The U.S. Department of Agriculture seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth these days. According to recent reports, the USDA warns us of the dangers of obesity on the one hand while promoting increased consumption of dairy products, primarily cheese, on the other.
The government has long been warning consumers of the dangers of obesity and the role of saturated fats in helping the obese get there. The message seemed to be getting through as many Americans moved to low fat milk and products made from it which has resulted in surplus supplies of whole milk and milk fat products. Companies that rely on those products, such as some pizza chains and other food purveyors, have seen a decline in sales. Not to worry, the government can help with that also.
Dairy Management, Inc., created by the USDA, was formed to promote dairy consumption and it has been hard at work. Cheese is one of its darling projects as one can see by looking at its efforts in helping Domino’s Pizza with its heap on the cheese campaign. Dairy Management helped Domino’s develop a pizza with 40 percent more cheese and then created and paid for a 12 million dollar campaign to promote it. This, along with other efforts, have led to a three fold increase in cheese consumption over that of 40 years ago.
Dairy Management is funded for the most part through an excise fee imposed on dairy producers by the government. It also receives direct funding from the USDA and that agency, in turn, signs off on much of its work and places people on its board of directors. So how does the USDA reconcile this conflict of interest? By all accounts, it does not even attempt such a reconciliation. What does that mean for us? It means that we should view all advertising and promotion with a critical eye and follow the cardinal rule of consumption – moderation in all things.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.