Where the Action Isn’t

It’s official — the dairy industry, or at least ice cream manufacturers, need no longer live in fear of being sued by the food gestapo.
Among the speakers at Stagnito Communications’ recent Obesity Summit was legal scholar Richard Daynard, one of the country’s esteemed attorneys who helped bring down the tobacco industry for forcing people to smoke. Now ready for something else to do, Daynard and like-minded colleagues have been looking into how to hold the food industry responsible for people eating too much.
To give you an idea of how these folks think, Daynard actually likened the food industry of today to the tobacco industry of some 40 years ago — faced with evidence its product is harmful (e.g. nicotine and carcinogens vs. sugar and trans fats), it’s poised to either cover it up or make changes.
His apparent line of thinking is that the food industry is fraudulently promoting its wares as wholesome when in fact they are addictive, fattening and poisonous.
I’ll wait a moment while you kick your wastebasket, scream at the wall or snap your pencil in two.
But lest you think dairy is doomed to an ignominious fate at the hands of legal sharks, Daynard did concede one point. Ice cream, he said, is an obvious indulgence. No one eats ice cream thinking they won’t get fat if they eat too much, as opposed to other foods which obviously have no caloric content whatsoever and can be consumed indiscriminately by people who exercise neither their bodies nor restraint.
Even so, the industry still has gone to great lengths to meet the demand of consumers who seek to lessen the impact of indulging on their waistlines and cholesterol counts. Low carb, lowfat, no sugar added, slow-churned — ice cream’s better-for-you segment abounds with choices.
“I don’t think the action’s with ice cream,” Daynard told the audience of food manufacturers, nutritionists and industry representatives.
Well, let’s hope the “action” isn’t with the rest of dairy either, in light of the great lengths to which the industry is going to trumpet milk’s documented benefit to weight maintenance. I also expect to hear the drum banging soon about the new study out this month showing milk’s role in preventing colorectal cancer.
And I hope Daynard was listening from his front-row seat as dairy cheerleader Miriam Erickson Brown laid out the case for how dairy can be the leader in the nation’s battle for better nutrition.
I hope he gets the message that the food industry isn’t run by a cabal of mustache-twirling robber barons bent on poisoning the public for profit — a public that should be reasonably expected to give half a care about what it’s shoving into its bellies.
So this July, as we celebrate National Ice Cream Month 2004, let’s lift that spoon, cone or bar to our lips and enjoy one of life’s simplest indulgences. Maybe you can start by trying one of the latest frozen treats featured in the Category Review or New Products section in this month’s issue.
Enjoy them while reading our cover story on Dippin’ Dots or the R&D section’s look at innovative inclusions. Savor them while wondering how many calories were in the world’s largest ice cream cake — weighing in at more than 12,000 pounds — assembled by Carvel this past spring to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary.
But take care not to overindulge, because apparently we won’t be eligible to collect, if and when Big Food gets sued.