FDA completes three-year study

An extensive federal study recommends chewing food during eating, rather than swallowing whole.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it has completed a three-year, $860 million study into the safest and best ways to eat, take medication, store food, and perform other common household activities related to food and medicine.

Chris Grand, a health official with the FDA, is excited about the project’s results.

“This has been a labor of love and we’re glad to finally present our findings to the American people, for their benefit,” he said.

The study was commissioned in 2008 after several federal studies revealed that choking is a common problem in food-related accidents, and that taking the wrong kind of medicine, or too much, is not healthy.

“Choking and prescription drug poisonings are not simply medical issues, but
matters of social justice,” said Grand.  He insisted the government has an obligation to
address these problems.

The study is titled FDA For the People: Food and Drug Safety in the United States.  Contained therein are the safest ways to prepare, eat, and store a variety of food.  FDA For the People also details the best ways to store and take medicine.

Approximately 12,000 citizens from a variety of backgrounds were involved in the
research.  The report’s major findings include:

  • An 11-page illustrated guide to the proper way of chewing and swallowing food.  People are instructed to eat by following a two-step process: chew food, then swallow it, rather than attempt to swallow food whole;
  • For taking medicine, it is recommended that people follow a doctor’s directions and dosage instructions on the back of the medicine bottle, instead of asking friends or guessing;
  • In 99.8% of all cases of hunger, a desire to eat was the cause, and the hunger was alleviated by eating food; the remaining 0.2% of hunger incidents were caused by dreams of food, which were then relieved by waking up;
  • Food items are intended for eating, while non-food items are not.

“These are critical findings which we believe will correct a lot of misunderstandings,” Grand said. “People eat food and take medicine every day, so what we’ve attempted to do here is provide the latest data concerning relevant daily activities.”

Health experts were pleased with the report’s findings related to food storage.  FDA For the People recommends that consumers refrigerate items labeled, “Refrigerate after opening.”  Also included in the report is information on why eating spoiled food is not recommended.

Researchers were particularly excited about the study’s conclusions relating to medicine.

“There are some great findings here,” said Dr. Angelo Pullton, a consultant for FDA For the People.  “Our research shows that, for many patients, drugs are prescribed to alleviate illnesses or disorders.  However, in other cases, generic over-the-counter, or OTC, drugs are just as good.”

Also included is information on beverages.  Dr. Dirk Young, chief beverage advisor for the report, said his findings will greatly help the public.

“Beverages such as coffee and tea are best consumed when they are hot, while soft drinks, milk, and juice are best served when cold,” Young said.  The report contains extensive research indicating that many people have been burned by hot beverages.   Such problems led Young to advise people to be careful when drinking them.

“We’re just trying to make sure people take precaution with their food and medicine,” Grand said. “You can never be too safe, and that’s why we’re here.”

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