National Food day takes place annually on 24 October. National Food Day involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that can be healthy, affordable and produced with care for the environment, farm animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it.
National food day can trace its beginings to between 2011 and 2016, when the Centre for Science in the Public Interest sponsored Food Day, a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. The goal of Food Day was to help people “Eat Real,” which the project defineed as cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein. This annual event involved some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.
National Food Day involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that can be healthy, affordable and produced with care for the environment, farm animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it and to bring awareness to how our changing planet affects food production and distribution. Related events explore several topics such as examining how agriculture needs to adapt due to climate change to migration affects food security. The goal of these sessions is to set goals that will eventually lead to building a Zero Hunger Generation.
National food day was created by The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 2011 to educate people concerning healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food and a they have also started a grassroots campaign for better food policies. This project builds throughout the year and culminates on October 24 of each year.
The CSPI is a consumer advocacy organization. Its focus is nutrition and health, food safety, and alcohol policy. CSPI was headed by Michael F. Jacobson, who founded the group in 1971 along with James Sullivan and Albert Fritsch, two fellow scientists from Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law. In the early days, CSPI focused on various aspects such as nutrition, environmental issues, and nuclear energy. However, after the 1977 departure of Fritsch and Sullivan, CSPI began to focus largely on nutrition and food safety. Michael F. Jacobson now serves as a Senior Scientist at CSPI, with Peter Lurie acting as the organization’s current President.
CSPI advocates for clearer nutrition and food labeling. For example, labeling of “low-fat” or “heart healthy” foods in restaurants must now meet specific requirements established by the Food and Drug Administration as o 1997. In 1994, the group first brought the issue of high saturated fat in movie popcorn to the public attention. In 2003, it worked with lawyer John F. Banzhaf III to pressure ice cream retailers to display nutritional information about their products.
In 1975, CSPI published a “White Paper on Infant Feeding Practices” aimed at criticizing the commercial baby food industry’s products and advertising. The White Paper started a formalized, political discussion of issues surrounding early introduction of solid foods and the extraordinarily processed ingredients in commercial baby food. CSPI took particular issue with the modified starches, excessive sugar and salt additions, and presence of nitrates in baby food products. In addition, the White Paper criticized branding and advertisements on products, which they argued lead mothers to believe that solid foods ought to be introduced earlier in an infant’s diet. In 1989, CSPI was instrumental in convincing fast-food restaurants to stop using animal fat for frying. They would later campaign against the use of trans fats. CSPI’s 1994 petition led to FDA’s 2003 regulation requiring trans fat to be disclosed on food labels. CSPI’s 2004 petition, as well as a later one from a University of Illinois professor, led to the FDA’s ban of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, the major source of artificial trans fat.
In 1998, the Center published a report entitled Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans’ Health. It examined statistics relating to the soaring consumption of soft drinks, particularly by children, and the consequent health ramifications including tooth decay, nutritional depletion, obesity, type-2 (formerly known as “adult-onset”) diabetes, and heart disease. It also reviewed soft drink marketing and made various recommendations aimed at reducing soft drink consumption, in schools and elsewhere. A second, updated edition of the report was published in 2005. Among the actions they advocate are taxing soft drinks. Sugar-sweetened beverages are taxed in Berkeley, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Boulder, CO; San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; Albany, CA; and Cook County, IL. CSPI followed up with a 2013 petition calling on the FDA to limit the sugar content of soft drinks and to set voluntary targets for sugar levels in other foods with added sugars. In 2016, the Center released a report entitled Seeing Red – Time for Action on Food Dyeswhich criticized the continued use of artificial food coloring in the United States. The report estimated that over half a million children in the United States suffer adverse behavioral reactions as a result of ingesting food dyes, with an estimated cost exceeding $5 billion per year, citing data from by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report urges the Food and Drug Administration to take action to ban or curtail the use of such dyes. CSPI has urged companies to replace synthetic colorings with natural ones, and Mars, General Mills, and other major food manufacturers have begun doing so.
CSPI has worked since the 1970s to improve the nutritional quality of school meals, and remove soda and unhealthy foods from school vending machines, snack bars, and a la carte lines. Despite pushback from the soda and snack food industries, CSPI successfully worked with a number of local school districts and states to pass policies in the early 2000s to restrict the sale of soda and other unhealthy snack foods in schools. In 2004, CSPI worked with members of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) (a CSPI-led coalition) to include a provision in the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 to ensure all local school districts develop a nutrition and physical activity wellness policy by 2006.
In 2010, CSPI and NANA led the successful effort to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a landmark law to improve child nutrition programs. The law (enacted 12/13/10) authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update the nutrition standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools through vending machines, a la carte lines, school stores, fundraisers, and other school venues. CSPI worked with NANA to mobilize support for the updated nutrition standards and urge the USDA to adopt strong final school nutrition standards (released in June 2013). Despite opposition from some members of Congress and the potato and pizza industries (which lobbied for unlimited french fries and pizza as a vegetable in school meals) CSPI and NANA’s efforts also resulted in strong nutrition standards for school lunches.
One of CSPI’s top goals has been to ensure that consumers have reliable information about what they eat and drink. Since the early 2000s, CSPI has worked with policymakers and advocates in Philadelphia, New York City, California, and numerous other jurisdictions to pass laws to list calories on menus and menu boards. In addition to making calorie information available to consumers, a key benefit of menu labeling has been the reformulation of existing food items and the introduction of nutritionally improved items in many chain restaurants.
In 2010, CSPI successfully lobbied for a provision, which was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, to require calorie labeling on menus at chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration proposed regulations for menu labeling in 2011, and CSPI has since worked to continue to mobilize support for national menu labeling, diffuse opposition from Congress and special interests, and encourage the FDA to strengthen the final regulations and release them in a timely manner. Menu labeling is expected to be implemented nationally in 2018.
One of CSPI’s largest projects is its Food Safety Initiative, directed to reduce food contamination and foodborne illness. In addition to publishing Outbreak Alert!, a compilation of food-borne illnesses and outbreaks, the project advocated for the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011. The law refocused government attention on preventing food contamination rather than on identifying problems after they caused outbreaks of illnesses.
CSPI has long monitored the safety and use of harmful food additives, resulting in bans on the use of Violet dye No. 1 on meat and poultry and sulfites (which caused numerous deaths, mostly of people with asthma) on fresh fruits and vegetables, usage limits in other foods, and labeling whenever used (including wine). It campaigned against the use of olestra, a fat substitute that was used in several brands of snack foods, because it might interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and cause stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, though that was disputed by Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of olestra. CSPI has urged restrictions on the artificial sweeteners aspartame and saccharin,because of cancer concerns and on artificial food colorings because they trigger behavioral reactions in sensitive children.
Healthier food choices for public places
A growing number of states and localities are working to improve the foods and beverages available in public places, such as parks, recreational facilities, community centers, highway rest stops, agencies buildings, childcare facilities, state hospitals, state universities, and correctional facilities. CSPI is working to support those efforts to offer healthier options through vending machines, cafeterias, concessions stands, institutional feeding, meetings, and events. So far the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has required chain restaurants with 20 plus outlets to list the nutrition information including calories on all menus and menu boards. A high degree of public support for providing this nutrition and calorie information has been shown.
Disease Control and Prevention
CSPI has aslp been working with other members of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) to ensure that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adequate resources to address nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. In recent years, funding for CDC’s obesity prevention programs has flat lined, despite obesity continuing to be a top public health threat in the country. In fiscal year 2017, Congress provided CDC with just under $62 million for the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO); that is a mere 0.7% of total CDC funding and 4% of CDC’s chronic disease budget, significantly less than for cancer (30%), tobacco (18%), diabetes (14%), and heart disease and stroke (14%).  The NANA coalition has also been defending CDC’s Prevention Fund, which has provided $1 billion per year in annual funding to support immunizations, education campaigns, and other measures to prevent illnesses and lower health-care costs.