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Badditives! The Worst Additives in our Food

In Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them, Linda and Bill Bonvie, who for several years wrote the Citizens for Health “Food Identity Theft” blog, have identified a rogues’ gallery of the “worst of the worst” ingredients out there. We are fortunate to be able to bring you selections from this important book on a weekly basis to provide you with the information you need to be as effective you can be in managing your own health and wellness.

July 8, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemrBGH or rBST – The Banished Badditive That Never Quite Went Away:

In some respects, the saga of recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH (also known as rBST) appears to be a tale of a Monsanto-made Badditive – the predecessor to those GMOs – that finally got its comeuppance.

 

As we found out, that’s not always an easy question to get an answer to.

 

That’s because the use of rBGH has never been officially banned in the United States (even though it has in many other countries). Since there’s no requirement that its presence be announced, it’s not something you can look for on an ingredient label, although you can find dairy products that state they are produced from rBGH-free cows.

 

Actually, rBGH (or rBST), which is sold under the name Posilac, has the distinction of being the first agricultural product on the market to have been genetically engineered (by inserting the gene responsible for producing it into an E. Coli bacterium).259 Like the Roundup Ready seeds that would follow, it was created by Monsanto’s biotechnology division as a supposed economic boon to farmers. Its approval by a company-compromised FDA would cause a good deal of dismay throughout scientific circles, perhaps best summed up by the Consumer Policy Institute’s Michael Hansen description of it as “the most controversial product ever authorized” by that agency.260

 

…Originally submitted to the FDA in 1987, rBGH wasn’t given an official stamp of approval until 6 years later while former Monsanto counsel and future vice president Michael Taylor was serving as deputy commissioner for policy there, during which he also approved the first transgenic Monsanto seeds. (For the record, Taylor, whose career has been a flagrant example of the “revolving door” between private corporations and regulatory agencies, has since returned as deputy commissioner for foods under the Obama administration.)

 

The FDA approval was one based on two rat studies submitted by Monsanto, one that lasted four weeks and the second three months, in which the animals were fed rBGH to see if it affected their gastrointestinal systems. In both cases, it was said to have had no effect, a conclusion that Dr. Hansen has disputed.

 

Contrary to the agency’s claims, Hansen told author and activist Marie-Monique Robin (as noted in her book The World According to Monsanto) that antibodies were produced in 20 to 30 percent of the rats studied, meaning “their immune systems had been mobilized to detect and neutralize pathogenic agents.” He also charged that the publication of an article on the subject, written by two FDA scientists in the journal Science, was “pure and simple manipulation”, especially since it was peer-reviewed by a Cornell professor whom Monsanto had paid to test rBGH on cows.264

 

The purpose of injecting dairy cows with rBGH on a twice-monthly schedule was to increase their output of milk by 15 percent265 – which at the time it was introduced was uncalled-for at best since the market was already glutted with milk.266

 

While it may have temporarily boosted the bottom lines of some dairy farmers (along with Monsanto’s), the use of rBGH also raised fears among leading scientists and watchdog groups that it was subjecting Americans to some new and wholly unnecessary risks, especially given that children are the prime consumers of milk in this country. As consumer advocate and author Robyn O’Brien pointed out in a 2015 blog, a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology found that milk is now the most common food allergy trigger in the US, having achieved that distinction in the last decade.267 Coincidence?

 

259. Robin, Marie-Monique, The World According to Monsanto (New York: The New Press, 2010), p. 91.

 

260. Ibid, p. 105.

 

264. Robin, op. cit., pp. 97, 98.

 

265. Ibid, p. 90.

 

266. Innvista, “Milk,” http://www.innvista.com/health/foods/genetically-engineered-foods/milk/.

 

267. Robyn O’Brien, “Dirty Dairy: Why Breyers’ Ice Cream Dumped Artificial Growth Hormones”, 2015, http://robynobrien.com/dirty-dairy-why-breyers-ice-cream-dumped-artificial-growth-hormones.

June 28, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemPartially Hydrogenated Oils – The Final Act of a Trans Fat Tragedy:

Consider for a moment the cost in human lives of three of the best-known tragedies of modern times. When the luxury liner Titanic sank in the North Atlantic in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, the official tally of passengers and crew members who died was 1,517. Japan’s December 1941, attack on the American fleet in Pearl Harbor killed some 2,402 people all told, including several dozen civilians. When the United States was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the death toll, which included people inside the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the four hijacked airliners, was put at 2,996. When combined, the total number of people who perished in those three catastrophic events was 6,915.


Now, add another 85, and you’ve got the approximate number of Americans said to be dying every year in an ongoing disaster of a far different sort—the great trans fat tragedy.

 

These are the hidden victims of the industrial trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, which are oils that have been solidified via an infusion of hydrogen gas. Such oils have long been routinely added to a variety of processed foods to improve their texture and “flavor stability” and prolong their shelf life—even as they cut short the lives of those consuming them.

 

If you think the comparison offered above is somewhat of an exaggeration, it’s actually based on figures provided by the US Food and Drug Administration—an agency hardly given to hysteria or hyperbole when talking about additives it has long allowed to be used in our food supply. According to an FDA estimate, that one ingredient alone is responsible for approximately 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 related deaths per year.230

 

Of course, what makes the trans fat tragedy different is that it strikes people down one by one, with neither media coverage nor even any formal recognition of the real, underlying cause of their demise. While a victim’s death certificate might attribute their passing to “coronary artery disease,” for example, it won’t mention those boxes and boxes of Girl Scout Cookies they consumed, which listed “partially hydrogenated oil” among their ingredients.

 

That’s the bad news.

 

The good news is that after decades of so many commonplace products being laced with these artery-clogging materials, the FDA has finally ordered the PHOs that contain trans fats to be removed from the “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” list and from most everyday food products by no later than June 18, 2018. “This action responds, in part, to citizen petitions we received,” notes the agency’s decree, adding that the determination was based “on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels establishing the health risks associated with the consumption” of trans fat.231 (The trans fat issue here, incidentally, is the kind added in the form of PHOs, and should not be confused with relatively small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat found in dairy products and meat from grass-fed cows, such as conjugated linoleic acid [CLA]. Research has found this form to have “potent anti-atherosclerotic effects,”232 meaning that it’s actually apt to be beneficial in reducing plaque buildup in the arteries.)

 

Up until that deadline, however, and likely even beyond it, you will still find partially hydrogenated oil listed as an ingredient in a variety of processed products, from baked goods to frozen foods. Even afterwards, there may be numerous exceptions to the new rule, which the Grocery Manufacturers Association has indicated it hopes to wheedle out of the FDA.233

 

In fact, the pending prohibition on the further use of PHOs in grocery items has actually been a long time coming—and it hasn’t come easy, by any means.

 

230. Sabrina Tavernise, “F.D.A. Sets 2018 Deadline to Rid Foods of Trans Fats,” New York Times, June 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/health/fda-gives-food-industry-three-years-eliminate-trans-fats.html.

 

231. Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration, “Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils,” https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-14883.pdf. (File downloads.)

 

232. Sarah McClelland et al., “Conjugated linoleic acid suppresses the migratory and inflammatory phenotype of the monocyte/macrophage cell,” Atherosclerosis, July 2010, http://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(10)00101-2/abstract.

 

233. Ibid.

June 22, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemMSG and Its Various Disguises – The Hidden “Glutamic Bombs” in Our Food:

The strange symptoms that investment banker and former hospital administrator Jack Samuels began suffering in 1989 had all the earmarks of Alzheimer’s. As his wife Adrienne later recalled, they included “days of fatigue beyond imagination” and times when he “couldn’t put a sentence together.” However, “worst of all were the afternoons when he couldn’t remember what he did in the morning.”

 

…It wasn’t until the couple’s oldest son suggested they read a book published the previous year by George Schwartz, MD called In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome that the cause of Jack’s sudden affliction became obvious. Right there, on the cover, was the same tuna fish Jack had been eating every day for lunch.

 

The canned tuna, as it turned out, wasn’t nearly as innocuous as it seemed. In addition to the actual fish and water, it contained an ingredient often added to tuna to make it taste better: hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), which contains the same form of glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate.* Glutamic acid just happens to be a neurotransmitter – a chemical that relays signals between nerve and brain cells…

 

…Once Jack eliminated the tuna fish, along with other similarly adulterated foods, from his diet, he lost his Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, along with the frequent chest and joint pains  and other symptoms he had suffered.198

 

…In that regard, Jack Samuels was very much like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, and his ordeal resulted in the couple’s founding of Truth in Labeling, and organization dedicated to identifying concealed sources of glutamic acid in processed foods that may be impacting the health of countless Americans, often without their realizing it. (Adrienne Samuels, who holds a PhD in research methodology, has chronicled all of this in a book entitled, The Man Who Sued the FDA.)

 

There is certainly no shortage of such sources. “In fact, pretty much any processed fast food is likely to contain added MSG, unless it specifically says otherwise,” admits Phillip Broadwith, the business editor for Chemistry World, in a promotional pitch for glutamate. Only Broadwith’s statement, which appears on the website of the Royal Society of  Chemistry, is itself misleading. That’s because many products that claim to have “no added MSG” actually do contain it in one or more of those disguised forms.200

 

What all of these foods have in common is that their taste is artificially enhanced. In a sense, they can be compared to athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs to artificially boost their scores. But whereas the practice of “doping” in sports is considered cheating, no such stigma is attached to the use of flavor enhancers to turn a cheap recipe or unenticing product into a “taste sensation” (as illustrated by a jingle for the standard supermarket brand of monosodium glutamate: A little Accent, like a little love, surely helps.”) While those who use anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and other doping agents are usually aware of the risks involved, countless consumers who are being exposed every day to MSG in its various forms have no clue about the dangers these ingredients might pose to their health.

 

 

*A scan of tuna fish cans in our local supermarket showed that HVP no longer seems to be used as an ingredient; however, “vegetable broth,” which may be a source of MSG, can now be found in some caned tuna products.

 

198. Adrienne Sanuels, The Man Who Sued the FDA, 2013, pp. 1-3.

200. Broadwith, Phillip, “Glutamate”, Royal Society of Chemistry, June 2011, http:www.rsc.org/images/IC0411-glutamate-food_tcm18-233514.pdf.

June 15, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemMeat Glue – Pink Slime’s Far More Sickening Sibling:

Back in 2012, an ABC news lead story about Pink Slime (called in the industry by the more appetizing name “finely textured beef”) struck a chord of disgust in the meat-eating public.


 

Petitions were formed to get the substance out of the school lunch program, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver conducted pink slime demos where he put beef scraps in a washing machine and then soaked them in ammonia and water.


 

Right before the slime hit the fan, however, ABC news affiliates spilled the beans about another underground meat practice. It was the use of an enzyme called transglutaminase, or, as it’s more commonly referred to, meat glue.

 

Now, even though meat glue has the potential to be a lot more hazardous to your health than pink slime, for some reason, the public couldn’t quite seem to wrap its head around it in the same way.

 

While some stories appeared in the press at the time, there were no petitions or consumers calling on the FDA or USDA to do something about it. In fact, some big-name chefs even came out in praise of meat glue.

 

For example, Wylie Dufresne, who was both chef and owner of the super-pricy [sic] Manhattan eatery wd~50 (which closed in 2014), was quoted in Meat Paper as saying he had “concocted all manner of playful and bizarre food products with meat glue, including shrimp spaghetti, which he made by mixing salt, cayenne, deveined shrimp, and meat glue in a blender.”

 

“Meat glue,” Dufresne declared, “makes us better chefs.”189

 

However, even if you’re dining at an elegant establishment like wd~50, you may want to think twice about eating “glued” food. That’s one of the problems with this stuff – the appearance of food in which it has been used can definitely be deceiving.

 

189. Lily Mihalik, “A Fish Without Bones: The rise of meat glue,” June 2011; http://meatpaper.com/articles/2011/mp_fifteen_meatglue.html.

June 10, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemHigh Fructose Corn Syrup – It Does a Body Bad:

 

High Fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, first began showing up as a food and beverage ingredient more than three decades ago for reasons that had nothing to do with health – and everything to do with food industry profits.

 

As cane sugar prices began rising, largley due to quotas and tariffs, the cost of government-subsidized corn started falling. This just happened to coincide with a strange new sweetener, one much cheaper than sugar, that was then becoming available.

 

The sweetener was the sort of concoction that could have come out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. Manufacturing it is a complicated process involving an enzyme called glucose isomerase, developed back in 1957, which can magically turn the glucose in corn into fructose.

 

The resulting gooey, syrupy white substance is really, really sweet – so sweet that, in 1984, the soft drink world’s big brothers, Coke and Pepsi, began using it to replace sugar in their beverages. Before long, it had begun appearing in just about every type of processed food and drink imaginable, from yogurt, soup, and ketchup to bread, peanut butter, and jelly.

 

Of course, like so many other things added or done to our food for economic reasons, no one really bothered to figure out if consuming all that high fructose corn syrup might be having any sort of adverse effect on the health of consumers – at least, not initially. However, as we’ve since discovered to our dismay, HFCS is sickeningly sweet – a major factor in the rapid rise of a whole slew of health problems now plaguing us, ranging from obesity and diabetes to fatty liver disease and pancreatic cancer. It may even be an impediment to those recovering from traumatic brain injuries.

 

While the corn refining industry has done its best to try to convince us that their product has been unfairly blamed for the skyrocketing increase in such infirmities, independent scientific research has increasingly confirmed that their relationship to the ubiquitous use of HFCS is anything but purely coincidental.

June 1, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemGMOs – The Alien Life-Forms on Your Dinner Plate:

Before we even go into the bizarre background story of how GMOs were allowed to invade our farmlands and food supply (a subject on which much has been written), there’s something you need to know right up front. It’s the fact that whatever you may have heard about how completely “safe” genetically modified foods are, and how they’re essentially no different from those that haven’t been bioengineered, it is all part of an elaborate con job – one designed to protect the profits of both Big Food and the biotechnology industry at the expense of your family’s health.

 

Perhaps the best indicator of how patently false those notions are comes from those consumers whose honesty you can always depend on – the animals in our midst. As Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, notes in his book, Genetic Roulette, when given the choice, animals usually make a point of steering clear of genetically altered foods.

 

  • Geese that landed annually on an Illinois pond and habitually fed on an adjacent fifty-acre soybean field wouldn’t go near the Roundup Ready GM soybeans newly planted on half of the field, according to agricultural writer C. F. Marley. They continued to eat the conventional soybeans on the other side.
  • Cows in Iowa refused to eat from a trough containing genetically modified (GM) Bt corn, opting for one containing corn that hadn’t been gene

    tically engineered instead.

  • Some cattle ignored a field of Roundup Ready corn and actually broke through a fence to get to a field of non-GM corn.133

 

Are they merely being finicky, or might those geese, cows, and other creatures who have exhibited similar reactions know something we don’t? It certainly seems that way given what researchers have discovered about the effects of GMOs on animals in studies that have been conducted. After ingesting Roundup Ready soy, the livers and testicular cells in mice underwent changes and their pancreases stopped functioning normally. The offspring of mother rats fed the same type of soy died at more than five times the rate of those whose mothers were given a nonbioengineered variety. That’s not to mention the sheep and cows that reportedly died after feeding on genetically engineered Bt cotton and corn.134

 

It turns out there’s an awful lot we don’t know about the hidden effects of altering an organism’s DNA, and the consequences on any person or creature that happens to consume it.

 

133. Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette (Fairfield, Iowa: Yes! Books, 2007), pg 59.

134. Ibid, pp. 32, 38-44, 48.

May 24, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemFluoride – Hazardous Waste in Our Water That Ends Up in Our Food:

What better, healthier way to start the day than with a steaming bowl of organic oatmeal, sweetened with organic honey and maybe topped with some organic strawberries? What could possibly be wrong with that?

 

Well, how about the addition of a small amount of hazardous industrial waste?

 

We know – it probably sounds ridiculous. Where would such an unlikely toxic badditive even come from? The oats? The honey? The strawberries that are supposed to have been grown in a chemical-free environment?

 

The answer is: none of the above, but rather the water from your kitchen faucet you used to make the oatmeal. The same water that you my have taken the precaution of filtering against contaminants.badditives

 

But then, this particular contaminant isn’t one that’s there by accident, as so many forms of water pollution are. Rather, it’s been deliberately added in many locales for many years, in amounts ranging from 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (ppm) for the purported purpose of protecting your children’s teeth against cavities.

 

It’s fluoride, a toxic substance once used to poison roaches and rodents…

 

But isn’t fluoride something your dentist recommends – a substance found in most toothpastes and mouthwashes? How could it be that bad if the government actually encourages locales to put it in the water?

 

The answer is intertwined with intrigue. What if we told you that it is precisely because fluoride is so toxic that it ultimately ended up becoming an added ingredient in our water, and, in turn, in various foods and beverages? In fact, it appears that the original purpose of adding fluoride really wasn’t to protect children’s teeth; instead, it was a question of “national security”, that is, to shield our nuclear weapons program – as well as a number of major industries – from liability for damage that this toxic substance was causing to people’s health and properties.

 

Admittedly, that may sound rather perverse and more than a little bizarre, which may be one reason you’re not hearing it from major media outlets. However, the records that substantiate this claim would be hard to refute.

 

May 20, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemCarrageenan – The Thickener That’s a Sickener:

Judging from the number of commercials on television for drugs designed to relieve various gastrointestinal ills, one can easily conclude that millions of Americans are afflicted with a variety of such problems, ranging from bloating and discomfort to serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

 

Could it be, however, that many of these maladies are the result of a single badditive, one that’s long been considered so safe by virtue of being “natural” that it’s even allowed in organic food, despite a growing body of scientific evidence that it’s anything but?badditives

 

The answer is a resounding “yes.” If you’re among those who suffer from chronic stomach issues, it’s quite possible that they might be alleviated simply by removing from your diet any processed foods that contain the ingredient carrageenan as has been attested to by some of those who have done just that…Carragenenan is used in a wide variety of processed foods and beverages, ranging from coconut water, low-fat dairy products, and dairy substitutes to nutrition bars, deli meats and precooked chicken It serves as a thickening agent, giving food a nice texture and fatty “mouth feel”.

 

However, this tasteless, non-nutritive seaweed derivative has long been shown to cause harmful gastrointestinal inflammation and intestinal lesions.

 

It can also be replaced with safer ingredients that serve similar purposes, such as guar gum (which FDA researchers back in 1988 found did not produce colon damage in lab rats, whereas carrageenan did91). In some instances, all it takes to achieve the same effect is simply to shake a product’s container before consuming its contents. Yet carrageenan continues to be used by many food companies, including some that claim to have only “healthy” ingredients in their products.

 

91. The Cornucopia Institute, “Carrageenan: New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes,” 2016, p. 18, http://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CarageenanReport-2016.pdf.

Picture of infant formula label courtesy of the Bonvies.

May 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid ThemBHA and BHT – From the Battlefield to Your Breakfast Table:

The industrial preservatives BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), like artificial colors, are derived from petroleum. So it should perhaps come as no surprise that these substances, which are used to give a wide range of processed food a longer shelf life, have also been the focus of behavioral and other health concerns, including cancer, for decades, even as the FDA has continued to declare them safe for use in food products (as well as medicines and cosmetics).badditives

 

In fact, by adding this problematic pair to the list of ingredients he eliminated from the diets of kids being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Dr. Benjamin Feingold, the creator of the Feingold Program, saw the program’s success rate rise from between 30 and 50 percent to 70 percent or more.78

 

…“Food is supposed to spoil eventually, but of course you want to eat it before it does,” observes the Feingold Association’s Jane Hersey. “These preservatives give food the appearance of being fresh—but it also doesn’t take much of them to trigger serious health and behavioral problems in sensitive individuals.”80

 

The latter concerns should certainly come as no big surprise, given that both BHA and BHT, which are banned in Japan and most European countries, have long been known to alter brain chemistry in mice exposed before birth. Back in 1974, researchers discovered that including 5 percent BHA or BHT in the diet of pregnant mice caused “a variety of behavioral changes” in their offspring. The baby mice exposed to BHA were slower learners and slept and groomed themselves less than control mice, while those given BHT, besides getting less sleep and showing decreased learning ability, also exhibited increased aggression.81

 

78. The Feingold Association of the United States, “Let’s Not Forget the BHT, BHA, & TBHQ,” http://www.feingold.org/enews/03-2010.html.

80. Phone Interview with Jane Hersey by Bill Bonvie

81. The Feingold Association of the United States, The Feingold Bluebook, 2012, http://www.feingold.org/DOCS/Bluebook-phone.pdf, p. 44.

Picture of BHT Molecule: This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

May 5, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them Aspartame – The Dangerous Drug Posing As A “Healthy” Sweetener:

One of the rules governing pharmaceuticals, and their advertising, is that side effects have to be listed. That’s the reason drug commercials include all those warnings about possible adverse reactions.

 

But there’s a drug that’s been on the market for several decades, one that countless unsuspecting consumers are encouraged to use as a supposedly healthy sweetening agent. It is added to numerous “sugar free” products, whose only mandatory warning is directed at people who suffer from a relatively rare health problem – a condition called phenylketonuria, or PKU, which affects an estimated 14,500 Americans.39

 

For everybody else, aspartame – a chemical mixture of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartate, and methanol (wood alcohol) – is regarded by the US Food and Drug Administration as “safe for the general population”. In fact, an agency bulletin describes it as “one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply, with more than 100 studies supporting its safety.”40badditives

 

Unfortunately, that assessment doesn’t jibe with thousands of complaints about aspartame’s side effects reportedly received by the FDA’s Adverse Reactions Monitoring System, as well as many, many more that have been logged by the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, a Texas-based organization formed in 1987 that no longer actively collects any but the most serious case histories from consumers, according to its founder, Mary Nash Stoddard. “The tens of thousands of documented cases we have in our files convince us we are accurate in our pronouncements that aspartame is harming, and in some cases, killing users around the globe,” says Stoddard.41

 

…In an epidemiological study that appeared in the Journal of Applied Nutrition back in 1988, the late Dr. H. J. Roberts, a diabetes specialist from Palm Beach, Florida, analyzed reactions from 551 affected individuals and found that the most common included headaches, dizziness, confusion and memory loss, severe drowsiness, eye problems such as decreased vision, blurring, bright flashes and tunnel vision, severe depression, anxiety attacks, and extreme irritability.

 

A smaller number of respondents suffered from auditory problems, including tinnitus, extreme noise intolerance, and hearing impairment, eye pain, pins and needles, convulsions and blackouts, slurring of speech, tremors, palpitations and rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain, severe joint pain, restless leg syndrome, and various skin problems, including severe itching and hives. A few reported things like pain on swallowing, actual weight gain, low blood sugar attacks, bloating and fluid retention, burning on urination, thinning of hair, and, perhaps scariest of all, blindness in one or both eyes.”44 (Dr. Roberts went on to provide a detailed account of these reactions in a book more than one thousand pages long, which he called Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, published in 2001.)

 

39. National PKU Alliance, “About PKU,” http://npkua.org/Education/About-PKU

40. United States Food and Drug Administration, “Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for us in Food in the United States, 2015, http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm

41. Phone Interview with Mary Nash Stoddard.

44. United States Food and Drug Administration, “Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects,” 2003, http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/jan03/012203/02p-0317_emc-000199.txt.

Picture of Aspartame Molecule is made available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

April 25, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them Artificial Colors – Agents of Food Fraud That Are Putting Kids on the Road to Ritalin:

Of all the cheap tricks used by food processors to mass-market their commodities while compromising the health of customers, the use of synthetic dyes is the one that really takes the cake when it comes to being flagrantly fake.

 

While such fakery in the bakery isn’t that hard to distinguish, what may be less apparent are many of the packaged products, ranging from cereals to salad dressings, which have had their appearance artificially enhanced through the use of coloring agents made from petroleum derivatives.badditives

 

Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are no longer falling for this pervasive form of food fraud – especially after being made aware of the behavioral effects it can have on their kids, for whom many of these prettied-up products are intended. A number of major companies, as a result, have begun to respond by simply dispensing with these deceptive dyes and replacing them with more natural substances.

 

However, that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of processed foods dressed up in counterfeit colors that still remain on supermarket shelves, many of which are deliberately designed to appeal to preschoolers. That’s why we can’t afford to let our guard down – and why it’s so important to keep up the pressure on the industry to drop the deceptive and damaging disguises they use to lure innocent children and unwary grown-ups…

 

…It’s hardly surprising that so many supposedly “harmless” synthetic hues have been found to be otherwise when you consider their origins and backgrounds. In fact, the passage of the original federal food safety law, the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, was largely designed to curtail the use of hazardous coloring agents to disguise the appearance of various products…

 

…In spite of… [such] measures, our processed food products have continued to be colored with synthetic compounds that research is increasingly revealing to be hazardous to our health (and especially that of our children) – badditives that only recently have begun to be replaced with substances more fit for human consumption.

Picture of Food Orange 7 Molecule is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

April 18, 2017

Washington, D.C. – As promised, we bring you another selection from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them. Today’s excerpt is from the first chapter, Aluminum – The Metallic Menace to Your Mentality:

Like other substances of questionable safety, this most commonplace of metals came into widespread use in consumer products during the post-World War II period. In various forms, it was officially accorded GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status as a food additive by the FDA back in 1959—meaning that as something in “common use” by then, it required no clinical testing or risk-benefit analysis (which translates to: it must be safe, because people have been using it for a while without any immediately apparent ill effects).

 

In fact, after President Nixon in 1969 directed the FDA to undertake a systematic safety review of all GRAS substances, a select committee of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) was contracted to do a “re-review” on the status of aluminum. The committee concluded: “There is no evidence in the available literature on . . . acidic sodium aluminum phosphate [and other forms of aluminum] . . . that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.”²

 

Interestingly enough, although “noting that care should be taken by patients with kidney disease when consuming food containing high levels of Al (aluminum) salts,” the authors of that report “did not mention either dialysis encephalopathy, which has been attributed to aluminum, or “the controversial role of Al in Alzheimer’s disease. Description of these clinical problems began about the same time,” notes Robert A. Yokel, a University of Kentucky pharmaceutical sciences professor.³…

 

…Consumers were constantly reassured that there was never enough “proof” of an aluminum–Alzheimer’s association to be concerned about it, especially given that the victims were mostly older people and no direct cause-and-effect association was ever clearly established.
All that changed, however, in 2014, when much stronger evidence of such a link emerged—strong enough to move aluminum from something regarded with mere suspicion into the category of an official “suspect.”

 

2. Yokel, Robert A., Aluminum in Food: The Nature and Contribution of Food Additives, p. 206, http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/28917.pdf
3. Ibid, p. 205

April 11, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today is officially Read Your Labels Day #RYLD! (Yes, we are a little nerdy when it comes to the work to which we have dedicated ourselves.) As promised, we bring you another selection from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.

Today the Bonvies share a selection from their Introduction – a glimpse into what motivated them to provide such an important resource for managing what we feed to ourselves and our families. And if you like the “taste” you get from these selections, please support more important information like this by purchasing a copy of the book using the link above. Enjoy!

From the Introduction of Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them:

The purpose of Badditives! is to acquaint you with what we have come to regard as the “worst of the worst” in terms of food ingredients, how they came to be an accepted part of our diet, the adverse effects they can have on your health and well-being, and how to steer clear of them. In most cases, of course, the best method of avoiding them is, whenever possible, to buy certified organic products, which not only are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, but are free of most of the substances discussed in this book as well. However, even these aren’t perfect, as you’ll learn in the chapter on carrageenan, a “natural” ingredient that isn’t nearly as harmless as it’s made out to be.

Many of the concerns you’ll find discussed in these pages have been addressed at length in some excellent books, documentary films, and a good deal of scientific and historical information—some of which is cited here and can also be found on the Internet. (Of course, “Internet rumors” and “conspiracy theories” are two of the favorite terms used by industry propagandists in an attempt to dismiss most of the kind of carefully researched information you’ll find here and elsewhere, as if conspiracies—defined as schemes devised by two or more people—were nonexistent, and the Internet was nothing more than a source of unsubstantiated hearsay.) Some of the books we would recommend for those of you who would like to learn more about these issues have been used as references and are mentioned in the chapters that follow.

Hopefully, by the time you finish reading about the damage done by the motley gang of “badditives” to which these chapters are dedicated, you’ll realize that there’s a lot more to worry about in the products you might assume to be safe than merely the amount of sugar (which is actually used much less than it was in years past), sodium (a certain amount of which is actually necessary to keep us alive), and calories they contain. And once you start examining the lists of ingredients on food packages (if you’re not already doing so), you’ll see just how many of them are out there waiting for you and your family to ingest—often half a dozen or more strong in a single product.

At that point, you’ll realize it’s well worth the effort to bar them permanently from your home, your life, and your body.

April 4, 2017

Washington, D.C. – April 11, 201, marks 5 years since the very first CFH Read Your Labels Day #RYLD, the day that serves as a reminder to do everything you can to learn and understand what goes into the things you eat and drink. To commemorate this milestone, Linda and Bill Bonvie have offered to share portions of their new book Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.badditives

Starting on 4/11/17, once a week the Bonvies will share new content from this excellent new resource in the battle to be informed about what we eat, drink, and feed to our families. Feel free to visit this page weekly to check if the latest addition has been posted, or wait to receive the email from us that it is ready to review. Don’t want to wait? Use this link to order a copy for yourself: Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.

We’ll get things started with a selection from the foreword, written by CFH Board Chair, James S. Turner:

Journalists Linda and Bill Bonvie have been on the food beat for a number of years—most recently as the writers of twice-weekly articles for Citizens for Health’s blog Food Identity Theft from 2010 to 2015.

Their articles laid out in detail the debasing of the American food supply, for example, by manufacturers using industrial sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), “flavor enhancers” like monosodium glutamate, and other brain-damaging excitotoxins and artery-clogging trans fats, all of which have been directly linked to the unprecedented health problems that now plague our society.

The articles formed the basis for Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet—and How to Avoid Them, which zeroes in on the worst of the unnatural substances currently found in processed foods, how they got there, and the ways in which they impact our health (beginning with the first of the alphabetically ordered chapters, which reveals links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease).

Such ingredients give mechanized foods false color, taste, texture, and stability. Without them most of such processed products would taste bland and appear pale, limp, and inert. Various performance-enhancing chemicals, however, can turn these pasty, unappealing, nutrition-deficient discharges from processing machines into the brightly colored, happy-tasting, feel-good stuff we put into our mouths and call food. They carry real risks, as do other substances covered in the following pages, such as GMOs and fluoride, that adulterate our food for even more devious reasons. Along with chronicling how these badditives came to be accepted by federal regulators, the authors advise you on how to banish them from your diet and thus avoid the pitfalls of the easy, lazy, incurious shopping habits that Big Food encourages.

Stay tuned for more – and don’t forget to commemorate Read Your Labels Day #RYLD by being extra-vigilant about examining what Big Food is putting into what you eat and drink. If you find anything especially egregious, or you want to share examples you’ve seen of what we share from the Bonvies’ book, share it with us and other Citizens for Health on Twitter (@citizens4health) and Facebook.

New Book Reveals Deception Behind GE Foods

 NEW BREAKTHROUGH BOOK EXPOSES THE FRAUDULENT FOUNDATION OF THE GE FOODS INDUSTRY –

LET’S MAKE IT A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“Druker’s brilliant expose catches the promoters of GE food red-handed: falsifying data, corrupting regulators, lying to Congress. He thoroughly demonstrates how distortions and deceptions have been piled one on top of another, year after year, producing a global industry that teeters on a foundation of fraud and denial. This book is sure to send shockwaves around the world.”   –Jeffrey Smith

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: If you buy more than one book, you need to do so in separate transactions in order to have maximal effect – because five books bought in a single transaction will only register as one purchase in the way the bestseller list is tabulated. Also note that you can have the e-book edition delivered to someone by providing their email address when you purchase.

Most of you are already concerned about the risks of genetically engineered (GE) foods, and should be. Regardless how much you know, or think you know, there is a new book is being released that demonstrates why everyone should be concerned:

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public

It was written by public interest attorney Steven Druker, who initiated a lawsuit that forced the FDA to divulge its internal files on GE foods – thereby exposing how the agency had covered up the extensive warnings from its own scientists about their risks, lied about the facts, and then ushered them onto the market in blatant violation of U.S. food safety law.

But Steven’s book does far more than expose the FDA’s fraud. It reveals how the entire GE food venture has been chronically and crucially dependent on fraud – and how the key misrepresentations have been dispensed by eminent scientists and scientific institutions such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society.

Furthermore, the book’s factual and logical soundness – and its importance – have been recognized by several scientists who have unstintingly praised it. For instance, the world-famous (and well-beloved) primatologist Jane Goodall has written the foreword, in which she not only hails it as one of the most important books of the last 50 years but states: “I shall urge everyone I know who cares about life on earth, and the future of their children, and children’s children, to read it. It will go a long way toward dispelling the confusion and delusion that has been created regarding the genetic engineering process and the foods it produces. . . . Steven Druker is a hero. He deserves at least a Nobel Prize.”

Moreover, Dr. Goodall is not alone in urging people to read and heed this book. Dr. Joseph Mercola, creator of the world’s most popular natural health website, has posted two interviews with Steven and has strongly recommended that the book be purchased. He also declared: “Truly, Steven has given the world a phenomenal gift through this work, and his book is really an indispensable resource on the topic of GMOs.”

And Mike Adams, on his widely viewed Natural News website, has extolled the book as a global game-changer and called on people to buy it so it can become a New York Times bestseller.

We’re asking all of you to do the same – for several good reasons:

  • First, by pushing this book to the NY Times bestseller list, we will be making people pay attention to it. Monsanto and its allies are desperately hoping that it will be ignored so that the fraudulent foundation of the GE food venture will stay hidden. But if it’s on the bestseller list, and remains there for many weeks, it can’t be ignored – and Steven will be increasingly interviewed by key media outlets, which will bring the startling revelations in his book to the attention of a large portion of the population and to influential individuals, disclosing how they’ve been systematically deceived by those whom they had a right to trust.
  • Second, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to become more fully informed about this vital issue, not only so you can protect yourself and them more effectively, but so you won’t be taken in by the misleading propaganda to which you’re regularly subjected.
  • Third, by reading this book, you can intelligently push back against the false claims you routinely encounter from people who have been taken in by the propaganda. Moreover, we recommend that besides buying a book for yourself, you buy several to give to friends and relatives who regard you as unscientific or unreasonable for being concerned about GE foods. Ask them to read it and then have a discussion with you based on the actual facts. You will most likely find that their minds have been changed.

Praise for Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

“A fascinating book: highly informative, eminently readable, and most enjoyable. It’s a real page-turner and an eye-opener.”

Richard C. Jennings, PhD Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

“This incisive and insightful book is truly outstanding. Not only is it well-reasoned and scientifically solid, it’s a pleasure to read – and a must-read. Through its masterful marshalling of facts, it dispels the cloud of disinformation that has misled people into believing that GE foods have been adequately tested and don’t entail abnormal risk.”

David Schubert, PhD molecular biologist and Head of Cellular Neurobiology, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

“A great book. The evidence is comprehensive and irrefutable; the reasoning is clear and compelling. No one has documented other cases of irresponsible behavior by government regulators and the scientific establishment nearly as well as Druker documents this one. His book should be widely read and thoroughly heeded.”

John Ikerd, PhD Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri

“Steven Druker’s meticulously documented, well-crafted, and spellbinding narrative should serve as a clarion call to all of us. In particular, his chapter detailing the deadly epidemic of 1989-90 that was linked with a genetically engineered food supplement is especially significant. . . . Overall his discussion of this tragic event, as well as its ominous implications, is the most comprehensive, evenly-balanced and accurate account that I have read.”

Stephen Naylor, PhD Professor of Biochemistry, Mayo Clinic (1991-2001)

“A landmark. It should be required reading in every university biology course.”

Joseph Cummins, PhD Professor Emeritus of Genetics, Western University, Ontario

“Steven Druker has done a beautiful job of weaving a compelling scientific argument into an engaging narrative that often reads like a detective story, and he makes his points dramatically and clearly. The examination of genetic engineering from the standpoint of software engineering is especially insightful, exposing how the former is more like a ‘hackathon’ than a careful, systematic methodology for revising complex information systems. I will recommend this book to my friends.”

Thomas J. McCabe  Developer of the cyclomatic complexity software metric, a key analytic tool in computer programming employed throughout the world

“A remarkable work. If the numerous revelations it contains become widely known, the arguments being used to defend genetically engineered foods will be untenable.”

Frederick Kirschenmann, PhD Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

So please act promptly. Your purchases will be part of an important process that can topple the entire GE food venture.

Safe Eating!

 

Thanksgiving: A Perfect Occasion for Demonstrating the Delectability of ‘Real’ Food

Thanksgiving offers a wonderful opportunity — not only to “gather together” with family members and friends from near and far for a traditional homemade feast, but in so doing, to reject today’s fraudulent food culture in favor of the kinds of things that Mother Nature intended to sustain us.

You might even say that there’s no better way to show how thankful we are for the ‘blessings of the harvest’  than to restore them to their proper place on our table. By that, I mean preparing and serving only the kinds of foods that are the ‘real deal’, rather than the adulterated, additive-laden, disease-promoting products that manufacturers have substituted for no other purpose than to minimize their costs and maximize their profits.

In an age when children have been encouraged by multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns to develop cravings for junk food and parents persuaded to serve nutrition-deficient, ready-made meals permeated with neurotoxic flavor enhancers and other synthetic ingredients that wreak havoc on health, Thanksgiving is an occasion for reintroducing to our families the simple delights of genuine food.

Take cranberry sauce, for example. Now, the cranberry is one of nature’s most healthful fruits — loaded with antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.  Unfortunately, commercial food processors such as Ocean Spray have made it easy to serve canned varieties of cranberry sauce (either jellied or “whole berry”) that have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the laboratory concoction that studies have linked to our current epidemics of obesity and diabetes, as well as various other health problems.

But with just a little more effort than that required to open a can and coax the HFCS-sweetened blob out with a knife, you can make HFCS-free cranberry sauce all by yourself. Fresh cranberries, water and sugar cooked till the berries pop will thicken as it cools and taste amazing (see recipe measurements here. Note, this recipe calls for orange juice, but you can also substitute water using the same amount).

Even worse than the canned cranberry sauce are commercial variants on some of the other stuff  traditionally served at Thanksgiving — like stuffing, for instance.

Two of the worst examples of this good side dish-turned bad are made by Kraft — Stove Top Turkey Stuffing and Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing.  Both look like laboratory creations, having been laced not only with HFCS,  but two other atrocious additives — partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil (a source of trans fats that ‘s now being officially phased out by the Food and Drug Administration as a cause of thousands of heart attacks every year) and hydrolyzed protein, a form of disguised MSG that can actually destroy certain brain cells — especially in children and the elderly.

Other brands of commercial stuffing mix, such as Arnold “Premium” Cornbread Stuffing and Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing, aren’t much better, despite the image of wholesomeness these brands have tried to cultivate.  Both contain HFCS and that coronary artery disease-inducing partially hydrogenated oil.

Even if you have to make your stuffing from scratch (which is not all that complicated) there is absolutely no excuse to be using chemical concoctions like the ones mentioned above.  Arrowhead Mills, for example, makes a ready-seasoned organic stuffing mix that’s just as easy to prepare as Stove Top.

Let’s talk turkey — the unadulterated kind

Then there’s the turkey itself, which can also contribute its own share of unhealthy ingredients to the mix. Watch out for any bird that is said to be “self basting,” deep basted,” or any similar claim. Also check the packaging for any added ingredients. You should be cooking a turkey, not conducting a lab experiment.

Of course, no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without the seasonal scrumptiousness of pumpkin pie for dessert.  And your local supermarket can no doubt accommodate you with a choice of at least two or three brands, Marie Callender’s being a prime example. The problem is, Marie’s pumpkin pie comes with something besides pumpkin. It contains so much partially hydrogenated oil  that it actually registers on the trans fat scale of the Nutrition Facts label. (Most products that harbor this artificially processed artery clogger are able to use a loophole in the law to falsely claim they contain contain “zero trans fat.”)

A far better idea is to bake your own pumpkin pie using ready-made canned pumpkin, adding your own ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, condensed milk and an additive-free pie shell (Arrowhead Mills makes a good one of those as well). You can also make your own pie shell from scratch, it’s much easier than you think. Just be sure to use graham cracker crumbs that have good ingredients, i.e., no partially hydrogenated oils, HFCS or artificial flavors or colors. The recipe is easy to find (also on every can of pumpkin), and easy to prepare. Just make sure you allow enough time to chill your creation in the fridge.

With just a little bit of extra effort, you’ll have a Thanksgiving table of which you can really be proud — one that’s free of the junk foods that the big food companies would like to have us think are traditional dishes and “original recipes.” And you can prove to your family and your guests that old-fashioned, genuinely ‘natural” food tastes even better than cheap, “convenient” imitations — and can make for a holiday feast that’s every bit as enjoyable as those pictured by Norman Rockwell.

Two Food Industry ‘Secrets’ of Getting Less for Your Money

For over two years now, ever since I posted a blog about misleading “fresh” tomato product labels, I have been receiving email from a variety of tomato supply companies in China. Apparently picking up my email address from some type of search hitting on any mention of “tomato sauce,” they all go pretty much like the last one I received:

Dear purchasing manager,

Have a nice day!

We are SHANDONG SAIKEER INDUSTRY CO., LTD., a specialized manufacturer of tomato sauce. Our products are well known in their good quality and competitive price.

If you want to cooperate with us, please contact me at any time.

Best regards, Bess,
Sales manager

All these emails got me wondering how much of the tomato products we buy in the U.S. come from China. The big producers I thought were Italy, and of course California, but, as it turns out, China is making significant headway in producing and exporting a vegetable that the Chinese themselves “shun,” according to an article on China’s booming tomato business in Slate.

But the real news I uncovered is not just another story about how many of our food products are now coming from China, but rather about what is currently troubling those Chinese tomato growers — a new food additive that has tomato producers everywhere seeing, well, red. But the real loser here, as always, is the consumer.

Giving the consumer less, and the manufacturer more – as in more money

My original “tomato” story was about false and misleading labels on tomato sauce products that call them “fresh,” when in fact they are made from reconstituted industrial tomato concentrate. But after learning about this new food additive, that claim sounds almost legit.

This new ingredient I’m referring to is the brainchild of Tate & Lyle, the agribusiness giant based in the UK, probably well-known by readers of this blog for another one of their products – high fructose corn syrup –  as well as its membership in the Corn Refiners Association.

As you’ve probably surmised, Tate & Lyle is really into corn, and at the beginning of this month, they issued a press release about a new and wonderful way to pump yet more corn-based ingredients into the food supply so as to dilute whatever the actual “food” is that a product is supposed to contain.

The additive in question is called PULPIZ Pulp Extender, described as  a “modified starch” that gives “exceptional pulp like texture…in formulations with low tomato paste content.”

PULPIZ will enable food manufacturers to replace up to “at least” 25 percent of the actual tomato paste  in a food product, something a company spokesman says will give them “the ability to do more with less…”

Now we’re not talking about the sprinkling of starch a cook might add to thicken a sauce, but a replacement of “at least” one quarter of the actual food product — a sort of Hamburger Helper for pasta sauce and other products.

Not only is this “extender” a new way to rip off unsuspecting consumers, but it also significantly reduces the nutritional value of the food to which it is added. Research has shown that tomatoes, which are high in antioxidants such as  lycopene, have even higher antioxidant levels when heated.

Geez, it’s not like we’re talking about truffles here — this is tomato paste! Just how much could it cost a company to make a product that contains 100 percent of it?

How about a fish “extender?”

While we’re on the topic of getting less than you think you’re getting, how about some STPP added to your seafood?

Tripolyphosphate, or STPP,  is used as a “soak” for raw fish and shellfish to keep it looking fresher longer, and as an added bonus, the longer fish is soaked in it, the more water it absorbs, and the more it weighs when you go to buy it. Another case of “less is more.”

Some of the more commonly STPP-soaked seafood, according to Food & Water Watch, includes “flaky” varieties, such as hake or sole, and shellfish, including scallops and shrimp.

Food & Water Watch suggests that you ask your fish market or store if they sell “dry” shellfish (“wet” meaning the product was STPP soaked), something they say you should also inquire about in restaurants. Not just because STPP jacks up the price, but because it’s also a registered pesticide and possible neurotoxin.

Bon Appetit!

Continue Reading

Call It What You Want; It Still Answers to the Name ‘Pink Slime’

Remember “pink slime” — that appetizing meat product consisting of mechanically separated beef scraps that needs disinfection with a chemical agent to kill dangerous pathogens?

While our food supply is filled with other equally nauseating offerings (mechanically separated poultry, for one), last year it was slime’s turn to capture everyone’s rapt and revolted attention. Then, like the fickle consumers we are, interest in “boneless lean beef trimmings,” as it’s more politely referred to by industry, became as ‘yesterday’ as old Facebook status postings.

All of which makes it even more curious that the giant food processing company Cargill would make a proud announcement this week that it will be indicating the presence of its own version on package labels with the even more consumer-friendly name,“finely textured beef.”

From the looks of how the media handled it, however, Cargill seems to have inadvertently reignited pink slime’s notoriety.  Reports from Reuters to The Wall Street Journal to ABC and NBC all included big “pink slime” mentions, now attaching the Cargill name to the product, something the company managed to avoid for the most part the first time around.

Now for Beef Products Inc., the original target of intense media coverage over its version of the product, called “boneless lean beef trimmings,” the outcome of all that attention wasn’t so good – especially in regard to the ammonium hydroxide with which it was treated to kill contaminants such as E. coli.

That firm’s pink slime sales subsequently went into a steep decline, closing three of its plants last year due to the fallout. Cargill also saw a drop in slime sales of 80 percent, according to Reuters. But at last,  “that business is slowly recovering” – or so they claim.

Enter the marketing genius

Somewhere along the way, however, Cargill decided some “consumer research” might be in order, as in surveying more than 3,000 consumers “about ground beef and how it’s made.”

Here’s how I visualize it: some Really Bright Guy in the marketing department says, “Hey I’ve got a great idea! Let’s talk to 3,000 consumers and ask if they want pink slime, I mean finely textured beef, labeled on packages. Then we can issue a press release and get interviewed about it!”

Well, Really Bright Guy was right on the money. The media has been only to happy to accommodate by bringing Pink Slime out of retirement and putting it back in the spotlight.

In a prepared statement about the big news, Cargill Beef President John Keating is quoted as saying, “We’ve listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling finely textured beef.”

And here’s what that “commitment” will come down to:

According to Reuters, Cargill’s wholesale packaging will state “contains Finely Textured Beef,” on the box side. Whether the repackaged version for consumer sale (what you would find in the meat case) will be labeled is currently up to the individual retailer, however. But some time next summer, Cargill says, it will also add that statement to its meat packages that are sold directly to consumers.

But no matter what name it goes under, pink slime just seems to be the gift that keeps on giving red meat to the media.

Five Frightening Food Additives and How You Can Avoid Them

Forget the haunted hayrides, spooky houses and midnight ghost tours. Want to go somewhere really scary for Halloween? You’ve been there many, many times and while it  may seem all bright and cheery, some genuinely frightening invaders can be found lurking in its corridors — blobs, bugs and brain-eating laboratory creations, all trying to lure you to take them home.

Any guesses as to what I’m talking about?

It’s your local supermarket. And if you think I’m exaggerating, read on:

Products Using “Carmine” – A Food Coloring Derived from Ground-Up Insects

Below are just a few recently released products that contain the insect-based food coloring known as “carmine.” There are thousands of others already on the market. Please check back here from time to time for updates to the list as we identify more products containing carmine — food coloring made from crushed whole cochineal beetles.

 

quik

Nestle Nesquik: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich (Strawberry)

alive

Nature’s Way: Alive Women’s 50+ Multivitamin/Multimineral

superdieter

Laci Le Beau: Super Dieters Fast Dissolve

mentos

Rainbow Mentos

fruitconcentrate

Healthy America: Triple Strength Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

libidomax

Applied Nutrition: Libido Max for Women

prenatalmulti

CVS Pharmacy: DHA Prenatal Multivitamin

memoraid

Naturade: MemorAid with Omega 3 & Vitamin D

smoothie

Lucerne: Smoothie Dairy Beverage (Strawberry Banana)

twinlab

Twinlab: Ripped Fuel

werthers

Werther’s: Original Sugar Free Caramel Cinnamon Flavored Hard Candies

hotpockets

Hot Pockets: Snackers

parfait

Meijer: Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

candymix

Harry & David: Valentine Candy Mix

yoplait

Yoplait: Original Variety Pack

redvelvetcake

Betty Crocker: Red Velvet Cake Mix

omega3

Jamieson Natural Sources: Omega-3 Age Defence

 

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Read Your Labels: Are Recent Nutritional Snapshots Helping – or Confusing?

Yet Another Company Jumps Into the Business of Helping Consumers Make “Healthy” Food Choices

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

July 11, 2013

“Everybody wants to get into the act,” a catchphrase made famous back in the day by show business legend Jimmy Durante, seems to have found a new meaning.  Apparently, everybody now wants to get into the act of helping the busy food shopper quickly determine what items are the “healthiest” ones to grab off the supermarket shelf.

But isn’t this a good thing? After all, supermarket shopping can be an annoying, tedious chore that isn’t exactly top on most people’s list of fun things to do. But if you plan on eating the food taken home from such an expedition, it helps to know what’s in it. And the only real way to acquire such knowledge is to read the ingredient label — something all of these health-conscious ‘helpful Hannahs’ seem to be steering you away from by calling your attention to superficial and often misleading criteria instead.

The latest player in this  game of mock health marketing appears to be the technology and data company Vestcom out of Little Rock, Ark. Vestcom, which specializes in “shelf-edge solutions,” consisting of messaging and pricing information tags posted on store shelves, has now entered the nutrition advice arena with “healthyAisles,” which it describes as “nutrition info your customers can trust.”

The healthyAisles tag makes the same kinds of nebulous claims as do all those other quick nutrition guides. It’s angle is to choose from a list of  35 “health and wellness” attributes such as “heart healthy” or “low sodium” to describe each product without offering much more in the way of information as to what these processed foods actually contain. The system has already been sold to enough retailers to now appear in over 5,000 stores, according to the trade pub FoodNavigator.com.

Just why another such ersatz health-and-nutrition merchandising system is needed isn’t readily apparent. But Vestcom is holding firm to the concept that healthyAisles is “fact based,”  “effective,” and a “national strategic partner with the Unite States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate,” although it doesn’t exactly specify what that “strategic” partnership consists of. Perhaps the company’s competitive edge is its appeal to older shoppers seeking a nostalgic connection to a time when buying food was considered strictly a woman’s job, as evidenced by its tag line: “Give her the nutrition advice she seeks, precisely when and where she needs it.”

Other consumer-confusing in-store “information” programs include:

  • Safeway’s “SimpleNutrition” program
    SimpleNutrition is comprised of 22 “benefit messages” under “two groups of messages” that are supposed to meet “lifestyle, dietary” and “specific nutrition or ingredient criteria.” Could anything be simpler than that?
  • Publix Markets’ “Nutrition Facts” tags
    Apparently not bothered that “nutrition facts” is the exact same term the government requires for processed food packaging information panels, Publix, a Southern supermarket institution, now features its own “Nutrition Facts” program that asks, “Who has time to analyze food labels? Luckily, when you shop with us, you don’t have to.”
  • Stop & Shop’s Healthy Ideas
    The creative naming of these programs is pretty much the biggest difference between them. Stop & Shop, for example, wants us to have “a simple way to know it’s healthy”: all you have to do is look for the Healthy Ideas shelf tag! Healthy Ideas tags are also on nearly all the fruits and vegetables in the produce department. Duh.
  • NuVal Scoring System
    This “nutrition made easy” program was purportedly “developed independently by a team of nutrition and medical experts.” NuVal is another shelf-tag system that rates the “nutritiousness” of foods by scoring them from 1 to 100 using a patent-pending algorithm. But despite all the hoopla from NuVal, and its partner company Topco Associates, LLC, the system is a bizarrely flawed idea that rates sugar-free jelly higher than eggs.
  • Guiding Stars
    Described as  “Nutritious choices made simple,” Guiding Stars appears to be another variation on the theme, It uses a rating system featuring one to three big yellow stars — perhaps to appeal to those those who can’t count to the higher NuVal numbers.
  • Supervalu Nutrition iQ
    Called “The better-for-you food finder” (which, by the way, is a pending trademark), nutrition iQ is a “shelf tag navigation program” that uses color coded tags below products to show which ones make the “healthy” grade. As Heidi Diller, Albertsons’ registered dietitian, explains in a Youtube video, “reading labels is important, but that takes time. If only there was an easier way to shop healthy. Let our science guide you..(to) better-for-you shopping.” Unfortunately nutrition iQ omits more facts than it offers.
  • Facts Up Front from the Grocery Manufacturers Association
    Soon to be the focus of a big-bucks advertising campaign, Facts up Front features some tiny blue boxes that will provide data on calories and three nutrients – but nothing, of course, about a product’s ingredients.
  • Walmart’s “Great for You”
    This front-of-package icon is designed to appear on food products that conform to the mega-retailer’s standard of healthiness.

There are also a number of nutrition advice programs that have ‘bit the dust’, including:

  • Smartspot, Pepsico’s self-serving “more nutritious” designations on its own brands, which was launched in 2004 and canned in 2010;
  • Sensible Solutions, a similar idea from the marketing gurus at Kraft, which made its debut in 2005 and was“put on hold” in 2009;
  • Smart Choices, a promotion designed and paid for by the food industry that got bad press when its ‘better-for-you’ icon started appearing on Kellogg’s Froot Loops packages. It came and went in 2009.

So there you have it, eight ways the food industry is helping us to shop.

If only it were that easy.

HFCS: Excessive Fructose May Be Making “Spoiled Appetites” a Thing of the Past

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

June 11, 2013

Since this blog was published in January, research done on rats by Dr. Francesco Leri, an associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (which we talked about two weeks ago) has determined that high fructose corn syrup is indeed an addictive substance. Dr. Leri found that that the more he increased the percentage of HFCS, the more the rats worked to obtain it, which is “exactly what you notice with drug abuse, the same type of pattern.” Nor did satiating the rats on their regular chow make the craving for HFCS go away. When administered saccharine, however, the rats did not continue to crave it as they had with HFCS. To Leri, this indicated that ”HFCS has effects that are beyond the sweetness in the mouth … effects on the brain.”