September 20, 1971

The Chemical Feast: The Ralph Nader Study Group Report on Food Protection and the Food and Drug Administration

Author Affiliations

Emory University Atlanta


by James S. Turner, 273 pp, $6.95, paper $.95, New York: Grossman Publishers, 1970.

JAMA. 1971;217(12):1708. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190120074031

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Sixteen of Ralph Nader's bright and idealistic young allies—law, medical, and graduate students—spent the summer of 1969 interviewing Food and Drug Administration personnel and examining FDA records. This report renders their judgment of the agency's role as protector of the nation's food supply: in virtually every respect an "appalling failure."

Concerned by the ecological crisis and moved by a strong antiestablishment bias, these "raiders" hold that food laws have been enacted and enforced so as to benefit industry rather than consumers. We would be better off without the 2,000 or 3,000 food additives now in use. The faintest hint of danger should be enough to ban use of an additive. FDA's "naive faith" in the food industry's professed goal of acting to benefit the consumer causes the agency to squander its power in back-room meetings with food tycoons and to rely on a "ludicrous" voluntary compliance system instead of on