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Are Children Next Targets for Toxic Meals? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 July 2009 13:25

PRESS RELEASE

Update--Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Soy Diet for Illinois Prisoners

The Weston A. Price Foundation
Washington, DC
www.westonaprice.org
Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist
(703) 860-2711, cell (703) 675-5557
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Are Children Next Targets for Toxic Meals?

Washington, DC July 13, 2009: Citing serious health conditions due to high levels of soy, inmates in the Illinois prison system are suing for a permanent injunction against the substitution of soy for meat in prison meals.

The soy-based prison diet began when Rod Blagojevich was elected governor of Illinois in 2002. Beginning in January 2003, inmates began receiving a diet largely based on processed soy protein with very little meat. In most meals, small amounts of meat or meat by-products are mixed with 60-70 percent soy protein; fake soy cheese has replaced real cheese; and soy flour or soy protein is now added to most prison baked goods. Blagojevich received substantial campaign contributions from Archer Daniels Midland, the main supplier of soy products to the Illinois prisons.

Soy is touted as a way to save money and to provide a diet lower in calories and saturated fat. However, soybeans contain plant estrogens and other toxins and anti-nutrients that make soy products unacceptable as a source of nutrition except in very small amounts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists over 200 studies showing toxicity of soy in its Poisonous Plant Database (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~djw/pltx.cgi?QUERY=soy). Although the FDA allowed a soy-prevents-heart disease health claim in 1999, the agency is considering revoking that claim in the face of evidence that soy does not lower cholesterol and does not prevent heart disease.

According to Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the organization began receiving letters from Illinois inmates in early 2008. The prisoners described deliberate indifference to a myriad of serious health problems caused by the large amounts of soy in the diet. Complaints include chronic and painful constipation alternating with debilitating diarrhea, vomiting after eating, sharp pains in the digestive tract after consuming soy, passing out, heart palpitations, rashes, acne, insomnia, panic attacks, depression and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as low body temperature (feeling cold all the time), brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, frequent infections and enlarged thyroid gland.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit education foundation that warns the public about the dangers of modern soy foods.

"The suffering of these men is intense and medical care is palliative at best," says Fallon. "Many suffer overt thyroid problems and some have had sections of their digestive tract removed, but requests by prisoners for a soy-free diet are, with few exceptions, denied. The men are basically told, 'If you don't like the food, don't eat it.' That means that unless they can afford to purchase commissary food, they must eat the soy food or starve."

Next Target, Children?

"Unless we can succeed in obtaining a permanent injunction against the serving of soy in prisons," says Fallon, "we can expect to see more and more soy in institutional meals. Children are the next targets." Fallon cites an Illinois school district pilot lunch program that is using textured soy protein instead of meat in popular dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, lasagna and imitation chicken nuggets.

"Soy foods and soy milk contain plant estrogens that cause endocrine disruption as well as components that block the uptake of protein and the utilization important vitamins and minerals," says nutritionist Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food. "Consumed in large amounts, soy foods can lead to serious reproductive and thyroid problems as well as malnutrition. Soy is totally unacceptable as a major food source, especially for growing children. The Israeli Health Ministry in 2005 warned its citizens that children should not eat soy foods or drink soy milk more than once per day or more than 3 times per week. It also advised adult men to exercise caution because of adverse effects on fertility."

"Soy contains plant estrogens and other factors that may contribute to infertility problems for these school children later in life" says Fallon. "To regularly feed food products full of anti-fertility agents to young children and young men is unconscionable."

Lawsuit

The Weston A. Price Foundation has hired an attorney to represent several inmates incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections system. The lead case is captioned Harris et al. v. Brown, et al., Case No. 3:07-cv-03225, and is currently pending before the Honorable Harold Baker in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The suit seeks an injunction putting a halt to the use of a soy-laden diet in the prison system.

Relatives of inmates are urged to write to the U.S. Department of Justice and request that they initiate an investigation and enforcement action under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 United States Code Section 1997a, also known as the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). A sample letter is given below.

Inmates suffering from the soy diet are urged to file grievance reports and to write respectful letters to Judge Harold Baker referring to Harris et al. v. Brown, et al., Case No. 3:07-cv-03225 describing the health problems caused by the soy diet and requesting a permanent injunction against the serving of soy foods in prison meals.

Honorable Harold Baker
United States District Court Judge for the Central District of Illinois
338 U.S. Courthouse
201 South Vine Street
Urbana, IL 61802

***************************

Sample Letter Sent by a Relative of an Inmate

[Date]
Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20530

Copy to:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Special Counsel
U.S. Department of Justice
Northern District of Illinois
Federal Building
219 South Dearborn Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Dear Sirs:

I am writing to request that you initiate an investigation and enforcement action under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 United States Code Section 1997a, also known as the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

I have a relative, [first name, last name, identification number], who is presently incarcerated in [name of facility]. He has been incarcerated there since [date of incarceration]. He has become ill with the following symptoms since the Illinois Department of Corrections began feeding a soy-based diet in January 2003: [List symptoms].

He has not been able to get appropriate medical care from the prison staff and I am concerned about the long-term effects of this soy diet on his health. According to information posted in the FDA's Poisonous Plant Database and from research published in medical journals over the past sixty years, soy has the potential to cause serious health problems, especially if consumed in large amounts. This diet may make it impossible for [name of inmate] to engage in necessary activities to earn his living after his release and may even cause him to have medical problems that will be very costly to the state of Illinois.

According to law, prisoners are entitled to "nutritionally adequate food" (Ramos v Lamm, 639.2d 559, 1980). According to Illinois law, "Infliction of unnecessary suffering on prisoner by failure to treat his medical needs is inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency and violates the Eighth Amendment" (Key Note 7. Criminal Law 1213).

The justification for the switch from beef to soy is to save money, but according to one court case, "A lack of financing is not a defense to a failure to satisfy minimum constitutional standards in prisons" (Duran v. Anaya, 642, Supp. 510 (DNM 1986), page 525, paragraph 6).

I urge you to look into this situation and take action to reinstate a nutritious diet for the inmates in Illinois prisons, before the soy diet irreparably destroys their health.

Sincerely yours,

[Name]
[Address]
[City, State, Zip]

Sample Letter Sent by a Concerned Citizen

[Date]
Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20530

Copy to:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Special Counsel
U.S. Department of Justice
Northern District of Illinois
Federal Building
219 South Dearborn Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Dear Sirs:

I am writing to request that you initiate an investigation and enforcement action under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 United States Code Section 1997a, also known as the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

I am concerned about the practice of feeding a soy-based diet to inmates in the Illinois prisons, which was initiated in January of 2003. According to information posted in the FDA's Poisonous Plant Database and from research published in medical journals over the past sixty years, soy has the potential to cause serious health problems, especially if consumed in large amounts.. This diet may make it impossible for those incarcerated in Illinois to engage in necessary activities to earn their living after their release and may even cause them to have medical problems that will be very costly to the state of Illinois.

According to law, prisoners are entitled to "nutritionally adequate food" (Ramos v Lamm, 639.2d 559, 1980). According to Illinois law, "Infliction of unnecessary suffering on prisoner by failure to treat his medical needs is inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency and violates the Eighth Amendment" (Key Note 7. Criminal Law 1213).

The justification for the switch from beef to soy is to save money, but according to one court case, "A lack of financing is not a defense to a failure to satisfy minimum constitutional standards in prisons" (Duran v. Anaya, 642, Supp. 510 (DNM 1986), page 525, paragraph 6).

I urge you to look into this situation and take action to reinstate a nutritious diet for the inmates in Illinois prisons, before the soy diet irreparably destroys their health.

Sincerely yours,

[Name]
[Address]
[City, State, Zip]

More on this situation here: Soy in Illinois Prisons Case

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