Thursday, May 8, 2008

Health Images on Food Packages Stretch the Truth

I was lucky to find a source that was as enthusiastic about reporting this topic as I was. His name is Joe Feigenbaum (check him out on video here) and he's a real mensch. (Speaking of mensches, Israel is 60.)

Joe invited me up to his advertising agency in Irvington, NY, where we spent a few hours in the local supermarket, pulling products off the shelves and comparing the claims on the packages against the reality of the ingredient listings.

We didn't really find anything super shocking. But Joe did a little reporting on his own and found this interesting little nugget about Kellogg's Smart Start cereal, which counts potassium chloride among its ingredients. He emailed this to me a couple weeks back.

"Potassium Chloride: Dr. Jack Kevorkian's thanatron machine injected a lethal dose of potassium chloride into the patient, which caused the heart to stop functioning, after a sodium thiopental-induced coma was achieved. A similar device, the German 'Perfusor', also uses potassium chloride as a suicide aid."

Obviously, Smart Start contains non-lethal doses of potassium chloride. And I'm no chemist so I can't come right out and condemn Kellogg's for putting the stuff in their cereal. Who knows? I'm sure a lot of common food items could be lethal if some nut were to isolate the properties correctly. (Put down that peanut butter sandwich....)

But the point is, if your a normal non-vegan, non-vegetarian everyday American carnivore like me, pretty much every packaged product you buy, even products that appear to be healthy, are going to have things in them that you probably shouldn't be ingesting. (Or, at least, don't need to be ingesting. Take it from Arnold.)

So if you are trying to be health conscious, don't rely on a "heart healthy" cereal or any other product that claims to provide a nutrition-related function. The body doesn't need much to function properly; you'll get your daily requirement of vitamins and such as long as you eat a couple veggies and fruit every day. Just watch your portions, reach for an apple instead of "apple-liscious fruit chips" and go for a run once in a while.

(Unless you're Dave Burdick, who can eat a whole pie without consequence.)

1 comment:

Anthony Vanger said...

I found this story to be well-reported and very well-written. I liked the links to the Airborne story. And it stayed VERY close to the image theme. Well done!