In Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them, Linda and Bill Bonvie, who for several years wrote the Citizens for Health “Food Identity Theft” blog, identified a rogues’ gallery of the “worst of the worst” ingredients out there. We were fortunate to be able to bring you selections from this important book.
The Bonvies have graciously agreed to provide further insights and information about the dangers lurking in our food and beverages – stay tuned and check back often for more from these health freedom fighters!
October 18, 2017
New Jersey – Halloween is coming – and the scariest stuff is as close as your fridge or pantry.
It’s that time of year again when, unless you live in an isolated cabin in the woods (or possibly more so if you do), stocking up on “treats” is practically obligatory.
Now, maybe you’re not in the habit of checking the ingredients in the goodies you hand out to your neighborhood goblins. But remember, your contributions can have an impact on how healthy your community is. (And don’t overlook that you and your family may well end up eating the leftovers yourselves.)
So it’s a good idea to turn more than a passing glance toward the labels on the Halloween treats you’re giving out. A lot of them contain some scary ingredients you will likely want to avoid – even if they’re going to be gobbled up by witches and ghosts!
Here are some spooky “Tricks” lurking in those treats:
Trick #1: High fructose corn syrup or HFCS, the laboratory-created sweetener that took first-place honors in the Citizens for Health Read Your Labels campaign – and for good reason. The scientific rap sheet on HFCS is getting longer all time.
High fructose consumption in general, and consumption of HFCS in particular, recently have been linked to a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes – especially in kids. The additive has also been identified in studies as contributing to weight gain and obesity, hampered brain function and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Trick #2: Partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), a.k.a. trans fats. Unbelievably, some cakes and candies still contain this ingredient, even though the FDA promised it would be phased out by June of next year. All health professionals and experts – yes, all of them – agree that PHO poses a major cardiovascular threat.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that PHOs are responsible for causing more than 20,000 heart attacks and roughly 7,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone.
Trick #3: Artificial colors, which are widely used in candies, are often derived from coal tar and petroleum extracts. These additives are acknowledged to cause hyperactivity in some children, which is why since 2010 European regulatory officials have required that products containing these unnatural coloring agents contain a warning label saying that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.
Trick #4: Aspartame can be in anything from beverages to yogurt, but it’s also found in some common Halloween treats like gum and hard candies. And in a bizarre way, that’s kind of fitting, as it’s actually a brain-eating mini-monster in disguise, one of a class of chemicals known as “excitotoxins” that are actually capable of exciting certain brain cells to death.
That little side effect is especially true for kids whose blood-brain barrier isn’t fully developed. Since aspartame’s shady approval in 1981 by a political appointee at the Food and Drug Administration, thousands upon thousands of health-related complaints about it have been lodged with the agency ranging from migraines to dizziness to vision problems. And that that’s really scary!
No one, of course, expects candy to be health food. But some of the treats stacked up in anticipation of Halloween are far less healthy than others. And remember, the ingredient list, not the Nutrition Facts Label, is your only guide to what they really contain.
October 6, 2017
New Jersey – For several weeks during the spring and summer we sent you excerpts from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them by Linda and Bill Bonvie, the longtime writers of our Food Identity Theft blogs. We are pleased to share with you here a follow-up message from Linda Bonvie, and look forward to providing more guidance on this issue in the near future:
What you read in the excerpts Bill and I shared was merely a glimpse into the world of an industry that has control over something that’s fundamental to life itself – the food we eat.
Even if you’re a confirmed label reader and avoid processed food like the plague, you’d still be hard-pressed to totally avoid all of the dangerous additives that have managed to worm their way into our food supply. Whether approved by the FDA or a shadow group known as the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA), which can give its “FEMA-GRAS” stamp of approval on practically anything, it all comes down to the fact that eating has turned into a risky proposition.
And what we’re up against as consumers is more than just lobbyists from the food industry.
Most of the risky ingredients covered in Badditives! have their own front groups as well – often made out to look like grassroots organizations – a textbook illustration of astroturfing.
One example is the International Food Additives Council. It claims that its mission is to “promote the benefits of food ingredients” and “support science-based regulations”. Translation: Don’t let regulations get in the way of our members’ bottom line. Only our science is valid – anything else is “junk science”.
If you thought the list of food additives from Badditives! covered everything you need to know on the subject – well, that’s far from the case. There are a lot more revelations where those came from – and you’ll be hearing more from us about them in upcoming messages from CFH.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already gotten your copy of Badditives! you can do so here. And please drop the folks at Citizens for Health a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if there’s a particular food ingredient about which you would like to learn more.
July 8, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – rBGH or rBST – The Banished Badditive That Never Quite Went Away:
In some respects, the saga of recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH (also known as rBST) appears to be a tale of a Monsanto-made Badditive – the predecessor to those GMOs – that finally got its comeuppance.
As we found out, that’s not always an easy question to get an answer to.
That’s because the use of rBGH has never been officially banned in the United States (even though it has in many other countries). Since there’s no requirement that its presence be announced, it’s not something you can look for on an ingredient label, although you can find dairy products that state they are produced from rBGH-free cows.
Actually, rBGH (or rBST), which is sold under the name Posilac, has the distinction of being the first agricultural product on the market to have been genetically engineered (by inserting the gene responsible for producing it into an E. Coli bacterium).259 Like the Roundup Ready seeds that would follow, it was created by Monsanto’s biotechnology division as a supposed economic boon to farmers. Its approval by a company-compromised FDA would cause a good deal of dismay throughout scientific circles, perhaps best summed up by the Consumer Policy Institute’s Michael Hansen description of it as “the most controversial product ever authorized” by that agency.260
…Originally submitted to the FDA in 1987, rBGH wasn’t given an official stamp of approval until 6 years later while former Monsanto counsel and future vice president Michael Taylor was serving as deputy commissioner for policy there, during which he also approved the first transgenic Monsanto seeds. (For the record, Taylor, whose career has been a flagrant example of the “revolving door” between private corporations and regulatory agencies, has since returned as deputy commissioner for foods under the Obama administration.)
The FDA approval was one based on two rat studies submitted by Monsanto, one that lasted four weeks and the second three months, in which the animals were fed rBGH to see if it affected their gastrointestinal systems. In both cases, it was said to have had no effect, a conclusion that Dr. Hansen has disputed.
Contrary to the agency’s claims, Hansen told author and activist Marie-Monique Robin (as noted in her book The World According to Monsanto) that antibodies were produced in 20 to 30 percent of the rats studied, meaning “their immune systems had been mobilized to detect and neutralize pathogenic agents.” He also charged that the publication of an article on the subject, written by two FDA scientists in the journal Science, was “pure and simple manipulation”, especially since it was peer-reviewed by a Cornell professor whom Monsanto had paid to test rBGH on cows.264
The purpose of injecting dairy cows with rBGH on a twice-monthly schedule was to increase their output of milk by 15 percent265 – which at the time it was introduced was uncalled-for at best since the market was already glutted with milk.266
While it may have temporarily boosted the bottom lines of some dairy farmers (along with Monsanto’s), the use of rBGH also raised fears among leading scientists and watchdog groups that it was subjecting Americans to some new and wholly unnecessary risks, especially given that children are the prime consumers of milk in this country. As consumer advocate and author Robyn O’Brien pointed out in a 2015 blog, a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology found that milk is now the most common food allergy trigger in the US, having achieved that distinction in the last decade.267 Coincidence?
259. Robin, Marie-Monique, The World According to Monsanto (New York: The New Press, 2010), p. 91.
260. Ibid, p. 105.
264. Robin, op. cit., pp. 97, 98.
265. Ibid, p. 90.
266. Innvista, “Milk,” http://www.innvista.com/health/foods/genetically-engineered-foods/milk/.
267. Robyn O’Brien, “Dirty Dairy: Why Breyers’ Ice Cream Dumped Artificial Growth Hormones”, 2015, http://robynobrien.com/dirty-dairy-why-breyers-ice-cream-dumped-artificial-growth-hormones.
June 28, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Partially Hydrogenated Oils – The Final Act of a Trans Fat Tragedy:
Consider for a moment the cost in human lives of three of the best-known tragedies of modern times. When the luxury liner Titanic sank in the North Atlantic in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, the official tally of passengers and crew members who died was 1,517. Japan’s December 1941, attack on the American fleet in Pearl Harbor killed some 2,402 people all told, including several dozen civilians. When the United States was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the death toll, which included people inside the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the four hijacked airliners, was put at 2,996. When combined, the total number of people who perished in those three catastrophic events was 6,915.
Now, add another 85, and you’ve got the approximate number of Americans said to be dying every year in an ongoing disaster of a far different sort—the great trans fat tragedy.
These are the hidden victims of the industrial trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, which are oils that have been solidified via an infusion of hydrogen gas. Such oils have long been routinely added to a variety of processed foods to improve their texture and “flavor stability” and prolong their shelf life—even as they cut short the lives of those consuming them.
If you think the comparison offered above is somewhat of an exaggeration, it’s actually based on figures provided by the US Food and Drug Administration—an agency hardly given to hysteria or hyperbole when talking about additives it has long allowed to be used in our food supply. According to an FDA estimate, that one ingredient alone is responsible for approximately 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 related deaths per year.230
Of course, what makes the trans fat tragedy different is that it strikes people down one by one, with neither media coverage nor even any formal recognition of the real, underlying cause of their demise. While a victim’s death certificate might attribute their passing to “coronary artery disease,” for example, it won’t mention those boxes and boxes of Girl Scout Cookies they consumed, which listed “partially hydrogenated oil” among their ingredients.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that after decades of so many commonplace products being laced with these artery-clogging materials, the FDA has finally ordered the PHOs that contain trans fats to be removed from the “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” list and from most everyday food products by no later than June 18, 2018. “This action responds, in part, to citizen petitions we received,” notes the agency’s decree, adding that the determination was based “on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels establishing the health risks associated with the consumption” of trans fat.231 (The trans fat issue here, incidentally, is the kind added in the form of PHOs, and should not be confused with relatively small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat found in dairy products and meat from grass-fed cows, such as conjugated linoleic acid [CLA]. Research has found this form to have “potent anti-atherosclerotic effects,”232 meaning that it’s actually apt to be beneficial in reducing plaque buildup in the arteries.)
Up until that deadline, however, and likely even beyond it, you will still find partially hydrogenated oil listed as an ingredient in a variety of processed products, from baked goods to frozen foods. Even afterwards, there may be numerous exceptions to the new rule, which the Grocery Manufacturers Association has indicated it hopes to wheedle out of the FDA.233
In fact, the pending prohibition on the further use of PHOs in grocery items has actually been a long time coming—and it hasn’t come easy, by any means.
230. Sabrina Tavernise, “F.D.A. Sets 2018 Deadline to Rid Foods of Trans Fats,” New York Times, June 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/health/fda-gives-food-industry-three-years-eliminate-trans-fats.html.
231. Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration, “Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils,” https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-14883.pdf. (File downloads.)
232. Sarah McClelland et al., “Conjugated linoleic acid suppresses the migratory and inflammatory phenotype of the monocyte/macrophage cell,” Atherosclerosis, July 2010, http://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(10)00101-2/abstract.
June 22, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – MSG and Its Various Disguises – The Hidden “Glutamic Bombs” in Our Food:
The strange symptoms that investment banker and former hospital administrator Jack Samuels began suffering in 1989 had all the earmarks of Alzheimer’s. As his wife Adrienne later recalled, they included “days of fatigue beyond imagination” and times when he “couldn’t put a sentence together.” However, “worst of all were the afternoons when he couldn’t remember what he did in the morning.”
…It wasn’t until the couple’s oldest son suggested they read a book published the previous year by George Schwartz, MD called In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome that the cause of Jack’s sudden affliction became obvious. Right there, on the cover, was the same tuna fish Jack had been eating every day for lunch.
The canned tuna, as it turned out, wasn’t nearly as innocuous as it seemed. In addition to the actual fish and water, it contained an ingredient often added to tuna to make it taste better: hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), which contains the same form of glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate.* Glutamic acid just happens to be a neurotransmitter – a chemical that relays signals between nerve and brain cells…
…Once Jack eliminated the tuna fish, along with other similarly adulterated foods, from his diet, he lost his Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, along with the frequent chest and joint pains and other symptoms he had suffered.198
…In that regard, Jack Samuels was very much like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, and his ordeal resulted in the couple’s founding of Truth in Labeling, and organization dedicated to identifying concealed sources of glutamic acid in processed foods that may be impacting the health of countless Americans, often without their realizing it. (Adrienne Samuels, who holds a PhD in research methodology, has chronicled all of this in a book entitled, The Man Who Sued the FDA.)
There is certainly no shortage of such sources. “In fact, pretty much any processed fast food is likely to contain added MSG, unless it specifically says otherwise,” admits Phillip Broadwith, the business editor for Chemistry World, in a promotional pitch for glutamate. Only Broadwith’s statement, which appears on the website of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is itself misleading. That’s because many products that claim to have “no added MSG” actually do contain it in one or more of those disguised forms.200
What all of these foods have in common is that their taste is artificially enhanced. In a sense, they can be compared to athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs to artificially boost their scores. But whereas the practice of “doping” in sports is considered cheating, no such stigma is attached to the use of flavor enhancers to turn a cheap recipe or unenticing product into a “taste sensation” (as illustrated by a jingle for the standard supermarket brand of monosodium glutamate: A little Accent, like a little love, surely helps.”) While those who use anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and other doping agents are usually aware of the risks involved, countless consumers who are being exposed every day to MSG in its various forms have no clue about the dangers these ingredients might pose to their health.
*A scan of tuna fish cans in our local supermarket showed that HVP no longer seems to be used as an ingredient; however, “vegetable broth,” which may be a source of MSG, can now be found in some caned tuna products.
198. Adrienne Sanuels, The Man Who Sued the FDA, 2013, pp. 1-3.
200. Broadwith, Phillip, “Glutamate”, Royal Society of Chemistry, June 2011, http:www.rsc.org/images/IC0411-glutamate-food_tcm18-233514.pdf.
June 15, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Meat Glue – Pink Slime’s Far More Sickening Sibling:
Back in 2012, an ABC news lead story about Pink Slime (called in the industry by the more appetizing name “finely textured beef”) struck a chord of disgust in the meat-eating public.
Petitions were formed to get the substance out of the school lunch program, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver conducted pink slime demos where he put beef scraps in a washing machine and then soaked them in ammonia and water.
Right before the slime hit the fan, however, ABC news affiliates spilled the beans about another underground meat practice. It was the use of an enzyme called transglutaminase, or, as it’s more commonly referred to, meat glue.
Now, even though meat glue has the potential to be a lot more hazardous to your health than pink slime, for some reason, the public couldn’t quite seem to wrap its head around it in the same way.
While some stories appeared in the press at the time, there were no petitions or consumers calling on the FDA or USDA to do something about it. In fact, some big-name chefs even came out in praise of meat glue.
For example, Wylie Dufresne, who was both chef and owner of the super-pricy [sic] Manhattan eatery wd~50 (which closed in 2014), was quoted in Meat Paper as saying he had “concocted all manner of playful and bizarre food products with meat glue, including shrimp spaghetti, which he made by mixing salt, cayenne, deveined shrimp, and meat glue in a blender.”
“Meat glue,” Dufresne declared, “makes us better chefs.”189
However, even if you’re dining at an elegant establishment like wd~50, you may want to think twice about eating “glued” food. That’s one of the problems with this stuff – the appearance of food in which it has been used can definitely be deceiving.
189. Lily Mihalik, “A Fish Without Bones: The rise of meat glue,” June 2011; http://meatpaper.com/articles/2011/mp_fifteen_meatglue.html.
June 10, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – High Fructose Corn Syrup – It Does a Body Bad:
High Fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, first began showing up as a food and beverage ingredient more than three decades ago for reasons that had nothing to do with health – and everything to do with food industry profits.
As cane sugar prices began rising, largley due to quotas and tariffs, the cost of government-subsidized corn started falling. This just happened to coincide with a strange new sweetener, one much cheaper than sugar, that was then becoming available.
The sweetener was the sort of concoction that could have come out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. Manufacturing it is a complicated process involving an enzyme called glucose isomerase, developed back in 1957, which can magically turn the glucose in corn into fructose.
The resulting gooey, syrupy white substance is really, really sweet – so sweet that, in 1984, the soft drink world’s big brothers, Coke and Pepsi, began using it to replace sugar in their beverages. Before long, it had begun appearing in just about every type of processed food and drink imaginable, from yogurt, soup, and ketchup to bread, peanut butter, and jelly.
Of course, like so many other things added or done to our food for economic reasons, no one really bothered to figure out if consuming all that high fructose corn syrup might be having any sort of adverse effect on the health of consumers – at least, not initially. However, as we’ve since discovered to our dismay, HFCS is sickeningly sweet – a major factor in the rapid rise of a whole slew of health problems now plaguing us, ranging from obesity and diabetes to fatty liver disease and pancreatic cancer. It may even be an impediment to those recovering from traumatic brain injuries.
While the corn refining industry has done its best to try to convince us that their product has been unfairly blamed for the skyrocketing increase in such infirmities, independent scientific research has increasingly confirmed that their relationship to the ubiquitous use of HFCS is anything but purely coincidental.
June 1, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – GMOs – The Alien Life-Forms on Your Dinner Plate:
Before we even go into the bizarre background story of how GMOs were allowed to invade our farmlands and food supply (a subject on which much has been written), there’s something you need to know right up front. It’s the fact that whatever you may have heard about how completely “safe” genetically modified foods are, and how they’re essentially no different from those that haven’t been bioengineered, it is all part of an elaborate con job – one designed to protect the profits of both Big Food and the biotechnology industry at the expense of your family’s health.
Perhaps the best indicator of how patently false those notions are comes from those consumers whose honesty you can always depend on – the animals in our midst. As Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, notes in his book, Genetic Roulette, when given the choice, animals usually make a point of steering clear of genetically altered foods.
- Geese that landed annually on an Illinois pond and habitually fed on an adjacent fifty-acre soybean field wouldn’t go near the Roundup Ready GM soybeans newly planted on half of the field, according to agricultural writer C. F. Marley. They continued to eat the conventional soybeans on the other side.
- Cows in Iowa refused to eat from a trough containing genetically modified (GM) Bt corn, opting for one containing corn that hadn’t been gene
tically engineered instead.
- Some cattle ignored a field of Roundup Ready corn and actually broke through a fence to get to a field of non-GM corn.133
Are they merely being finicky, or might those geese, cows, and other creatures who have exhibited similar reactions know something we don’t? It certainly seems that way given what researchers have discovered about the effects of GMOs on animals in studies that have been conducted. After ingesting Roundup Ready soy, the livers and testicular cells in mice underwent changes and their pancreases stopped functioning normally. The offspring of mother rats fed the same type of soy died at more than five times the rate of those whose mothers were given a nonbioengineered variety. That’s not to mention the sheep and cows that reportedly died after feeding on genetically engineered Bt cotton and corn.134
It turns out there’s an awful lot we don’t know about the hidden effects of altering an organism’s DNA, and the consequences on any person or creature that happens to consume it.
133. Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette (Fairfield, Iowa: Yes! Books, 2007), pg 59.
134. Ibid, pp. 32, 38-44, 48.
May 24, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Fluoride – Hazardous Waste in Our Water That Ends Up in Our Food:
What better, healthier way to start the day than with a steaming bowl of organic oatmeal, sweetened with organic honey and maybe topped with some organic strawberries? What could possibly be wrong with that?
Well, how about the addition of a small amount of hazardous industrial waste?
We know – it probably sounds ridiculous. Where would such an unlikely toxic badditive even come from? The oats? The honey? The strawberries that are supposed to have been grown in a chemical-free environment?
But then, this particular contaminant isn’t one that’s there by accident, as so many forms of water pollution are. Rather, it’s been deliberately added in many locales for many years, in amounts ranging from 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (ppm) for the purported purpose of protecting your children’s teeth against cavities.
It’s fluoride, a toxic substance once used to poison roaches and rodents…
But isn’t fluoride something your dentist recommends – a substance found in most toothpastes and mouthwashes? How could it be that bad if the government actually encourages locales to put it in the water?
The answer is intertwined with intrigue. What if we told you that it is precisely because fluoride is so toxic that it ultimately ended up becoming an added ingredient in our water, and, in turn, in various foods and beverages? In fact, it appears that the original purpose of adding fluoride really wasn’t to protect children’s teeth; instead, it was a question of “national security”, that is, to shield our nuclear weapons program – as well as a number of major industries – from liability for damage that this toxic substance was causing to people’s health and properties.
Admittedly, that may sound rather perverse and more than a little bizarre, which may be one reason you’re not hearing it from major media outlets. However, the records that substantiate this claim would be hard to refute.
May 20, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Carrageenan – The Thickener That’s a Sickener:
Judging from the number of commercials on television for drugs designed to relieve various gastrointestinal ills, one can easily conclude that millions of Americans are afflicted with a variety of such problems, ranging from bloating and discomfort to serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Could it be, however, that many of these maladies are the result of a single badditive, one that’s long been considered so safe by virtue of being “natural” that it’s even allowed in organic food, despite a growing body of scientific evidence that it’s anything but?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” If you’re among those who suffer from chronic stomach issues, it’s quite possible that they might be alleviated simply by removing from your diet any processed foods that contain the ingredient carrageenan as has been attested to by some of those who have done just that…Carragenenan is used in a wide variety of processed foods and beverages, ranging from coconut water, low-fat dairy products, and dairy substitutes to nutrition bars, deli meats and precooked chicken It serves as a thickening agent, giving food a nice texture and fatty “mouth feel”.
However, this tasteless, non-nutritive seaweed derivative has long been shown to cause harmful gastrointestinal inflammation and intestinal lesions.
It can also be replaced with safer ingredients that serve similar purposes, such as guar gum (which FDA researchers back in 1988 found did not produce colon damage in lab rats, whereas carrageenan did91). In some instances, all it takes to achieve the same effect is simply to shake a product’s container before consuming its contents. Yet carrageenan continues to be used by many food companies, including some that claim to have only “healthy” ingredients in their products.
91. The Cornucopia Institute, “Carrageenan: New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes,” 2016, p. 18, http://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CarageenanReport-2016.pdf.
Picture of infant formula label courtesy of the Bonvies.
May 13, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – BHA and BHT – From the Battlefield to Your Breakfast Table:
The industrial preservatives BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), like artificial colors, are derived from petroleum. So it should perhaps come as no surprise that these substances, which are used to give a wide range of processed food a longer shelf life, have also been the focus of behavioral and other health concerns, including cancer, for decades, even as the FDA has continued to declare them safe for use in food products (as well as medicines and cosmetics).
In fact, by adding this problematic pair to the list of ingredients he eliminated from the diets of kids being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Dr. Benjamin Feingold, the creator of the Feingold Program, saw the program’s success rate rise from between 30 and 50 percent to 70 percent or more.78
…“Food is supposed to spoil eventually, but of course you want to eat it before it does,” observes the Feingold Association’s Jane Hersey. “These preservatives give food the appearance of being fresh—but it also doesn’t take much of them to trigger serious health and behavioral problems in sensitive individuals.”80
The latter concerns should certainly come as no big surprise, given that both BHA and BHT, which are banned in Japan and most European countries, have long been known to alter brain chemistry in mice exposed before birth. Back in 1974, researchers discovered that including 5 percent BHA or BHT in the diet of pregnant mice caused “a variety of behavioral changes” in their offspring. The baby mice exposed to BHA were slower learners and slept and groomed themselves less than control mice, while those given BHT, besides getting less sleep and showing decreased learning ability, also exhibited increased aggression.81
78. The Feingold Association of the United States, “Let’s Not Forget the BHT, BHA, & TBHQ,” http://www.feingold.org/enews/03-2010.html.
80. Phone Interview with Jane Hersey by Bill Bonvie
81. The Feingold Association of the United States, The Feingold Bluebook, 2012, http://www.feingold.org/DOCS/Bluebook-phone.pdf, p. 44.
May 5, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Aspartame – The Dangerous Drug Posing As A “Healthy” Sweetener:
One of the rules governing pharmaceuticals, and their advertising, is that side effects have to be listed. That’s the reason drug commercials include all those warnings about possible adverse reactions.
But there’s a drug that’s been on the market for several decades, one that countless unsuspecting consumers are encouraged to use as a supposedly healthy sweetening agent. It is added to numerous “sugar free” products, whose only mandatory warning is directed at people who suffer from a relatively rare health problem – a condition called phenylketonuria, or PKU, which affects an estimated 14,500 Americans.39
For everybody else, aspartame – a chemical mixture of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartate, and methanol (wood alcohol) – is regarded by the US Food and Drug Administration as “safe for the general population”. In fact, an agency bulletin describes it as “one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply, with more than 100 studies supporting its safety.”40
Unfortunately, that assessment doesn’t jibe with thousands of complaints about aspartame’s side effects reportedly received by the FDA’s Adverse Reactions Monitoring System, as well as many, many more that have been logged by the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, a Texas-based organization formed in 1987 that no longer actively collects any but the most serious case histories from consumers, according to its founder, Mary Nash Stoddard. “The tens of thousands of documented cases we have in our files convince us we are accurate in our pronouncements that aspartame is harming, and in some cases, killing users around the globe,” says Stoddard.41
…In an epidemiological study that appeared in the Journal of Applied Nutrition back in 1988, the late Dr. H. J. Roberts, a diabetes specialist from Palm Beach, Florida, analyzed reactions from 551 affected individuals and found that the most common included headaches, dizziness, confusion and memory loss, severe drowsiness, eye problems such as decreased vision, blurring, bright flashes and tunnel vision, severe depression, anxiety attacks, and extreme irritability.
A smaller number of respondents suffered from auditory problems, including tinnitus, extreme noise intolerance, and hearing impairment, eye pain, pins and needles, convulsions and blackouts, slurring of speech, tremors, palpitations and rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain, severe joint pain, restless leg syndrome, and various skin problems, including severe itching and hives. A few reported things like pain on swallowing, actual weight gain, low blood sugar attacks, bloating and fluid retention, burning on urination, thinning of hair, and, perhaps scariest of all, blindness in one or both eyes.”44 (Dr. Roberts went on to provide a detailed account of these reactions in a book more than one thousand pages long, which he called Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, published in 2001.)
39. National PKU Alliance, “About PKU,” http://npkua.org/Education/About-PKU
40. United States Food and Drug Administration, “Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for us in Food in the United States, 2015, http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm
41. Phone Interview with Mary Nash Stoddard.
44. United States Food and Drug Administration, “Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects,” 2003, http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/jan03/012203/02p-0317_emc-000199.txt.
April 25, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Next up in the list no one would want to be a part of – Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them – Artificial Colors – Agents of Food Fraud That Are Putting Kids on the Road to Ritalin:
Of all the cheap tricks used by food processors to mass-market their commodities while compromising the health of customers, the use of synthetic dyes is the one that really takes the cake when it comes to being flagrantly fake.
While such fakery in the bakery isn’t that hard to distinguish, what may be less apparent are many of the packaged products, ranging from cereals to salad dressings, which have had their appearance artificially enhanced through the use of coloring agents made from petroleum derivatives.
Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are no longer falling for this pervasive form of food fraud – especially after being made aware of the behavioral effects it can have on their kids, for whom many of these prettied-up products are intended. A number of major companies, as a result, have begun to respond by simply dispensing with these deceptive dyes and replacing them with more natural substances.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of processed foods dressed up in counterfeit colors that still remain on supermarket shelves, many of which are deliberately designed to appeal to preschoolers. That’s why we can’t afford to let our guard down – and why it’s so important to keep up the pressure on the industry to drop the deceptive and damaging disguises they use to lure innocent children and unwary grown-ups…
…It’s hardly surprising that so many supposedly “harmless” synthetic hues have been found to be otherwise when you consider their origins and backgrounds. In fact, the passage of the original federal food safety law, the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, was largely designed to curtail the use of hazardous coloring agents to disguise the appearance of various products…
…In spite of… [such] measures, our processed food products have continued to be colored with synthetic compounds that research is increasingly revealing to be hazardous to our health (and especially that of our children) – badditives that only recently have begun to be replaced with substances more fit for human consumption.
April 18, 2017
Washington, D.C. – As promised, we bring you another selection from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them. Today’s excerpt is from the first chapter, Aluminum – The Metallic Menace to Your Mentality:
Like other substances of questionable safety, this most commonplace of metals came into widespread use in consumer products during the post-World War II period. In various forms, it was officially accorded GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status as a food additive by the FDA back in 1959—meaning that as something in “common use” by then, it required no clinical testing or risk-benefit analysis (which translates to: it must be safe, because people have been using it for a while without any immediately apparent ill effects).
In fact, after President Nixon in 1969 directed the FDA to undertake a systematic safety review of all GRAS substances, a select committee of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) was contracted to do a “re-review” on the status of aluminum. The committee concluded: “There is no evidence in the available literature on . . . acidic sodium aluminum phosphate [and other forms of aluminum] . . . that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.”²
Interestingly enough, although “noting that care should be taken by patients with kidney disease when consuming food containing high levels of Al (aluminum) salts,” the authors of that report “did not mention either dialysis encephalopathy, which has been attributed to aluminum, or “the controversial role of Al in Alzheimer’s disease. Description of these clinical problems began about the same time,” notes Robert A. Yokel, a University of Kentucky pharmaceutical sciences professor.³…
…Consumers were constantly reassured that there was never enough “proof” of an aluminum–Alzheimer’s association to be concerned about it, especially given that the victims were mostly older people and no direct cause-and-effect association was ever clearly established.
All that changed, however, in 2014, when much stronger evidence of such a link emerged—strong enough to move aluminum from something regarded with mere suspicion into the category of an official “suspect.”
2. Yokel, Robert A., Aluminum in Food: The Nature and Contribution of Food Additives, p. 206, http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/28917.pdf
3. Ibid, p. 205
April 11, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Today is officially Read Your Labels Day #RYLD! (Yes, we are a little nerdy when it comes to the work to which we have dedicated ourselves.) As promised, we bring you another selection from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.
Today the Bonvies share a selection from their Introduction – a glimpse into what motivated them to provide such an important resource for managing what we feed to ourselves and our families. And if you like the “taste” you get from these selections, please support more important information like this by purchasing a copy of the book using the link above. Enjoy!
From the Introduction of Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them:
The purpose of Badditives! is to acquaint you with what we have come to regard as the “worst of the worst” in terms of food ingredients, how they came to be an accepted part of our diet, the adverse effects they can have on your health and well-being, and how to steer clear of them. In most cases, of course, the best method of avoiding them is, whenever possible, to buy certified organic products, which not only are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, but are free of most of the substances discussed in this book as well. However, even these aren’t perfect, as you’ll learn in the chapter on carrageenan, a “natural” ingredient that isn’t nearly as harmless as it’s made out to be.
Many of the concerns you’ll find discussed in these pages have been addressed at length in some excellent books, documentary films, and a good deal of scientific and historical information—some of which is cited here and can also be found on the Internet. (Of course, “Internet rumors” and “conspiracy theories” are two of the favorite terms used by industry propagandists in an attempt to dismiss most of the kind of carefully researched information you’ll find here and elsewhere, as if conspiracies—defined as schemes devised by two or more people—were nonexistent, and the Internet was nothing more than a source of unsubstantiated hearsay.) Some of the books we would recommend for those of you who would like to learn more about these issues have been used as references and are mentioned in the chapters that follow.
Hopefully, by the time you finish reading about the damage done by the motley gang of “badditives” to which these chapters are dedicated, you’ll realize that there’s a lot more to worry about in the products you might assume to be safe than merely the amount of sugar (which is actually used much less than it was in years past), sodium (a certain amount of which is actually necessary to keep us alive), and calories they contain. And once you start examining the lists of ingredients on food packages (if you’re not already doing so), you’ll see just how many of them are out there waiting for you and your family to ingest—often half a dozen or more strong in a single product.
At that point, you’ll realize it’s well worth the effort to bar them permanently from your home, your life, and your body.
April 4, 2017
Washington, D.C. – April 11, 201, marks 5 years since the very first CFH Read Your Labels Day #RYLD, the day that serves as a reminder to do everything you can to learn and understand what goes into the things you eat and drink. To commemorate this milestone, Linda and Bill Bonvie have offered to share portions of their new book Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.
Starting on 4/11/17, once a week the Bonvies will share new content from this excellent new resource in the battle to be informed about what we eat, drink, and feed to our families. Feel free to visit this page weekly to check if the latest addition has been posted, or wait to receive the email from us that it is ready to review. Don’t want to wait? Use this link to order a copy for yourself: Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them.
We’ll get things started with a selection from the foreword, written by CFH Board Chair, James S. Turner:
Journalists Linda and Bill Bonvie have been on the food beat for a number of years—most recently as the writers of twice-weekly articles for Citizens for Health’s blog Food Identity Theft from 2010 to 2015.
Their articles laid out in detail the debasing of the American food supply, for example, by manufacturers using industrial sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), “flavor enhancers” like monosodium glutamate, and other brain-damaging excitotoxins and artery-clogging trans fats, all of which have been directly linked to the unprecedented health problems that now plague our society.
The articles formed the basis for Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet—and How to Avoid Them, which zeroes in on the worst of the unnatural substances currently found in processed foods, how they got there, and the ways in which they impact our health (beginning with the first of the alphabetically ordered chapters, which reveals links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease).
Such ingredients give mechanized foods false color, taste, texture, and stability. Without them most of such processed products would taste bland and appear pale, limp, and inert. Various performance-enhancing chemicals, however, can turn these pasty, unappealing, nutrition-deficient discharges from processing machines into the brightly colored, happy-tasting, feel-good stuff we put into our mouths and call food. They carry real risks, as do other substances covered in the following pages, such as GMOs and fluoride, that adulterate our food for even more devious reasons. Along with chronicling how these badditives came to be accepted by federal regulators, the authors advise you on how to banish them from your diet and thus avoid the pitfalls of the easy, lazy, incurious shopping habits that Big Food encourages.
Stay tuned for more – and don’t forget to commemorate Read Your Labels Day #RYLD by being extra-vigilant about examining what Big Food is putting into what you eat and drink. If you find anything especially egregious, or you want to share examples you’ve seen of what we share from the Bonvies’ book, share it with us and other Citizens for Health on Twitter (@citizens4health) and Facebook.