Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

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Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

Post by johnkarls »

Question 1

Did our author, N.Y. Times Investigative Reporter Michael Moss, win his Pulitzer Prize for coining the phrase “pink slime”? What is “pink slime”?

Answer 1

According to the NY Times Book Review by a Vanity Fair Contribution Editor posted on --

“Moss’s gift to posterity is the phrase 'pink slime,' which he popularized in a 2009 New York Times article as part of a series on beef safety that won him a Pulitzer Prize. Pink slime is a hamburger-meat extender produced by taking the trimmings from the outermost part of a cow -- once thought to be too fatty and too prone to contamination for human consumption, better suited to making pet food and candles -- and whirling these trimmings in a centrifuge to separate the protein from the fat. The resultant gunk is treated with gaseous ammonia to ensure that it’s not a habitat for E. coli and other pathogens. It’s cheap to produce and low in fat, but it can smell and taste 'off,' and the very fact of it is nasty. Moss’s revelation that pink slime was a component of America’s most commonly eaten ground beef -- with a clientele ranging from McDonald’s and Taco Bell to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program -- set off a countrywide furor, not to mention a lot of ex post facto retching by everyone who had ever eaten a burger at an Interstate rest stop. In reaction, McDonald’s and such supermarket chains as Kroger and Safeway announced that they would no longer traffic in slime-augmented meat.”

Question 2

What is the meaning of the phrase “salt of the earth” and from where does it come?

Answer 2

It comes from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount which says, in part (Matthew 5:11-13) --

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Interestingly, the Sermon on the Mount only mentions seasoning as a use for salt. Down through the centuries, it was also used as a preservative. Indeed, salt was so important that in many cultures it was used as money (similarly to, for example, gold in other cultures).

For music lovers, the most important annual music festival is located in Salt City (aka Salzburg) whose name derives from all of the salt that was transported on its river, Salzach, from nearby salt mines.

Question 3

What is a “pleasure center”? What is a restaurant chef?

Answer 3

Pleasure Centers are the areas of the brain that light up on MRI’s when the subjects are dosed with solutions of sugar or fat.

Consultants and food scientists calibrate the products (“optimize” them in industry speak) to maximize cravings at the least cost. That optimum is called the “Bliss Point” -- especially in the soft drink industry. Below the Bliss Point, you’re losing sales and above the Bliss Point, you’re wasting money.

Restaurant chefs are also specialists in creating products that maximize cravings, though cost is not a significant factor for the world’s best chefs.

Question 4

Is there such a thing as a “pleasure center” for fat?

Answer 4

As mentioned in Answer 3, there are Pleasure Centers for fat.

But surprisingly, there is no Bliss Point for fat!!!

In other words, there is no maximum amount of fat that can be added to a food concoction that will risk the loss of customers. Moss reports the big food companies have come to the realization that cheese can be added to almost anything in almost unlimited quantities and profits will almost always continue to escalate.

Question 5

Our August 2007 meeting was the inaugural use of our bulletin board ( Among the 28 postings in its Reference Materials section for that meeting was a Reuters/London report that the U.K. was considering imposing a “Fat Tax” = a special 17.5% Value-Added Tax (VAT) “on salty, sugary and fatty foods” that would save an estimated 3,200 lives/year. Was the “Fat Tax” instituted and, if so, what were the results?

Answer 5

On 10/4/2011, The London Guardian reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his government might introduce a Fat Tax as part of the solution to Britain’s obesity problem. However, he/they did not do so.

This, of course, implies that no Fat Tax was instituted in the U.K. in 2007.

The same month (October 2011), Denmark imposed a Fat Tax on butter, milk, cheese, pizza meat, oil and processed food containing more than 2.3% saturated fat. However, the Danish Government felt forced by public opinion to withdraw the tax 13 months later. And a proposed Sugar Tax was never implemented in Denmark.

Question 6

What have private employers in the U.S. done with their employee-health plans to impose higher employee-contributions toward premiums if they are overweight or lead an unhealthy lifestyle? What did CVS Pharmacy announce just this past week that it was doing in this regard?

Answer 6

Many U.S. employers impose higher employee-premium contributions for health insurance for employees who are overweight or lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

On 3/20/2013, ABC News reported that CVS Pharmacy started down this path by requiring its 200,000 employees to have their approved doctors submit such information as weight, body fat and blood glucose levels, or pay a $50/month higher employee-premium contribution.

Question 7

Since, as we have studied, America has “The Best Government Money Can Buy” according to Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank’s Homo Politicus and long-time Business-Week Columnist Robert Kuttner’s The Squandering of America, how could it possibly be true as our author alleges that “executives within the private sector have done more soul-searching about addressing the obesity epidemic than their cowed counterparts in government agencies” if the executives are the ones who are busy showering Pols with “campaign contributions” to influence the decisions of the governmental agencies?

Answer 7

The question is wrong!!!

There were two NY Times Book Reviews posted on -- one by a Vanity Fair Contributing Editor and the other by the Editor of Cooking Light Magazine. The quotation is from the former review and not from “Salt-Sugar-Fat” itself as the question implies.

Moreover, in claiming that “Salt-Sugar-Fat” alleges food executives have done more soul-searching than their governmental-agency counterparts, the Vanity Fair Contributing Editor provides no citation and no further details of any kind.

The Vanity Fair Contributing Editor appears to be referring to the 30-page Prologue of “Salt-Sugar-Fat” which describes a top-secret meeting of the CEO’s of 12 of the largest food companies that took place 4/8/1999 at the Pillsbury’s headquarters. Pillsbury was attempting to convince the 11 other companies that they should impose voluntary limits on the use of salt, sugar and fat. The proposal was rejected by the other 11 companies.

Our author’s account betrays his ignorance that such a meeting was an obvious and blatant violation of the nation’s anti-trust laws which have no exception for laudable purposes. That is one reason why governmental law/regulation is often needed to attain a laudable purpose.

Moreover, there is no evidence that anyone at Pillsbury, the only company among the 12 represented that favored the proposal, had done any “soul searching” in the sense of ethical misgivings, as distinguished from “soul searching” in the sense of being practical in devising an industry solution to a public-relations problem before it becomes a political problem.

After all, history is replete with examples of industry-suggested “solutions” to public-relations problems that screw the public (please pardon my “French”) and spare the companies. For example, when it appeared that chemical companies were finally going to be held liable for untold billions of dollars in environmental lawsuits, they invented The Superfund which was financed by a Superfund Tax which was the equivalent of a sales tax on chemicals and other petroleum products -- economists will confirm that the economic burden of a sales tax that is imposed on the products of all competitors is borne by the consumer!!!

Question 8

Since America has “The Best Government Money Can Buy,” will Obamacare make any reforms such as those pioneered in the U.K. and in private U.S.-employee health plans, impossible as a practical matter to adopt?

Answer 8

If you think the food companies will not lobby the Pols to make reforms impossible, you probably believe in the existence of Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy!!!

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