto), most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto) and nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar). Whole milk? Too much fat -- no stars. Predictably, most fruits and vegetables did earn three stars, as did things like salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal."

This "raises questions about the integrity of the nutrition claims."

With some food producers and manufacturers complaining about the ratings, the article offers one caveat: "Hannaford's nutritionists acknowledge that their system is more stringent than the guidelines used by the FDA."

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Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law, with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is also President of the the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine, also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society. The Institute serves as a reliable forum for investigation and recommendations regarding the legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care.

The most recent book written by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary and alternative medicine and related fields is an interdisciplinary collection of essays entitled, Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, begun with Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998).

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