Fast-food fan Trump could re­make healthy school lunches

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Will Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump re­make school lunches into his fast­food fa­vorites of burg­ers and fried chicken? Chil­dren grum­bling about health­ier school meal rules cham­pi­oned by first lady Michelle Obama may have rea­son to cheer Trump’s elec­tion as the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man is a proud pa­tron of Ken­tucky Fried Chicken and McDon­ald’s while promis­ing to curb fed­eral reg­u­la­tions. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has made health­ier, safer and bet­ter la­beled food a pri­or­ity in the last eight years, sig­nif­i­cantly rais­ing the pro­file of food pol­icy and some­times draw­ing the ire of Repub­li­cans, farm­ers and the food in­dus­try. The first lady made re­duc­ing child­hood obe­sity one of her sig­na­ture is­sues through her “Let’s Move” cam­paign.

In ad­di­tion to the health­ier school meal rules, the ad­min­is­tra­tion ush­ered a sweep­ing food safety law through Congress, pushed through sev­eral new food la­bel­ing reg­u­la­tions, started to phase out trans fats, added calo­rie la­bels to menus and sug­gested new lim­its on sodium in pack­aged foods. The White House has also fended off ef­forts in the Repub­li­can Congress to trim the na­tion’s food stamp pro­gram. “Food ad­vo­cates are al­ready nos­tal­gic for the Obama era and will be play­ing de­fense for the next four years,” says Sam Kass, a for­mer White House se­nior ad­viser on nu­tri­tion and per­sonal chef for the Oba­mas.

A look at some of the food reg­u­la­tions that could be scrapped - or tweaked - in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion:

Mak­ing school meals great again

Trump him­self hasn’t weighed in on school meal reg­u­la­tions. But Repub­li­cans, school nu­tri­tion di­rec­tors and some in the food in­dus­try have balked at parts of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rules that set stricter fat, sugar and sodium lim­its on foods in the lunch line and be­yond. While many stu­dents have now got­ten used to the health­ier foods, some schools still com­plain that they are costly and that it’s dif­fi­cult to meet the stan­dards.

“I would be very sur­prised if we don’t see some ma­jor changes on the school lunch pro­gram” and some other food is­sues, said Rep. Robert Ader­holt of Alabama, the Repub­li­can chair­man of the House sub­com­mit­tee that over­sees Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment spend­ing. Ader­holt, who sits on Trump’s agri­cul­ture ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, says the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach was “ac­tivist driven” and peo­ple who voted for Trump are look­ing for a more com­mon-sense ap­proach. One of many names that have been floated as a pos­si­ble agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary is Sid Miller, the Texas Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner who re­pealed a state ban on deep fry­ers and soda ma­chines at schools. Miller re­cently got in trou­ble when he used a pro­fan­ity on Twit­ter to de­scribe Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton; he blamed a staffer and the tweet was deleted.

The food police

In Septem­ber, the Trump cam­paign pitched rolling back food safety reg­u­la­tions in a fact sheet, ar­gu­ing they are bur­den­some to farm­ers and crit­i­ciz­ing in­creased in­spec­tions of food man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties as “overkill.” The sheet re­ferred to the “food police” at the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The cam­paign later deleted the pro­posal from its web­site. Congress passed new food safety reg­u­la­tions in 2010, a year af­ter a sal­mo­nella out­break linked to a Ge­or­gia peanut com­pany killed nine peo­ple. Michael Tay­lor, for­mer FDA deputy com­mis­sioner for foods who over­saw the food safety rules, says it wouldn’t be pop­u­lar with con­sumers to roll them back. “Con­sumers are only get­ting more fo­cused on safety, health and well­ness,” Tay­lor says. Trump him­self is a self-pro­fessed germa­phobe who prefers eat­ing at fast-food restau­rants be­cause he be­lieves they have higher food safety stan­dards.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have been ex­am­in­ing food stamps since the pro­gram’s cost grew to al­most $80 bil­lion an­nu­ally af­ter the recession. Par­tic­i­pa­tion and costs have dipped since its 2013 high, but con­ser­va­tives have sug­gested tight­en­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity stan­dards or in­creas­ing work re­quire­ments. House Speaker Paul Ryan has for years cham­pi­oned an over­haul to the pro­gram. Democrats in the Se­nate have con­sis­tently ob­jected to any changes to the pro­gram, and will still wield in­flu­ence. But they won’t have the back­ing of a Demo­cratic White House.

—AP

TOWN­SHIP, Penn­syl­va­nia: In this file photo, for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani, left, stands with then-Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump as he buys cook­ies dur­ing a visit to Eat’n Park restau­rant in Moon Town­ship, Pa.

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