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Read Your Labels: “Glutamic Bombs”: Playing Tricks on Your Tongue and Havoc with Your Brain

From our Read Your Labels Campaign, an installment in the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of

While the package says “No MSG!” a check of the ingredient label shows “yeast extract,” an ingredient that always contains manufactured glutamic acid (MSG)

They’re often referred to as “excitotoxins” because of their ability to literally excite brain cells to death. Consumers ingest massive amounts of these often hidden and highly toxic “flavor enhancers,” which can also cause adverse reactions ranging from skin rashes to asthma attacks, mood swings, upset stomach, migraines, heart irregularities and seizures. For those who are extremely sensitive, it can put them into life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

The Food and Drug Administration has been presented with ample evidence that these particular additives can be especially harmful to kids, the elderly and developing fetuses. Yet, they’re allowed to be routinely – and liberally — added to scores of processed foods, even organic, vegetarian and “natural” ones, for the devious purpose of fooling the tongue so the food tastes better.  That’s why we’ve designated them as five, four and three on our list of additives to be avoided in Citizens for Health’s  “Read Your Labels” campaign:

(5) Monosodium glutamate, (4) autolyzed yeast and
(3) hydrolyzed protein

Monosodium glutamate is by now a familiar name that many consumers make a big point to avoid. And while you’ll still see it in numerous products such as chips, ramen noodle dishes and soups, manufacturers know that many consumers check package labels for this neurotoxic flavor enhancer.

That’s why looking for monosodium glutamate on ingredient labels is just the tip of the iceberg.

In selecting our top ten food additives to avoid, we not only picked monosodium glutamate, but also two of the most common ingredients that contain manufactured glutamic acid, the substance in monosodium glutamate that triggers all those adverse reactions. And there are dozens more. In fact, if you want all the manufactured glutamic acid (or MSG) out of your diet, you won’t be eating many processed foods.

There is no doubt that the food industry has a love affair with MSG. It allows products with bland or sparse ingredients to taste really exciting, both saving companies money and adding immensely to sales. Why use 20 chickens in a commercial chicken soup recipe when you can use half that number, add some yeast extract, and everyone will love the taste?

The history of monosodium glutamate use is a sneaky one as well. This toxic chemical found its way into more and more products during the 1950s and ’60s, its use having reportedly doubled in each decade since the 1940s. In addition to being marketed as an ‘off the shelf’ flavor enhancer, it was also at one time added to baby food. But in the late 1950s, researchers tested the chemical on infant mice and discovered it destroyed nerve cells in the inner layers of the retina.  A decade later, prominent neurosurgeon Dr. John Olney, found it had a similar effect on cells, or neurons, in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Disclosure of that information to Congress in 1969 was enough to get monosodium glutamate voluntarily removed from baby food, to which it was being added in amounts equivalent to those that had produced brain damage in test animals.

Experts now know that feeding excitotoxins, such as monosodium glutamate and other ingredients containing manufactured glutamic acid, to newborns and young children can have devastating effects on learning ability, personality and behavior. In his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (originally published in 1994), well-respected neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock noted that  “sometimes the effects might be subtle, such as a slight case of dyslexia, or more severe, such as frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger…”

The list of adverse reactions to these additives is wide and varied, and because they are “sneaked” into so many  foods, highly sensitive people who react to very small doses have no way of knowing they have even been exposed.

The Truth in Labeling Campaign, a grassroots, science-based, information service to help people identify reactions to manufactured glutamic acid and avoid ingesting it, estimates that as many as half of all Americans are sensitive to ingredients containing MSG. And the harm these additives cause isn’t necessarily limited to obvious adverse reactions, for as Blaylock points out, MSG can produce “silent damage to the brain with very few symptoms.”

How to keep your diet (relatively) free of MSG

While monosodium glutamate can be easy enough to look for, the dozens of ingredient names that also contain manufactured glutamic acid can turn a trip to the supermarket into an adventure in chemistry.

Along with autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein, you need to watch out for anything that’s “hydrolyzed,” and basically any ingredient name that contains the word “protein” (e.g., whey protein isolate, textured protein).  (For a complete list of ingredients that “always” and “often” contain MSG,  look here). To add to the confusion, many companies use the trick of  putting “NO MSG ADDED” on the labels of food products that contain various amounts of manufactured glutamic acid, which is ‘hidden’ in over 40 different ingredients.

Another misleading Swanson label. This one claims “No MSG added.”

Highly sensitive people can react to extremely small doses of these additives, making nearly all processed foods a dangerous proposition for them. One such extremely MSG-sensitive individual was the late Jack Samuels, who with his wife Adrienne, a Ph.D. focusing on research methodology, founded the Truth in Labeling Campaign, sharing studies and information they learned over decades of research at their web site www.truthinlabeling.org.

Now that you have some idea of where you’ll find various forms of MSG, if you want to know why such dangerous ingredients are still allowed in food, we suggest you read  The Man Who Sued the FDA,

by Adrienne Samuels, which documents Jack and Adrienne’s own story of  ‘discovery’ in regard to MSG that spans several decades. The book is also the story of how industry and, in particular, a lobbying group known as the Glutamate Association gets its way when it comes to keeping this toxic additive in the food supply at all costs, even to the point of producing studies claiming MSG to be “safe” that many experts have deemed blatantly flawed.

Admittedly, keeping your family’s diet free of these neurotoxic substances may be tricky, but is well worth the effort. Remember, the brain you save may be your own.

Read Your Labels: The “Brominated Brothers”: Still at Large Despite a Bad Rap Sheet

From our Read Your Labels Campaign, an installment in the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of

 

The next ingredient to avoid in our Read Your Labels campaign should have been banned in the U.S. decades ago. It has been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals for over 30 years, and the evidence of its toxic nature is so compelling that this additive has been banned in many countries, including Europe, China, Canada, and Brazil.

In the United States, however, it can still be found in processed foods ranging from breads to tortillas to knishes. The only good thing we can say about this additive is that its use is on the decline, no doubt due to some really bad press over the years, but you still have to be on the lookout to avoid it. Read on to learn how keep this unnecessary, toxic ingredient out of your diet.

Number 7: Potassium bromate

Used to “improve” flour and make more uniform, attractive bakery products, potassium bromate (or bromated flour) has been on the list of carcinogens in California since 1991. And while many other countries have banned its use entirely, the Food and Drug Administration  has merely asked the baking industry to voluntarily stop using it.

According to the American Bakers Association, if potassium bromate is used “properly” no detectable residues will be found; however, if too much is used, or any number of other procedures are not followed (such as proper temperature settings or baking time) a residue of this carcinogenic additive will end up in the finished product.

According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), FDA tests going back to 1992 and 1998 found levels of bromate in “several dozen baked goods” that would be “considered unsafe by the agency (FDA).” One sample, CSPI noted in a press release “had almost 1,000 times the detection limit.”

In 1999 CSPI submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration to ban this additive, saying that “The FDA has known since 1982 that potassium bromate can cause tumors of the kidney, thyroid and other organs in animals,” with additional studies over the years all confirming its toxic properties.

While some commercial brands have replaced potassium bromate with other dough-enhancing additives, brominated flour is still widely used in restaurants and bakeries. General Mills, makers of Pillsbury and Gold Medal brand flours, offers no less than 22 different brominated flours at its “professional baking solutions” site. Bottom line: if a bakery can’t tell you what ingredients it uses in making its cakes, cookies and bread, it’s time to find another bakery. The oddest product that we found potassium bromate in – considering its big “benefit” is to promote yeast rising — was New York brand flatbreads.

This leads us to another nasty bromine additive…

Number 6: Brominated vegetable oil

This Mountain Dew also contains almost 12 teaspoons of HFCS

While PepsiCo got lots of kudos back in January when it announced that it would be removing brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, from one of its Gatorade products, that doesn’t mean it’s gone from the marketplace.  In fact, PepsiCo continues to use BVO in other beverages it makes, such as Mountain Dew

BVO, which used in food and beverages for the highly important cosmetic purpose of keeping their ingredients all  neatly blended together, builds up in fatty tissue and has been shown to cause heart damage in research animals. But while it is banned as a food additive in many other places, including Europe, India and Japan, its  status has been in limbo at the FDA for over three decades.

BVO is especially apt to be found in in orange and other citrus-flavored  beverages, so be sure and check their ingredients carefully before buying them..

Breaking news on the HFCS front

Consumer groups and public health departments from around the country recently submitted a petition to the FDA asking the agency to set a safe level of added sugars in drinks. Of course when you’re talking beverages, especially soda, those “sugars” will most likely be in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which one of the groups involved, CSPI says is currently at “unsafe levels.”

That’s not hard to believe when one considers the vast amount of foods and drinks that still contain this test-tube sweetener. To get an idea of just how much HFCS is manufactured, you need look no further than the Corn Refiners Association’s “Corn Annual,” which lists an unbelievable shipment total for HFCS in 2012 of over 19 billion pounds!

Hopefully, those amounts will go down the same way potassium bromate use has begun to diminish – although it will only happen if enough consumers ‘just say no’ to products containing this cheap synthetic sweetener that’s a major suspect in the obesity epidemic.

Read Your Labels: A Pair of Preservatives to Beware Of

From our Read Your Labels Campaign, an installment in the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of

What if we told you that two closely-related preservatives, commonly-added to scores of processed foods (many of them for kids), are banned in Japan and most European countries; have been found to alter brain chemistry in mice when they are exposed prenatally; that one is listed as a carcinogen by the state of California, and that by adding these chemicals to its list of “eliminated” ingredients, the Feingold Diet success rate for treating kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) almost doubled!

Well, listen up, because this pair of preservatives, commonly added to our food for the sole purpose of extending its shelf life to increase manufacturers’ profits, are the next unnecessary, harmful ingredients we urge you avoid in our Read Your Labels campaign,

Number 8: BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoulene)

Sometimes we get so used to seeing certain ingredients listed on labels that it seems they must be OK. Such is the case with BHT and BHA, which are used in scores of products, such as cereals, snack foods, chewing gum, pies, cakes, processed meats and even beer. These industrial preservatives are also sprayed onto the lining of food packages.

BHA and BHT, which are actually made from coal tar or petroleum, have been the focus of behavioral and health concerns for decades, although the Food and Drug Administration continues to allow the use of these industrial anti-oxidants in food products (as well as medicines and cosmetics).

Over 30 years ago studies found that after pregnant mice were fed BHT and BHA, their offspring were born with altered brain chemistry. According to the researchers, “the affected mice weighed less, slept less and fought more than normal controls.” On top of that, BHA is considered a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization and listed as a carcinogen in California.

While there are many cereals available that don’t contain these or any other chemical preservatives for that matter (including organic varieties), one of the biggest producers of breakfast cereal, Kellogg’s, is also one of the bigger users of BHT, which we found in practically every Kellogg’s cereal we looked at – including its cornerstone product, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

A brand is only as good as its ingredients

Fortunately, many shoppers are no longer willing to accept the presence of such unsavory additives simply because the products that harbor them are put out by “trusted” brands.

“I don’t understand why they use these toxic preservatives when there are alternatives,” noted one, New Jersey resident Dan Brown, who banished his kids’ favorite cereal, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, from the house when he learned about the harmful effects of the BHT it contains.

Consumers seem to want what Mom’s Best is offering. The company is now number three in the ready-to-eat cereal market.

Brown, a stay-at-home dad and professional musician, who says his family goes through “a lot of cereal,” was so angry with what he read about BHT and BHA, that he wrote Kellogg’s, saying he had found another brand that was cheaper “without BHT and other additives and chemicals,” telling the company, “I am sorry that you feel that you have to poison me and my family to make a profit on your food; maybe you should rethink your business plan…”

One company that seems to have carefully considered its business plan is Mom’s Best Cereals. Based in Minneapolis, this four-generation family-owned business makes 10 cereals containing no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or artificial flavors or preservatives such as BHA or BHT.   Now ranked third in sales in the U.S. ready-to-eat cereal market, Mom’s Best has managed to win over consumers such as Brown, who have ditched the big-brand cereals such as Kellogg’s and General Mills for ones containing better ingredients.

“Once you learn what’s really in these products, you can’t go back, especially when you’re feeding it to your kids. For manufacturers to put harmful ingredients in food  marketed to kids just blows my mind,” says Brown, whose advice to other parents is to “read the label, no matter how hard that can be when you’re shopping, especially shopping with kids. But you’ve got to do it.”

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Stay tuned as we continue our countdown of the top ten ingredients to avoid including a soda additive that’s also used as a flame retardant, a known carcinogen that is still in baked goods in the U.S. because it helps food manufacturers make more money and a very common flavoring additive that kills brain cells.

Read Your Labels: Still In Our Food After All These (Heart Damaging) Years

From our Read Your Labels Campaign, an installment in the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of

 

If you still think that it really isn’t all that important to read a food product’s list of ingredients, then you really need to read this blog.

Our pick for the next ingredient to avoid in our Read Your Labels campaign is a sneaky and especially evil one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that if people in the U.S. cut this stuff out of their diets it would prevent over 20,000 heart attacks and more than 7,000 deaths a year from coronary disease, while a study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated the heart-damaging toll from this ingredient is over 200,000 “events” a year.

The best part of banishing this heart-disease-promoting ingredient from your menu is that you won’t miss it one iota. But in order to do so, you need to ignore both claims that a product doesn’t have any and what appears on the “Nutrition Facts” label, and go directly to the list of ingredients.

Number 9: trans fats (as in partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil)

By now everyone – doctors, registered dieticians, government authorities, health officials –  everyone agrees that trans fats are really, really bad for you.  Not only do they increase LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, but they decrease your “good”  HDL cholesterol. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, studies have shown that people with the highest blood levels of trans fats are at much greater risk of developing certain cancers. So why are there still trans fats in processed foods?

One reason is that partially hydrogenated oils containing trans fats are cheaper and easier for food manufacturers to use. But the main advantage these highly processed oils provide to the food industry is the way they keep pastries, breads, cookies, crackers and other baked goods from going rancid, allowing them to remain on store shelves longer than they ordinarily would. In other words, they increase a product’s “shelf life” even while quite possibly shortening the life of the consumer who buys it.

Besides bakery items, this industrially-created oil can often be found in frozen or refrigerated products such as French fries, pizza, dough, pies and cakes as well as in many of the items served in restaurants, including fried foods, pies, cakes and salad dressings.

Now you might think that checking the Nutrition Facts label, which has required trans fat labeling since 2006, would be the easiest way to avoid this artery-clogging substance. Think again. Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations allow manufacturers to claim there are “zero trans fats” on the Nutrition Facts label as long as the amount is under 0.5 grams per serving (an amount that varies from product to product and is usually much less than you think). Let’s say you eat three servings of a food that claims to have zero trans fats, but in fact has 0.4 – just under the amount required to be labeled. Without realizing it, you’ve just consumed 1.6. grams of trans fats (or more, if your portion size was bigger than what the serving size is on the label).

A well-rounded zero

Some manufacturers play the zero trans fat game with an interesting twist in logic. Pillsbury’s refrigerated pizza crust product, for example, that contains partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil has a happy label statement in a yellow circle of “0g Trans Fat.” But next to the hydrogenated oil is a little asterisk that sends us to a note at the bottom of the ingredient list that says, “adds a trivial amount of trans fat.”  So is it zero or is it “trivial?” And what exactly is Pillsbury’s idea of trivial? The only thing we know for sure is it’s under 0.5 grams per serving or they couldn’t put that big zero on the package.

(One of the more interesting facts about trans fats is that at one time they were considered healthier than the saturated fats found in dairy products such as butter or in meat. Then in the 1990s researchers started identifying the adverse health effects of consuming trans fats, but by this time they were entrenched in the food supply, and it has only been recently that food manufacturers have begun removing them to some degree.)

Trans fat-free zones?

In 2007, New York City Mayor Bloomberg followed through with his phaseout of trans fats in the city’s restaurants by banning them from serving foods containing over 0.5 grams. But that prohibition carries the exact same “zero trans fats” labeling loophole that the FDA has allowed in supermarket foods. So while the New York City “ban,” along with similar ones in places like Philadelphia and Boston may have reduced the amount of trans fats consumed by restaurant patrons, it by no means has banned them, as a much smaller city is now attempting to do.

On January 1st, the Boston suburb of Chelsea, Massachusetts was poised to be the first city in the nation to have a complete ban on trans fats in packaged and restaurant foods sold there. Not the 0.5 grams allowed in Boston and other locations, but nada – absolutely zero.

Unfortunately, this groundbreaking achievement was postponed, perhaps due to heavy pressure from industry, especially the National Restaurant Association, whose representative was quoted as saying the group was “encouraged” by the delay, which will “allow the industry to provide additional perspective.”

The Chelsea ban, which will be reconsidered by the city’s board of health later this month, would certainly be a strong message to “industry,” to get off the corporate couch and stop selling foods that considerably reduce a consumer’s “shelf life.”

But why wait, when you can institute your own trans fat ban right in your own home?  All it will require is a moment to read the ingredient label before you allow a product to enter.

Coming next: the carcinogenic additive in your chips and cereal.

CFH Kicks Off “Read Your Labels” Campaign

“Read Your Labels” Campaign Lists Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid

February 19, 2013

Courtesy of Linda Bonvie, FoodIdentityTheft blogger and frequent contributor to Citizens for Health

 

Do we really need Yellow 5 and Red 40 in apple pie?

If there’s one piece of advice you keep hearing from us, it’s that reading the ingredients label is the only way to really find out what’s in a processed food. Not the nutrition facts label, not the front of the package, and certainly not the advertising copy.

To encourage this time-honored way to actually know what you’re eating (or considering consuming), Citizens for Health is launching “Read Your Labels,” a campaign to create greater awareness of the unnecessary, harmful or controversial additives that are commonly found in the foods and beverages we buy and casually consume without giving them a second thought.

If you only read ingredients occasionally, we’d like to get you into the habit of doing it all the time. If you seldom or never do, now’s as good a time to start as any. To get you going, we will be listing our top ten ingredients to avoid  – and the reasons for doing so – in this and upcoming blogs. We think once you see some of the things that are actually in processed food products, you’ll become a regular ingredients checker before deciding to purchase and eat any of them.

Number 10 : artificial colors – and why you should shun them

The synthetic hues you’ll see on food and beverage ingredient labels include Red #40, Red #3, Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Green #3.  But you don’t need to memorize all those before you shop for food – all you have to remember is that any product whose ingredients include colors accompanied by numbers or “lakes” should be left on the shelf.

The entire history of artificial colors has been colored by controversy. While they may make products appear more attractive, they represent just the kind of chemical additives we should  delete from our diets – something that’s especially true for kids. But then, the fact that so many supposedly “harmless” coloring agents have been found to be otherwise is hardly surprising when you consider their origins and backgrounds. Many of the older dyes were made from coal tar – a thick, black liquid derived from, well, coal. (Now, does that sound like anything you’d like to ingest?) Some are still in use today, while many newer ones are petroleum extracts.  They may also contain measurable amounts of toxic contaminants, such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

The carcinogenic coloring Red Dye Number 2, for example, was in use until 1976, when it was booted off the “approved” list by the Food and Drug Administration, along with Violet Number 1. Then there’s the curious case of Red # 3, which was banned from use in cosmetics and externally applied drugs after the FDA found it caused thyroid cancer in rats, but strangely enough, its use in food items has continued to be allowed. But why wait for an often decades-delayed “official” decision, when you’re free to ban anything you like from your own home at any time?

The artificial color-hyperactivity link

Perhaps the most compelling reason to avoid artificial colors is the connection that’s been made between fake food dyes and hyperactivity in kids.

In 2008 the Center for Science in the Public Interest submitted a petition to the FDA to ban nine such food colorings and in the interim to require a package warning label on foods containing them that they “cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.”

The FDA responded by convening a Food Advisory Committee in 2011 (after receiving almost 8,000 comments on the topic), which concluded there was not enough evidence to take regulatory action.

While the FDA might not have been convinced, the same can’t be said of European regulatory officials.  Since 2010, they’ve required foods that contain these unnatural hues to carry a warning label stating that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

In fact, the link between food dyes (and certain other ingredients, as well as foods themselves) and behavioral problems in kids has been known for quite a while. It goes back to  the 1970s when the late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a California pediatrician and pioneer in the field of allergy and immunology, discovered the connection between what we eat and how it affects the way we feel and act. Since then, the Feingold Center he founded has helped scores of kids with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder by eliminating certain additives from their diets – all without resorting to drugs such as Ritalin.

It’s all very simple when you think about it. To help sell food products that are highly processed, manufacturers have doused them with cosmetics – a whole bevy of chemicals to make them seem more appealing. But despite assurances that these substances are harmless, a little knowledge of their checkered history should be enough to make them unwelcome in your home.

Stay tuned for the next additive to avoid – hint –  this heart-harming ingredient can be “hidden” on the nutrition facts label. We’ll tell you what to look for to keep this unnecessary and dangerous ingredient out of your diet.

Dangers of HFCS: “Is high fructose corn syrup helping to bring on an agricultural apocalypse?”

Originally posted by

on FoodIdentityTheft.com, January 18, 2013

A sunny day this February in California’s Central Valley will predict the future for the state’s almond crop – and, in turn, perhaps the future of American agriculture. That’s the day when almond growers will know if the honeybees will be returning to their hives.

The bees don’t end up buzzing among the California almond blossoms by chance; they are trucked there from all around the country. Starting in the next few weeks, over 49 billion honeybees in their 1.7 million-plus hives will be transported by beekeepers to California so the bees can “make” the nuts that make up this $3-billion-a-year industry.

Honeybee pollination is responsible for over one-third of the food crops grown in the United States, including citrus, blueberries, cherries, broccoli, and is totally indispensable to California almond growers.

If the bees that provide nature’s necessary touch in producing this year’s almond crop don’t fare well, it could be the “breaking point” for both almond growers and beekeepers, who since 2006 have had to deal with super-declining numbers of honeybees due to what’s known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), which causes bees to leave their queen and fly off from the hive, never to return.

In short, we’re talking about a possible agricultural apocalypse – a catastrophe to which high fructose corn syrup could well be a contributing factor, according to the latest research.

Pennsylvanian beekeeper David Hackenberg, co-chairman of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board and the go-to person for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and scientists and universities trying to crack the mystery of CCD, says that starting last fall, indications have been on the rise that this is “probably going to be the worst year ever” for the ongoing decline in honeybee populations. “Bees are basically collapsing, whether it’s (from) CCD or a different kind of collapse or both,” Hackenberg said.

Hackenberg describes colony collapse disorder, which he has the dubious distinction of being the first to have discovered, as “when you have a good hive of bees and in a matter of days or weeks you have a sudden loss; you still have a queen, but only a handful of bees. And pretty soon you don’t have those.”

Experts trying to solve the mystery of CCD have come up with numerous and varied theories. But Hackenberg has been following the trail of a new class of systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids, containing synthetic nicotine, that’s widely used to treat crop seeds, especially corn.

“The old organophosphate pesticides, (they) killed bees dead. It knocked the colony out in the summertime,” Hackenberg said. “The scientists are more and more pointing to the fact that if a beehive picks up a systemic pesticide, it doesn’t kill the hive (immediately)…(the bees) bring it back to the hive and it starts the clock. That colony of bees is doomed.”

Systemic pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, move up through a plant, producing contaminated pollen and nectar. And after the first frost, when outside food is no longer available, the bee colony is affected by any contaminates in the food they stored from the summer, he explained. Honeybees are also fed by beekeepers, some of whom use sugar. These days, however, many large operations routinely feed bees with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).


 

 Sign Our Petition to the FDA to Label HFCS Accurately

Our petition requests that the FDA take action to protect the public from the illegal, mislabeled use of high fructose corn syrup.

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The birds and the bees – and high fructose corn syrup

A recent study, published last June in the Bulletin of Insectology by Chensheng Lu, an associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health, gives further support to Hackenberg’s suspicions of the neonicotinoids. And Lu’s study brings up another way for bees to consume the pesticides — through the HFCS fed to them by beekeepers.

In Lu’s study, colonies were fed HFCS treated with one of the nicotine pesticides, imidacloprid, which resulted in the collapse of almost every test hive, all showing the same pattern consistent with the CCD seen by beekeepers. Corn seed, which is still widely treated with the neonictinoids, received extra high doses of the chemical several years ago, just around the time CCD was first being recognized.

The Corn Refiners Association, comprised of all the big manufacturers of HFCS, posted several rebuttals to Dr. Lu’s study, claiming that HFCS “has NOT been shown to be causing Colony Collapse Disorder,” and that the chemical was not found in the HFCS that was not treated.

But research professor Dr. Charles Benbrook at Washington State University told me in an e-mail that “it is difficult to detect pesticides in HFCS because of the nature of the matrix. HFCS tends to gum up the machines designed to detect pesticides in food.” He added that “…research points to the need to detect nicotinyls in HFCS well below 1 part per billion — lower than most limits of detection in routine pesticide-food testing.”

“Questions persist regarding the impact of very-low levels of pesticides in HFCS because HFCS often becomes the primary feed source for honeybees at the end of the season,” said Dr. Benbrook, who noted that this is “a period when both bee health and hive health is strained.”

Dr. Benbrook also has concern over other possible pesticides in HFCS, “…it is likely that there are Bt toxins, and/or their breakdown products, in HFCS. These are technically classified as pesticides by the EPA, but have never been tested for in HFCS to my knowledge.”

And, of course, one can’t help but wonder if all this HFCS the honeybees are consuming is contributing to other colony health issues. “HFCS is nutritionally inferior to honey as a source of nutrients for bees,” said Dr. Benbrook, adding, “…concerns persist over the adverse impacts of HFCS on bee health from a nutritional perspective.”

Hackenberg also has issues with using HFCS as a food for bees. “HFCS will put weight on bees,” just as it does on people, “whereas sugar won’t,” he pointed out.

All those honeybees brought in from around the country to the Central Valley almond groves will have a lot riding on them, and a lot of folks watching what unfolds. “We put them on trucks, send them to California and unload them,” Hackenberg said.  “And the first day the sun comes out and they fly, that day is going to tell the tale. If they fly out and don’t come back, we’ve got a problem.

“We know the birds are in trouble, but the honeybees are the barometer of the environment. If the honeybees are going down, so are the rest of us.”


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.)

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