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Announcing The Natural Color Coalition

natural color coalition

Powered by Citizens for Health

2018 was a great year for the fight against artificial dyes. We saw many stores ban products using them and other companies pledge to remove artificial dyes in favor of naturally derived colors. To encourage this movement CFH has launched the Natural Color Coalition to show brands there remains a growing public demand for only natural colors.

With this initiative we are trying a new, positive messaging approach. The negative side-effects of artificial dyes are well-documented and available online with a simple search. But we realized that this has been an ongoing debate throughout the food manufacturing, FDA and public opinion arenas since the 1950’s (earlier, depending on who you ask). The usual strategy – boycotts, petitions demanding action, and articles showing the negative effects – has begun to fall on deaf ears. So our new approach is to show manufacturers that there is still a growing demand for the change, but also that we now have alternatives we can purchase until they make this change. We feature those on the Good Guys pages at www.naturalcolorcoalition.com.

color me with love contest
Color Me with Love

We have also launched a Petition on Change.org to gather signatures as demonstrative proof of this movement towards using only natural colors. To support this petition further we are launching the Color Me with Love video contest which we will deliver to the top-ranking brands from the winning selection, along with the petition signatures. The contest will focus on the public making a 30- to 58-second video message “Love Letter” to their favorite product saying how much better it would be with natural color. Sticking with the positive messaging strategy all submissions must be positive, humorous, ironic or just plain funny. The Contest runs Feb 12 – March 15, 2019, and the winners will be announced March 20, 2019. First Prize is a Surface Pro 6, Second Prize is a $500 Gift Card. FOUR third prize winners will be selected and each will receive a Google Home hub. For more info: www.naturalcolorcoalition.com/contest.

color me with love

Please support these new initiatives by visiting www.naturalcolorcoalition.com. Sign the petition and enter the contest – there is no fee to enter. Our social media for this campaign also provides a good deal of useful information such as products made without artificial dyes, as well as recipes, so check out the social media channels as well.

The Bonvie Blog: Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG

Here’s the best New Year’s resolution you can make

BY LINDA BONVIE

If you made a New Year’s resolution, probably by now the enthusiasm in following this self-improvement ritual has slowly faded into the humdrum of daily life.

But I’m here to help revitalize things. It’s not too late to make one of the best New Year’s resolutions of all. In fact, this idea is one that will benefit the entire family – young, old and in-between.

I’ll cut right to the advantages: Putting this resolve into action can significantly improve your health, especially protect the youngest – and oldest – members of your family from brain damage, get some nasty carcinogens out of your diet, protect your heart and eyes, and help you keep your weight under control. Actually, that’s just the tantalizing top five of the pluses this resolution has to offer.

So, you’re probably wondering what this magic, life-altering secret of staying healthy could be? Well, here it is: Simply keep as much processed free glutamic acid out of your diet as you possibly can.

Not sure what processed free glutamic acid is? Hint — it commonly goes by the acronym “MSG,” a sort of food-additive slang to stand for toxic ingredients added to processed foods to zip up the flavor. But here’s the most frustrating part – while plenty of folks are checking food labels so they can avoid MSG, they won’t find it listed. Sure, monosodium glutamate is required by the FDA to be labeled, but this problem extends way beyond that sole ingredient to over 40 different additives that are routinely dumped into everything from infant formula, to meals for invalids, to protein drinks, to everyday foods literally ranging from soup to nuts.

Industry hype gets hyperactive

During the past year I’ve been noticing a widespread media campaign on all levels, much of which is disseminated by the “International Glutamate (dis)Information Service” that’s laser- focused on convincing you that MSG is totally harmless… and, unbelievably, even beneficial!

This propaganda, appearing on Facebook, in the news, and flowing from press releases, is stunningly similar to a campaign several years ago created and funded by the Corn Refiners Association to try and salvage the image of high fructose corn syrup. The main goal in that marketing mission was twofold: (1) present as gospel-truth “facts” about HFCS that trashed years of scientific findings as to the danger of ingesting free (unbound) fructose, and (2) make anyone who attempted to tell family or friends about the health risks of HFCS seem like a nitwit who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Thankfully, the many millions put into that effort by the CRA wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Consumers know by now that HFCS is bad news. And food manufacturers know that consumers know.

But with MSG, the situation is a bit more tricky. The monetary stakes are higher, the products that contain processed free glutamic acid are much more numerous, and industry has the full and unbridled support of the FDA.

And it seems that when it comes to “proving” their point, anything goes.

Take, for example, a “study” that came out last year from none other than the prestigious Harvard Medical School and its affiliated hospital, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Apparently the goal of this absurdity was to generate cool headlines such as “Monosodium glutamate could actually be key to healthy eating.” Yep, that must have been it, as the study wasn’t much to write home about, let alone write a news story about.

It went like this: 35 women wore special glasses that tracked their eye movements as they walked around a buffet table. Half the group had eaten an MSG-spiked soup beforehand, and those women had “more focused gazes during the meal,” and chose foods with “less saturated fats.”

Of course, you could say that’s just plain silly, who would believe such drivel? But the glutamate industry (yes, there is a glutamate industry) has a lot more up its sleeve. And one thing that will help you to avoid being conned by its disinformation is to keep the following six big fat lies you’re going to hear in mind, courtesy of our friends at the Truth in Labeling Campaign:

#1: The glutamate contained in MSG is identical to the glutamate in the human body.

#2: MSG is very well researched and found to be safe.

#3: It must be safe, since the FDA has said so.

#4: MSG has been used for over a century without adverse reactions.

#5: MSG is naturally made, similar to yogurt, vinegar and wine.

#6: Monosodium glutamate occurs naturally in food.

Also remember that it’s not just “some” people who need to dodge these noxious additives. Those who suffer reactions are indeed reacting to a toxic substance, not having an allergy attack, such as a sensitive person would to nuts or milk. The effects of MSG can range from migraines, asthma, skin rashes, irritable bowel, seizures and heart irregularities such as A-fib.

And as for all those names, the aliases that processed free glutamic acid hides under, I’ve listed the top ten below. For the full story, the best place to look is to health freedom fighters, Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC). (The folks at TLC are excited to unveil a new website this Spring and to continue to update and add to the valuable information and resources we’ve come to expect from these critical allies.)

It would be bad enough if what we were being told by industry and its shills were just half truths. But these are flat-out lies, being told for the purpose of keeping the “glutes,” as TLC calls them, doing business as usual and continuing to poison our food while telling us everything is A-OK.

As Citizens for Health President and Board Chair Jim Turner once remarked about aspartame, another neurotoxic food additive: “The brain you save may be your own.”

Top ten names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid (Courtesy of the Truth in Labeling Campaign)

  1. Autolyzed yeast
  2. Soy protein
  3. Any “hydrolyzed” protein
  4. Whey protein isolate
  5. Yeast extract
  6. Sodium and calcium caseinate
  7. Textured protein
  8. Anything containing “enzymes”
  9. Soy sauce
  10. Monosodium glutamate (E# 621)

Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

The Bonvie Blog: Lectin

Have a happy lectin-, gluten-, additive-free Thanksgiving!

By LINDA BONVIE

Let me start by saying that consuming unadulterated food has become increasingly challenging. And as we enter the “eating season” that begins with Thanksgiving, complications can heat up at a rapid pace.

If you’re not careful, a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal can easily become a “chemical feast,” to borrow the title of CFH Chairman Jim Turner’s classic book.chemical feast

Starting with the canned cranberry sauce, which typically contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), to the stuffing – loaded with bad oils, MSG and more HFCS – right down to the pumpkin pie, with even more HFCS, genetically-modified ingredients and partially hydrogenated oil in the crust, most Thanksgiving spreads contain more laboratory concoctions than they contain real food.

Even the main event – the turkey – can be a chemically pickled piece of poultry.

Any “self-basting” or “deep basted” bird typically comes loaded with enough added ingredients to preserve it until next Thanksgiving!

But I’m here to make things even more complex for you. That’s right, there are other food matters you may want to consider as you do your shopping for this big day of eating – specifically the hazards of lectin.

‘Plant Predators’

In his top-selling 2017 book, The Plant Paradox, cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry puts more food restrictions on the table with his theory that lectin, a “common and highly toxic” plant-based protein (which includes gluten), when ingested causes “warfare in our bodies.”

You know all those “healthy” fruits, veggies and grains you’ve been instructed to heap on your plate? Well, according to Dr. Gundry, they’re not “just sitting there accepting their fate as part of your dinner.” These seemingly innocent produce products are taking revenge on us, defending themselves with the use of “toxic chemicals.”

Now, Dr. Gundry isn’t against all of nature’s bounty, saying that eating certain plants is “essential for good health,” and supplies most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to stay well. He also provides tips on how to make many fruits and veggies less “toxic” (some of which I’ll share with you in a minute), as well as selling a supplement called “Lectin Shield,” designed to block dietary lectins.

The entire idea of being lectin leery, does, of course, have its detractors. The Washington Post called it the “latest pseudoscience diet fad.”

But as a writer and researcher who has focused mainly on the man-made hazards added to foods and beverages, I know that just because something is labeled as natural and untainted by human hands, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you.

And his concept that these noxious proteins are “designed by nature to protect” plants does make sense. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of eating a totally “healthy,” carefully prepared meal only to feel really crappy afterwards. Could the reason be it contained high concentrations of lectin? Maybe.

Dr. Gundry even calls humans “plant predators” – in the same category as the deer who graze in my backyard or the caterpillars who consumed every bit of my garden parsley.

To be sure, there’s a lot more to The Plant Paradox than simply crossing certain high-lectin foods off your shopping list. But if you want to give his basic theory a try, here are some tips from his book to lower lectin levels in your food:

  • Try to eliminate as many fruits and veggies as possible that contain lots of seeds, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and squash, from your diet.lectin
  • Peel your vegetables, as lectins are concentrated in the peels, and seeds of plants.
  • Only buy produce in season, at the “peak of ripeness.”
  • Ditch the whole grains and seeds with hard outer coatings, which “are designed by nature to cause digestive distress.” That includes swapping brown rice with white.

For Thanksgiving, these lectin restrictions would mean nixing the pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, your treasured family recipes for rolls, corn muffins, the green-bean casserole, and even wild rice.

Turkey and all other poultry, according to Dr. Gundry, must be pasture-raised, which is considerably different from just being “free-range.” Grass-fed beef, bison, boar, elk and venison, can also make the grade for your feast, along with plenty of wild-caught seafood and shellfish.

If it sounds like there’s not much left to serve on the side, there’s actually quite a bit, including lots of lettuces, turnips, sea vegetables, parsnips, millet and sweet potatoes – the only potato that makes his “yes please” list.

Actually, I could see this low-lectin feast idea going viral, perhaps with Martha Stewart coming out with a recipe guide on how to prepare some of the more obscure “approved” foods – such as nopales cactus, taro root, sorghum, grouse and pheasant.

And that sounds a whole lot better than some other Thanksgiving ideas from Martha’s collection, most especially the roast capon (with fig-and-pancetta stuffing, no less) – which, put more bluntly, is a castrated rooster!

Of course there’s still a big Thanksgiving dilemma left to solve. And that’s to try and keep the dinner table conversation equally easy to digest!


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

The Bonvie Blog: FDA Bans Carcinogenic Additives

FDA bans seven cancer-causing food additives. How many more are out there?

After a 30-year hiatus the Delaney Clause makes a return appearance

By LINDA BONVIE

Late last week the FDA announced the ban of seven food additives known to cause cancer.

These consist of a group of tongue-twisting chemicals such as synthetically derived benzophenone, eugenyl methyl ether and one called pulegone. They’re added to beverages, bakery products, cereals, candy, gum and ice cream for a taste of cinnamon and peppermint, a twist of citrus or even the flavor of roasted onions.

These fake flavorings have been used since the 1960s – and they can still be quite legally added for the next two years. Don’t bother checking labels for them, however, as they all fall under the category of “artificial flavors.”

The FDA’s decision to ban them was due to a petition submitted to the agency – as well as a subsequent lawsuit — from 10 public interest organizations, including the Consumers Union, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

But in a food supply filled to the brim with a mad scientist’s array of extremely dangerous additives (MSG, HFCS and aspartame, to name just three), why was this bunch given the boot? It’s especially intriguing since the FDA said in announcing its decision that the seven “do not pose a risk to public health.”

In an oddly logical turn of regulatory reasoning — despite the agency’s steadfast opinion that these additives are as “low risk” as can be — it said they were being revoked “as a matter of law.”

That law is the Delaney Clause. Added to the Federal Food Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1958, it states that “no additive shall be deemed to be safe if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal…”

If you’re not familiar with Delaney it could be because it hasn’t made an appearance since cell phones were as big as a brick, around the late 1980s. And by applying the literal meaning of the law, instead of brushing it aside with what’s known as the “de minimis exception” (which is described as a “trivial” hazard, a lifetime cancer risk less than one-in-a-million), it appears that seven unnecessary and risky food additives will bite the dust at some point in the future.

Of course, the Delaney Clause has been nitpicked for decades as being overly cautious and outdated. And then there’s the argument that we know so much more about what causes cancer these days than we did back in the 1950s.

But that’s not entirely true.

While our medical knowledge bank may have increased since then, still, no one can say with certainty that there’s a magic level at which a carcinogen is somehow safe to consume – especially where kids are concerned.

And anyone who claims they know otherwise is simply making a wild guess.

Remember, these seven chemicals have been hiding in the food supply for decades under the guise of “flavorings.” And there are untold numbers more.

As the Environmental Working Group’s nutritionist Dawn Undurraga says, while this is a “positive step forward,” until the FDA mandates that manufacturers give consumers complete “ingredient disclosure,” we can’t make our own “fully informed decisions” about the foods we buy.

According to the EWG, one of every seven conventional (not organic) food ingredient labels lists “artificial” flavorings, with “natural” flavors being even more popular. And both names will tell you absolutely nothing about what those ingredients may consist of.

It’s a loophole that food manufacturers love. But as for consumers, the only safeguard we have right now is to reject every single product made with these secret ingredients.


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

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The Bonvie Blog: Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially Hydrogenated Oils Are Now Banned, Right?

Well, Yes — Only Not Quite

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

They’re supposed to be history by now. We’re talking about the particularly dangerous class of food additives known as partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, which are the result of solidifying a vegetable oil by infusing it with hydrogen gas.

Long used to extend the shelf-life of various processed foods, such as baked goods, PHOs were also cutting short the lives of many of those who regularly consumed them, being the primary source of artery-clogging trans fats in our diet (as chronicled in our 2017 book Badditives!).

That’s why the FDA took the most unusual step of ordering them phased out of the food supply by this past June 18, after acknowledging that they were causing an estimated 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths in this country every year. (And that’s just a fraction of the number claimed by the late Dr. Fred Kummerow, the professor of comparative biosciences wHydrogenatedho spent years petitioning the FDA to ban PHOs and lived long enough – to the age of 102 – to see his efforts rewarded.)

The removal of these ingredients from the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list was quite an achievement in itself – one the FDA noted was a response to both “citizen petitions” and “available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels establishing the health risks associated with the consumption” of trans fats.

And it came only after considerable resistance from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which submitted a petition to the agency in 2015, and an amended version last year, requesting that the food additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of PHOs in certain food applications.

The FDA subsequently denied that petition because it “determined that the petitioner did not provide sufficient information for us to conclude that the requested uses of PHOs are safe.”

But that’s not to say that PHOs are now automatically gone from all the products that line supermarket shelves. Because while turning down that last-ditch attempt to keep PHOs from being consigned to the adulterated ingredient graveyard, the agency did see fit to “allow the food industry sufficient time to identify suitable replacement substances.”

So how much time are we talking about? Well, it seems that some of the uses of these altered oils will be permitted until next June 18. Those are the “petitioned uses” for which the FDA acknowledges “that the food industry needs additional time to identify suitable replacement substances” and for which it “has indicated that 12 months could be a reasonable timeframe for reformulation.”

Others, however, the “non-petitioned” ones, will have even longer – until the first of January, 2020. That’s because “FDA understands additional time is needed for products manufactured (domestically and internationally) before June 18, 2018, to work their way through distribution.”

And since during that period, you might still very well end up consuming them and further endangering your heart health, it remains imperative that you check those ingredient lists before buying any processed food products.

And we would hope that’s something you’ll continue to do, even after the last vestiges of PHOs are gone – because there are a whole lot of other “badditives’ remaining in our food supply. We can also only hope that the pro-industry Trump administration doesn’t find a way to modify or reverse this lifesaving regulation while it has us distracted with other issues.

For more on the denial of the GMA’s petition, see https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/21/2018-10715/grocery-manufacturers-association-denial-of-food-additive-petition

For more on the FDA’s extension of the compliance period, see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-05-21/pdf/2018-10714.pdf (Please note, this prompts download of  PDF.)


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

The Bonvie Blog: How About Some REAL Food for Thanksgiving?

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.

bonvieYou 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.

Buoceanspray11-250x333t 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.

The Bonvie Blog: Dangers Lurk After Halloween

October 31, 2017

Now that Halloween is here again (it always sneaks up on you), we hope you’ve heeded our earlier advice and found treats that are free of the various “badditives” that are still being allowed in so many products.

But those scary ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, aspartame and even the partially hydrogenated oil that is now in the process of being phased out – can be found in a lot more things than Halloween candy.

In fact, you might even say that a lot of the items we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis can actually be put in the “junk food” category because of the harmful chemicals they contain. And that includes a long list of items that you may have on the menu for your upcoming holiday feasts.

Take cranberry sauce, for example. While the cranberry is coming to be regarded as a “superfood” that offers many nutritional and even medicinal benefits (and should absolutely be part of your holiday festivities), much of the conventional canned cranberry sauce you’ll find in the supermarket has added the laboratory sweetener HFCS. That turns this incredibly healthful food into something that’s actually hazardous to our health.

Then there’s stuffing, which may contain a variety of badditives we talk about in our book – including various disguised forms of MSG that, depending on your degree of sensitivity to them, can cause everything from headaches to vision problems, seizures and Afib.

And that’s not to mention the things you might find in even home-baked pies, bread or muffins if you’ve made them from a commercial mix, and which may well include aluminum, a common ingredient in baking powder, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other health problems.

Of course, if turkey is on your menu, you should seriously consider serving an organic or free-range one, rather than a bird that has been fattened up using growth hormones, or on genetically modified feed laced with the herbicide Roundup.

By keeping these things in mind as you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, you can turn the festivities into an occasion for some truly healthy as well as enjoyable eating.

Happy Halloween,

Linda and Bill Bonvie

 

The Bonvie Blog: Tricks or Treats? Halloween Creeps Nearer…

October 18, 2017

New Jersey – Halloween is coming. And the scariest stuff is as close as your fridge or pantry.

It’s that time of year again when, unless you live in an isolated cabin in the woods (or possibly more so if you do), stocking up on “treats” is practically obligatory.

Now, maybe you’re not in the habit of checking the ingredients in the goodies you hand out to your neighborhood goblins. But remember, your contributions can have an impact on how healthy your community is. (And don’t overlook that you and your family may well end up eating the leftovers yourselves.)

So it’s a good idea to turn more than a passing glance toward the labels on the Halloween treats you’re giving out. A lot of them contain some scary ingredients you will likely want to avoid – even if they’re going to be gobbled up by witches and ghosts!

Here are some spooky “Tricks” lurking in those treats:treats

Trick #1: High fructose corn syrup or HFCS, the laboratory-created sweetener that took first-place honors in the Citizens for Health Read Your Labels campaign – and for good reason. The scientific rap sheet on HFCS is getting longer all time.

High fructose consumption in general, and consumption of HFCS in particular, recently have been linked to a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes – especially in kids. The additive has also been identified in studies as contributing to weight gain and obesity, hampered brain function and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Trick #2: Partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), a.k.a. trans fats. Unbelievably, some cakes and candies still contain this ingredient, even though the FDA promised it would be phased out by June of next year. All health professionals and experts – yes, all of them – agree that PHO poses a major cardiovascular threat.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that PHOs are responsible for causing more than 20,000 heart attacks and roughly 7,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone.

Trick #3: Artificial colors, which are widely used in candies, are often derived from coal tar and petroleum extracts. These additives are acknowledged to cause hyperactivity in some children, which is why since 2010 European regulatory officials have required that products containing these unnatural coloring agents contain a warning label saying that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.

Trick #4: Aspartame can be in anything from beverages to yogurt, but it’s also found in some common Halloween treats like gum and hard candies. And in a bizarre way, that’s kind of fitting, as it’s actually a brain-eating mini-monster in disguise, one of a class of chemicals known as “excitotoxins” that are actually capable of exciting certain brain cells to death.

That little side effect is especially true for kids whose blood-brain barrier isn’t fully developed. Since aspartame’s shady approval in 1981 by a political appointee at the Food and Drug Administration, thousands upon thousands of health-related complaints about it have been lodged with the agency ranging from migraines to dizziness to vision problems. And that that’s really scary!

No one, of course, expects candy to be health food. But some of the treats stacked up in anticipation of Halloween are far less healthy than others. And remember, the ingredient list, not the Nutrition Facts Label, is your only guide to what they really contain.

The Bonvie Blog: Badditives! Redux

October 6, 2017

New Jersey – For several weeks during the spring and summer we sent you excerpts from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them by Linda and Bill Bonvie, the longtime writers of our Food Identity Theft blogs. We are pleased to share with you here a follow-up message from Linda Bonvie, and look forward to providing more guidance on this issue in the near future:

What you read in the excerpts Bill and I shared was merely a glimpse into the world of an industry that has control over something that’s fundamental to life itself – the food we eat.

Bonvie

Even if you’re a confirmed label reader and avoid processed food like the plague, you’d still be hard-pressed to totally avoid all of the dangerous additives that have managed to worm their way into our food supply. Whether approved by the FDA or a shadow group known as the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA), which can give its “FEMA-GRAS” stamp of approval on practically anything, it all comes down to the fact that eating has turned into a risky proposition.

And what we’re up against as consumers is more than just lobbyists from the food industry.

Most of the risky ingredients covered in Badditives! have their own front groups as well – often made out to look like grassroots organizations – a textbook illustration of astroturfing.

One example is the International Food Additives Council. It claims that its mission is to “promote the benefits of food ingredients” and “support science-based regulations”. Translation: Don’t let regulations get in the way of our members’ bottom line. Only our science is valid – anything else is “junk science”.

If you thought the list of food additives from Badditives! covered everything you need to know on the subject – well, that’s far from the case. There are a lot more revelations where those came from – and you’ll be hearing more from us about them in upcoming messages from CFH.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already gotten your copy of Badditives! you can do so here. And please drop the folks at Citizens for Health a line at comments@citizens.org to let us know if there’s a particular food ingredient about which you would like to learn more.