Category : Food/Water Integrity

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Is 2014 the Year to Put a “Dent In” Water Fluoridation?

If you are a regular reader of this blog and a passionate supporter of natural health initiatives, the issue of water fluoridation is probably on your radar. Fluoridation is imposed upon us even while there is substantial evidence supporting its potential negative health effects.

The argument that proponents of fluoridation cite claims that fluoride is necessary for healthy teeth because it repairs and re-mineralizes exposed “dentin”. However, there is significant evidence that it can be detrimental if swallowed daily.

There are reasons to be concerned about water fluoridation:

  • The main chemicals used to fluoridate water are industrial byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry and can contain elevated levels of arsenic and lead.
  • Dr. Philippe Grandjean, chair of environmental medicine at the University of Denmark and adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, shared the results of decades of researching chemicals capable of damaging the developing brain in a paper published earlier this month. On the list with PCBs, toulene and ethanol: fluoride.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory says that fluoride is a chemical with “substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity”.

The good news is the tide may be starting to turn. Already in 2014 a small community in Florida has gotten the ball rolling by following the lead set by nine states proposing anti-fluoridation bills last year. On January 28 the Wellington Village Council voted 3-2 to end 14 years of fluoridating their water.

It has been said that “it takes a village” – and we applaud the Wellington Village Council for taking the lead on this important issue – but it will take much more to raise awareness across the country. You can do your part by becoming informed and sharing that information with friends and family.

Stay tuned for more on this issue, and for opportunities to take action.

FDA Planning to Phase Out Antibiotics in Meat

This morning the FDA announced a plan to phase out the use of some antibiotics in animals used for food to prevent bacteria from becoming increasingly resistant to drugs used to treat humans.

In it’s guidance today, the FDA asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise labels on antibiotics to remove references to use references in animal production. Additionally, the FDA stated the over-the-counter status of antibiotics will change, meaning only veterinarians will be able to prescribe and provide antibiotics.

Animal pharmaceutical companies must notify the FDA within three months of their plans to adopt the FDA’s new guidelines; companies would have three years to complete a transition.

Read the FDA’s release

A ‘Water Enhancer’or Simply ‘Something in the Water’?

Note: Since this blog was published in January, Mio has won an industry award called “breakthrough innovation” from the Nielsen Company. Nielsen, best known for it television ratings system, selected 14 winners from packaged goods launched in 2011, all which achieved significant sales increases and jumped the many “hurdles” facing new products.

Now before you go sending Kraft a card congratulating them for this award, check out the gobbledygook advertising nonsense that went along with the “prize.”

Of all the 3,400 new products that Nielsen analyzed, the winners were said to have “demand-driven insight,” identifying the “unarticulated desires, partially expressed needs and recurring frustrations in consumers’ lives.”

What kind of packaged baloney is that? As you can see, the consumer is thought of as being little more than a rat in a wheel. Mio is simply an artificially flavored, colored and sweetened water contaminant. It’s a worse-ingredient version of Kool-Aid (also owned by Kraft). How in the world does this address “recurring frustrations” for consumers? If someone knows, please tell me, and if you’re still using this bottle of chemical additives to perk up your water, be sure to read (or reread) today’s blog all the way through.

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What happens when you take a perfectly drinkable glass of water and add some propylene glycol, acesulfame potassium, some artificial colors and a preservative? If you ask me, contaminated water.

But if you’re a really, really big company such as Kraft and get some brilliant advertising minds in the act, along with a super budget, what you get is “MiO Liquid Water Enhancer.”

Launched two years ago, targeting people between18 and 39 with the advertising slogan, “MiO answers this wish to personalize life’s experiences in a way no other beverage can,” the product is so successful it will now be included in the Big Parade of Super Bowl commercials. Making its debut in a 30-second third-quarter ad spot that will reportedly cost more than $4 million, MiO — an Italian word meaning “mine” – is a classic example of how expert marketing can lead us to consume chemical-laden products we don’t need.

In fact, the MiO concept of squirting a colored, flavored liquid into water is apparently so appealing and profitable that Coca-Cola introduced its own version late last year called Dasani Drops, also containing multiple artificial colors and preservatives.

Interestingly, the MiO lineup sold in Canada contains none of the propylene glycol additive, a chemical manufactured in several grades for a variety of both industrial, cosmetic and food applications, But then, there are very few, if any, food uses of this substance allowed in either Canada or Europe.

While the theme of the MiO Super Bowl commercial may be totally cool, the same unfortunately, can’t be said of this chemically enhanced variation on the Kool-Aid theme.

Rediscovering what we already knew

Providing yet another reason to stop promoting aspartame-sweetened drinks, a study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health released this week found drinking such beverages to be associated with a higher chance of becoming depressed.

Also found to raise the risk of depression, although not as much as the aspartame-laced drinks, were sodas, iced tea and “fruit punches” (such as Hi C and Kool-Aid) that are mostly all sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

Last week I reported on another example of the disturbing trend of replacing one test-tube sweetener (HFCS) with another –  a campaign recently launched in Howard County, Maryland called “Howard County Unsweetened” that promoted diet drinks containing aspartame as “better choices” to parents and kids over 13.

Another case of aspartame-pushing was reported last September in the New England Journal of Medicine, which described what was called an “intervention” among overweight and obese adolescents to see if replacing full-calorie beverages with no-calorie alternatives would slow weight gain. It consisted in part of a “home delivery” for a year of diet drinks to participants’ homes every two weeks.

Reading about these events and “interventions,” one would never know that aspartame is considered by some leading medical authorities to be an “excitotoxin” – that is, a substance that literally excites brain cells to death, especially in children whose blood-brain barriers are not fully developed or in older people in whom this protective mechanism has been compromised. Nor would one think that we’re talking about a substance that an FDA Public Board of Inquiry concluded years ago should not be permitted in the food supply prior to its being overruled by a political appointee.

In fact, “aspartame depression” has long been cited as one of the results of consuming this artificial sweetener, along with other side effects such as migraines, seizures and memory loss. One study, “Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population,”  conducted nearly two decades ago by the Department of Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Youngstown,  found  “a significant difference between aspartame and placebo in number and severity of symptoms for patients with a history of depression, whereas for individuals without such a history there was not. We conclude that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener and its use in this population should be discouraged.”

Interesting, isn’t it, how we seem to forget what researchers knew years ago, only to suddenly find ourselves rediscovering them?  Maybe it’s the result of all that aspartame we’ve been exposing our collective brains to over the years.

Who’s Afraid of Supplements? “Do You Believe in Paul Offit?”

by Alison Rose Levy

The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Paul Offit’s new book and media blitz pretend to be objective, but really offer one-sided bashing of natural healthcare.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013 ). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”

If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.

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

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

 

quik

Nestle Nesquik: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich (Strawberry)

alive

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

superdieter

Laci Le Beau: Super Dieters Fast Dissolve

mentos

Rainbow Mentos

fruitconcentrate

Healthy America: Triple Strength Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

libidomax

Applied Nutrition: Libido Max for Women

prenatalmulti

CVS Pharmacy: DHA Prenatal Multivitamin

memoraid

Naturade: MemorAid with Omega 3 & Vitamin D

smoothie

Lucerne: Smoothie Dairy Beverage (Strawberry Banana)

twinlab

Twinlab: Ripped Fuel

werthers

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

hotpockets

Hot Pockets: Snackers

parfait

Meijer: Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

candymix

Harry & David: Valentine Candy Mix

yoplait

Yoplait: Original Variety Pack

redvelvetcake

Betty Crocker: Red Velvet Cake Mix

omega3

Jamieson Natural Sources: Omega-3 Age Defence

 

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Food Safety ACTION ALERT: Stop the FDA’s War on Small-Scale Farmers and Food Producers

Washington, DC – You may recall back in 2010 we worked to stop passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The bill was an effort by Congress to appease angry consumers fed up with a spate of incidents of food contamination (like that year’s salmonella outbreak and recall of eggs) resulting from the unhealthy livestock farming practices of industrial suppliers.

We were concerned that the bill would apply the regulations explicitly crafted to regulate large industrial facilities (factory farms and industrial agriculture and manufacturers) to small businesses as well (family farmers, organic growers, farmer’s markets, food artisans and local suppliers). The financial impact of complying with the burdensome reporting requirements could have put such small suppliers out of business.

That’s why we fought so hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment. It authorized more modest reporting requirements for small providers and exempted them from the extensive ones required of larger companies. This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.

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

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

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

July 11, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If only it were that easy.

Organic Consumers Association Supports Crackdown on Radioactive Food

Early last month Citizens for Health, along with the other coalition members of Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN), filed a petition with the FDA to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, from a ridiculous 1200 Bq/kg to 5 Bq/kg (see why here, read why here). The Bq (Becquerel) is a measure of radioactivity. The FDA is now accepting comments on our petition and every person’s voice counts, so leave a comment in support here!

We thought you would appreciate the chance to review comments in support of this petition recently submitted by the Organic Consumers Association:

“The Organic Consumers Association supports the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network’s petition requesting the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to promulgate regulations to protect U.S. consumers from Cesium 134 and Cesium 137 contamination.

No food should have more than 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134/137. All food should be tested for and labeled with its Cesium 134/137 contamination.

The damaged Fukushima units continue to leak 10 million becquerels of Cesium 134 and 137 per hour into the environment with no sign of stopping. Unfortunately, Cesium bioaccumulates and biomagnifies over time. Since Cesium 134 has a hazardous life of about 10-20 years ad Cesium 137 has a hazardous life of about 300-600 years, the threat of contamination in our food supply is a long-term issue that deserves immediate attention.

We are alarmed at the lack of testing currently in place to meet the present-and-growing threat of Cesium 134 and 137 contamination in our food supply. The time is past-due for a comprehensive response to radiation present in our food supply from the Fukushima disaster.

Various products in the U.S. food supply have Cesium 134 and 137 contamination, including pistachios, oranges from California, grapefruits from Florida, prunes from California, and almonds from California.

The California coastline itself is now in danger of radiation contamination. Scientists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station found levels of Cesium 134 and 137 from the Fukushima disaster in bluefin tuna caught off the California coast in Feb. 2013.

FDA should promulgate a binding U.S. threshold of 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134-137 contamination, but there is no safe dose. Consumers should have the information they need to manage their own Cesium 134/137 intake. The FDA should require the testing and labeling of Cesium 134/137 in food.”

New Research Suggests High Fructose Corn Syrup Triggers Addictive Consumption Similar to Drugs

Industrial Sweetener Implicated as Cause

of Global Obesity Epidemic

 

WASHINGTON, DCNew research by a neuroscientist has found that lab animals self-dosing on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the industrial sweetener used in hundreds of grocery store products, followed the same pattern of behavior as those that were self-dosing on cocaine.

Addiction expert, Dr. Francesco Leri, an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, presented new research to the Canadian Association for Neuroscience that showed how High Fructose Corn Syrup caused behavioral reactions in rats similar to those produced by addictive drugs. He concluded that, “Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic.”

In Dr. Leri’s tests, the lab animals could press a lever and receive as many doses of HFCS as they wanted. He discovered that the more he increased the sweetness concentration of the HFCS, the more the subjects worked to obtain it.

Illegal Monsanto GMO Wheat Found Growing in Oregon

By Frank Herd
Program Coordinator, Citizens for Health
 

Chances are you’ve heard already, but the news is disturbing enough to make sure.

The exact same variety of GMO (genetically moified) wheat developed by Monsanto in the 1990s (the field trials were supposed to have ended years ago) was discovered to be growing in an Eastern Oregon farmer’s fields, in clear violation of US law. (Important note: The farmers who discovered the alien wheat sprayed repeatedly to kill it, but could not. They sent it to a university lab for analysis, which is how Monsanto’s concoction was discovered).

CFH warned long ago about the dangers of such experimenting. Regardless of how vehemently Monsanto asserted that protections were in place to prevent cross-pollination of farmland neighboring areas in which experiments were conducted, we questioned exactly how Monsanto would control the wind, rain, and agricultural runoff that threatened to spread the Frankenseeds. (Never mind that they would probably love to do exactly that).

Well, now Monsanto and the USDA are scrabbling to reassure consumers concerned about just how deeply into the environment this GMO wheat may have spread. Even though they assure us that the wheat is safe for human consumption, the USDA has launched a formal investigation to determine how this spread of Monsanto’s illegal wheat occurred.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is no more confident about this than consumers are. Bloomberg News reported today that Japan has suspended imports of US-grown wheat, and the price of wheat is falling. Of additional concern according to KGW in Portland: “The discovery also could have implications for organic companies, which by law cannot use genetically engineered ingredients in foods.”

Enough is enough. This past weekend CFH stood with food activists against Monsanto’s machinations at the March Against Monsanto, and we urge you to stand with us now and take action to label GMOs. If we can’t predict when such accidents will occur as a result of genetic tampering, we can at least ensure we’re informed when GMOs are present in what we eat and drink.

Please visit our partners in this fight at JustLabelIt.org and tell Congress we’ve avoided long enough taking the steps necessary to ensure we are informed about what we feed ourselves and our families.