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Boxes of Kellogg Boxes of Kellogg's cereal are stacked in a supermarket in New York in this April 29, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files)  

Kellogg ex-CEO says FDA is attacking food industry

Has the Food and Drug Administration made French fries enemy number one?

Carlos Gutierrez,  formerly secretary of commerce under President George W. Bush and president, chairman and chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., warned members of the audience at the Annual Food Marketing Conference on Tuesday that the FDA has launched an all-out attack on the food industry.

MLive Media Group reported that Gutierrez advised attendees not to sit back and watch the FDA regulate them out of business, but to fight back against the government agency.

“You need to defend your brands, your businesses, your company, what you do, and have pride in the fact that we have in the United States probably the safest and best food-value chain in the world,” said Gutierrez. “And don’t let anybody convince you of any different than that.”

The veteran of the food industry said that the FDA’s intention of curbing obesity was well intentioned, but their food-banning strategy was misguided and would prove ineffective.

“The objective is to tackle obesity, which is a very noble objective,” Gutierrez said. “The point is how do you do it? And the way they are doing it strikes me as very self-defeating. It’s not going to work.”

He noted that America’s high obesity rate was a result of over-consumption, not the ingredients in our food.

“Imagine banning salt? Imagine banning sugar?” he asked. “Those are the big ones, those are the ones (salt and sugar) that we eat every day that would impact our diet the most. I’m not sure it would be beneficial.”

Gutierrez’s comment was, in part, a response to the FDA’s announcement in November that it is considering banning companies from using trans fats in their recipes.

The onslaught of regulations, he believes, is compromising the viability of the leaders of the industry.

“And you wonder why these great brands are declining,” he said. “Be careful because at the end of the day, the FDA is trying to decide. But it’s going to be consumers who are going to decide.”

Gutierrez told the industry professional at the event that they must counter the mounting laws burdening the sector through entrepreneurship.

“Fight it through innovation. Fight it through labeling, Fight it by being transparent with consumers,” he said.

“You are in the most dynamic, greatest industry in the world,” Gutierrez added. “It’s not going away. Unfortunately you’re under assault.”

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