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Pete Evans given award which recognises 'quackery'

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 17/10/2015 Georgina Mitchell
Recognised for "piffle": Pete Evans. © James Brickwood Recognised for "piffle": Pete Evans.

Celebrity chef Pete Evans is once again in the spotlight, after he was named the winner of this year's Australian Skeptics Bent Spoon award.

The "uncoveted" honour recognises the "perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle", according to Australian Skeptics Inc.

It was awarded to Evans - who was not there to accept the title - at a gala dinner of the Skeptics National Convention in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Evans is a public supporter of the Paleo diet, which advocates eating only what was available to our ancestors; avoiding food groups like dairy, grains, and any processed food.

He faced controversy earlier this year after his baby recipe book Bubba Yum Yum was dumped by publishers over warnings from dietitians that a recipe for baby formula could be seriously harmful to children. It was later self-published.

Eran Segev, President of Australian Skeptics Inc, said it wasn't this controversy, or Evans' personal views, that led to the chef being bestowed the award.

"It is not only for his diet that he is a worthy winner, even though it can apparently shrink tumours, reduce diabetes, cure autism, stop asthma and reverse chronic fatigue," Mr Segev said.

"No, he has won the award for his support of pseudomedicine, his stance against fluoridation, and his association with rabid anti-vaccinationist Stephen Mercola – "the legend" as Evans calls him.

"Is Evans genuine? I don't know. Check out the lengthy disclaimer on his Facebook page to see how he protects himself from his own pronouncements.

"But he is certainly influential, and he has a wide following, so when he pushes something of highly dubious quality or scientific evidence, then it has to be a worry.

Paleo poster-boy chef Pete Evans. © James Brickwood Paleo poster-boy chef Pete Evans.

"It's all the quackery he promotes, some of it dangerous quackery."

In a Facebook post earlier this year, Evans defended his choice to advocate for others to join his paleo "tribe".

"It is fascinating that all this backlash is over a chef, who is also a health coach that is promoting a way of life that promotes an abundance of vegetables (organic preferably), a moderate amount of well sourced animal protein and high quality fats as well as the inclusion of fermented food and broths for gut health which is endorsed by so many Doctors, Scientists, Dietitians, Naturopaths and other health professionals," he said, providing a long list of doctors who share his views.

"My job first and foremost is as a chef, and to turn these brilliant peoples messages into a practical offering through recipes which I get out to the public through cookbooks, tv programs, social media, live events and other outlets and let the experts in their chosen fields speak about the science behind it.

"I am so proud to have a job that I love and am passionate about. It is something that gets me up everyday with a smile on my face."

In the past, the Bent Spoon honour has been given to anti-vaccination campaigners, homeopaths, complementary health providers, and the Chiropractors' Association of Australia.

Judging from past winners, Mr Segev said he doesn't expect a response from Evans about the award.

"Generally it's an uncoveted award. The responses we get to this award are either completely ignoring it, or in some cases people take it as some kind of reverse compliment," he said.

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