I just received my May issue of Food Technology on June 7. I would have to say that though this publication usually arrives late (last week of the month), this time you’ve taken the cake. You have a huge section of May’s issue devoted to the Annual Meeting & Food Expo Preview, but I barely got the magazine in time to look at it before the actual meeting and expo occurs. Why bother having anything listed in the “Coming Events—Meetings and Conferences” for May when we don’t even receive the magazine until a full week into June? The thing that disturbs me the most is that many announcements are made in Food Technology for application deadlines—some of which have already passed. For example, under Washington News, “Grants available to universities for food safety programs” [p. 30], the deadline for proposal submissions was June 6. Heck of a lot of good that will do me now if I had wanted to submit a proposal! I think you get the idea. Please forward this message to the proper individual(s) since you have no link on your Web site for feedback.
—Don Steenson, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.
A number of factors converging all at once—staffing changes and preparation of additional Annual Meeting publications—caused the May issue to be late. The June issue was mailed on time, one week after the May issue, and we are back on schedule now. As for feedback, the IFT Web site (www.ift.org) does have a mechanism for responding; at the bottom of the page, there is a link to [email protected]. In addition, the e-mail addresses of the IFT Staff can be found on the masthead (p. 8) of each issue of Food Technology.
Shouldn’t cater to kids’ desires
I have a few comments in response to Donald Pszczola’s Ingredients article, “Designing foods that don’t kid kids” [June 2000, p. 86]. He started out with a quote that set up his article as a piece dedicated to showcasing new products that are healthful, nutritious, and would not contribute to the obesity problems of children in America. Unfortunately, the products highlighted were either high fat, high sugar, or aimed at children through unnatural coloring or flavoring.
He states that some of the products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and are low in fat so they are “healthful” alternatives. Breakfast cereals have been fortified for years and are typically lower in fat than other breakfast options, but the trend for obesity in adults and children has only increased with increased marketing and consumption of these products. Although probably not a causal relationship, breakfast cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals to supposedly improve our overall nutrition have not managed to affect overweight in Americans. I am inclined to believe that sugary, fortified snack products are not going to improve the health of American children, no matter how “fun” or “interactive” they are. These products only provide more options for additional calories in a child’s diet.
I feel that rather than catering to childrens’ wants and desires for everything to be fun, we as professionals should encourage parents and children to take the time to learn about the benefits of choosing whole, natural foods as the best choice for maintaining a healthy weight and good nutrition. Everything doesn’t have to be exciting and interactive. I believe many children want for simplicity and ritual in their daily lives to learn discipline and respect for themselves, including their own health. While it may be difficult for many food companies to make money from this philosophy, money and market share are not what should be top-priority when it comes to our future generations.
Included in the article are methods used by certain companies to track the buying habits of parents and the influence children have in parents’ spending through Internet site participation. To manipulate children into providing information about the parents’ buying habits by providing prizes, which the author suggests would be a way to reward the children for eating the healthful, fortified products, is totally unethical in my view. This clearly is not about food anymore, it has become about marketing and gaining another dollar.
In conclusion, I can see easily why children are getting fatter—they are manipulated into feeling that eating equals fun, more food eaten equates with more fun being had. What happens when the kid doesn’t feel like enough fun is obtained from one serving? More is eaten each time, and the child ends up wondering where all the fun has gone once he is too fat to go out and run and play during recess and his face is stained blue from his new, interactive cookies.
—Carey Deymonaz, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Associate Editor Pszczola replies:
In the beginning of my article, I did note that not eating healthfully is having an impact on our children. This is a matter of great concern. I also mentioned that nutrition education, school breakfast programs, the responsibility of parents, and a variety of other factors must all play an important role in meeting this crisis.
In the rest of the article, I discussed some ways to encourage children to eat more healthfully in the real world, one dominated by advertising, relaxed eating habits at home, and the like. In the past, there have been a variety of ways to get children to want a particular product. These include colors, shapes, novel textures, toys in the package, interactive methods, etc. I thought it might be interesting to take some of these methods and try to use them or modify them to get children to eat more healthfully. That was also the point I was making about the Internet. Isn’t there some way to use this resource, not just to keep track of what parents are buying, but also to try to stimulate kids to eat better?
Some of the products mentioned in the article I thought were both creative and might help stimulate kids to eat better. Look at the fruit products described, for example. But then again, maybe not all the products in the article were developed to do this. However, it is my job to update the readers on what is available in the marketplace. I also feel that it is part of my job, if I can, to suggest ways that these products might be further developed to get kids to eat better.
The letter from André Bolaffi that appeared on pp. 122–123 of the June issue of Food Technology concerning problems with the election of IFT Fellows was initially scheduled to be published in the May issue, but last-minute space limitations caused the May Letters department to be held until the June issue. We apologize for the delay in publication of the letter.