Canadian MDs want junk food in same category as E. coli

From the I’m-not-sure-they’ve-thought-this-through category, a cardiologist and two public-health professors from Alberta argue in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology that junk food and its ingredients are such major health hazards that products with excessive amounts of sugar, salt and saturated fats should be labelled as “pathogens” — a word normally applied to viruses and other disease-causing bugs.

The National Post reports that authorities and the media grab public attention now when they report the spread of traditional pathogens — like listeria or E. coli — in contaminated food or water, and should similarly highlight food ingredients that are responsible for killing vastly more Canadians, says the article.

“It’s really just a nomenclature to attract attention to the fact we have a problem here and something needs to be done about it,” said Dr. Norm Campbell, a University of Calgary cardiologist and co-author of the paper. “It will hopefully … result in an evolution of our food so it’s again a source of health, not a source of disease.”

A combination of two Greek words, pathogen literally means producer of illness, though most often refers specifically to a bacteria, virus or other infectious agent.

Dr. Campbell, a specialist in hypertension and the effects of sodium on it, denied that his idea amounts to nanny-state interference in the marketplace, arguing there is as much or more reason to regulate food as to control highway speed limits or air traffic, government interventions that Canadians tolerate. Some evidence suggests that salt in food alone contributes to 14,000 deaths and 40,000 hospitalizations yearly, he said.’

“Why regulate crime? ‘Oh, it’s a murder, they shouldn’t be allowed a second chance.’ Well, the food industry kills many thousands more than that murderer ever had a hope of doing.”