Thursday, May 28, 2009

Robert Choate: An Early Food Activist

On the heels of my four-part post that discussed the questionable nutritional claims found on Kellogg’s Tri-Fun Pack (Froot Loops, Corn Pops and Apple Jacks), I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to Robert Choate, an early food activist who died earlier this month.

Choate appeared before a Senate subcommittee in 1970 and testified that 40 of the 60 most popular breakfast cereals (including Sugar Smacks, which were soon renamed Honey Smacks) were nothing more than empty calories.

Not surprisingly, the big food companies responded in their usual jejune manner. According to Choate’s obituary that appeared in The New York Times:
"The cereal industry counterattacked, saying that Mr. Choate had failed to factor in the nutritional value of milk poured on the cereal. He promptly drafted a new chart, milk included. The companies contended that lots of sugar was needed to entice children to eat. Mr. Choate countered that a taste for sugar is acquired."
I have a feeling that Choate was a very busy man during the last four decades.

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