Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nanny State Run Amuck: Bloomberg Bans Food Donations in New York City

Food Might Be Salty or Too High in Calories, City Explains

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration is now banning all food being offered to the city's homeless shelters. New York City's bureaucrats have become so singularly focused on what people eat, says the National Center for Public Policy Research, that they've lost their common sense.

"So much for serving the homeless: The Bloomberg administration is now taking the term 'food police' to new depths, blocking food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city's homeless," writes Jeff Stier, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Risk Analysis Division, in an op-ed in Monday's New York Post.

"In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services has recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can't assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans," writes Stier.

New York City DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond told the National Center's Stier that the complete ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg's emphasis on "improving nutrition for all New Yorkers."

As Stier writes, "A new inter-agency document controls what can be served at facilities -- dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations."

"Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn't too salty, " writes Stier. "So, according to the commissioner, the homeless really don't need any donated food."

Stier's research reveals that there's more to the story.

"For over a decade, Glenn Richter and his wife Lenore have led a team of food-delivery volunteers from Ohab Zedek, the Upper West Side orthodox congregation. They've brought freshly cooked, nutrient-rich surplus foods from synagogue events to homeless facilities in the neighborhood," explains Stier. " The practice of donating such surplus food to homeless shelters is common among houses of worship in the city," he writes in the op-ed.

Mr. Richter's experience suggests Commissioner Diamond and the Bloomberg administration are out of touch.

"[Glenn Richter] says the beneficiaries -- many of them senior citizens recovering from drug and alcohol abuse -- have always been appreciative of the treats he and other OZ members bring. It's not just that the donations offer an enjoyable addition to the 'official' low-salt fare; knowing that the food comes from volunteers and from community members warms their hearts, not just their stomachs," writes Stier.

"So you can imagine Richter's consternation last month when employees at a local shelter turned away food he brought from a bar-mitzvah," says Stier in the piece.

Richter, Stier writes, "is a former city Housing Authority employee, while his wife spent 35 years as a South Bronx public school teacher, so they're no strangers to bureaucracy and poverty. But an exasperated Richter says, 'this level of micromanagement is stunning.'"


Concern about listeria means pregnant women miss out on nutrition

SOME pregnant women are being overly cautious about avoiding what are traditionally considered "no-no'' foods, such as soft cheeses, pates and sashimi, a researcher says.

Professor Clare Collins, of the University of Newcastle, studied the eating habits of 7000 Australian women to see if they were missing out on important nutrients as a result of avoiding "risky'' foods that potentially carried listeria.

Oysters, smoked fish, delicatessen meats, salad bar salads and pre-cut fruit are also considered high risk for carrying the listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

The bacteria can lead to listeriosis, a rare form of food poisoning that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal infection.

Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, mums-to-be are at particular risk of infection, Prof Collins says.

Reporting her findings in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Prof Collins said her study found that women who ate the most listeria foods reported more frequent miscarriages, but had high levels of the nutrients needed to have a healthy baby.

Conversely, those who ate moderate or low amounts of listeria foods had less miscarriages but also lower levels of nutrients like calcium, folate and Omega 3 acids.

"In those with moderate and low exposure there was no excess risk of miscarriage but the problem was their nutrient intakes were then worse,'' Prof Collins said. "We're saying pregnant women need to be given more advice on how to eat healthy.

"If all they hear is risky foods, and they drop out all the potential listeria foods, their micro-nutrient intake is going to be really bad. "They will potentially then be at risk for things like neural tube defects. Or they'll put their own health at risk.''

She said existing listeria guidelines for pregnant women were entirely legitimate but needed to be rewritten to provide more information about what could be eaten, as well as what should be avoided.

"It would be nice to see the guidelines coupled with evidence of what pregnant women can eat to meet their nutrient requirements,'' she said.


1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

LA Times:
Sugar seeks sweet revenge against competition from corn,0,7189463.story