November 25, 2006

Why the wine ads don't mention the benefits of resveratrol.

They don't want to litigate:
In 1991, some aggressive winemakers sought to trumpet the health benefits of wine, but they were quickly shut down by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which then regulated the industry at the federal level. Even the industry’s trade organization, the Wine Institute, counseled against promoting wine as a health drink....

“We put on a back label, that wine is healthy and recommended in the Bible,” [Michael Mondavi said]. “The B.A.T.F. sent us a cease and desist letter and made us change the label even though we went back to Washington and showed them the scientific evidence and read them the Bible passages.”
The article doesn't identify the passages. There's this:
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
And this one, which is less grand but actually makes a health claim:
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

14 comments:

AllenS said...

Perhaps it's a cultural thing. My Italian mother, let us children drink a small shot of wine before dinner. Or, maybe it had something to do with growing up in the 1950's.

WV: gyoabra
Meaning: That was good, can I have another.

George said...

Even wilder is the Miracle Fruit, an African berry that when eaten causes all foods eaten thereafter to taste sweet, even lemons.

In 1974, a US company was about to bring this product to market as a diet aid, having spent millions in up-front development costs. Suddenly, the FDA denied approval.

Why? No one really knows, though this product would have been bad news for the sugar industry. What's more, Donald Rumsfeld was CEO of Searle in 1974. Searle made Aspartame.

You could look it up!

One place to get the fruit is, of course, wacky Japan, where there are cafes devoted to serving it, then followed by bitter tasting desserts which then taste sweet.

Pogo said...

This is more of our modern health puritanism, a repeat of the first attempt during the Victorian era.

Alcohol is Officially Bad, therefore nothing good can be said about it. Doctors aren't even talking about it, even though its cardiac benefits are known. Patients aren't stupid, and the feeble attempt to gag winemakers is more likely to draw attention to wine than divert it.

But wineries need not worry; people would mistrust a claim for health on a bottle of wine because it smacks of corporate self-interest. People often seem to believe facts they themselves have discovered more than what is told to them. They'll hear about resveratrol, without doubt.

John Thacker said...

Donald Rumsfeld was CEO of Searle in 1974. Searle made Aspartame.

You could look it up!


I did. First, Donald Rumsfield was not CEO in 1974; he was CEO between 1977 and 1985. Second, Aspartame wasn't allowed by the FDA either in 1974; it was not legalized by the FDA until 1981. But thanks for the laugh and conspiracy theory.

The FDA is noticeably reluctant to legalize lots of things, aspartame being among them. They like to regulate. You won't find much of a call to reform it, except among libertarians. Whenever there are some halting steps to reform, certain people jump up and down about danger, safety, and the precautionary principle.

AllenS said...

Some of my ancestors came over here on the Winthrop Fleet from England, in the early 1600's. Puritans all. I've looked up what provisions they sailed with. They had more beer with them than water. Also some barrells of "grog".

P. Froward said...

...danger, safety, and the precautionary principle.

Remember Thalidomide? The FDA didn't approve it.

The FDA, like any government agency, is necessarily inefficient, incompetent, and corrupt. But there's a non-crazy argument to be made that it's one of those cases where the alternative is even worse, on the whole.


Pogo,

Doctors aren't even talking about it, even though its cardiac benefits are known.

My dad's doctors told him about it after his heart attack. For what it's worth.

Maxine Weiss said...

Plus, it's vegetarian/vegan too. You never hear about that.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

Alcohol is a drug, though; and if you've made the comittment to have a completely no drugs, no surgery lifestyle...

...then things like caffeine and alcohol, the negatives outweigh the benefits.

I'm not so sure that even small amounts of alcohol, on a daily basis, wouldn't affect the liver, in those who have liver problems.

Cholesterol is made in the liver, if you liver gets the slightest bit out-of-whack....I don't know.

Take a look at people who regularly consume moderate amounts of alcohol....do they have great skin???

I see people who consume regularly with deep bags under their eyes and a lackluster (dull) complexion.

The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are clear.....but it does absolutely nothing for your skin, and might harm, and dull it.

Caffeine too. The risks of those things just aren't worth the benefits.

I'm all about reducing my risks.

Wine and Chocolate on special occasions, YES---as a celebratory, special occasion type of thing.

But the way Althouse continually touts these things, to be consumed on a daily basis, like clockwork.

Dr. Althouse, should, proceed with caution, in terms of the medicinal advice given out.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

No drugs, no surgery.

Alcohol and caffeine are drugs!

Just Don't.

miked0268 said...

>>>Remember Thalidomide? The FDA didn't approve it.<<<

Right, that's one of the FDA's success stories, and of course protecting the public from potentially dangerous drugs is the FDA's main function. Even though the FDA sometimes causes me alot of extra work (I'm an engineer at a pharmaceutical company), I understand the importance of what they do and think they do more good than harm. And, I think a reasonable case could be made that a manufacturer of any product who puts health claims on the label ought to be subject to FDA scrutiny.

Having said all that - the wine manufacturer in this story was hassled by the BATF, not the FDA. WTF? Who's BATF to say what you can put on your wine label? They certainly don't have the technical expertise to evaluate such claims (like the FDA does - in fact, they have hordes of people dedicated to checking drug labels for accuracy).

BATF involvement supports the Puritanical Stupidity hypothesis.

mcg said...

Ah, how can anyone miss the wedding at Cana when talking about wine and the Bible! As for Communion, the actual use of wine has to be inferred from historical context, I believe.

mcg said...

But just think about it: the first documented miracle of Jesus was to make wine! Woo-hoo!

Ann Althouse said...

Mcg: The wine miracle doesn't directly say to drink wine like the two I highlighted. Actually, I found over 200 references to wine in the Bible: the grapes of wrath imagery, the Song of Solomon drinking wine out of the loved one's navel, the Last Supper... many more. Some of the references are negative.

mcg said...

Maybe not, but it makes it quite clear that the wine was drunk. And I say, if it's good enough for Jesus to serve... :)