“”So here, dear parents: If your children are chubby – no problem. If they eat, slim or chubby, spaghetti with tomato sauce for half a year or Nutella bread for one year and reject anything else – no problem. As long as children are fit, develop healthily, are alert, do not attract attention, they will eat exactly what they need.
|—Dr. Gunter Frank (translated from German), EU.L.E. member who, ironically, also warns against eating disorders|
Udo Pollmer (1954–) is a German food chemist, business consultant and “scientific” director of the European Institute of Food and Nutrition Sciences (Europäisches Institut für Lebensmittel- und Ernährungswissenschaften, EU.L.E.), a somewhat bizarre organization propagandizing against established dietary recommendations, promoting the view that “healthy eating” is actually unhealthy and diets are ineffective for weight loss in the long run.
Pollmer once worked for the Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsberatung founded by Max Otto Bruker, a right-wing whole-foods quack who distinguished between Lebensmittel (good) like raw fruit or non-heated vegetables and Nahrungsmittel (bad), which would be more or less “dead” and of which “factory sugar”, patent flour and “factory fats” are supposed to be the most inferior, recommended fresh-grain milk for babies and even claimed that there would be no reason for concern of getting AIDS if his doctrine was followed.
Pollmer later turned away from this bullshit but went to the opposite extreme, so to speak. He now bashes whole grains, recommends white flour and refers to humans as coctivores (Latin coctum ‘cooked (stuff)’), being adjusted for prepared food (such as fast food, goulash, cake) that is easily digestible, low in fibre and phytotoxins, and high-caloric. He likes to engage in conspiracy theories such as that nutritional counselling is violence by women against women.
It seems that Pollmer agitates for agro-industrial interests (for instance, he defends factory farming, bashes vegetarians/vegans as well as cultured meat and announced concern about the return of wolves to Germany) and wants to push certain things like meat / fast food / sugar by bringing forward arguments that accommodate various assumptions. For instance, fibre is commonly seen as beneficial, accordingly he says: “If you want to eat fiber, buy a Thuringian sausage, there is more in it than in fruit.” On the other hand, meat products are often seen as low in fibre, so he says: “Fruit and vegetables are not healthy, they are edible. […] We humans are not prepared for large amounts of fibre.” But wait, is sausage good for you because of fibre or because we are not prepared for large amounts of fibre? As another example: Obesity is considered unhealthy, so he portrays sweeteners as fattening and recommends sugar instead. On the other hand, people are afraid of weight gain by eating too much calories, accordingly he portrays being fat as beneficial. There is an ideological superstructure which may be summarized with the term intuitive eating; that people should not be concerned about eating too much salt/fat/calories and that, for instance, children’s rejection of broccoli should not be trained away since it is a defense mechanism and if we eradicate it we should not be surprised when children start licking on cleaning agents etc. Environmentalists are also among his targets.
In addition, Pollmer disputes the health benefits of sports, thereby spreading convenient half-truths. He is sometimes cited by fat acceptance activists but unlike many of them appears to be right-leaning. He writes for the right-conservative magazine Tichys Einblick and liked a Facebook comment saying that this is not at all embarrassing for Tichy because facts encounter a fact-based medium. A transphobic dig can also be found (“Today this is so far away from the world of experience of the citizens that they can devote themselves to luxury questions such as: How many genders are there, are we allowed to also use useful animals or do diets make slim?”).
Oh, but Pollmer uses endnotes, so his work must be solid, right? No. Some of the sources that he uses are dubious (e.g., the Global Warming Policy Foundation or, well, his own work), sometimes he cherry picks and sometimes he distorts or interprets in an odd way.
Pollmer has been referred to as a doctor and nutritionist but he does not have a doctorate or any degree in nutrition, though he was an assistant lecturer at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences at the Department of Home Economics and Nutritional Sciences. Nutritionist Ibrahim Elmadfa remarked: “Constructive criticism would be great but Pollmer does not speak our language, he does not belong to our circle.”
Pollmer is a member of the Advisory Board of the evolutionary-humanist Giordano Bruno Foundation, perhaps because he rambles about the significance of cuisine for human evolution; after all, the gbs also gave a forum to Sabine Paul with her “evolutionary diet”/“PaläoPower” claptrap.
Pollmer disputes that vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy.
What a pity that three things are wrong here. The corresponding publication in the literature list dates from 1969, so it was not in the 1970s – was that a deliberate mistake so that the study is not easily found for counter-checking? Anyway, here is what a book has to say on this study:
Baker and his groups studied in 1969 the development of scurvy in six male volunteer prisoners in the state of Iowa, USA and their experiment is known as the Iowa study. […] They placed prisoners B, Y, L, N, K, and S for 99 days on a vitamin C-free, liquid diet, balanced with other nutrients, and administered by means of a gastric tube. […] Prisoners B and Y escaped on day 54, so they were left with four prisoners. […] Within 10 days of strict deprivation of vitamin C, hyperkeratosis was present in three of the four prisoners, three had gum swelling or gum congestion or both, one had bleeding gums and two had papillary swelling. After 90 days of depletion all four prisoners had hyperkeratosis but only three had developed conjunctival lesions of clinical scurvy.
Two of the six people escaped on the 54th day and it also is not the case that the remaining four did not suffer any health damage.
Pollmer warns against phytoestrogens in soy (though, of course, not against actual estrogens in milk) and alleges that it is an invention of the American soy industry that soy has been used for millennia in Asia.
In Asia itself, soy products except for the soy sauce never played a role and until a few decades hardly ever were used for human nutrition […] because it’s poisonous.
Very many people in Asia would not tolerate milk and find it disgusting, so why should it be imitated? (Well, soy milk does not have to be viewed as a milk substitute; it arises as a by-product of tofu production, after all.) Regarding a (now-deleted) passage in the German-language Wikipedia according to which it is suspected that it was discovered and developed ca. in 164 BCE by the Chinese prince Liu An, he remarks: “That’s roughly like saying: It is suspected that in Germany in the year 385 before Christ a – uhm – Bajuwaric prince developed artificial potato peelings made of steaks.”
While the claim that it was invented by Liu An may certainly be folklore (Shurtleff and Aoyagi: “There was no mention of tofu or soymilk in any works commissioned by Liu An, nor in any works about him for more than 1,000 years after his death”), there are recorded uses of soy for food from a long time ago, e.g., Zhanguo Ce (ca. first century BCE): “Of the staple grains grown, the principal crop is soybean rather than wheat. What the people consume are mostly cooked soybean granules (dou fan) and soybean leaf soup (huo geng).”
Pollmer cites a study on 719 elderly Indonesians (52–98 years old) in which an association between high tofu consumption and worse memory was found. This is an epidemiological investigation that did not demonstrate causality; it is not the case that people who do not eat tofu were prescribed to eat tofu but that they were inquired about their soy consumption and memory performance was compared. Besides the effect of soy, another explanation can be thought of: Perhaps poorer people consume tofu more frequently. Also, tofu is or was sometimes preserved with formaldehyde in Indonesia which may cause oxidative frontal cortex and hippocampal tissue damage. In contrast, twelve short-term clinical trials have been done of which nine showed a positive effect of soy on cognitive function and three no significant difference.
He also resorts to hairsplitting over the term soy milk (“If the (female) advocates of soy milk can explain to me which cup size their soy beans have, I will gladly believe that they also yield milk”), but even more absurd is a remark by his ally Georg Keckl:
The name “Tofurei” [literally tofury] is in itself already a scam, an insult to any dairy of which the name is supposed to be reminiscent. The fitting answer to this brazen equating: “In dairies, nothing has to be thrown away, you work with a natural product that is delivered as edible and not like a witches’ kitchen as a detoxification establishment.
Which equating? -(er)y is a suffix that is used for various establishments, for instance, in a bakery it is baked, in a brewery it is brewed etc. Furthermore, by-products like tofu skin and okara can be used for food. Regarding detoxification establishment, milk often is not drunk raw either, but heat-treated, homogenized and/or microfiltrated.
French fries and acrylamide
In an EU.L.E. video, the label “Why children like to eat French fries and acrylamide protects against cancer” appears at the beginning, but this is misleading since Pollmer does not say in the talk that acrylamide itself protects against cancer, it is about certain other substances produced by roasting that lead to growth inhibition of tumor cells.
With this he explains the result of a study by Mucci et al. which found an inverse trend for large bowel cancer when quartiles of known dietary acrylamide intake where analyzed (40% reduced risk in the highest compared to lowest quartile). However, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment found that the study has considerable methodical weaknesses that ultimately lead to it having a very low chance to detect a risk in the magnitude of the suspected risk posed by acrylamide in food. Some studies showed an increased risk while others did not (and as far as associations were observed, they were only modest).
Pollmer holds that children like French fries better than boiled potatoes in the skin because peeling and frying destroys the potato alkaloids solanine and chaconine – “not because it tastes better, it tastes better because they have a better effect.” However, not all potatoes have a high enough amount of glycoalkaloids that makes them easily detectable by bitter taste and Pollmer does not cite a study showing whether children actually tend to prefer French fries at all in the video, so this remains speculative intuitive eating theorizing.
Pollmer engages in the conspiracy theory that fibre of animal origin is concealed. Big Broccoli™ does not want us to know the truth, apparently.
A few months ago, I researched on the subject of animal fibre. Just as there is plant fibre, there is also animal fibre, components that are difficult to digest such as gristle, tendons and so on. So it also was said in textbooks in the past. However, since fibre has been healthy, animal fibre is no longer included in the nutritional value tables. In the meantime, there are apparently no more documents on the Internet that correctly point out this fibre, whether in German or in English. They have disappeared.
There is, for instance, a German reference work noting chitin as fibre (Ballaststoff), but the fact of the matter is that the amount of fibre that people get from animal origin is in general negligible, as many do not eat insects or tendons all that much.
An Apple a Day …
In a late-night show with Christoph Süß, Pollmer noted that it is possible to roughly say what the standard human should eat, but that there is a problem if you do not conform to the standard. He took the proclamation that apple peel is healthy as an example and said that there are death cases from the consumption of apple peel (“paraffin liver”) because there are people whose liver does not cope with the apple wax. To the question “One dies of an apple??”, Pollmer answered that normally there is no harm because they peel the apples in such a case, the problem would arise if an idiot says that it is healthy.
In fact, there is one set of cases of paraffin liver in cows, where the abnormal deposits were likely derived from exceptionally large amounts of unpeeled apples eaten daily over a long period of time (ca. 10 milligrams of apple peel alkanes per day). Pollmer does not mention this and uses this extreme case to argue against dietary recommendations, but saying that apple peels are healthy is not saying that they are safe to consume at any amount and even though different diets are suitable for different people, one may still give some rough general advice that is to be adjusted to the individual if one realizes an intolerance to a certain product. Even Pollmer gives dietary advice, for instance, he commented on the depiction of a schoolchild biting in an apple, despite the fact that some people are allergic to milk: “The child should hold a slice of buttered bread with salami and a milk carton in the hand. That is much healthier.” As another example: “You can eat everything, just not vegan.”
When Pollmer warns against food additives, he may come across like a consumer advocate, indeed, his book Zusatzstoffe von A bis Z: Was Etiketten verschweigen has a better rating on Amazon than, for example, Don’t Go Veggie!: 75 Fakten zum vegetarischen Wahn or Wer gesund lebt, ist selber schuld: Was uns Gesundheitsapostel verschweigen. However, he ascribes food adulterations to the demand of consumer advocates for healthy food.
Among other things, he spreads the myth of the “Chinese restaurant syndrome”. He holds that there is not a single solid evidence that sugar makes people fat or ill but warns against sweeteners, remarking that NHDC is rightly approved “for fattening” of pigs by the EU. Sweeteners can indeed be used to make feed more palatable to farm animals, but in the end it is the feed, of course, which makes fat and this does not mean that sweeteners make any more fat than sugar.
In a video, Pollmer himself notes that the beverage sterilant dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC) does not have to be declared because it decomposes in the drink, yet calls it a dubious substance and demands a declaration. At the end of the video, hazard and safety notes are boldly displayed. How scary! But how are they relevant? They do not refer to decomposition products in beverages, after all. In his additives book, he notes that not only microorganisms are killed off but also numerous side reactions with food additives are enabled and that the chemically closely related diethyl dicarbonate had to be withdrawn from sale because of that. That’s only half the story. Diethyl dicarbonate can form the harmful urethane in aqueous acidic solution while with DMDC, methyl carbamate is formed. EFSA: “The Committee noted that MC at high levels produced hepatocellular carcinomas in one strain of rats, but not in another strain of rats and in mice, and that it was not genotoxic. As residues of MC in soft drinks were less than 20 μg/L, the Committee concluded that there was a safety margin of several orders of magnitude between possible consumer intakes and the dose producing carcinogenic effects in one strain of rats. Therefore, they concluded that there was no toxicological objection to the use of DMDC in soft drinks at the proposed level.”
In a video, Pollmer talks about vegan Christmas stollens and says that the term vegan presumably serves as a camouflage for cheap junk. “In order that it is animal-free, it suffices to replace the wonderful ingredient butter by dodgy rapeseed oil and cheap margarine.” However, the displayed stollen actually contains milk and the word vegan does not appear there either.
In a Facebook post, he quoted Desmond Tutu with the words "The DDT ban created a new Holocaust." Tutu never said that. There is the passage “But the death toll equals or exceeds that of the Holocaust (6 million men, women and children) every five years. Since the ban on DDT was first implemented, the body count has surpassed that of all World War II" in an explanatory note to a resolution that Tutu signed, but even there the wording “new Holocaust” does not occur. Pollmer referred to an announcement of the Heartland Institute; it says “petition urging the use of DDT to stop an African holocaust” there, but the wording is not ascribed to Tutu. See also: DDT#DDT bans and mass murder.
Pollmer reported that two years after the 5 A Day campaign, the German Nutrition Society delivered a scientific rationale.
In DGE-Info 7/01 we read with astonishment that the impressive evidence has to be vanished into thin air. “There is currently no direct evidence that an intervention with vegetables and fruits lowers the risk of cancer or other chronic diseases.” […] But that does not have to worry the experts. After all, popes, by virtue of their office, cannot be wrong: “According to expert opinion”, Biesalski proceeds, “the evidence presented so far is enough to justify a ‘5-day’ campaign.” If the evidence is missing, then at a pinch the personal opinion will do. Then at least the scientific facts are no longer disturbing …
He hereby suggests that the DGE holds to the idea without any scientific ground. But Biesalski did provide a justification that Pollmer left unmentioned: “On the one hand, it is theoretically possible that the risk reductions observed in epidemiological studies due to high vegetable and fruit consumption can be attributed to other factors related to the consumption of vegetables and fruit; but this seems unlikely, as the individual study results were frequently controlled for such effects. On the other hand, the assessment can be justified by the fact that of the many nutritional factors that potentially come into question for cancer prevention, the influence of vegetables and fruits is best backed-up scientifically and, according to the current data, has the greatest effect.”
Global warming denial
The name EU.L.E. reminds of the European Institute for Climate and Energy (Europäisches Institut für Klima und Energie), a climate-denialist organization with the catchy abbreviation EIKE. Quite fittingly, Pollmer also has some “climate skeptic” positions:
The word “Klimawandel!” (climate change) was displayed boldly on the banner. Had they, instead of standing around bored, curiously inspected the river bed, they would have succeeded to make enlightening discoveries: for example, hunger stones.
That there were warm periods before does not mean that the current warming is not due to greenhouse gases emitted by humans.
The frowned upon “greenhouse gas” carbon dioxide helps to save our nutrition. We need it for storage protection and as a fertilizer. Thanks to the greenhouses’ gas CO2, the supply of fresh tomatoes and berries is quite appetizing even in winter.
Note that Pollmer puts “greenhouse gas” in scare quotes. CO2 is useful, of course, but that does not mean that we need an increased concentration in the atmosphere.
If it gets warmer on the globe, the plants thrive […]. […] Hopefully the pre-industrial times mentioned as a gold standard never return: there were regularly crop failures and famines then!
At some higher latitudes, global warming may have a positive effect on agriculture, but not everywhere, as a steady flow of water is important, which can be disturbed by floods and droughts. Also, a reduction in GHG emissions does not mean a general return to pre-industrial times.
In the professional world, “climate change” is considered the greatest scientific fraud of the last century. “Climate” is a construct, a statistic of arbitrarily selected weather data of a geographical region. In fact, it mainly depends on the sun's rays and cloud formation. In the long term, the activity of our central star and the volcanism of the earth decide on cold and warm periods and not “climate gases”. It is presumptuous and arrogant to believe that humans have a significant influence on it, and “climate protection” is already nonsense conceptually.
Talking shit and appealing to “the experts”, who needs evidence? Regarding climate protection, he pretends to be stupid or takes his readers as fools, it should be clear what the term means.
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- German Wikipedia article
- Friedensnobelpreisträger Erzbischof Desmond Tutu: „Das DDT-Verbot schuf einen neuen Holocaust“.. Archived from Facebook, 31 August 2018.
- EU.L.E.n-Spiegel (at least the name fits), Nr. 1 / 2016