School Lunch Reform

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is behind a new ad campaign suggesting that even one hotdog consumed in childhood can increase the risk of cancer in adulthood. The campaign is actually run by The Cancer Project (an affiliate of PCRM).

It is based on a comprehensive report released late last year by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. After reviewing all existing data on nutrition and cancer risk, researchers concluded that processed meat increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent for every 50 grams consumed daily. (A 50-gram serving is approximately the size of a typical hot dog.) The landmark report clearly states that no amount of processed meat is considered safe to eat.

Source:  PCRM

The Cancer Project is hoping to reform the federal Child Nutrition Act, up for renewal in 2009, which determines the foods that are served in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently includes processed meats in the lists of foods available to schools.

However, not everyone is in agreement with the message PCRM is sending...

"My concern about this campaign is it's giving the indication that the occasional hot dog in the school lunch is going to increase cancer risk," said Colleen Doyle, the American Cancer Society's nutrition director. "An occasional hot dog isn't going to increase that risk."

Source:  MSNBC.com

While I applaud the Cancer Project for trying to reform school lunches, I think the ad is rather alarmist, and might even backfire in the end.  Here's the ad, what do you think?

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Comments

  1. I also find it rather alarmist. It’s like many PETA campaigns, it might backfire. People won’t buy it.

    But I’m also disgusted by U.S. school lunches. I hate this country (Finland) as much as humanly possible, but at least we had decent food in school. Food, not junk. The vegetarian food was very tasty, though not that satiating (legumes maybe once a month, never any soy products or anything).

    That said, after having read my review copy of Vegan Lunch Box, I’m quite envious. I really wouldn’t have minded eating those awesome lunches instead of the school food. :-P

  2. I greatly appreciate the work that PCRM does, but my preference is that the health risks of meat, dairy, and eggs be presented to the public in a conservative manner, avoiding any appearance of overstating the case. If the public doesn’t find us credible, that hurts both animals and the people whose health may suffer by eating too many animal products.

    Perhaps PCRM could have talked about the cumulative effects of a hot dog on Monday, a ham sandwich on Tuesday, some other type of processed lunch meat on Wednesday, and a sausage pizza on Thursday. That might avoid the legitimate rebuttal that an occasional hot dog is unlikely to cause lasting health problems.

  3. This is an interesting question you’ve posed. I definitely support school lunch reform. I’m not sure whether or not I think the ad would backfire or if I think it would cause unnecessary worry or panic. Sometimes I think that might be what it takes to motivate people to take steps toward change.
    Regardless, I do think it’s important to provide solutions to problems. Parents and children need to be taught which foods to eat in place of the processed meats. It’s so easy to point out all the bad things we shouldn’t be eating without providing appealing alternatives.

  4. >>>Regardless, I do think it’s important to provide solutions to problems. Parents and children need to be taught which foods to eat in place of the processed meats. It’s so easy to point out all the bad things we shouldn’t be eating without providing appealing alternatives.<<<

    I wholeheartedly concur with this. Showing tasty, nutritious alternatives might allay fears, reduce alarm, make the message more cohesive and attractive, and empower parents (and viewers in general).

  5. For information on the Child Nutrition Act Reauthoriziation we have created a website. You can send a letter to the USDA here:

    http://www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/childnutrition

  6. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for sharing the link!

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