Britain’s Double Standards Agency

In order to bad-mouth any study that contradicts their claims, food cops often throw down "bias" as the trump card in nutrition debates. The bias argument maintains that funding from an interested party has the potential to produce results in favor of that party’s position. But a major British medical journal published research this week with results that advocated a specific health policy. And diet activists are silent — even though the funding for the study came from the very same government agency pushing for the policy.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) — the government organization considering legal limits on sugar and fighting for warning labels on "junk" food — recently bankrolled research on the effect of colorings and additives on hyperactivity in children. The study (not surprisingly) concluded that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behavior in kids. And now health officials are leveraging these findings to advance a big-brother agenda, as outlined in today’s New York Times:

The new research … presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

A cursory examination of the study reveals that its methods were dubious. Failing to isolate the effects of any individual ingredient, researchers gave participants a whole mix of additives — making it impossible to tell whether one, all, or a combination of the different ingredients caused the observed "effects."

Drinking the juice mixture caused the children to "become boisterous and lose concentration," as reported by the London Times. Perhaps the FSA should consider whether the 3 year-olds and 9 year-olds were quiet and focused in the first place. But there’s no time for that kind of reflection in the march toward food fascism. The Food & Health Skeptic blog commented on this problem:

Sadly, however, despite its scientific nullity, the study would seem to have given the food fanatics the ammunition to get banned many useful additives that make food safer and more attractive … The irrational Greenie nature-worshippers have been facilitated in another one of their Quixotic crusades.

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