The Weaponizing of Salt, Sugar and Fat: The Secrets of How Big Food Got Us Hooked on Junk
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AMY GOODMAN: And then they added dessert.
MICHAEL MOSS: And then they added dessert, hamburger Lunchables, hot dog Lunchables, pancake Lunchables—some of them with huge loads of salt, sugar, fat. Kraft, to its credit, is now pulling back on those ingredients, and you can actually find some much lower amounts. But it opened the door to something really important, which is the fast-food industry has moved into the grocery store, so you no longer have to go to a fast-food chain to find problematic foods.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moss, talk about cheese. Talk more about cheese.
MICHAEL MOSS: So, I was amazed to hear that figure, that we are, on average, eating as much as 33 pounds of cheese a year. And I thought, "How could that be?" And that’s triple the amount back in the '70s. And the story goes like this. Starting in the ’60s, people began drinking less whole milk as a way of reducing calories and intake of saturated fat. That left the dairy industry with a glut of whole milk and the milk fat they were extracting from the whole milk to make skim milk. They went to the government and asked for help. And they started making more cheese with that milk. The government, since it subsidizes the dairy industry, bought the cheese. It accumulated. It was storing the cheese in caves in Missouri, when none other than Ronald Reagan came into office and says, "This is crazy. We've got $4 billion worth of cheese that’s going moldy. Stop it." But they still wanted to support the industry, so they came up with a marketing scheme that allowed the dairy industry to collect tens of millions of dollars every year to encourage consumers—for advertising and marketing, to encourage consumers to eat more cheese, not just as a delicacy that you eat as an hors d’oeuvre before dinner, but as an ingredient in processed food. And so, suddenly, cheese began showing up as slices on sandwiches, as ingredients in packaged foods in the store. And our consumption of saturated fat, while we thought we were taking it out of our diets, snuck back in, because cheese is largely invisible as a fat in that form.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moss, Jeffrey Dunn, whistleblower, or at least quit Coke. He was in charge of, what, $44 billion of sale of Coke.
MICHAEL MOSS: Wasn’t quite that much. He was in charge of North America and Latin America. But I’m glad you raise that, because—
AMY GOODMAN: Rather, $20 billion.
MICHAEL MOSS: Jeffrey Dunn was the top warrior at Coke, and he was the heir apparent, or one of the heir apparents, of the entire company in 2000, when he began having a change of heart. And, by the way, he walked me through all the incredible marketing strategy that Coke has, including targeting the most vulnerable consumers, which the company calls "heavy users."
AMY GOODMAN: Don’t call them "consumers" anymore; they’re "heavy users."
MICHAEL MOSS: "Heavy users." Twenty percent of their customers drink 80 percent of the Coke, and those are the people that it’s gone after. But starting in 2000, Jeffrey Dunn had a change of heart. It started with reading a book about sugar and the health effects. It went to his fiancée, who started like nudging him: "Hey, Jeffrey, do you really want to be doing this with your life?" And then he went to Brazil, where Coke was starting to market soda to the emerging middle class there. And out of the blue, Jeffrey says it was almost a voice he heard, said to him, "Jeffrey, you know, you should—these kids need a lot of things, but one thing they don’t need is another Coke." He went back to the company, pushed them to work more on selling healthier drinks, including soda, and cut back on marketing to schools. He ultimately left the company.