EU Says Prunes Won’t Help You Poo. Sir Graham Watson Says ‘Try Eating A Few.’

Taken from here.

stewed prunes

The European Food Safety Authority ruled that prunes won’t help you poo, putting the kibosh on ads for dried plums that claim they’ll aid digestion. You’d expect that producers (or grandmothers) would be the first to jump to their defense, but Sir Graham Watson MEP surfaced to be their surprise defendant: Not only is he calling B.S. on the ruling; he’s challenged EU Commissioner John Dalli to a prune-eating contest to prove his point. Because isn’t that how all food policy debates should be resolved?

The original ruling was based on three different studies that pointed to a lack of sufficient evidence that prunes really maintain regular digestion, with the aim of reducing false claims on prune packaging. (Although, on a side note: Does anyone actually read prune marketing? Most prune-consumers I know either buy them because they like them, or because their grandmother told them it would help “move things along”; not because of snazzy packaging.) But Sir Graham, a member of European Parliament, was outraged, and gave the EU an earful in Strasbourg…and challenged Dalli to a prune-eating duel:

The European Commission’s advisory panel which does this work has rejected 95 per cent of claims for plant-based foods, maybe in many cases with good reason, but among the claims rejected is the claim that prunes have a laxative effect.

I have asked the Commission if it is satisfied with the criteria and the methodology used for testing such claims because I know that prunes contain two substances sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin, which have laxative effects. But most of our constituents do not require a scientific test.

I have also invited the Commissioner responsible for health and consumer policy, John Dalli, to a prune eating contest to see for himself.

The whole debate seems like a complete waste of time, but underneath the jabs about prunes and poo is a more pointed battle of priorities: Last month, EU officials concluded a three-year investigation on water, banning claims that water can prevent hydration. If prunes and water are your biggest food policy battles, I guess you could say you have it pretty good. But in all likelihood, you’re completely missing the point.

Photo: Dinner With Julie

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