Elizabeth Whelan, the epidemiologist who founded the American Council on Science and Health as a means to increase the public’s awareness of health and food safety, died on September 11 at the age of 70.
In 1978, Dr. Whelan founded the ACSH to provide greater scientific context for issues of health and nutrition in response to a perceived lack of attention from the federal government. Whelan’s council primarily contended the regulation and limitation of chemicals in foods “were regulated without proof that they were harmful,” according to The New York Times.
In 1975, Whelan and Dr. Frederick J. Stare, founder of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, collaborated on the book Panic in the Pantry: Food Facts, Fads and Fallacies.
The ACSH, which consults with a panel of more than 350 volunteer scientists, has often found itself on the opposing side of consumer groups and regulatory agencies, and eventually accepted roughly 40 percent of its funding from major corporations by 2003.
The council has advocated for a number of controversial products, including chemical additives, smokeless tobacco, and farm animal growth hormones. The council continues its mission against issues like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign against large servings of soda, and continues to fight against those who would “limit or dismantle many technological achievements that contribute to consumer choice and good health.”
On Thursday, September 18, the ACSH responded to an Israeli study on the link between diabetes and artificial sweeteners, calling the study "completely bullsweet."
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.