Category : Food Labeling

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CFH’s First Facebook Page Giveaway Challenge!

By now, some of you have heard of the New Mountain Dew beverage called Kickstart.

We are interested in checking out the ingredients for this new beverage, but it is hard to find it online.

Citizens for Health will give away a FREE, autographed copy of James Gormley’s book, “User’s Guide to Natural Treatments for Lyme Disease” to the FIRST person who photographs and posts a clear picture—on the CFH Facebook page—of the back of the Kickstart can which lists the Nutrition Facts and full Ingredients list!!

Please visit the Citizens for Health Facebook page and like us today!

Truth In Labeling: “What’s In A Name? Most Likely, An Attempt To Create A Phony Product Image”

Originally posted by
on FoodIdentityTheft.com, January 15, 2013

The real Chef Boyardee in a 1953 commercial

“Homemade goodness,” “real,” “fresh,” “natural” –  in the magic of marketing lingo, these are appealing words worth a lot of bucks. Even better is to have a founder, preferably one who goes back a few decades, when food was more ‘real’ than it now is, to pitch a product with their likeness and homey words.

I’m guessing most of us know there really is no Green Giant or Pillsbury Dough Boy, but what about the names and images of supposed entrepreneurial epicures attached to food products? Does featuring a culinary creator make for superior quality or is it just another device to entice shoppers?

Marie Callender’s: Okay, there actually was a Marie Callender who baked pies in the early 1940s and by all accounts was a real American success tale, turning her pastry prowess first into pie shops and then in 1969 to a chain of restaurants (which was sold to Perkins in 2006).

But what you’ll find in the supermarket frozen-food section seems to be another story — and don’t take the slogan on the packaging, “From my kitchen to yours since 1948,” too seriously, either.

It wasn’t Marie, but rather entrepreneur Larry Dinkin who was responsible for the marketing of Marie Callender Retail Foods, for which he was recognized in Advertising Age as one of the top 100 marketing people. Dinkin successfully steered the company from a start-up in 1987 to a sale to agri-business giant ConAgra Foods in 1994 for more than $150 million.

While the frozen Marie Callender’s line makes much of a ‘real’ Marie, showing a grandmotherly woman and kid on its website and using more buzz terms like “wholesome ingredients” and “a heritage of homemade taste,” a look at some of the actual ingredients these foods are made from don’t sound like anything a cook in 1948 would have used.

The newest addition to the lineup is Marie Callender’s Comfort Bakes, which contain the typical long list of chemical additives, preservatives and ‘nonfood’ ingredients that we’ve come to expect in such  products, the “real” Marie Callender’s legacy for being a good cook notwithstanding.

Chef Boyardee: “A real person with real recipes.” So goes an ad for Chef BoyArdee products, and yes, Ettore “Hector” Boiardi was a real chef, an accomplished one at that, who landed a job at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1915 at age 17. In 1924, Chef Hector and and his wife opened what proved to be a most popular Italian restaurant in Cleveland, possibly inventing the “carryout” idea by selling his customers spaghetti sauce and meatballs in milk bottles.

The Chef Boyardee brand is now another part of the ConAgra lineup, but whatever great Italian dishes Chef Hector created have since morphed into your typical multi-chemical, quasi-food products that some have dubbed “Chef MSG.”

ConAgra, however, makes the most of Chef Hector, featuring a video with some “surprised but happy faces” when consumers learn there was in fact a real Chef Boyardee. One is so excited she says, “It makes me feel better about serving it to my family because it’s not just a made-up name and made-up label.”

Betty Crocker: This brand name has become so familiar that the fact there never was an actual “Betty Crocker” probably doesn’t matter anymore. And interestingly enough, the brand, owned by General Mills, no longer even portrays the persona of the fictional Betty that was carefully developed in the 1930s and updated and used for more than 60 years, along with a so-called “Betty Crocker”  featured on a radio show that ran for over 24 years.

With the quantity of ready-made foods now in the store, including dozens bearing the Betty Crocker name, it’s hard to conceive of a time when consumers regarded such products with healthy skepticism. But according to the Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, “during the first half of the twentieth century, convenience foods were not associated with good eating.” However,  “all that changed in 1947, when the first Betty Crocker cake mixes hit America’s shelves.”

Now, of course, it’s just a brand name, covering products from Bac-Os to Bowl Appetit, as well as numerous cake, brownie, cookie and frosting mixes. And if you’re looking to avoid partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, it might be best to take a leaf from the past and once again think of these “convenience foods” as “not associated with good eating.”

Chef Michael’s Canine Creations: In spite of the commercials; there is no Chef Michael.

“My name is Chef Michael,” says a faceless fellow in the commercial, “and when I come home from my restaurant, I love showing Bailey how special she is.” But this dude is nothing more than a figment of the marketing minds at Purina (or its ad agency). Of course if you read the ingredients for this pet food it would be quickly apparent that meat-by-products, soy flour and corn gluten meal – all found in Canine Creations –  ain’t coming from any restaurant. (At least I hope not.)

‘Dump That Sugar’ Campaign: Good Intentions Gone Awry

Originally posted on FoodIdentityTheft.com by
January 3, 2013

In mid-December 2012, to much fanfare, a dump truck poured 9.6 tons of white sand onto the parking lot of Howard County, Maryland’s Burleigh Manor Middle School as students shouted “Dump That Sugar!” The dumping display marked the official launch of Howard County Unsweetened, a multi-faceted, community-wide campaign to reduce childhood obesity by helping kids and parents choose beverages with lower sugar content.

There was, however, a catch to this catchy campaign. Sugar is actually found in very few of the soft drinks sold these days, the vast majority of which contain high fructose corn syrup. A more apt analogy  might have been to dump an equivalent amount of sticky fuel oil to represent this industry-exclusive, goopy test-tube sweetener, found in everything from soda to bread to ketchup.

But then, it seems that more and more such well-intentioned efforts these days are missing the mark by confusing HFCS with “sugar.” In fact, this particular campaign launched by a Maryland-based philanthropy with the stated purpose of reducing childhood obesity and making it “easier for parents and kids to make better beverage choices,” also somehow neglected to even mention HFCS on its extensive list of sweeteners. It was a significant omission, since the higher fructose content of this laboratory syrupy concoction is considered by many experts to be a prime suspect in the current obesity epidemic. (This September, Citizens for Health, filed a petition with the FDA asking that the agency take action against manufactures using HFCS with fructose amounts above 55 percent, the highest the FDA allows. Read about that here, and see and sign petition here).

There’s also the fact that the “healthier beverages” and “better choices” the campaign recommends include drinks artificially sweetened with aspartame. For many years critics of aspartame (including Citizens for Health and the Food and Drug Administration’s Public Board of Inquiry on the sweetener) have raised substantial doubts about aspartame’s safety and pointed out its potential to cause serious health problems.

The Howard County Unsweetened campaign, sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, comes complete with two separate websites, a Facebook page and lots of tweets, all of which refer to syrupy HFCS-sweetened drinks as “sugary.” The Foundation has also joined forces with County Executive Ken Ulman to keep these so-called “sugary” beverages out of vending machines on county property.

One of the Horizon Foundation campaign sites, betterbeveragefinder.org, contains an entire database of drinks designated by either a “best” or “good choice” icon (collectively referred to as “the best beverages for your family”).  Site-recommended beverage swaps include practically every artificially sweetened drink there is – along with where to buy them.

 

‘Sugary’  shorthand substitutes for HFCS

In May of last year the Food and Drug Administration ruled that HFCS is not sugar and cannot be called “sugar.”  In spite of this fact the Howard County campaign has joined a growing number of media, politicians and health authorities in falsely using the “sugar” and “sugary” designations to describe products containing high fructose corn syrup. In fact, Dr. Michael Goran, co-author of a recent study on the increase in diabetes, has referred to the prevalence of HFCS as “a huge shift in the food supply that is increasing the amount of fructose that we’re exposed to.” (Read blog here.)  Health authorities virtually all concur that the consumption of excess fructose can have serious health consequences including obesity.

In addition to such confusion, a second sweetener problem may be occurring as a side effect of these well-intended efforts. It now appears that the type of misinformation disseminated by health campaigns of this sort may be promoting the expanded consumption of “diet” sodas and juice drinks containing controversial artificial sweeteners.  This past August, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that kids are already drinking more such synthetically sweetened beverages than ever before – twice as many, in fact, as a decade ago.

The Foundation’s “Better Beverage” site does acknowledge that there is “a debate” over the relationship between diet beverages and weight gain, but aside from that there is no mention made of the other health aspects of substituting one highly controversial test-tube sweetener (aspartame) for another (HFCS). I couldn’t help wondering how an organization with a mission of “improving health and wellness” could be recommending drinks containing aspartame for kids over 13 while ignoring concerns about aspartame safety. I also wondered how it could fail to make any reference to HFCS on either of its websites. So I put these questions directly to Horizon Director of Communications Ian Kennedy.

Kennedy’s answer to the latter question was that the Horizon board, working in conjunction with the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, had decided it wanted a “laser-specific focus on sugary drinks” – one utilizing “a sort of shorthand for things that are sweetened.”

Not only does the Foundation make a point of using this “sugary shorthand” in referring to all HFCS-laced beverages throughout its websites, but it also lists just about every different type of sweetener in existence – except, oddly enough, for the ubiquitous HFCS.

At betterbeveragefinder.org, the group categorizes sweeteners into three boxes representing “natural,” “artificial” and “hybrids.” While cane sugar – which is sucrose – is classified as “natural,” unaccountably, sucrose itself is listed separately as a “hybrid.”  Kennedy could not explain this inconsistency except to say he would “defer to our folks at the Rudd Center” on that question.

But the fact that HFCS, which is used in the vast majority of beverages containing caloric sweeteners, didn’t make the list at all is something Kennedy called an “oversight” on his part. He added, “we have corn syrup on the list, and as far as I understand (the difference) between corn syrup and HFCS is just that HFCS has been concentrated even more.”

In fact corn syrup and HFCS are decidedly not the same – (see my article here).

When I informed Kennedy  that there is a substantial difference between the two products, he again suggested he would put me in touch with the Rudd Center. I was also left a message from someone else at the Foundation later in the day offering to find a registered dietician who could “help” with my questions.  (I did call the Rudd Center but was unable to reach them during the holiday week. I plan to contact them again and try to get answers to these questions for an upcoming Food Identity Theft blog.)

One thing the betterbeveragefinder site didn’t neglect to mention, however, was sugar’s long-time presence in the food supply, calling it something “your grandmother might have used.” Kennedy concurred, adding, “certainly sugar has been a part of our diets for hundreds of years…the difference is we’re seeing that sugar is becoming a more prominent part of our diet,” with that second reference to “sugar” meaning any “full-calorie sweetener” such as HFCS. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, per capita consumption of sugar — like your grandmother used — has remained essentially constant for the past 100 years, while the use of HFCS, the “syrupy” stuff, has exploded during the time that obesity and diabetes has grown to nearly epidemic proportions.

Aspartame concerns still ‘premature’ after all these years of danger signs

Asked whether he thought the campaign encourages the consumption of diet beverages containing aspartame by teens, as reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Kennedy responded, “I don’t think so.” But he provided no evidence to support his position.

“We understand that people have their own tastes and if somebody really wants the taste of a cola, given the science that is out there, the better options for now are ‘low’ or ‘no calorie’ colas” (although the Foundation would prefer water or beverages without any sweetening agents as a  source of hydration).

“In our conversations and review of the literature, it’s mixed on artificial sweeteners,” he maintained. “There wasn’t the strong body of evidence pointing to their unhealthy nature that there was for sugary drinks. It’s a tricky area given the mixed nature of the scientific evidence,” but “we felt it was premature to exclude them.”

Strongly disagreeing with that assessment, however, is Citizens for Health Board Chair Jim Turner, a Washington, D.C. attorney and author of the best-selling book The Chemical Feast: The Nader Report on Food Protection at the FDA, who, since 1970, has been demanding that the safety of aspartame and other sweeteners, be proven..  “When something is harmful” Turner says, “the longer it takes to ‘prove’ the harm the greater the damage.  Here we have trusted intermediaries – schools, governments, obesity centers, etc. – recommending that children consume products in spite of the ‘mixed nature of the scientific evidence’.”

“The FDA and various companies that have profited from aspartame have turned the law on its head. They argue that aspartame should remain on the market until its critics can prove that it is unsafe,” says Turner.  “The law says no additive can be used unless and until it is proven safe. Schools and communities fighting obesity,” he adds, “need not and should not be bound by the notion that we should consume an additive until and unless it is proven unsafe.”

Turner’s work led to the removal of cyclamates from the FDA’s Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list of food additives, helped get a warning linking cancer and saccharin on saccharin labels, and led to the FDA’s Public Board of Inquiry that rejected the marketing of aspartame, only to be overturned by an industry friendly FDA commissioner.

Aspartame (originally marketed as NutraSweet), is made up of three neurotoxic chemicals – substances that are toxic to brain cells, Turner points out. His advocacy group managed to keep this synthetic sweetener off the market for 11 years, until 1981, when its use was approved over the advice of FDA scientists, as well as the FDA Public Board of Inquiry that concluded aspartame should not be permitted in the food supply based on data, including several animal studies, linking its consumption with brain cancer.

How, then, did aspartame ever make it into the food supply and why don’t today’s obesity fighters seem to care about its history?

“One month after that board ruled, Ronald Reagan was elected president, and Donald Rumsfeld, the head of Searle, the company that made aspartame, was on Reagan’s transition team. When Reagan took office, a doctor who had worked for the Defense Department during Rumsfeld’s tenure as Defense Secretary under President Ford was appointed as FDA commissioner and overruled both the Public Board of Inquiry and all the scientists at the FDA who supported its decision,” Turner explained.

Turner summarizes the entire aspartame fiasco as a case of “political toxicity and biological toxicity working together to create toxic health problems for the public.”

And while the Horizon Foundation refers to aspartame-sweetened drinks as “healthier” options than the full-calorie version, Turner has a far graver concern about its increasing consumption.

“After aspartame went on the market, a particular type of brain tumor, the same type that showed up in the rodent studies we were relying on over 30 years ago, increased by 10 percent in people in the United States,” he said.  “In addition, there have been studies in the past few years connecting aspartame with cancer. All in all, it’s a horrendous story.”

A story, apparently, that the Horizon Foundation is either unaware of or would rather not talk about. Instead, the Foundation chooses to focus its efforts strictly on calories, even while obscuring health concerns about aspartame and other noncaloric sweeteners and blurring the huge distinction between the consumption of traditional sugar and the high fructose corn syrup that has come to replace it in so many products.

Certainly a tanker truck dumping fuel oil onto the grounds of Burleigh Manor Middle School to chants of “spill that syrup” would have been a much more fitting way for the Foundation to have launched the Howard County Unsweetened campaign.

You Created a National Movement!!

Dear Citizen for Health,

Prop 37 may not have won, but you, along with us together, did!!!!!

Together we created a renewed nationwide movement that cannot be stopped!!!!

We put GMOs front and center on the national stage!!!!

Our coming together on this issue was a massive success, one that we can use to spread like wildfire in California and in every other state in the Union until we get a whole lot of state laws passed, or a national law, or both!!!!

A new movement has been created. Let’s take advantage of this historic convergence!!!!

Food labels and advertising must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the food we and our children eat.

Stay tuned for more on the campaign to label GMOs and other issues of truth about food.

Sincerely,

The Citizens for Health Team

Why We Must Vote Yes on Prop 37

By author, activist, and concerned mother, Shiva Rose, via the Huffington Post

This month here in California, we will have a chance to know what is in our food supply. Prop 37 will require companies to label foods so we as consumers can know for certain if a product is organic or not. As a mother attempting to feed my children in the healthiest way, this seems like a no brainer. Why would it even be an issue to want to know if something is genetically modified or not?

Read the whole post here.

 

 

Marissa Mayer, Jim Breyer: Support Labeling Walmart’s Insecticide Sweet Corn and Prop 37

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2012

Sunnyvale, CA – More than 50 people rallied in front of Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, California yesterday to call on Marissa Mayer and Jim Breyer, both Silicon Valley-based members of Walmart’s Board of Directors, to support Proposition 37 and to ensure that Walmart respects consumers’ right to know about genetically engineered foods.

Walmart is selling Monsanto’s genetically engineered sweet corn which contains the insecticide Bt toxin inside the corn. Proposition 37 would require the genetically engineered corn to be labeled so consumers can have a choice about whether to eat it.

“We’re asking Marissa Mayer and Jim Breyer to do the right thing for California consumers – to label Walmart’s genetically engineered sweet corn and to endorse Prop 37 because we have a right to know what is in our food,” said Joyce M Eden, San Jose Area Volunteer Coordinator with the Yes on Prop 37 California Right to Know campaign.

The effort is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Western States Council, which has endorsed Proposition 37. “As a UFCW member and grocery worker, I support prop 37.  I want to know what I am feeding my family. I’m appalled that a company like Walmart would sell Californians corn with insecticide built-in and refuse to tell us,” said Glen Raad, a grocery worker and UFCW member.

The two groups have bought advertisements online and in newspapers asking Ms. Mayer and Mr. Breyer to support Proposition 37, and they launched a website and an online petition at: www.MarissaAndJimTakeAStand.com

“Companies like Yahoo! and Facebook pride themselves on making it easier to share information. At the same time, Walmart refuses to give consumers basic information about what they’re buying,” said Eden.

Walmart, which sells roughly 25% of all groceries in the United States, announced this summer that they would begin to sell unlabeled genetically engineered sweet corn produced by Monsanto.

Monsanto claims the Bt toxins inside the corn will break down before the corn is eaten. Many have questioned the company’s safety claims and a number of major groceries have said they won’t sell the corn. Despite these concerns, Walmart is selling the product without a label indicating that it has been genetically engineered.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.MarissaAndJimTakeAStand.com.

Contact: Tom Fendley, 415-622-7843, tom@carighttoknow.org

Dr. Bronner’s Donates $250,000 More to Yes on 37; Time to Get Out And Vote!

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a California-based and family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, announced today that they have donated another $250,000 to Proposition 37, The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

According to a press release announcing this from Dr. Bronner’s, “Prop. 37 has been losing support in voter polls due to the impact of relentless and deceptive TV attack ads funded by pesticide and junk food manufacturers. At the rate of at least a $1 million dollars a day the ads mislead voters into thinking that a simple labeling law is somehow a plot by trial lawyers to get rich while food prices sky rocket.”

“These same arguments against consumers’ right to know have been made against every previous labeling regulation such as calorie and allergen disclosure,” noted the release. “Despite being vastly outspent, the Yes on 37 campaign has demonstrated through internal polling that their simple ad reminding voters of their fundamental right to know what’s in their food cuts through the flak.”

“Chemical corporations are outspending consumer groups 10 to 1 in California, so we felt we had to step up with another major donation to ‘Yes on 37’,” said David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “It’s wrong that American democracy is hijacked by pesticide manufacturers who spend vast sums of money to keep consumers in the dark. The opposition’s lies on TV will be answered this final crucial week before Election Day, while a huge grassroots surge reaches voters directly. If enough voters are reminded of their own rights and power, Prop. 37 can win.”

“Genetically engineered foods should have been labeled from the get-go in the 1990’s,” noted Bronner. “Pesticide companies genetically engineer DNA from bacteria into food crops to either produce or tolerate the pesticides they sell. Their business model is rapidly failing in the face of superweeds and superbugs resistant to their poisons. Pesticide companies like Monsanto and Dow are now doubling down and engineering resistance in food crops to much more toxic weed killers such as Dicamba and 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange.”

Bronner added: “These pesticide companies have demonstrated they will spend any amount needed to keep the public in the dark about the secret changes they have made to our food. We have a right to know if our food has been genetically engineered, just as citizens in over 61 other countries do, including in Europe, Japan, even China. Prop 37 is just the beginning.”

Bronner said: “The writing is on the wall, win or lose we have sparked a movement. We will have the right to know in this country sooner versus later.”

Vote YES on Prop 37—today (early voting is on in California). Exercise your right to know about what you choose to buy and choose to eat. Here is information on how to vote early.

Proposition 37: “The Future of Food is In Your Hands”

We all have a right to know if the food we’re eating comes from nature or whether it was genetically engineered in a lab by companies like Monsanto and Dow. That’s why Proposition 37 is so important – it’s a label that gives us the right to know.

As my film The Future of Food describes, there are many reasons why people want and deserve the right to know about genetic engineering. That’s why I’m making my film available for free for public screenings from now until the election.

You can view the film for free, invite your friends to watch it, and read more about what you can do to pass Prop 37 here.

I encourage you to send this link to people you know who are on the fence about Prop 37, who don’t understand the incredibly high stakes in this battle to give consumers a choice about genetically engineered food.

I also encourage you to contribute to Yes on 37 in every way you can. Every dollar raised today will expand the television ad buy to get our message to voters. Donate to the ad fund here – and help us win the right to know what’s in our food!

Deborah Koons Garcia
Director/Producer/Writer
Lily Films, Inc.

http://www.lilyfilms.com
http://www.thefutureofthefood.com
http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com

What Is Proposition 37? The Top 5 Reasons You Should Care!

From Maria Rodale, via The Huffington Post Blog

You have probably seen something about “Proposition 37” or “Prop. 37”–whether it’s been on Facebook or Twitter or in The New York Times. Or perhaps you haven’t seen anything about it and, like me, you glaze over anytime there is some political something or other that seems too hard to figure out. Well, this one is easy…or let’s put it this way, I’m going to make it easy for you to understand.

Read the whole post here.

Some Valley Growers Back Prop 37

By Robert Rodriguez – The Fresno Bee
 

Supporters like Fresno County organic dairy operator Mark McAfee said opponents [of Prop 37] are using scare tactics to frighten consumers.

“The truth is that this is pro-farmer and pro-consumer,” McAfee said. “And while it may be a little anti-Monsanto and anti-processor, that is OK because they don’t feed the world, we do.”