If one listens to the “food police,” consump- tion of snack foods, be they salty snacks, crackers, cookies, cakes, nuts or fried foods, is risking your life because these things will cause
diabetes, heart disease and a wide range of
other illnesses. Food police working in school
systems have tried to dictate what parents
can place in their child’s lunchboxes. They
have gone so far as to inspect what kids bring
from home, confiscate cookies or other items
and send the child home with a note telling the parents how
terrible they are because they sent their child to school with
cookies or chips. Schools have even gone so far as to ban bake
sales, a time-honored fundraiser, or mandate what can be sold
at said sales: no cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes and such.
This is a nutritional debate that will linger for years. Yet,
sometimes, the best messages are forgotten. Years ago when
I was in grade school, I distinctly remember that the school
nurse came into my class one day and emphasized the impor-
tance of a balanced diet and that moderation was the key to
good health. This is something that people tend to forget: A
little of something is not going to hurt you,
especially, with children, if they are active and
burning calories as fast as they take them in.
Another point the food police seem to for-
get is that we are people and have been gifted
with the senses of taste and smell, plus an
appreciation of textures of food. People must
eat to live, but there are many who live to
eat. Chips, crackers, cookies and other snacks
appeal to the senses—they taste good and gen-
erally have a very pleasing texture, which is why people buy
them again and again. This basic premise is the cornerstone of
the food business: repeat purchases. Margins on most foods
are quite low, so the manufacturers want people coming back.
Personally, I enjoy the occasional snack item, whereas some of
the alleged superfoods simply taste terrible, such as kale.
So, let’s put nutritional issues aside and simply acknowledge that snacks are and probably will remain an integral part
of our diet simply because of their sensory attributes. Instead,
let’s focus on whether snacks themselves pose any food safety
SNACK FOODS By Richard F. Stier
How Safe Are Snack Foods?
snacks among the
safest foods on the