Food politics  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Food politics are the political aspects of the production, control, regulation, inspection, distribution and consumption of food. The politics can be affected by the ethical, cultural, medical and environmental disputes concerning proper farming, agricultural and retailing methods and regulations.

"Big food"

Food manufacturing and processing is a heavily concentrated industry. The 10 largest food companies in the United States control more than half of all food sales domestically and a growing percentage of packaged food and beverage products on store shelves worldwide. Ranked by food sales, PepsiCo, Inc., is the largest food manufacturer in the U.S., followed by Tyson Foods, Nestlé, JBS USA, and Anheuser-Busch, according to a 2013 list published by Food Processing magazine. According to figures from the United States Census Bureau from 2007, the most highly concentrated food industries in the country included cane sugar refining, breakfast cereals, bottled water, and cookie/cracker manufacturing using the 4-firm concentration ratio. Consolidation of this industry took place in the 1970s and 1980s through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

"Big food" has come under fire not only because a small number of players are responsible for a large percentage of the food supply chain, but because of concerns about the links between the highly processed foods they produce and the obesity epidemic both in the U.S. and worldwide. The director general of the World Health Organization, in a speech given at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Helsinki, Finland in June 2013, noted that the public health community's efforts to combat chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are pitted against the economic interests of the powerful food industry. Several studies are exploring processed foods with high concentrations of sugar, refined carbohydrates, fat, salt and caffeine for addictive properties.

Marketing and other strategies of the food industry have been compared to those of the tobacco industry at the height of its influence in the consumer marketplace. In response, the food industry has engaged in some voluntary efforts to improve the nutritional content of their foods. In 2005, General Mills announced a plan to ensure that all of its breakfast cereals contained at least eight grams of whole grain per serving. In 2006, Campbell Soup Company announced an initiative to reduce sodium in its products by at least 25 percent. Due to slumping sales, Campbell's acknowledged that it was adding more sodium back into some of its soups in 2011.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Food politics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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