What's New -- CSPI Press Releases

For Immediate Release: December 4, 1997

Contact: Bonnie Liebman 202/332-9110, ext. 326

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STATEMENT OF BONNIE LIEBMAN

CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

13th ANNUAL HARLAN PAGE HUBBARD LEMON AWARDS

December 4, 1997

AWARD FOR FOOD ADVERTISING

"If you're healthy, go right ahead and enjoy your eggs. Your cholesterol probably will stay about the same." At least that's what the American Egg Board ads say.

This is no casual claim. It contradicts the advice of every major health authority in the U.S., including the American Heart Association, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, the Surgeon General, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

How can the Egg Board get away with telling the public to ignore those health authorities? According to its ads, the don't-worry-about-eggs claim is based on 224 studies compiled by researchers at the University of Arizona. But the ads neglect to mention that the egg industry helped foot the bill for the compilation. Nor do they mention that one of those University of Arizona researchers is now the executive director of the egg industry's educational arm. And that's not the worst part.

The worst part is that even the egg-industry-funded University of Arizona study found that eating the cholesterol in two eggs a day--the serving shown in the ads--does raise blood cholesterol...by nearly ten points. That translates into a ten percent rise in the risk of heart disease. That's not trivial.

Some of the Egg Board's ads also claim that "dietary cholesterol is the least significant factor in trying to reduce your blood cholesterol." While studies show that the cholesterol in foods has less impact on blood cholesterol than does the saturated fat in foods, less impact doesn't mean trivial impact. That's like saying that smoking cigarettes raises the risk of cancer more than smoking cigars, so it's harmless to smoke cigars.

How can the Egg Board's ads get away with these lies? One reason is that the ads were approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's because the USDA oversees the program that enables the egg industry to fund its ads.

The irony is that--like other health authorities--the USDA urges people to choose a diet that's low in cholesterol. It's right here in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Yet when its responsibility to protect the public's health conflicts with its responsibility to protect the egg industry, consumers lose out.

The bottom line is that the cholesterol in egg yolks raise the cholesterol in your blood. No matter how many studies the industry funds and no matter how many ads it runs, that's the plain truth.


[ Hubbard Awards Press Release ]