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Suit: IL Inmates Sentenced to a Dangerous Diet...Served Up to Children Next?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009   

CHICAGO – Illinois prison inmates say the food is making them sick -literally. The state prison system switched to soy-based meat-substitutes and other foods about seven years ago – promoted as a way to save money and cut out fat in the diet. But since the soy-intensive meals started, a number of prisoners have suffered severe health problems, which they blame on the food, and they've asked the federal courts to step in.

Sally Fallon is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation,/em>, a nonprofit focusing on nutrition education, which is involved in the lawsuit. She says soy overload could be headed to schools next; a pilot program for more soy in school lunches is already underway.

The Price Foundation got involved in the lawsuit after letters started arriving from inmates early last year detailing health woes after soy replaced meats and cheeses and was added to bakery mixes. Fallon says research has shown soy products contain toxins that interfere with digestion, as well as plant-based estrogens that are dangerous in large amounts. She says those two facts explain prisoner health issues.

"They cause pain and vomiting, thyroid problems, low metabolism, weight gain; several inmates have had parts of their colons removed in an attempt to ease the pain."

Fallon says unless soy-based diets can be stopped in the prison system, people can expect more soy-heavy foods to be served up for other institutional meals, in such places as hospitals and schools. She says the Illinois Department of Education is already piloting the use of more soy in school lunches.

"This means that these children will be getting this food that's extremely difficult to digest, and full of estrogen-like substances that can actually cause infertility later on."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999 allowed a soy-prevents-heart-disease health claim for soy consumed in small amounts, although Fallon says the agency is looking at revoking the claim because of further research that shows no heart health benefits.

The case, "Harris et al. v. Brown, et al.," is pending in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Corrections does not comment on active litigation.


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