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Badditives! The Worst Additives in our Food

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, have identified a rogues’ gallery of the “worst of the worst” ingredients out there. We are fortunate to be able to bring you selections from this important book on a weekly basis to provide you with the information you need to be as effective you can be in managing your own health and wellness.

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 ThemrBGH 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 ThemPartially 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.

 

233. Ibid.

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 ThemMSG 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 ThemMeat 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 ThemHigh 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 ThemGMOs – 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 ThemFluoride – 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?

 

The answer is: none of the above, but rather the water from your kitchen faucet you used to make the oatmeal. The same water that you my have taken the precaution of filtering against contaminants.badditives

 

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 ThemCarrageenan – 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?badditives

 

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 ThemBHA 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).badditives

 

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.

Picture of BHT Molecule: This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

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.”40badditives

 

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.

Picture of Aspartame Molecule is made available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

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.badditives

 

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.

Picture of Food Orange 7 Molecule is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

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.badditives

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.

Consumers Compel Food Makers To Remove HFCS From Products

In response to a backlash from consumers, a growing number of food and beverage companies have changed their recipes to remove industrial sweeteners that people find objectionable.  We’ve named High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as the most important ingredient to avoid, and you listened. Furthermore, concerned consumers are asking businesses to remove it from their products.  The food and beverage industry is listening, replacing HFCS with natural cane or beet sugar.

Rather than abandoning brands that contain controversial ingredients, consumers are using social media, personal blogs and online petitions to urge companies to change what goes into their products.  Even First Lady Michele Obama went public, saying at a recent White House event, “Our bodies don’t know what to do with High Fructose Corn Syrup, and don’t need it.”

Food and beverage makers are responding to mounting negative comments.  Ingredient changes include:

  • Sara Lee’s removal of HFCS from its Soft & Smooth and 100% Whole Wheat Breads because their consumers, particularly moms, asked them to.
  • Kraft Foods’ elimination of HFCS from its Capri Sun Juice Drinks, Nabisco Wheat Thins and Premium crackers, and many of its salad dressings.
  • Subway’s removal HFCS from its sandwich breads.
  • Pepsi’s introduction of a new line of soft drinks “made with real sugar.”
  • Yoplait’s eradication of HFCS from all products, citing the change came from Tweets and emails from customers.
  • Chick-fil-A’s taking High Fructose Corn Syrup out of its sauces and dressings.
  • Kroger Supermarkets removing HFCS from its store-brand cereals following surveys with consumers.
  • Wild Oats announcing a new line of products at Walmart stores will not contain “the unwanted ingredient” HFCS.

Over the past decade, the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup in packaged foods and drinks has fallen 18%! That is definitely a move in the right direction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tilting the balance of ‘more damaging’ fructose

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could HFCS go the way of trans fats?

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

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

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

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

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.

HFCS: Excessive Fructose May Be Making “Spoiled Appetites” a Thing of the Past

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

June 11, 2013

Since this blog was published in January, research done on rats by Dr. Francesco Leri, an associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (which we talked about two weeks ago) has determined that high fructose corn syrup is indeed an addictive substance. Dr. Leri found that that the more he increased the percentage of HFCS, the more the rats worked to obtain it, which is “exactly what you notice with drug abuse, the same type of pattern.” Nor did satiating the rats on their regular chow make the craving for HFCS go away. When administered saccharine, however, the rats did not continue to crave it as they had with HFCS. To Leri, this indicated that ”HFCS has effects that are beyond the sweetness in the mouth … effects on the brain.”

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.

Read Your Labels: Six Healthy Sounding Snack Food Scams

Another reason to “Read Your Labels”, Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 23, 2013

Vegetables, antioxidants, fiber – these are all good things, right? Sure, unless they are actually just your cabbage-variety junk food masquerading as healthful food substances.

With gazillions of products on store shelves vying for your attention, don’t think that food and beverage manufacturers are unaware that consumers look for these buzz words, along with pictures of fruits and veggies on packaging.  And they’re especially tuned into the guilty feeling that comes with snacking on less than stellar foods — guilt they make no bones about taking advantage of. Below are six examples of these fraudulent products, followed by some tips on healthy substitutes you can choose so you won’t fall prey to this snack-food scam.

Sweet Potato Chips from Food Should Taste Good:
I don’t think even the company that makes this product is quite sure what it is. While “Sweet Potato” is presented in a great big font, further down, in much smaller letters it says “tortilla chips (it’s a cracker too!)” and then the fact that it’s really: “made with sweet potato.”

Yes, it is made with some sweet potatoes, but this chip (or cracker, if you choose) is mostly made from corn. It’s essentially a corn chip, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. But don’t get misled by the sweet potato come-on.

Home-made sweet potato chips are quite easy to make. The hardest part is cutting the sweet potato which you can make much easier by using a mandoline-type cutter. The rest is as easy as opening this bag of corn chips in disguise.

Veggie Crisps Mixed Vegetable Snack from Herr’s:
Instead of the slick photo of veggies taking up a good top half of this bag, here’s what would be depicted if Herr’s accurately represented its contents: a bag of potato flour and potato starch, a bottle of canola oil, some “natural” flavors, more oil, and, finally – some tomato paste and spinach powder.

Considering that one little ounce of ‘real’ spinach will give you 56 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin A, 14 percent of your C and 5 percent of your iron, this bag of corn flour chips contains zero of those nutrients, so whatever amount of paste and powder are in them doesn’t amount to much of anything.

All Natural Veggie Sticks from Nice!:
Nice!, the new-ish Walgreens store brand has put a lot of thought into the package design of these potato-flour thingies they call “veggie sticks.” Front and center is a “pot” labeled “spinach” with the “veggie” sticks in them bearing a sign that says “eat your greens.” Maybe they mean the color green, as the small amount of spinach powder these contain doesn’t amount to a hill of, well, spinach.

Fiber Plus Antioxidants from Kellogg’s:
If you just went by the front of this box you may think this product contains everything you need for health and happiness; fiber, antioxidants, coconut and fudge.

With just one bar providing 35 percent of your daily fiber “value,” it sounds like a heck of a deal. But the fiber in these Kellogg’s chewy bars isn’t from whole grains, but rather from chicory root fiber, an additive that food manufacturers love, since it adds loads of fiber to foods, is slightly sweet and mixes well with other ingredients without adding a strong flavor.

Unfortunately, one big problem with chicory root fiber is that individuals can differ greatly in just how much they can tolerate without suffering from gas, bloating, nausea and flatulence.  Even small amounts can set some folks rumbling. So considering what Kellogg’s is packing these bars with, perhaps you’d be better off not to try them for the first time on your way to that big job interview.

But it’s not the turbulent chicory root fiber that puts these bars in the “fake” category. It’s the rest of the ingredients, which include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors and partially hydrogenated oil – making this a healthy snack not.

Green Tea Ginger Ale from Canada Dry:
I don’t care how many antioxidants they pump this with — it’s still soda! And a soda with high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient and two preservatives to boot. If it’s green tea you’re looking for there are numerous high quality ready-made brands (such as Honest Tea with honey) to choose from, or you can make your own with boiling water and some tea! I know it sounds crazy, but folks have been brewing tea like that for centuries, I’ll bet you can probably do it, too.

Garden Veggie Straws from Sensible Portions:
The folks that designed the Garden Veggie Straws package must have had a moment of  truth about this product. A small moment, perhaps, recorded in very small type way down on the bottom of the package, which refers to it as “potato snack.”  But that, of course, is eclipsed by the super-gigantic “veggie” name and basket of vegetables graphic.

Actually, this product is pretty much comprised of potato flour and starch with some rice flour and corn starch thrown in for non-veggie good measure. But then, there’s is the added tomato paste and spinach powder, which in some contorted, regulatory way, allows this product to be out in the marketplace with the term “veggie” in its name. (Oddly, it’s also distributed by no less than the Hain Celestial Group, one of the biggest players in the natural and organic food category.)

Are you really hankering for a healthy snack?

Then here are some simple suggestions for steering clear of scams like the ones mentioned above:

Veggies– the real thing: If it’s vegetables you want to snack on, then make it vegetables, not potato-flour chips! Carrots, peppers, celery – all these veggies travel quite well and can be easily prepped at home for any snack bag.

Organic corn and potato chips:  At those times when only a chip will do, the organic section of your supermarket is a much better place to look, with plenty of varieties to select from.

Nuts: Cashews, pistachios and almonds are now widely regarded as “health foods.” Watch out, however, for ones with flavor-enhancing additives. (Actually, nuts taste great with nothing added other than, perhaps, a bit of sea salt).

Fruits: Apples, bananas and oranges look as if nature designed them just for taking on the road with you.

Homemade goodies: Do you make your own popcorn, cookies, bars or fruit mixes from healthy or organic ingredients? Then make an extra batch to take along with you, and you’ll avoid becoming a hungry ‘hostage of the highway’, buying cheap chips and fake veggie products from convenience stores and rest areas vending machines.

Ten Food Items You Might Be Surprised to Learn Contain HFCS

[NagAds id=5]Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 14, 2013

So just how much high fructose corn syrup are you consuming, anyway? If you regularly dine out or eat processed foods, the chances are high you’re taking in more than you might have ever imagined.

Back in the 1980s, when HFCS was a fairly new food ingredient, it was being touted as “better use of an abundant homegrown crop” in a trade publication ad for Cargill headlined “How the newest ingredient in soda pop helps sweeten the pot for corn growers.”  As the ad explained it, a $90 million expansion of the company’s facilities would, when completed, give it “a total capacity of 1.3 billion gallons of fructose a year … enough to fill a trainload that would stretch 154 miles.” Which is an awful lot of fructose – the very component that the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has more recently tried to downplay in advertising claiming that HFCS is not really all that high in fructose after all.

But all that extra capacity has apparently been put to use, judging from the way HFCS has morphed way beyond “soda pop” into every conceivable food product that can be made. An example of just how much HFCS is being produced these days comes directly from the CRA itself, which noted in the most recent “Corn Annual” report  that total shipments for HFCS for 2011 came to more than 19 billion pounds of the stuff.

Back when that ad ran, in 1982, USDA numbers for “deliveries” of HFCS only amounted to 26.6 pounds per person each year. But that number has been insidiously rising year after year as this test-tube sweetener has found its way into every kind of food, hitting the 60-pound-per-person mark in 1997 (interestingly, sugar intake has actually declined over the last century according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures).

 


 

 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.

Sign the Petition

 

 


 

So exactly how much HFCS do these various foods contain? Unless you’re privy to “proprietary” information, as it’s called in the industry, you really have no way of knowing. That’s also true of the actual fructose amount in whatever HFCS “blend” a manufacturer may be using. These unknown fructose concentrations are the subject of a current petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration by Citizens for Health, asking that the agency take action against food and beverage manufacturers using HFCS with fructose amount above 55 percent, the highest amount the FDA allows (Read more about the issue here).

Finding HFCS in everything from prunes to pickles

What we do know for sure is that HFCS turns up in some very unexpected places, such as the products below.

Progresso Bread Crumbs (Plain): The package says the these bread crumbs will “inspire your passion for the art of cooking…” with “authentic Italian taste,” but you’d be hard pressed to find an “authentic” Italian dish that called for high fructose corn syrup.

Sunsweet Prunes: Referred to on the label as “the American Super Fruit,” there is no doubt that prunes are a healthy as well as a sweet-tasting natural product – and one you would least suspect would harbor an unnatural sweetener like HFCS.

French’s Flavor Infuser 10 Minute Marinade: High fructose corn syrup takes the honor of being the very first ingredient in this concoction, even before water and tomato paste.

Kraft Catalina Anything Dressing: With the claim that it’s “fat free” appearing on four places on the packaging, this product is apparently intended to be used on more than salad, as the name implies. It also has HFCS is listed as its second ingredient, right after tomato paste.

Kraft Miracle Whip: Kraft calls this popular dressing a “secret blend,” but if you read the label you’ll find that it includes HFCS.

Vlasic Bread & Butter Pickles: HFCS is the second ingredient, right after cucumbers – demonstrating how easy it is to make a sandwich with HFCS in every single ingredient and not even realize it!

Mott’s Original Applesauce: Here’s yet another supposedly good-for-you-food bearing a major brand name that’s been adulterated with this cheap and unnatural sweetener. Fortunately, organic unsweetened applesauce is easy to find and just about the same price.

Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Supreme Muffin Mix: How “supreme” could the muffins made from this mix be with HFCS in them?

Heinz 57 Sauce: While the label asserts  it will “add zest to steak, chicken & pork,” a glance at the fine print says it will also add HFCS, which is the second ingredient in this sauce after tomato paste.

Campbell’s Healthy Request Vegetable Soup: Also masquerading as a “healthy” product while containing high fructose corn syrup is this new version of an old standard recipe, whose label claims that’s it’s “M’m! M’m! good…for your heart.” But a study, done at that University of California at Davis, found that adults who consumed HFCS for two weeks as 25 percent of their daily calorie requirement had increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, indicators of increased risk for heart disease. And in 2011, researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University concluded that high fructose consumption by teens can put them at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The upshot is that despite industry claims that high fructose corn syrup is fine “in moderation,” the fact that so many diverse types of popular food products have been spiked with it makes consuming “moderate” amounts highly unlikely – unless you’re in the habit of carefully scrutinizing the ingredients of every processed food you buy (or of purchasing organic products). Not to mention that there may well be even higher levels of fructose in many of those items than you’ve been led to believe.

You might even say there’s a whole trainload of it just waiting for you in the supermarket.

Four Examples of How You’ve Been Reading Food Labels All Wrong

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 7, 2013

Reading a food package sounds like it should be pretty easy, doesn’t it? You simply pick it up and learn about the product that’s inside. But there’s a war going on in food labeling, a conflict between the words and images that call attention to the package and its actual contents, which manufacturers typically would rather you didn’t scrutinize.  So they try their best to ‘sucker’ you in with containers that shout out, in Three Stooges fashion, “Hey, look over here!”

Of course when you shop for “real” food in the produce section or the farmers’ market, there is typically no packaging to read — the food sells itself, so to speak. But when you look at what’s inside most “food-like substances,” as author Michael Pollan calls them, you can see why such diversionary packaging is needed.

So what are some of the ways manufacturers entice us into buying products using misleading claims and pictures? Here are a few examples:

4C Totally Light Green Tea Mix

The hook: antioxidants and ‘green tea’ itself. Green tea has become a favorite of health-food enthusiasts due to some amazing ingredients called catechins and, in particular, EGCG, that  appear to be some of the best things a body can consume to ward off numerous diseases and other ailments.

The truth: “antioxidants” is a broad term. The package says each serving contains 70mg of “antioxidants,” but it doesn’t specify what kind are in this drink, and whether they come from the EGCG that make green tea so desirable or merely from the vitamin C that has been added in the form of ascorbic acid. And since this product also contains an artificial sweetener, it can hardly be described as a health drink.

The take-away: The best information I’ve yet seen on this subject came from Men’s Health magazine, which had 14 green tea drinks analyzed for total catechin content and found that Honest Tea green tea with honey came in on top with 215 mg of catechins and 71 mg of the powerful antioxidant EGCG.  To see the entire list (on which 4C is not included), click here.

Yoplait Greek Frozen Yogurt

The hook: Greek yogurt with “2X the protein of regular frozen yogurt.”

The truth: If you read my blog last week, you’re already aware that Greek yogurt is a very controversial item and frozen Greek yogurt even more so. It’s possible that frozen yogurt can contain live cultures (the reason we eat yogurt in the first place), but since frozen yogurt can possibly have acidifiers added in the manufacturing process and even undergo heat treatments, it doesn’t necessarily contain live and active cultures by the time you consume it.

While the big selling point on this product is that it has twice as much protein as conventional frozen yogurt, a closer look at the fine print reveals the statement that the “protein has been increased from 3.5g to 7g” per serving, but most likely not from “real” Greek yogurt, but from “milk protein concentrate,” or MPC.   As noted last week,  this is an undefined, unregulated ingredient that can come from animals other than cows and is the subject of a current legal action against Yoplait and its parent company General Mills for another one of its so-called “Greek” yogurt products.

The take-away: If you are eating yogurt for its health benefits, you’d best stick with a plain, organic variety and dress it up with your own fruit and flavorings.

True Lemon “Lemon for Your Water”

The hook: “100% natural,” “made from lemons.” Water additives are currently all the rage, and this one claims to provide an all-natural way to “flavor the day your way.”

The truth: While the box makes a big point about the product beginning “in the grove with fresh lemons selected for their superior taste,” the first ingredient is citric acid, which is almost always derived from corn, not lemons, made using a mold that feeds on corn syrup. The process of making citric acid from corn also produces manufactured glutamic acid (MSG) as well. The product also “contains soy,” which is hardly something you’d expect to find in a lemon grove.

The take-away: Most water flavorings contain some undesirable ingredients. If you want more than plain water, it’s not all that difficult to make your own flavored versions – eloquently known as “spa water” – as described here.

Hunt’s Tomatoes Sauce

The hook: “100% natural” (with depictions of fresh tomatoes) plus the supposed reliability of a long-established product from a big-name brand.

The truth: Tomato sauce should be one of the simplest of all products – made from ripe tomatoes –  which is the impression that you might get when you see a brand like Hunt’s on the shelf.  Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. This particular product, is made not from fresh tomatoes, but from “tomato puree” – meaning reconstituted industrial tomato concentrate, along with more citric acid, an ingredient called “tomato fiber,” and unspecified natural flavors. (It’s somewhat revealing that the product name appears to be simply “Hunt’s Sauce,” with the word “TOMATOES” stuck in in a tiny, practically invisible font.)

The take-away: While there are a lot of ‘not-so-great’ tomato sauce products out there, you can also find some really good, organic varieties. Watch out for “tomato puree” which is basically reconstituted tomato paste, and don’t let products with that ingredient fool you with pictures of fresh tomatoes, either.

So the answer to how to read a food package is quite simple: rather than focusing on the claims and graphics the manufacturer wants you to see, go right to  the ingredient label. And if that appears to be a list of things that don’t sound like food, just put the item back on the shelf and find something made from real ingredients instead.

A Spoonful of HFCS is Neither “OK” nor Especially “Happy”

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

April 30, 2013

 

Just what are “happy calories”? If you have no idea, Coca-Cola is only to glad to fill you in on the principle of caloric contentment.

The world’s largest beverage company wants you to know that the excess calories you gain from guzzling its flagship product Coke are really your friends, ready to be spent on “extra happy activities” such as dog walking, laughing and dancing.

If that seems kind of bizarre, the fact is that its “I just want to be OK” commercial, which has been airing in prime time, is said to be one of the ways Coke is addressing “obesity head-on.”

By bringing a familiar “calories in, calories out” message to consumers (one Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson has been fond of conveying in her appearances over the last few years),  the soft-drink giant has been doing its part to spread the word that that “…all calories count, no matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola.,” but can be easily worked off through all kinds of recreational pastimes.

Of course, there are scores of consumers and health professionals who would call those calories in Coke, which come from high fructose corn syrup, distinctly ‘unhappy’ ones that may ‘count’ in ways we hadn’t counted on.

For example, health guru and integrative medicine pioneer Andrew Weil, M.D. calls HFCS “a direct driver of obesity in kids,” and something he predicts is “going to turn out to be one of the very worst culprits in (our) diet.”

 


 

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And Dr. Mark Hyman, bestselling author, practicing physician and chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, notes that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup, which went from zero to over 60 pounds per person per year, has coincided with “obesity rates (that) have more than tripled and diabetes incidence (increasing) more than sevenfold” –  a correlation he believes “cannot be ignored.”

In fact, if you look at “delivery” data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it wasn’t until 1968 that HFCS first appeared as a little blip on the data chart, coming in at 0.1 pounds consumed per person annually. By 1978 we were sucking in 10.8 pounds per person per year, and it was all uphill (or downhill) from there, hitting an annual high in 2002 of 62.9 pounds of HFCS consumption per capita.

By contrast, our sugar intake has actually declined  over the last 100 years, with folks in 1909 consuming over 73 pounds per person annually, rising to 101 pounds by 1969, only to drop almost 40 pounds per person by 2011 with the corresponding rise in HFCS use.

And if you’ve ever wondered how much actual HFCS might be in that soda, we’ve actually gone to the trouble of  measuring out the amount of this test-tube sweetener that can be found in various ‘syrupy’ drinks (which, as we’re pointed out before, are not “sugary drinks” in spite of how many times you see them mistakenly described as such).  The results are shown below.

The point is that while sugar may be sugar, it is not high fructose corn syrup (as was made clear last year by the Food and Drug Administration)  – and just as a teaspoon of high fructose corn syrup is not the same thing as “a spoonful of sugar” (or a sugar cube), neither can the calories found in these two very different sweeteners be said to affect us the same way, in the opinion of many experts.

So while it may once have been fairly easy to “work (or play) off” the calories in a truly “sugary drink” and “be OK,” it may not be quite so simple with one whose caloric content comes from HFCS.

Perhaps someone ought to tell the folks who market Coke.