Yellow Pages Listings for Nutritionists Questioned

Times Staff Writer

A telephone directory's Yellow Pages is not the best place to find nutrition information, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Council Against Health Fraud.

The study reviewed directories from 41 areas in 17 different states and found that a mere 13% of the 439 nutritionists who placed a listing in the Yellow Pages were apparently "qualified." The council considered only those nutritionists who were academically credentialled registered dietitians as being qualified to counsel consumers.

The other listings were described as being spurious, suspicious or undeterminable.

Those rated as "spurious" by the group included solicitations for treatments such as hair analysis or cytotoxic testing. The suspicious designation was applied to health practitioners from other fields, such as chiropractors and dentists, who were "advertising questionable (nutrition) methods or credentials."

The latter category seems to be so widespread that the council plans to launch a separate review of what it called "this dimension of the shady health marketplace."

Raw Danger--An unusual food poisoning episode was chronicled recently by the state's Department of Health Services. In this case, a meat-related problem occurred as the result of poor food-handling practices coupled with the unorthodox use of goat.

The agency's newsletter, California Morbidity, reported that 23 people became ill after consuming Kilawen, a Philippine dish made from raw marinated goat. The incident occurred in Monterey County, and the symptoms reported included nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever and headache.

Health officials diagnosed the illness as Salmonella chester and attributed the outbreak to meat from a freshly butchered goat.

"Prior to gutting and butchering, the men singed goat hair from the body with a torch, which they considered sufficient to at least partially cook the skin," according to California Morbidity. "Upon arriving home with the butchered goat, the men prepared the Kilawen. Ingredients included skin, meat, bile, onion, vinegar, ginger, pepper, salt and monosodium glutamate. The Kilawen was left unrefrigerated at least four hours and then was placed in a refrigerator in a large bowl."

The report speculated that a number of things may have caused the contamination, including that the meat was left unrefrigerated for so long and that the torching of the skin was not enough to cook the meat and thus destroy the bacteria present.

Bullets or Linguini?--Each month the Center for Science in the Public Interest deems a newly introduced food product to be so offensive that it awards the item its "Food Porn" designation. The most recent selection was a toss-up.

The judges found themselves undecided between two chewing gum items manufactured by Amurol Products Co., a firm that has received more Food Porn awards than any other company since the program's inception.

The winner was finally announced in the group's Nutrition Action Newsletter as Rambo Black Flak Bubble Gum. These artificially flavored black raspberry nuggets are meant to resemble machine gun shell casings.

At the last minute, Rambo was given the award over Amurol's Spaghetti & Meat Balls Bubble Gum, which brings new meaning to the term al dente. The newsletter called this latest invention an "insult to complex carbohydrates." The spaghetti gum was described as "three round red gum balls perched atop an order of denture-plated pink 'pasta.' "

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