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The Bonvie Blog: The Labeling Trick Only the FDA Could Pull Off

The Labeling Trick Only the FDA Could Pull Off

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

Ready or not, Halloween is coming around again.

For many, it’s a fun holiday that opens the magic portal to the holiday season. But for others, not so much!

In the UK a recent poll found that 45 percent of Brits consider trick-or-treating an “unwelcome American cultural import.”

No matter how you feel about it, however, like everything else these days Halloween comes with a wide variety of rules and restrictions. That’s right – it’s not the happy-go-lucky boo-fest of years gone by anymore.

For example:

  • In the LA suburb of Walnut, Calif., wearing a “mask or disguise on a public street” is an unlawful activity.
  • If you live in Alabama, dressing up like a minister, nun, priest or any “other member of the clergy” can land you in the county jail forking over up to $500. (So much for that flying nun costume.)
  • Trick-or-treating over the age of 12 is forbidden in Newport News, Va. And even if you’re young enough to walk the streets as a ghost or goblin, you better get home before 8 p.m. or you could be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor.

But here’s where some rules could really make a difference, and help in your search to find treats to give out to your visiting ghouls and ghosts.

The labeling lingo that’s worse than nothinglabeling

As you probably know by now the FDA’s big makeover of the Nutrition Facts Label (or NFL) – something that had been in the works for ages – was finally rolled out a little over two years ago.

Basically, this “new and improved” method to help consumers more easily select healthy processed foods is a slap in the face to science. But the top travesty of all can be found in the section that tallies up the “sugars” content – most especially the part called “added sugars.”

In that category, every type of caloric sweetener, healthy or otherwise, is considered to be nutritionally the same. Sucrose (a.k.a. sugar of all varieties), fructose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, honey, and more, are all lumped together and measured in grams on the same line.

In fact, Citizens for Health filed a petition with the FDA over four years ago asking the agency to include not only the name of the added “sugar,” but the amount of processed fructose contained in HFCS, which can range from 42 to a whopping 90 percent.

And recently, the name “glucose-fructose syrup” has been popping up on ingredient labels. What is it? Nothing more than another way to say high fructose corn syrup.

The Corn Refiners have been trying to get away with spiking the fructose content of their laboratory sweetener and changing its name for years. And it looks like they may be succeeding on both counts.

So what does this mean when it comes to picking out Halloween treats?

Well, if you go by the FDA’s fancy new labeling, it could result in not knowing the difference between what’s a good choice and an absolutely frightening one.  

So, here’s what you need to do: Skip the nutrition facts label altogether and go directly to the actual ingredients listing instead. Candy certainly isn’t a health food by any means, but there are plenty of treats on the market that won’t break the bank and contain ingredients that you can feel good about handing out to the neighborhood witches and wizards.

And remember, avoiding HFCS isn’t just something you want to do on Halloween. Time and time again research has found this laboratory sweetener is linked to high cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

And that’s about as scary as it gets.


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: 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: HFCS

New Study Finds that Fructose Fuels Cancer Cells

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

Canadian Sol Orwell may not be any relation to the late British author George Orwell, but some of the statements made on the website he co-founded seven years ago, Examine.com – an endeavor which he says is intended to rebut “outlandish claims” on topics like health, nutrition and supplements with “evidence-based analysis” – can only be described as, well, Orwellian.

Take the site’s claim, updated in December, that “there are no studies that indicate any long-term health risks from drinking diet soda,” which “is not harmful to health, well-being or body composition.”

Or the latest one that “there is currently no evidence to suggest that HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is any worse than sugar,” that both are “essentially the same,” and that “the difference between them is too small to matter in moderate consumption” (an assertion virtually identical to that made by the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group representing the makers of high fructose corn syrup).

So why bother mentioning this kind of processed-food propaganda? Because all too often you’ll find that it winds up as the basis for health and nutrition stories in mainstream media, especially since Examine.com is touted as one of the top 10 innovative companies in fitness.

But unfortunately, anyone who relies on this site (or others like it) to “come to a consensus you can trust” may be putting their health and well-being in real jeopardy, because they’re quite likely to remain blissfully ignorant of the fast-growing volume of research that has come to the opposite conclusion.

One glaring example is a Duke University study published in late April in the journal Cell Metabolism – just a day after Examine.com last updated its assurance that HFCS is essentially the same as sugar.

In essence, what the Duke researchers found that is that fructose can fuel the metastasis of colorectal cancer.

“When cancer cells get to the liver, they’re like a kid in a candy store,” was how it was explained by one of the biomedical engineers involved in the study. “They use this ample new energy supply to create building blocks for growing more cancer cells.”

According to a press release from the university’s Pratt School of Engineering, being inside the liver enables cancer cells to learn how to produce more of an enzyme that breaks down fructose. Once having done that, they proceed to “gorge on the fructose,” allowing them “to proliferate out of control and become unstoppable.”

The thing that the researchers were particularly struck by, the release noted, was that “many Western diets are rich in fructose, which is found in corn syrup and all types of processed foods.” (By “corn syrup,” they were obviously referring to HFCS, since ordinary corn syrup is 100 percent glucose and contains no fructose whatsoever.)

Notice that what did not concern the scientists doing this study was sugar consumption.

Sugar, or sucrose, is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose which are bound together (just as fructose is with the fiber in fruit).

With HFCS, however, as is even acknowledged by the Examine.com website, “both molecules float in solution (as monosaccharides or lone sugar molecules) rather than being bound to each other.”

And that, far from being a difference that’s “too small to matter” is, in reality, huge. Nor is the fact that HFCS is typically 55 percent fructose “practically insignificant,” as the site also claims, since the amount of fructose involved is actually10 percent greater than that in sugar (and can go as high as 90 percent, which the site also acknowledges).

But the findings from this study are yet another of the ways HFCS “does a body bad,” which we detailed in our book Badditives! Beside those we discussed:

  • How it’s clearly linked to obesity and diabetes (both of which have skyrocketed in the decades since this artificial sweetener became a substitute for sugar and began appearing in all manner of processed foods and beverages)
  • Its link to pancreatic cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (“overwhelming your liver’s processing capacity,” in the words of one expert)
  • Its effect on the brain and learning ability, and the ways it has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and asthma…

It now appears to play a significant role in speeding up the spread of cancer.

Actually, it seems that the more we actually “examine” the effects of ingredients like HFCS, the more reasons we find to steer clear of anything that contains them.


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.

Online Expert Series Reveals: How to Heal from GMOs and Roundup

As mounting evidence suggests that eating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) promotes health disorders and diseases, there has been a conspicuous lack of information about how to counteract the damaging impacts—until now. On July 17th, GMO investigator Jeffrey Smith launches a free expert-interview series called “Healing from GMOs and Roundup,” featuring 18 leading scientists, physicians, product formulators, and specialists. Hosted at https://HealingFromGMOs.com, this unique 10-day online conference reviews the serious health consequences from GMOs and Roundup, and introduces practical step-by-step actions that people can take to help reverse those effects.

The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, Jeffrey Smith was named the 2017 “Person of the Year” by Masters of Health Magazine. For more than two decades, his research has exposed how biotech companies mislead policy makers and the public, and put the health of society and environment at risk.

Roundup is featured in the series because most GMO crops are designed to survive sprays of this toxic herbicide, which then penetrates and lingers in the plants and the food. Roundup is also used on many non-GMO crops as a ripening agent just before harvest, so it is found throughout our food supply. Many experts believe that Roundup, and its active ingredient glyphosate, contribute to numerous chronic diseases that have been rising in parallel with the increased use of the herbicide in the United States.

The Healing from GMOs and Roundup expert series collectively answers a question that Jeffrey Smith has received from audiences all over the world for the past 22 years, “Other than simply avoiding them, how do we help our bodies heal from the damaging impacts of GMOs and Roundup?”GMOs

“What has emerged from these interviews is remarkable,” says Smith. “The experts offer life-changing insights and remedies that can help everyone achieve better health.”

Dr. Zack Bush, for example, discovered that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate separates the tight junctions between human cells, potentially leading to a permeable gut lining. Such a “leaky gut” condition is correlated with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disease, allergies, inflammation, and autism. In his interview, Dr. Bush describes how a substance isolated from 50 million year old soil can restore the cells’ tight junctions, even in the presence of glyphosate.

David Sandoval developed a product designed to pull glyphosate residues out of the tissues and repair damaged intestines. Pre-clinical trials showed a 74% drop in glyphosate levels in urine.

 Dr. Tom O’Bryan developed a unique product which, according to lab simulations, quickly breaks down most of the toxic insecticide produced from GMO corn. The corn has been equipped with genes from soil bacteria, which produce Bt-toxin. It kills insects by creating holes in their gut walls. Research published in 2012 confirmed that Bt-toxin from GMO corn can also poke holes in human cells—in lab tests using high concentrations.

Widespread Health Impacts

Roundup, and its active toxin glyphosate, threaten our health in many ways. The World Health Organization’s expert committee classifies glyphosate as a “Probable Human Carcinogen.” Glyphosate is patented as a broad spectrum antibiotic, which preferentially kills beneficial life-supporting bacteria in our bodies. Studies suggest that Roundup and glyphosate also

·      promote birth defects,

·      damage the energy centers of our cells (mitochondria),

·      alter hormonal balance,

·      suppress digestion, and

·      block critical pathways and functions needed to support healthy bodies and balanced brain chemistry.

Animal studies on GMOs have revealed organ damage, massive tumors, premature death, immune system problems, and numerous other issues. “The impacts are so extensive and wide-ranging,” says Smith, “it makes sense that in our survey published last year, more than 3,250 people reported improvements in 28 health conditions after reducing or eliminating GMOs from their diet.” Smith maintains that switching to organic food—made without GMOs, Roundup and other synthetic toxins, is critical to restoring health. “The recommendations made in the series are extra steps we can take,” he says.

Detoxing and Repairing Key Systems

During the series, viewers will get more acquainted with vital systems in the body and how to maintain or rebuild health using dietary choices, supplements, procedures, and other recommendations. The steps to heal from GMOs and Roundup overlap with many of the same things that support health generally, including detoxification, tissue repair, a healthy balance of diverse bacteria throughout the body, a strong immune system and digestion, and ample energy.

Interested persons can register for free at https://HealingfromGMOs.com.

Press inquiries Team@HealingFromGMOs.com

The Bonvie Blog: Read Your Labels Day 2018

‘Read Your Labels Day’ – Now More Important Than Ever!

By LINDA BONVIE and BILL BONVIE

What makes this April 11, Citizens for Health’s sixth annual Read Your Labels Day, perhaps the most important one yet?

Two developments, actually. One is a USDA decision to override the National Organics Standards Board’s (NOSB) vote (taken well over a year ago) to stop allowing the seaweed-based thickening agent carrageenan to be used in organic processed foods.

Carrageenan, as it happens, is one of the 13 most harmful food additives we targeted in our book Badditives!  

It’s an ingredient that has a terrible effect on many people’s digestive systems, with even small amounts of the “food grade” variety having been found to cause inflammation in the colon (and samples of that food-grade variety have all been found to be contaminated with a “degraded” type that’s considered a possible carcinogen).

This isn’t just theoretical, however. The Cornucopia Institute, a consumer-safety watchdog organization, has collected a sizeable number of descriptions of the gut-wrenching symptoms people have suffered until eliminating carrageenan from their diet. The Institute likens it to “putting poison ivy in skin lotion.”

But despite such research and reports, the recommendation of the NOSB, and the fact that harmless alternatives, such as guar gum, are readily available, the USDA saw fit to cave in to industry groups that claimed carrageenan was better in terms of “taste and texture,” would make organic products more competitive, and as one lobbyist put it, would allow consumers “to continue to enjoy the foods they know and love.”

This decision, which is the sort of thing we’ve come to expect of the “deregulating” Trump administration, makes reading labels for the presence of this “thickener that’s a sickener” (as we called it in Badditives!) an absolute must — even if you purchase exclusively organic processed foods.

The Icon that Tells You Everything You Need to Know

But this egregious edict on carrageenan isn’t the only reason why we need to be more vigilant than ever about what’s in the food products we buy.

There’s also the fact that the FDA, now under the command of the Trump administration’s Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has just announced plans to launch its own “consumer friendly” campaign to tell Americans what is and isn’t good for them when it comes to food – complete with a simplistic icon that will supposedly tell us at a glance what foods are “healthy” (a device even less meaningful than the existing “nutrition facts” label).

Consider for a moment the implications of such a scheme.

Who will be deciding what’s healthy and what isn’t? Will all it takes to land a big “H” for your processed food product be that it’s low in sodium (and likely high in MSG)? Will low-fat fake creamers make the grade, but organic coconut milk fail?

And could this end up being a big money-raiser for the agency, similar to its Prescription Drug User Fee Act — the payment by drug makers of a substantial sum to submit a new drug application (and which has funded the agency to the tune of $7.67 billion since it went into effect in 1992)?

Whatever this healthy icon idea morphs into, it’s a safe bet that such new guidelines will have the guiding hand of industry behind them – especially given Gottlieb’s statement that the FDA wants to “maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation.

If we read between the lines of that statement, what he really seems to be saying is that the agency has no real plans for reforming the “basic nature” of processed-food industry practices and the products that result from them (whose “nutritional integrity” still leaves an awful lot to be desired).

All of this, according to the commissioner, will be on a scale comparable to the agency’s initiative, announced last summer, to make cigarettes less addictive by lowering levels of nicotine. “Improving the nutrition and diet of Americans would be another transformative effort toward reducing the burden of many chronic diseases, ranging from diabetes to cancer to heart disease,” he proclaimed, whose benefits would “almost certainly dwarf any single medical innovation or intervention.”

Indeed it might – if the FDA were really intent on finding genuine ways to promote a healthy diet. But this is an agency that admittedly isn’t even sure what the words “healthy” and “natural” mean, as part of its new effort includes asking for input from the public on those definitions.

And if any more proof of that were needed, it can be found in Gottlieb’s stated aim to “make labeling nutrients more consumer friendly” and “explore updating standards of identity, which are essentially requirements for what can or can’t be in certain products in order for them to be labeled accordingly.”

How would this work, exactly? Well, the two examples he offers are allowing “alternative names” to be used for potassium chloride “to make clear it’s salt” and changing that standard of identity, say, for cheeses that now “aren’t allowed to use salt alternatives that would lower the sodium content and still call themselves cheese.”

Could another possible plan be to allow a labeling request that the FDA rejected a couple of years ago – a proposal made by the Corn Refiners Association to dispense with the name high fructose corn syrup and call it “corn sugar” instead?High Fructose Corn Syrup Labels

So while promoting greater consumer awareness of what makes for a healthy diet is certainly something that would benefit us all, what the FDA is now proposing sounds more like rearranging the rhetorical deck chairs on the Titanic. If the agency were really serious about initiating reforms, it would be talking about imposing stricter standards on the industries it regulates rather than distracting us with cute little icons.

All of which is why we can’t afford to let our guard down when it comes to reading (and reading up on) those lists of ingredients on processed foods.

And it’s why “we’re from the government and we’re here to help” has never been a less credible claim than it is right now.


Linda and Bill Bonvie are former writers of the CFH Food Identity Theft blog and co-authors of Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them

 

 

 

The Bonvie Blog: Read Your Labels Day Is Coming

Read Your Labels Day

Six years ago, Citizens for Health designated April 11 as “Read Your Labels Day,” #RYLD, an event to shine a spotlight on the importance of reading the most vital part of a food package – not the “Nutrition Facts” label, not the advertising copy on the front, not the pretty pictures of fruits or veggies — but rather the actual ingredients.

That’s where you may find one – or more – of the ten worst food additives to avoid, a list that still stands as an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to boot some really bad ingredients out of their diet.

This year, Read Your Labels Day is especially timely, as the FDA’s new administrator, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has announced plans to update labeling guidelines — supposedly in order to make it easier for consumers to know what’s good for them and what isn’t.

There’s also a decision by the USDA that affects organic foods – and actually overrides a vote by the National Organic Standards Board – in way that could directly impact your health, and makes reading organic-food labels equally important.

That’s why it’s now more urgent than ever for us to scrutinize those ingredients labels, and not rely on the advice of our federal watchdogs who are actually Big Food’s lapdogs.

Stay tuned for the “4-1-1” about what’s in the FDA’s pipeline coming up on 4/11!

Linda and Bill Bonvie

CFH VP James Gormley Shares a New Year Message

Happy New Year to all of our supporters, friends, allies and readers.

Now that the wrapping paper is gone and noisemakers are stowed, we wanted to send this very brief note looking back at (and forward to) a few issues relating to natural products, health and the environment.

First, there is general uncertainty as to whether the anti-over-regulatory winds in Washington will blow elsewhere in the U.S., especially in states such as New York and California, which have what some would call a hyper-regulatory, or nanny-state, posture in regards to many products, including dietary supplements.

In some cases, strong regulations can serve consumers well—such as with food safety and the environment. In other cases, such as with Prop 65 in California, excess caution paints virtually all products and materials with the “potentially carcinogenic” brush, benefiting no one.gormley

As we enter the New Year, the U.S. Justice Department issued a directive that appears to effectively nullify states’ efforts to legalize marijuana. While we at CFH don’t take a universal position on this plant, as such, we do recognize the botanical’s vital importance for medicinal use. As for other applications, we believe it is up to the states to listen to their citizens, and that it is not up to the U.S. government as it stands on what it perceives to be a moral high ground and attempts to impose its view on all 50 states and all Americans, for that matter.

“In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Unlike others, we embrace, not fear, change.” This is an attitude that we can support, in this case and in general.

Second, regarding dietary supplements—on the plus side we have seen growing interest among natural product makers to use clean labels, labels with recognizable, more natural and often sustainable ingredients. Related to this trend is transparency, including such matters as country-of-origin labeling (COOL), which CFH actively supports.

Keeping products honest in all ways fortunately took on greater steam in 2017, and we have seen more clamp-downs on a handful of companies that spike their supplements with drug ingredients.

There has been robust discussion about kratom (an herb in the coffee family, Mitragyna speciosa) and its relative merits, which is good. However, scapegoating one botanical after another from the market under the guise of safety, as we saw with ephedra (Ephedra sinica) some years back, is never a good idea.

The movement to support local farmers, manufacturers, bakers, brewers – and, yes, even candlestick makers – is a welcome wave, although not new, as such. It is, in some ways, merely bringing us back to the days before cargo planes and high-speed trains started to blur the lines between what’s available when and where—in what seasons and in what climates.

Third, speaking of climate and our environment—in recent days we have seen that the U.S. is very close to allowing oil drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, which is of great potential concern to the integrity of our water and land, and the creatures who rely on them, including all of us.

As we look forward to the rest of 2018, we should encourage the companies whose products we like to maintain their commitment to values we care about and to continue to spread the word about how dietary supplements and natural medicine can help us achieve optimal health and make our lives better.

We sincerely thank you for being involved and for staying informed about the issues that impact our health freedoms.

Your participation is a critical part of our efforts to ensure that the flame of our collective dedication to natural health is never extinguished.

 

Yours in health,

James Gormley

Vice President, CFH

 

 

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.