No Kiwi Cops in Sight

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A large-scale study published this month in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy warns us about the dangers of a product sold in stores throughout the country. The U.S.-based trade association promoting the sale of this significant food allergen even has an entire section on their webpage promoting its health benefits.

Most frightening, they seem to be promoting their product to children!

So you would expect to see the "Food Police" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest call for stores to stop selling the product, as they have done with the meat substitute Quorn (pronounced like corn) or have entire webpages dedicated to scaring consumers about this product, as they do with Olestra.

But they don't.

Why the silence? Because the allergen in question is natural. Not only that, it is a fruit! The humble but tasty -- and healthy -- kiwi. Indeed, like Olestra and Quorn, some people may have negative reactions to it. And in fact, the reactions that some people have to the kiwi may be more dangerous. Yet we were just being tongue in cheek above when we called it frightening. The kiwi is generally a safe and healthy food for everyone except the few who are allergic. It would be absurd to take this food away from the rest of us consumers. But sadly, CSPI tries to do this all the time.

If we were talking about a "man-made" or even genetically-modified food, CSPI's Michael Jacobson would already have registered killerkiwi.org and demanded that the FDA ban the kiwi, together with Olestra and Quorn.

But instead, all you can find from CSPI is a minor reference to the kiwi in an October 2001 petition to the FDA.

kiwi

How do our protectors at CSPI decide whether to attack a food or give it a free ride, as they do with the kiwi? The only idea we can come up with is that the litmus test for a large-scale "consumer" campaign requires a simple search for a patent. If one (ideally large) corporation can profit from it, CSPI calls out the big guns. So until a food scientist develops a kiwi copyright, the fruit is "safe" from CSPI.

If you have any other explanations, please register and sign in on the right (it's kwick!), and submit your comments for all to see.

Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on Science and Health. Read ACSH's report on Olestra from the height of that controversy.