The Sensible Food Policy Coalition is a new advocacy group made up of food manufacturers (and interestingly headed by former Obama Administration official Anita Dunn) that seeks to shine a much needed light on the new “voluntary” guidelines proposed by the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Proposed Advertising standards. 

On a conference call yesterday, the coalition released a list of the 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages in America.  Of them, 88 are banned from advertising under the IWG’s recommendations.  Let’s take a look at some of those 88 foods the government thinks are too dangerous for your children: 

•  Ready-to-eat cereals: Nearly all commonly consumed cereals (even unsweetened cereals like Cheerios or Corn Flakes – are banned from advertising). Unflavored shredded wheat is the only cereal acceptable. 

•  Salads: The most common form of salad is a leaf salad with low-fat dressing – and even this does not satisfy the IWG standards because of the salt and calories in the dressing. 

•  Hot cereal: The most common of these is sweetened oatmeal, but even plain oatmeal, if cooked according to standard package directions, fails the standards because of salt content and low number of nutrients. 

•  Bottled water: Pure water – unflavored and noncarbonated – fails the standards because it provides no nutritional value. 

•  Canned Corn: Unacceptable because of salt and canning ingredients.

•  Canned Green beans: Unacceptable because of salt and canning ingredients. 

•  Canned Peas: Unacceptable because of salt and canning ingredients.

•  Whole wheat bread: Unacceptable because of salt; a necessary ingredient in bread-baking.

•  Reduced-fat yogurt: Unacceptable because of sugar content.

•  Rice: Unacceptable because of low nutritional value compared with calorie content.

Huh?  Bottled water, salads, whole wheat bread, yogurt?

The ban on canned food and items containing salt is particularly interesting given the latest research that disputes the common believe that salt intake is related to cardiovascular disease.  Researchers in the U.K. reviewed data from seven studies on salt consumption and found that while eating less salt did lower blood pressure, it did not reduce the risk of dying or of having heart disease.

In addition to being wrong on the science, the list doesn’t even maintain government policy.    Most of the “forbidden” foods on the list meet the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “healthy,” even bearing the FDA-authorized health claims.  In addition, most of the foods listed satisfy USDA’s standards for its Women, Infant, Children (WIC) food assistance program and the consumption of these foods is encouraged under the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.  Even the food stamp program allows the purchase of these “dangerous” foods. 

So, let’s take a look at what the government will allow you to eat:

•  100% fruit juice

•  bananas

•  raw apples

•  raw carrots

•  raw oranges

•  raw grapes

•  broccoli

•  raw peaches

•  raw strawberries

•  non-fat yogurt

•  applesauce

•  frozen mixed vegetables 

Look, unless you’re a rabbit (or Gwyneth Paltrow), you’re going to want something besides raw fruit every now and then.   Yet no grains or meats in the top 100 most commonly-consumed foods meet the IWG standards.  Hope you enjoy your raw fruit and broccoli salad!! 

Normal people know these standards are absurd.  Yet, these proposed “voluntary” standards have the weight of four powerful federal agencies behind them and a more-than-willing White House to push this policy forward.  While this Administration’s hyper-regulatory tendencies are worrisome, the real danger is public apathy for these policies.  People need to be aware of the near-totalitarian behavior by the federal government with regards to food policy in this country. 

Stringent regulations on the food industry will do nothing to improve the health of children.  The only thing it will accomplish is higher food prices, less jobs, and a food industry gutted by an overly regulatory federal government.  

Like the other organizations dedicated to food independence (the Independent Women’s Forum, My Food My Choice, and Keep Food Legal), the Sensible Food Policy Coalition will help to alert the public of the danger of this type of nanny-state regulation.