Friday, October 13, 2006

Dingling The Toxic Alarm Bells

The ABC's local current affairs program, Stateline, seems to be getting as sensationalist as the commercial equivalents. Last Friday we had a scare story about our food: Food additives - Just how dangerous are they?. In turn we had three experts: an author who has written a book on food additives (that's "author" in the sense that anyone can self-publish a book), a spokesperson for Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and our old favourite, toxicologist Dr Peter Dingle.

JULIE EADY (AUTHOR): That made me look a little further into foods and that's when I got really worried and I suppose, outraged when I found out we've got over thirty food additives we're still using here in Australia that have been banned in the US, the UK, most parts of Europe for many many years because of their links to cancer and other serious health problems.

In order to present "both sides of the story" and, presumably, to provide "balance", FSANZ got a minute or two of the whole segment. Here's the whole bit from them:

It's been raised that these things are banned overseas and there's two types of ways that happens. Firstly, it'll be a food additive that has no use overseas. The other thing too is that occasionally in the US if a substance is ever been found to cause cancer, even in really really high levels then it can't be use as a food additive. They have this sort of historical accident.

LAYLA TUCAK (REPORTER): Lydia Buchtmann is from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and she says Australia has very stringent standards.

LYDIA BUCHTMANN (FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND): It's our job to make sure the food supply is safe and do remember we actually eat the food as well.

LYDIA BUCHTMANN (FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND): Our testing techniques for safety are the best in the world. Our scientists, if fact our scientists are often over at the World Health Organisation, they're giving advice, we're very well reknowned for our safety here in Australia.

No other specific (or, often, nonspecific) assertions by Ms Eady or Dr Dingle were addressed. The last half of the segment featured Dr Dingle's messianic frothing proclamations:

You know it's funny, all motivational texts will tell you what you focus on is what you get so we've focussed on calories, carbohydrates and fat and we now have the most overweight, obese and diabetic population ever.

Does that make any sort of logical sense to EoR's readers, because he certainly can't understand the connection between motivational speakers and rising diabetes numbers. Dr Dingle also has some other original observations. For example, we can solve all our health problems through nutrition alone:

There is no doubt that diet can be linked with virtually every disease, virtually every disease and whether it's one percent of the cause or ninety nine percent of the cause and in many cases I see the ninety-nine percent cause. You know, I see the cases where you've got obese kids with diabetes with all the ramifications and effects of diabetes including cardiovascular disease, etc etc. Or you see the kids who are on these incredibly processed diets and they've got a high, extremely high ADHD rates and everyone's going oh der I wonder why? I mean look at their food, it's crazy. The food is definitely contributing.

Dr Dingle's coherent solution to the problem?

I think busy-ness is the worst disease of the 21st Century, it's killing us and our kids. We have to stop and cook our foods, not all of them, but cook our own foods and make them nutritious without all the numbers added.

More dingling can be found at Dr Dingle. EoR wonders why Dr Dingle uses computers. Doesn't he realise how many toxic chemicals they contain, and how many toxic chemicals are used in their production?

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