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Superchef Pete Evans was Highly Commended in the 2019 Millenium Awards. The citation read:
Pete Evans is a "celebrity chef" (whatever that is). He doesn't seem to actually run a restaurant anywhere but is one of the hosts of one of Australia's highest-rating television shows. It's a "reality" show about cooking, although Mr Evans doesn't do any of the cooking - that's all done by pairs of amateurs who seem to be selected for the show based on their ability to get a reaction of either hate or love from viewers rather than their ability to cook and serve a meal.
He rose to non-TV fame by promoting something called the "Paleo Diet", a diet which emulates what our primitive ancestors ate back before TV reality programs showed us the importance of plating presentation, before late-night advertisements told us about the necessity for kitchen knives made of super Japanese steel, before the invention of the microwave oven, non-stick cookware or the frozen dinner, before the genetic modifications that gave us kale and cauliflower, before refrigeration and those probes you stick in roasting chickens to see if they are hot enough inside, before Big Pharma created treatments for dysentery, before vitamins came in bottles instead of in food and, well, before we knew any of the things we know today about how to source, prepare and serve food in a hygienic and nutritious manner. Would it be redundant for me to say that Pete Evans has no qualifications in the science of nutrition?
Getting a book banned in Australia is quite difficult these days and there probably hasn't been much banning going on since the censors finally gave up and allowed "Portnoy's Complaint" onto the bookshop shelves despite the risk of society crumbling into a morass of onanism and depravity. Pete Evans has therefore achieved the rare honour of having a book banned and withdrawn from sale. It was titled "Bubba Yum Yum" and contained diet advice for babies that people who knew what they were talking about said put babies at risk of malnutrition and even illness. Remember that there seems to be no restriction on selling books offering quack cures for cancer or lying about the dangers of vaccines, so this book must have really been something special.
He is, of course, opposed to fluoridation. You might think things couldn't get any worse, but the latest news from PeteEvansLand is that he has found a new best friend in arch anti-vaccination liar Robert Kennedy Jr. This goes beyond writing books that might cause parents to feed their children rubbish to associating with people who actively campaign to put children's lives at risk from disease. There are rabbit holes and plug holes but Pete Evans seems determined to go through a worm hole to a place where everyone should be wearing a Full Canvas Jacket.
Some good news for a change (17/10/2015)
Two significant awards were announced at the Australian Skeptics annual convention in Brisbane. I wasn't able to attend the convention and forbade my friends from telling me what a good time they were having, but I know they were very enthusiastic in their applause when the awards were announced.
[A portion of this story has been redacted because the other award didn't have anything to do with Paleo Pete.]
Photo courtesy of the Sydney Moring Herald. James Brickwood was the photographer.
The other award is the one that nobody covets - the Bent Spoon. It is awarded to the "perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle" and this year went to celebrity TV chef Pete Evans for, among other things, his promotion of the ridiculous "Paleo Diet" which dictates eating like prehistoric cavemen. He had another award of sorts during the year when his book "Bubba Yum Yum" was banned from sale because it contained "advice" which could have caused serious harm to babies if their parents had been foolish enough to follow the recipes. Evans is also opposed to fluoridation and includes uberquack Joseph Mercola among his pantheon of heroes. He is a worthy winner of any award granted to people who promote dangerous nonsense.
Pete Evans got an honourable mention in my May/June 2019 column for Australasian Science.
As Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine" (22/6/2019)
Believers in magic are very fond of dragging out this quote from Hippocrates to justify weird diets and other food-based "cures" for whatever ails you. I remember the "Mediterranean Diet" that was supposed to be the healthiest way to eat ever invented, but I usually got blank looks when I asked which of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea it had originated in. (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Lebanon, (Palestine, if you include Gaza), Syria, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Gibraltar plus a few isolated outposts of countries embedded in other countries.) In my May/June 2019 column for Australasian Science I mentioned a celebrity who was (is?) heavily invested in promoting the "Paleo Diet" where you eat like our Paleolithic ancestors did. But what diet fads did those ancestors have? Tom The Dancing Bug has a suggestion, and maybe it's time for this diet to have another surge of popularity.
Paleo Pete prevents the plague (25/4/2020)
Or does he? One person highly commended in the 2019 Millenium Awards was TV chef Pete Evans. Paleo Pete is back in the news because he was promoting a device to cure coronavirus infections by the use of magic radiation. (Obviously not the same sort of deadly radiation as 5G telephones use, but I digress.)
You could buy this thing for only $15,000, a small price to pay for keeping your family safe. It's half the price of the cheapest model of the best selling new vehicle in Australia during 2019 (a very basic model which nobody actually buys - the best selling version is at least 50% dearer) which makes it even more of a bargain. It probably even goes "ping!".
In a move that has astounded observers familiar with the glacial speed of inactivity of authorities dealing with medical quackery, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has imposed fines of $25,200 on Evans and his company for things that were said on Facebook and the company's web site which suggested that the device was good for more than just moving money between bank accounts. We eagerly await TGA action against other people who offer cures and treatments of doubtful efficacy or even plausibility, such as homeopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths and other inhabitants of the alternative to medicine world. Reasonable people expect, however, that this action will happen long after Pete Evans has invented something new, if ever. The TGA's media release said:
Pete Evans' company fined for alleged COVID-19 advertising breaches
24 April 2020
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued two infringement notices to Peter Evans Chef Pty Ltd (the Company) totalling $25,200 for alleged breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). Mr Evans is the sole Director/Secretary of the Company.
The TGA received a number of complaints about the promotion of a 'BioCharger' device that occurred during a Facebook live stream on 9 April 2020. Mr Evans allegedly live streamed on his Facebook page, which has more than 1.4 million followers, claims that the device could be used in relation to "Wuhan Coronavirus" - a claim which has no apparent foundation, and which the TGA takes extremely seriously.
Any claim that references COVID-19 is a restricted representation under therapeutic goods legislation, and is of significant concern to the TGA given the heightened public concern about the pandemic. The TGA recently published a warning to advertisers and consumers about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19.
The TGA has issued the Company with an infringement notice in respect of the representation made in the live stream / video.
A second infringement notice was issued for alleged advertising breaches on the website www.peteevans.com, which is maintained by the Company. The page for the BioCharger included claims such as:
"proven to restore strength, stamina, co-ordination and mental clarity"
"sharpening your mental clarity"
"recovery....from an injury, stress"
"accelerating muscle recovery and reducing stiffness in joints".
As the BioCharger device has been represented by the Company as being for therapeutic uses, it is a therapeutic good within the meaning of the Act, and is subject to the regulatory framework established under the Act and administered by the TGA.
Unless a specific exemption applies, therapeutic goods must be entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before they can be lawfully supplied or advertised in Australia.
The TGA regulates all medicines, medical devices and biologicals under the Act. The regulatory scheme is important to the safety of Australian consumers, and the TGA investigates suspected illegal activity related to therapeutic goods.
The TGA is monitoring non-compliance, particularly in relation to the advertising of products that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19 and will continue to take action in relation to any advertisements that do not meet the requirements, including those that seek to mislead consumers.
Paleo Pete packs his potato peeler (9/5/2020)
Top TV chef Pete Evans, he of the paleo diet and the $15,000 lava lamp, has finally lost his job as the host of a TV cooking show. (He didn't actually do the cooking but was paid $800,000 a year to watch other people eat what other people had cooked.) Sadly he wasn't sacked for bringing the network into disrepute by his crazy and dangerous rants about health but because the show was tanking after being the top-rated show in the country for many years.
No doubt Pete will be back stronger than ever without having to worry about upsetting his employers (not that he ever seemed to worry about this in the past). The silver lining to his cloud could be that without his face going in front of millions of viewers three or four nights a week he might fade into insignificance as an ex-celebrity and people might stop caring about what he says or taking any notice of it. We can only hope.
And if you are tempted to think that he's not nuts.