Globalisation:European Food Information Council: Controversies surrounding EUFIC people

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Josephine Wills was involved in a controversy surrounding her employers Mars, the 10th biggest global food company in the world [1] a subsidiary of Masterfoods in 2002 when the company suggested that eating chocolate may have health benefits. An article in The Guardian reported in 2002 that the company which can claim to take a 1/4 share of the £3.5bn generated by sales of chocolate in the UK, has over the past decade, been pouring money into research in some of the world's leading universities to try to prove that cocoa beans, the source of pure chocolate, contain enough of the right kind of a class of chemicals called flavonoids to help human hearts stay healthy. Yet the chocolate products Mars markets in Britain and elsewhere contain small proportions of cocoa beans and high proportions of the fats and sugars which, in excess, can lead to obesity - an underlying cause of heart disease. Mars' flagship bar, the Mars bar, contains only a small covering of chocolate and contains mainly sugar. When Dr Wills was questioned over the apparent attempt by Mars to start marketing their chocolate products as health foods, she said "We are not trying to position chocolates as health products. They're not designed that way, they're not marketed that way, but I think if you take chocolate in moderation you're not going to do any harm to yourselves. They're actually doing some good because they're contributing flavonoids shown to have this potential cardiological health benefit." However, Mars has been feeding the media stories about the beneficial qualities of chocolate, using a combination of respectable scientific events and PR companies to nudge journalists towards them. For instance, Mars employed a PR company, Grayling Healthcare, to issue a press release about an American Heart Association event. The release was headlined "Media Alert: News for Chocolate Lovers This Christmas"..[2]

Mars launched its Cocoapro trademark after funding research into the use of plant compound polyphenol in the manufacture of its chocolate. The Cocoapro logo, which appears on packs of M&Ms and is soon to be extended across the Mars range, directs consumers to a dedicated website that explains how polyphenols can prevent heart disease. Mars denies it is positioning its confectionery as functional food, but industry groups claim Cocoapro is a cynical marketing ploy. Dr Wills again jumped to Mars' defence, in a response in Marketing Week - "We are saying that, as part of a balanced diet, polyphenols in chocolate can help maintain a healthy heart. There is fat in Mars, but tests have proven it has no effect on cholesterol levels which cause heart disease. We're not making any health claims with Cocoapro and we would never tell people to eat ten Mars Bars a day. We appreciate people will be sceptical. But when organisations say chocolate is bad for you it sounds as though they are not well-informed."[3]

Ronald Walker

Ronald Walker spent seven years as the ILSI’s Chairman of their Scientific Committee on Toxicology/Food Safety in Europe. ILSI is funded by Monsanto, Ajinomoto, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, etc. He was a consultant for DSM Nutritional Products, a company that sold “Twinsweet” for the Holland Sweetener Company which is a mixture of aspartame and acesulfame-k. The DSM web site contained aspartame advocacy articles written by Holland Sweetener Company. He was a consultant for the Numico Beheer BV / Danone Group, a company that had a joint venture with Ajinomoto. He was also a paid consultant for Cantox Health Sciences International (now known as Intrinsik and most notoriously known for acting as a corporate advocacy group for whitewashing the dangers of Agent Orange,a toxic product created by Monsanto). He has written a glowing review of an Ajinomoto product, monosodium glutamate (MSG) for a symposium funded by an Ajinomoto managed trade group, International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC). He has participated in another aspartame review where he claimed that aspartame was safe. [4] The Eufic website categorically insists that aspartame is safe prolaiming -Aspartame is classed as a food additive under European Food legislation, and as such, underwent rigorous, safety evaluation by the Scientific Committee for Foods (SCF) before its approval in 1981. Once an additive has been approved as safe across the European Union, it is assigned an E-number and Aspartame carries the number E-951. Aspartame has been approved as safe for the general public - including diabetics, pregnant and nursing women, and children - by more than 90 nations worldwide [5] However, controversy and confusion surrounding the safety of aspartame continues, and the Food Standards Agency in the UK announced their intention to launch a fresh investigation into the sweetener and it's side effects amid ongoing claims that some consumers continue to experience unpleasant side effects such as migraines, dizziness, nausea and fatigue.[6]

John Lupien

In his capacity as the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) John Lupien agreed a funding deal into a report titled 'Expert Consultation on Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition'. In an episode titled 'The Trouble With Sugar', the BBC Programme 'Panorama' revealed that the ILSI and the World Sugar Research Organisation had contributed to the cost of the report. The World Sugar Research Organisation - funded by the sugar industry paid US$20,000 towards the consultation.ILSI - the International Life Sciences Institute - an American research group paid for by food companies like Coca Cola and Tate and Lyle also put in US$40,000. Since its publication the report of the consultation has been used by the sugar lobby to fight any suggestion of a link between sugar and health concerns. [7]

Mr Lupien participated in a debate which proposed 'Ultra-processed foods are adverse to human health'. John Lupien opposed in the debate. The debate was a reaction to the practice of transnational food and drink manufacturers exerting pressure on South American countries to reduce the amount of natural foodstuffs they consumed and increase the amounts of processed foodstuffs they consumed. An example of which was the Nestlé attempt to reach Amazonian people and promote their processed products to them, a group who's diet is almost entirely natural and traditional. John Lupien's response was that we should 'get real, and live in the modern world, processed food is the way it is'. The debate resulted in a vote of 30 for the proposal and 0 opposed. [8]


  1. "Corporate control of the food system ", website, accessed 16 November 2010
  2. James Meek,"Chocolate is good for you...or how Mars tried to sell us this as health food ",The Guardian, 23 December 2002, accessed 2 November 2010
  3. Ian McCawley Healthy Interests",Marketing Week, 27 April 2000, accessed 2 November 2010
  4. "Aspartame and Manufacturer Funded Scientific Reviews", Holistic Healing Website, accessed 19 October 2010
  5. "Much Ado About Nothing", EUFIC website, accessed 9 November 2010
  6. Ian Sample"Sweetener aspartame to be investigated for possible side-effects", The Guardian, 23 September 2009, accessed 9 November 2010
  7. UN probes sugar industry claims BBC News Website, accessed 14 November 2010
  8. Fabio Gomes 'Porto 2010. Food processing: The worlds in which we live Fabio Gomes - October Blog, World Public Health Nutrition Association Website, accessed 19 October 2010