Why we eat the breakfast we do

“Breakfast is a corporate scam.”  That’s the message from author Anneli Rufus, writing in Alternet recently. She explains that nearly every breakfast staple (from cold cereal to bagels spread with cream cheese – and even orange juice) is considered a staple only because some marketers somewhere decided to convince us that these are good ways to start the morning.

Did you know, for example, that cold cereal first became popular for breakfast in the Western world as a meatless anti-aphrodisiac food back in 1894?  That’s when John Kellogg (a Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist) developed the process of flaking cooked grains to feed to his sanitarium patients.  Continue reading

Dannon slammed with $35 million false advertising settlement over Activia probiotic yogurt

I like Michael Pollan‘s advice in his landmark book In Defense of Food: “Never eat anything you’ve ever seen advertised!”  And is there any food more heavily advertised than Dannon’s Activia yogurt with those probiotic/prebiotic bacterial cultures that hint at (but don’t exactly promise) magical digestive benefits if we eat Activia for 14 days?  Well, just as Michael Pollan warned us, it turns out that there is no scientific evidence to back up Dannon’s dubious health claims.

Last week, the European Food Safety Authority published its evaluations of over 500 foods or food components (vitamins, minerals, fibre, fat, carbohydrates, probiotic bacteria, etc).  They found that two-thirds of the products evaluated – including Dannon’s Activia and DanActive yogurts – lacked scientific evidence to support their advertised health claims.

This is yet more bad news in a very bad month so far for Dannon, a subsidiary of Group Danone in France and makers of the top-selling yogurts worldwide.

Last month, a Los Angeles federal court heard that even Dannon’s own studies fail to prove that Activia has health benefits superior to any other brands of yogurt, in spite of the company’s claim that these benefits had been proven “clinically” and “scientifically”Continue reading