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Get The “411” On GMOs This Friday

CFH has designated April 11 as the day to acknowledge how important it is to really know what’s in the foods and beverages we feed to ourselves and our families – and to share the “411”.

Visit our website to check out some of the things you can do to participate in this national day of communal education and acitivism – one of which is to sign our petition to properly label products containing high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS.

In this alert we’d like to re-focus your attention on another category of foods and beverages long overdue for accurate, informative labeling – those that contain genetically modified ingredients, commonly referred to as GMOs. While the push continues nationwide to pass laws requiring the labeling of products containing GMOs, so far it has been unsuccessful.

Commemorate Read Your Labels Day 2014 and make sure this success won’t elude us much longer by learning more about the issue – and sharing what you learn with friends and family.

GMO Mini SummitRecently we told you about the GMO Mini-Summit, a congregation of 20 of the world’s leading experts — such as Jeffrey Smith, Robyn O’Brien and Vandana Shiva — sharing breaking news about the health and environmental effects of GMOs. All the compelling content – including the additional interviews with experts conducted over the five weeks following the Summit – are still available in the Empowerment Package, a digital download of all 9 GMO Summit and all 9 Second Wave Presentations. Get the Empowerment Package, and 50% of the cost will be donated to CFH. Get informed and share it with friends and family, all the while knowing you are also empowering us at CFH to continue our work.

Do You Always Read the Labels on the Products You Buy?

CFH Chairman Jim Turner notes: “The majority of us don’t check the list of ingredients on food package labels. The big food manufacturers are counting on this. If we don’t read or understand the ingredients in their products, they can put pretty much whatever they want to into our food.

“We sponsored the first ‘Read Your Labels Day’ this last April to help Americans to be aware of how many chemicals are used in processed foods and beverages,” Mr. Turner added. “The response was tremendous. We had stories on TV stations around the country, and the news was covered by major grocery publications. Even some of the biggest supermarkets, including Whole Food Markets, hosted ‘Read Your Labels Day’ events in their stores. We’re expecting an even bigger success in 2014.”

What can you do to help make Mr. Turner’s prediction come true?

  1. For years CFH has tirelessly advocated for truth in labeling – re-acquaint yourself with our efforts to inform consumers about what’s really behind the flashy slogans and deceptive packaging. There’s the food coloring carmine, made from ground-up insects. Or the campaign by Mio to convince you that you need a colored stream of artificial ingredients to dress up your drinking water. Or tech and data company Vestcom’s in-store information program “healthyAisles” that does more to obfuscate than to enlighten.
  2. Sign the petition to accurately label products containing the artificial goop high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS.
  3. While you shop, look for the “Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid,” a list of questionable sweeteners, preservatives, and industrial chemical additives, such as HFCS, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate.
  4.  Take photos of products containing these awful ingredients and share them via Twitter, on Facebook, or Instagram (using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels).
  5. And, of course, share the “411” with friends, family, or the person in front of or behind you in the check-out line. An informed consumer is a force to be reckoned with.

Keep an eye out for more on this as “Read Your Labels Day” — April 11, (4/11) nears.

Get Ready for “Read Your Labels Day” 2014

April 11th is that day we hope you’ll join the campaign to “take back our food.” That’s when Citizens for Health will sponsor its second annual Read Your Labels Day—a day set aside for recognizing and exposing the health risks of the toxic additives found in the ingredients of everyday food products.

We invite all our readers to take photos of products containing these awful ingredients and share them on Facebook or Instagram (using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels). And tell your friends – because by “going viral,’ we hope to hold the manufacturers of these adulterated products accountable – and to influence them to start removing these health hazards from the foods we eat and feed our families every day (as the Food and Drug Administration now wants to do with partially hydrogenated oils, which are responsible for just about all the added trans fat in our diet).

Here’s the list of the top 10 food additives to avoid:

  1. High fructose corn syrup
  2. Aspartame
  3. Hydrolyzed protein
  4. Autolyzed yeast
  5. Monososium glutamate
  6. Potassium bromate
  7. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO
  8. BHA and BHT
  9. Trans fats
  10. Artificial colors

Contents of Iconic Soup Cans Not So Healthy Once You Peek at Ingredient List

by Bill Bonvie

As the weather outside gets colder, there’s one type of “comfort food” that tends to be consumed in much greater quantities. I’m referring, of course, to soup.  And there’s one company (an American institution, really) that, more than any other, has over the years come to be synonymous with soup — the one that made the word “Soup” its middle name way back in 1922.  That would be the Campbell Soup Company, whose traditional red and white cans are considered so iconic that they became one of pop artist Andy Warhol’s best-known subjects back in the 1960s.

As one of the company’s classic commercial jingles once  put it, “Have you had your soup today? Campbell’s, of course,” then went on to say, “Once a day, every day, you should have a bowl of Campbell’s Soup.”

But while Campbell’s remains the nation’s No. 1 seller of canned soups, its popularity has lately been somewhat dented.  In fact, over the past decade, the company has reportedly lost about 13 percent of its market share — a trend attributed to the “millenial” generation’s having been largely turned off by its standard line of products. To get them back, Campbell’s recently began marketing a new line of “Go” soups in easy-to-open microwaveable plastic pouches with ingredients considered more appealing to a younger demographic.

Make no mistake, however — those long-familiar soup cans remain supermarket staples, and there are still many consumers who continue to take for granted that they contain some of the “healthiest” and highest quality ingredients on the market.  And one can hardly blame them, considering that’s how these soups have been promoted throughout their history, from the early 20th Century ads that described them as “The Mainspring of Health,” “healthful, wholesome and absolutely dependable,” and “the standard of soup perfection” to the company’s current web site with its “Nutrition and Wellness” page offering a variety of “Healthy Eating Plans.”

Exposed throughout their lives to such messages, most shoppers have no reason to assume that these are anything but totally wholesome and beneficial products. That is, unless they bother to look at the actual ingredients those iconic cans contain.

Whatever blends of ingredients Campbell’s Soups may have used in an earlier era,  you can be sure that they didn’t include some of the atrocious additives you’ll now find listed on their labels, where, incidentally,  you’ll also occasionally  find the same slogan used in that old commercial jingle, “Once a day — everyday.”

So we thought it might be helpful to put together a week-long “menu” of what such a recommendation would actually mean if you and your family were to take it literally:

Monday:  How about starting the week with some Cream of Mushroom — the kind with “25 % less sodium.”  A peek at the ingredients, however, tells you what the company would probably just as soon you didn’t know — that along with pure monosodium glutamate, it also contains soy protein concentrate and yeast extract, a trio of flavor enhancers of the kind often referred to as “excitotoxins” because of their ability to literally excite certain brain cells to death (especially in children), and which have been associated with a whole range of adverse effects, including aggressive behavior. Then again, you might prefer the Cream of Mushroom with roasted garlic, which in addition to those three aforementioned additives, features yet another excitotoxin, whey protein concentrate,and some partially hydrogenated soybean oil, a source of that artery-clogging trans fat that the Food and Drug Administration has now proposed phasing out of our diet.

Tuesday:  What could be healthier than some Cream of Asparagus — with some more monosodium glutamate and soy protein concentrate thrown into the mix for good measure?

Wednesday: Sounds like a good day for some hearty Minestrone, in which you’ll find not only monosodium glutamate and yeast extract mixed in with the tomato puree, carrots, potatoes and other veggies, but some good old high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — that cheap laboratory sweetener that researchers have identified as a prime suspect in obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems.

Thursday: Let’s go with that old favorite, Chicken Noodle soup. Actually, there are a number of variations on this traditional theme available.  For those on a reduced salt diet, for example, there’s the one with “25% less sodium,” which makes up for it with those three taste tricksters monosodium glutamate, yeast extract and soy protein isolate. Or, perhaps you might prefer the Healthy Request Chicken Noodle, whose lineup of ‘healthy ingredients’ include HFCS, soy protein isolate and yeast extract, as well as mechanically separated chicken, which here at Food Identity Theft we like to refer to as “chicken ooze”.  There’s also one made especially for “Healthy Kids”, which includes that ever-present trio of brain-zapping flavor enhancers monosodium glutamate, yeast extract and soy protein isolate, in addition to some of that yummy “chicken ooze.”

Friday: Lentil soup, anyone?  And what would it be without some more added monosodium glutamate, along with unspecified “flavoring” and “spice” that often are nothing more than excitotoxins under a generic alias?

Saturday: New England Clam Chowder is always an all-time favorite — especially with a ‘flavor boost’ from still more monosodium glutamate and a little yeast extract thrown in to the pot for good measure.

Sunday: A Campbell’s Soup week just wouldn’t be complete without some form of tomato soup, the “classic” version of which has high fructose corn syrup as its second ingredient right after tomato puree.  You’ll also find HFCS  in the “Healthy Request” version (“M’m! M’m good for your heart” — not!) and the Old Fashioned Tomato Rice variety (bet you didn’t know HFCS was used as an additive in the good old days).  But just for a change, that would be a day off from monosodium glutamate.

Campbell soup ingredients

By now, of course, you might feel a slight buzz in your brain from the constant diet of excitotoxins — as might your kid (which could well serve as an example of the more recent Campbell’s slogan, “It’s amazing what soup can do”).  But don’t forget — this is something the folks at Campbell’s would like you to keep right on doing “once a day, every day.”

If, on the other hand, that doesn’t sound like such a great idea, despite all the health claims you’ve come to associate with Campbell’s Soup, you might just want to opt for soup without all those undesirable ingredients. If you don’t have time to throw together some homemade soup fixings in the crock pot (which isn’t all that difficult a thing to do), there are some genuinely healthy, ready-to-eat commercial alternatives available right in your supermarket, such as the organic varieties offered by Amy’s Kitchen, which include low-sodium versions (Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup, to cite just one example, is made from filtered water, organic lentils, organic celery, organic carrots, organic onions, organic potatoes, organic extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and 100% pure herbs and spices with “no hidden ingredients”).

That’s the kind of soup you really can have every day — without the risk of those additives making you nuts.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Deemed “The New Trans Fat”

One month ago, the Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils — a major source of trans fat in processed foods — are not longer “generally recognized as safe. Today Citizens for Health issued a press release urging the FDA to grant the same status to high fructose corn syrup.

The topic was covered by BevNet — the beverage industry’s leading source for information. Read their report here

Here is our official statement following the FDA’s decision related to trans fat:

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Deemed “The New Trans Fat”

Researchers Link Questionable Sugar Substitute to Serious Health Risks

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Following the Food & Drug Administration’s recent decision that it no longer considers the man-made additive “partially hydrogenated oils,” (commonly referred to as “trans fat”) safe, consumer groups and independent doctors are now targeting the highly controversial sugar substitute High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as the most dangerous ingredient in the nation’s food supply.

Jim Turner, who chairs Citizens for Health, a leading consumer awareness group, believes the demise of HFCS will soon follow the fate of trans fat:

  • Both are highly-processed industrial ingredients shrouded in secrecy.
  • Both spent millions on lobbyists, TV ads and highly paid advocates to try and convince consumers that their products are safe.
  • As health concerns escalated, food companies, supermarkets and restaurants voluntarily removed these ingredients.
  • Communities began banning or restricting these ingredients to stem the burgeoning medical costs associated with them.
  • Lawsuits piled up, claiming these ingredients cause serious health damages.

As clinical evidence against HFCS mounts, independent researchers are going on record to alert consumers about its health risks:

  • Obesity expert Dr. Robert H. Lustig stated, “Type 2 diabetes was unheard of in children prior to 1980–when High Fructose Corn Syrup began to be incorporated into processed foods.”
  • Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, said HFCS “is driving most of the epidemic of heart disease, cancers, and diabetes.”
  • Dr. Michael Goran, Director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center, reported that the HFCS found in many soft drinks are at excessive concentrations not Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA.

Citizens for Health has filed a petition asking the FDA to take action against food and beverage manufacturers that use HFCS concentrations above approved limits, and to require accurate HFCS labeling information.  Concerned consumers are encouraged to visit the Citizens for Health website to submit their comments and sign the petition.

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!

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More Experts Weigh in on HFCS, Making Its ‘Rap Sheet’ Still Fatter

“Is high fructose corn syrup really that bad for you?” The answer, says Dr. Mark Hyman, is “yes.”

Hyman, best-selling author and chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, is yet another expert who is sounding the alarm about the dangers of consuming high fructose corn syrup, an additive that, Hyman says, “is driving most of the epidemic of heart disease, cancers, dementia and…diabetes.”

That’s a fairly impressive list of ailments – much more so than the warnings first sounded a few years ago about HFCS, which simply linked it to obesity. But that in itself was enough to put the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) on red alert, causing the makers of this laboratory sweetener to spend enough money on disinformation and an effort to have its name officially changed to “corn sugar” to have fed a small country for several years.

The CRA campaign was orchestrated to try and make us all believe that HFCS is simply a form of sugar, a misconception helped along by both the media and politicians who have continued to refer to HFCS-sweetened beverages as “sugary drinks.”

But as many consumers know by now, there’s a world of difference between high fructose corn syrup and natural sugar. And recent research, along with opinions offered by experts such as Hyman, have been making the ‘rap sheet’ on HFCS fatter all the time.

What these authorities are specifically warning about are the higher, more damaging fructose amounts in HFCS, which, Hyman says, is “chemically altered and separated,” and “goes right into your liver turning on a factory of fat production called ‘lipogenesis’.” This leads to a “fatty liver,” which he calls the most common disease in America today, one that can result in pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Another well-known M.D., pediatric endocrinologist Robert H. Lustig, an expert in obesity, metabolism and disease, stated in a recent affidavit for a current lawsuit that type 2 diabetes, now the most common form that “accounts for 90 percent of cases of diabetes,” was “unheard of in children prior to 1980; the time when high-fructose corn syrup began to be incorporated into processed foods in America.”

Currently, Lustig says, there are estimated to be 40,000 kids in the U,S. who have the disease. One of them, an unnamed teenager in Buffalo, N.Y., and her mother, recently filed a lawsuit against Cargill and five other manufacturers of HFCS for products liability, failure to warn, gross negligence, reckless conduct and injuries, stating that the HFCS the girl has consumed over her lifetime was a “substantial factor” in her having developed the disease.

Lustig’s earlier affidavit in the case, further detailing the damaging nature of HFCS, along with all the side effects caused by the extra dose of fructose it contains, was another scathing report detailing just how bad this unnatural sweetener can be for the body. Conditions he linked to its use include insulin resistance, “leaky gut syndrome,” and blocking of the “leptin signal” that can lead to overeating.

Tilting the balance of ‘more damaging’ fructose

Dr. Michael Goran, professor of preventive medicine and director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California, knows all too well about that extra, damaging jolt of fructose HFCS delivers.

Goran’s 2010 study, published in the journal Obesity, found fructose amounts in several HFCS-sweetened sodas, such as Coke, Pepsi and Sprite to be as high as 65 percent – almost 20 percent higher than if they actually contained the 55 percent fructose version of HFCS we’ve all been led to believe they do.

“Who would argue that fructose consumption now is higher than it was ten or twenty years ago?” Goran told Food Identity Theft, adding that he wasn’t talking about subtle variations from year to year, but rather “about a huge shift in the food supply that is increasing the amount of fructose that we’re exposed to.”

While Dr. Goran’s research should have provided the definitive “change (in) the conversation,” as the CRA likes to say, further research by Citizens for Health has turned up additional reasons why “high fructose corn syrup” is the perfect name for this laboratory-concocted additive.

Last year, Citizens for Health filed a petition with the FDA asking that the agency take action against food and beverage manufacturers using HFCS with fructose amounts above 55 percent (the highest amount the FDA allows), and also, in the interim, to provide accurate label information (you can read the petition here and sign it by clicking here). The petition asks that the FDA require the manufacturer of a product containing HFCS to state the fructose percentage in its formulation and have the label reflect that information, such as HFCS-55, or HFCS-90.

HFCS 90 is a version of the additive that is 90 percent fructose, described by one manufacturer and CRA-member company as “…the ideal choice for reduced calorie foods such as beverages, jellies and dressings.” This mega-fructose sweetener was also specifically omitted by the Food and Drug Administration from the HFCS GRAS (generally recognized as safe) regulation.

Could HFCS go the way of trans fats?

Last week, the FDA announced that partially hydrogenated oil will no longer be allowed a GRAS designation. What this means is that once given final approval, food manufacturers would eventually be required to remove most artery-clogging trans fat from the processed products Americans eat, or go through the lengthy, costly and time consuming process of submitting a food additive petition for partially hydrogenated oil.

Is it possible that HFCS could follow suit? Maybe. There are many similarities between the proliferation of HFCS and the trans fat saga, including a growing public awareness of its dangers and the decision by various food companies to jump on the NO HFCS bandwagon.

In the meantime, you need to check labels, reject foods that still contain this health-damaging additive, and to show the FDA just how concerned you are about its continued presence in the food supply be sure to sign the Citizens for Health petition.

As Dr. Hyman says, “if we took one thing out of our food supply that would make the biggest difference, it would be high fructose corn syrup.”

At Last, a Proposed New FDA Ban on a Decades Old Killer!

by Bill Bonvie

For some time now, we’ve been warning our readers here at Food Identity Theft not to be fooled by a “zero trans fat” claim made on the Nutrition Facts panel of many products that have partially hydrogenated oil listed among their ingredients.

Well, surprise, surprise! After decades of allowing a substance it now acknowledges has been killing thousands of people every year to be added to processed food products, and years of permitting consumers to be given phony assurances that they weren’t eating any of it, the Food and Drug Administration has finally decided enough is enough. That is to say, they’ve started a ‘process of  elimination’ in  motion (although perhaps slow motion would be more like it).

In what’s being hailed as a monumental decision on behalf of consumer protection, the agency has made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oil (PHO)  no longer be given a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) designation.  Once given final approval, this would eventually remove most artery-clogging trans fat from the processed food Americans eat.

While most products are currently labeled as containing zero grams of trans fat, that is often not actually the case, since those that contain half a gram (.05  grams) or less per serving were exempted from the labeling requirement. But such amounts, in actuality, can quickly add up to what the FDA admits is a “significant intake” of trans fat, an ingredient for which the Institute of Medicine has concluded there is no “safe level” that may be consumed.

That’s why we’ve been urging our readers to pay no attention whatsoever to the claim that a product contains zero grams of trans fat on its so-called Nutrition Facts label. But that warning could eventually become unnecessary should the FDA go ahead and implement its proposed new ruling, which it has posted in the Federal Register with a public comment period that ends on Jan. 7. Assuming that happens, “it could in effect, mean the end of artificial, industrially-produced trans fat in foods,” according to Dennis M. Keefe, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety.

Not that a change of this nature would occur overnight. Even if approved, the FDA would still be apt to give businesses ample opportunity to adjust to the new policy – or, to quote from the FDA ‘s consumer update, “the agency and food industry would have to figure out a way to phase out the use of PHOs over time.” But once fully implemented, it is estimated (and these figures come from another government agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that it would prevent some 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 heart-disease related deaths annually.

Stop and think for a moment what that means.  We’re talking about more than twice the number of  deaths that occurred in the 9/11 attacks every year, resulting from a process with “no known health benefit,” whose purpose is merely to increase the shelf-life and “flavor stability” of packaged foods and baked goods.

A paradigm for the removal of other bad additives?

To be sure, this proposed reform has been a long time coming, those partially hydrogenated oils having reportedly been used since the 1940s in a wide variety of convenience foods, including margarine, which was once considered a “healthy” substitute for butter. But the tide really began to turn in 2002, when the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine reported a direct correlation between the intake of trans fat and increased levels of “bad cholesterol” (that is, low density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease). The following year, the FDA responded by issuing a ruling that trans fat content be listed on Nutrition Facts panels — but even that wasn’t fully implemented for another three years, and was seriously flawed by the .05 gram ‘ loophole’.

The time it took for even that compromise to materialize should serve as a kind of “reality check” for consumers to realize they can’t yet let their guard down when it comes to trans fats, and will have to keep checking ingredients listings for many months to come, even assuming the ruling is formally approved.

What the FDA’s action does show, however, is that it is possible for the agency to be pressured to return to its original mission and, in its plodding fashion, purge our food supply of additives that are hazardous to our health. For once researchers implicated trans fat in heart disease, a number of locales, including New York City and California, began to take action to ban it in restaurant food, and some restaurant chains responded by eliminating it on their own.  In the intervening years, food manufacturers also began to reduce trans fat content in products as well, which will make any adjustment to the proposed new rule much easier to facilitate.

Hopefully, then, the proposed elimination of added trans fats will not only go on to become policy. but will serve as a model of how other ill-advised additives now considered GRAS can follow suit.

Take high fructose corn syrup, for example.  Its saga is very similar to that of trans fat — for example, in the sneaky way it was approved for use in the American diet and introduced into countless processed foods, including many marketed to children. There are also distinct similarities to trans fat in the human health toll that has accompanied its widespread presence in food products and in the adverse publicity and negative studies that have recently caused it to be dropped as an ingredient from many of them. So maybe — just maybe — it will end up following the same trajectory.

It’s just a shame that, just like partially hydrogenated oil, it will continue to wreak such havoc on society until the day comes when it, too, is finally phased out.

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.