EU Panel Spanks Some Specious Claims

The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Dalton reports:

European scientific authorities Thursday rejected dozens of health claims made by food companies, in a sign of how tricky it will be for them to get some of their most popular claims past a European Union drive to bring scientific rigor to the health foods.

A panel of the European Food Safety Authority issued nearly a hundred opinions on health claims, about two-thirds of which were negative. The rejections included claims on special bacteria that are supposed to aid digestion and boost the immune system, beta carotene additives for sunscreen and shark cartilage for healthy joints.

The panel rejected two-thirds of the claims, and half of these were rejected because the substance in question wasn’t adequately described, the EFSA said in a statement. The claims that were accepted related mainly to vitamins and minerals known to promote health, dietary fiber, fatty acids for lowering cholesterol and sugar-free gum that is good for the teeth.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has posted these opinions, and a survey of them shows an interesting regulatory model. Information online includes:

“General Function” health claims such as “calcium is good for your bones” are defined by article 13.1 of the Regulation. These claims are based on generally accepted scientific evidence. A consolidated list of these claims is currently being evaluated by EFSA.

“New function” health claims defined under Article 13.5 of the Regulation are based on new scientific evidence and/or for which protection of proprietary data is requested. They require applicants to provide scientific evidence substantiating the claim proposed for a specific product or substance.

Claims regarding disease risk reduction and child development or health. These kinds of claims, defined under Article 14 of the Regulation, require applicants to provide scientific evidence substantiating the claim proposed for a specific product or substance.

Criteria for setting nutrient profiles. Nutrient profiles are nutritional requirements that foods must respect in order to bear nutrition and health claims. Nutrient profiles are established by the European Commission and Member States.

I’d love to hear what ScienceBloggers think of the EFSA’s process and work. The opinions are all online here!

The Beautiful Truth

Guess what? A natural therapy can cure cancer, but evil doctors don’t want to tell you about it, because the medical establishment wants to make money with Mosanto and Dupont rather than cure your illnesses! Watch all about it.

Update: Sorry, I missed Orac’s successful attack on this thing. Thanks Science Pundit, for pointing it out.

Se Habla “woo-woo”

So, America is changing. We have an African American president. The Latino population continues to grow. How can the alternative medicine community adjust to this demographic shift? What are they to do?

I’m glad you asked! It turns out that immigrants are palomas ripe for the plucking. Now, we’ve talked about the ethics of alternative medicine, and how “meaning well” is not exculpatory. If you promote quackery, it’s wrong, even if you believe your own drivel.

One of the worst types of drivel is naturopathy. This “specialty” advertises itself as “medicine-plus”, but really it’s “healing-minus”: minus the evidence, minus the training, minus intelligent thought.

It should be no surprise that recent immigrants, who may have low educational levels, especially in English, and have less access to the health care system financially, culturally, and linguistically should be ripe targets.

And targeting these vulnerable individuals is a naturopathic “doctor” in Connecticut.

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Why good medicine requires materialism

I don’t like to repost, but Steve Novella has some great pieces up right now, and this is directly related. –PalMD

s I’ve clearly demonstrated in earlier posts, I’m no philosopher. But I am a doctor, and, I believe, a good one at that, and I find some of this talk about “non-materialist” perspectives in science to be frankly disturbing, and not a little dangerous.
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It burns! It burns!

Yes, I’m still migrating posts from the old blog, but don’t worry, I’ll run out eventually. –PalMD

So maybe homeopathy (the use of water to treat disease) isn’t strong enough for you. Maybe isn’t doesn’t have that certain…je ne sais qois…um…that sizzle. I have the solution for you! Just add another oxygen molecule!

Water Pl+s!® is another miracle cure “they” don’t want you to know about!

OK, I made that name up. Actually, it’s just hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 to water’s H2O). One of my residents clued me in to hydrogen peroxide woo. Apparently it’s quite popular in altie circles. Like any good woo, there is apparently no condition that it can’t treat. If you thought Gary Null had even a shred of credibility, have a look at this document on his website. No, he didn’t write it, but it shows up in his “library”, and not as a cautionary tale.

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I am embarrassed

by the San Francisco Chronicle for giving a lot of uncritical coverage to a pet psychic in “Marla Steele makes pet talk a two-way street.” This “psychic” discusses Reiki (and the ability to do it from a distance–“energy broadcasting”), among other thing. And here’s the reporter’s hardball question:

What do you say to skeptics? I completely appreciate people’s skepticism. I first heard about animal communication from a coworker at Nordstrom’s who was paying $100 to talk to a pet psychic in Oregon about her German Shepherd. I always listened politely to her stories, but secretly thought she must just have money to burn, or be crazy, or both. Now we laugh because I not only became a pet psychic, I also appear on radio and television talk shows all over the country.


Galileo, Semmelweis, and YOU!

To wear the mantle of Galileo, it is not enough to be persecuted: you must also be right.
–Robert Park

I used to spend a lot of time on the websites of Joe Mercola and Gary Null, the most influential medical cranks of the internets (to call them “quacks” would imply that they are real doctors, but bad ones—I will no longer dignify them with the title of “quack”). I’ve kept away from them for a while in the interest of preserving my sanity. Unfortunately, Orac reminded me this week of the level searingly stupid and dangerous idiocy presented by these woo-meisters.
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