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Tag Archives: Food and Drug Administration

WTF Am I Eating?

Reading labels is supposed to tell you exactly what you are eating. I always tell people to read labels. Yet, if you read a label it is likely not going to give you the scoop on what and where some of the ingredients come from.

I hate to be the one who shares this with you but I should be the person who tells it like it is and gives you information, good or bad. So here it is folks, hot off the presses! I just read, “9 Disgusting Things You Didn’t Know You’ve Been Eating Your Whole Life” from the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/gross-ingredients_n_4063894.htmlPosted: 03/07/2014 12:00 am EST  |  Updated: 03/08/2014 10:59 pm EST. I have copied it here for your reading pleasure!

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from ‘natural’ our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

  • 1
    Beaver Anal Secretions
    WikiMedia:
    Listed under “ingredients” as: CastoreumHow we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

    Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver’s anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

  • 2
    Human Hair
    WikiMedia:
    Listed under “ingredients” as: L-CysteineHow we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

    Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don’t be surprised if you’ve already eaten some today.

  • 3
    Coal Tar
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Food coloring.How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

    When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago,they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn’t much better: oil.

    “Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum,” says the FDA website.

  • 4
    Anti-Freeze
    Shutterstock
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Propylene GlycolHow we consume it: Salad dressing

    Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

  • 5
    Flame Retardant
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

    Something called “vegetable oil” might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

  • 6
    Biodiesel Additive
    Getty Images
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

    TBHQ is not just gross; it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

  • 7
    Sand
    Getty Images
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Silicon dioxideHow we consume it: Salts, soups and more

    Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

  • 8
    Jet Fuel Additive
    Shutterstock
    Listed under “ingredients” as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)How we consume it: Cereal

    We’ve all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the “others” group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

  • 9
    Borax
    Listed under “ingredients” as: E285How we consume it: Caviar

    Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.

U tube has a similar version, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t7L7UEUHOU.

Well now you know, will it change what you eat?

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in eating, Food

 

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Vote for Voice in Food Politics

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD (Photo credit: The Rocketeer)

After writing last weeks article, Real Milk May Become Extincthttp://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/real-milk-may-become-extinct-as-it-competes-with-sugary-sports-drinks/ , I have to talk about the obvious, food politics.

Stephanie Strom is a reporter who reports it as she sees it. She has written an article in the N.Y. Times, “Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling” on an extremely important topic that infests our world. It pulls back the curtain and exposes the politics plaguing our food supply and the opinions of “nutrition experts”, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/business/a-dismissal-raises-questions-about-objectivity-on-food-policy.html?_r=0.

The main theme of the article: Conflict of Interest; companies using genetically engineered ingredients (GEI/GMO) give monetary funds to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (an organization of 74,000 nutrition professionals, thought leaders and key opinion leaders who guide consumers to make better food selections).

The main issues: The Academy’s conflict of interest policy for selecting committee members who are responsible for making the organizations position on nutrition and health and food topics is:  “Conflict of interest will not eliminate a candidate from an eligible appointment”; And it’s decision to remove a registered dietitian from the panel who questioned the fact that 3 of the 7 committee members are affiliated with companies whose income is GMO based; And that the Academy decided to have the position paper written “before the work group finished its review of the scientific materials”. The dietitian who was removed asked, “Why have a work group if its conclusions are not going to be the basis for the position paper?”

The importance of the issue: Laws decide the fate of whether foods or  genetically modified ingredients will display labels that identify them as such. Consumers will either be able to read a label to identify GMO foods or will not have that option. In a democratic society, I believe it is a consumers right to have the raw data and come to personal conclusions instead of reading a position paper that is crafted by an organization that has financial interest in a certain vote outcome.

The problem: The Academy is a highly regarded “reputable” organization. Many nutrition professionals and consumers do not question the advice provided. Media and other information centers use “reputable” governmental and medical organizations for hard science and objectivity.

Unfortunately, this is an issue that is rampant throughout every industry (education, research, medicine, nutritional supplements…) and is deep-rooted in every aspect of life. Labels should be required on foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. Consumers want to know and are capable of making personal choices. It seems the decisions made by The Academy are not as objective as one might hope. The position in support of GMO seems to seed the relationship it already has with Monsanto.

I respect the dietitian who questioned “the establishment” and hope this leads to increased scrutiny for all organizations funded by corporations that may have a political conflict of interest.

Consumers need to know that behind the scenes charades go on across the board in every industry. Big industry has the big bucks and science needs funding. Money talks loudly in these situations. We all need to become better educated consumers.

Here are 2 more blogs written on this issue, you may find interesting:

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: Are Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Shilling For Big Food? http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2013/jan/23/why_is_and_shilling_for_big_food/

 http://grist.org/food/2011-09-26-pay-to-play-with-the-ada

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in GMO

 

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Real Milk May Become Extinct As It Competes With Sugary Sports Drinks!

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you understand that there are many well-intentioned and not so well-intentioned people making a disaster out of our food supply simply because they make a judgement call and take away our rights to decide whether food shall remain as g-d created it or if it should be altered without your knowledge.

What am I rambling about? Milk as we know it and other dairy products, may become extinct if the dairy industry gets its way. I think the key word in all this is “industry”. This time it is the milk industry but for the same seemingly practical reasons as many other businesses, like Monsanto and  Cargill, that leave a path of devastation everywhere, http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/industry/agribusiness.cfm.

The diary industry’s position is:

  1. Gain a larger share of the market by competing with diet soda and sports drinks (Ca-ching the money will roll in faster than they can count it. You guys are going in the wrong direction if you are interested in keeping dairy healthy). 
  2. Children do not drink milk because of the label stating it is “reduced calorie” therefore it should not be there. (“What, if any, data are available on children’s purchase habits with regard to flavored milks labeled as “reduced calorie flavored milk,” “no sugar added,” “less sugar,” etc?” but my question, why not just stop selling the product if it is not selling? It sells because moms by low-fat.. but, good try.)
  3. Help solve the obesity epidemic that plagues the world (Please explain why again, I must have missed the purpose?) 

Dairy lobbyists, have been petitioning the Food and Drug Administration for the past 4 years to change the “official” definition of milk and other dairy products (sweetened condensed milk, non-fat dry milk, non-fat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D, evaporated milk, dry cream, heavy cream, light cream, light whipping cream, sour cream, acidified sour cream, eggnog, half-and-half, yogurt, low-fat yogurt, and non-fat yogurt). The petition asks that “the standards of identity” for these products “be amended to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients” and if so it will not be necessary to label the milk as “reduced calorie”  In other words, they will take milk and add “suitable” sweeteners. Who is defining “suitable”? 

The “industry” believes a label on the front of the product stating the change is unnecessary and should not be required because currently sugar is added to milk without labeling it. Well thanks for the information and maybe just maybe, change the law to make it necessary to add this information to the label. Oops, that might just affect the bottom line negatively, we better not do that. No thought in helping an epidemic with this one. Are you surprised?

Have you read:

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/non-caloric-artificial-sweeteners-help-to-disprove-the-calorie-theory/

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/category/diet-soda/

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/no-more-secret-ingredients/

http://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_vs_mother_earth_loc/?bNeKGdb&v=23911

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/americas-dangerous-artificial-sweetener-addiction-pt-1

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/problems-artificial-sweeteners-cause-bathroom-pt-2

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/artificial-butter-linked-alzheimers

http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/should-artificial-sweeteners-be-allowed-milk-products

http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/should-artificial-sweeteners-be-allowed-milk-products?video=18245

Want to see the details on the petition, https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products?

Stop the extinction of milk, Make your voice heard by joining the petition to keep hidden artificial sweeteners out of dairy products or call the FDA at (240) 402-2371. The deadline for public comments is May 21, 2013.

To make matters worse, the nutritionist in Dr. Oz’s interview is paid by the dairy industry and he is advocating for this petition because his patients “are not getting enough calcium”. Really, is this the only and best solution a nutritionist can come up with? Pump kids with artificial sweeteners despite what we know about them so we can grow the dairy industry like we did the grain and other food industries (they added high fructose corn syrup and trans fats…) and look we have all been guinea pigs paying the weight and health price while big business cashes in, now more?

Shame, shame, shame on anyone who is involved in this. Mr. Ayoob, you talk research about those who “use artificial sweeteners and make healthier choices”, that is some message you got there, what about others who use it as an excuse to eat more calorie laden foods? What about those who have reactions to these chemicals? No mention of both sides of the issue, What about the negative research found in regards to non-caloric sweeteners? I am furious. What ever happened to ethics?

Do you really want “the industry” to take our right to choose away? A simple call or signature will stop the extinction of milk as we know it and help stop the destruction of our food supply. Not having a voice is un-American.

 

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A is for Arsenic in Apple Juice…

Dr. Oz. was attacked from many different fronts after his show exposed the contamination of apple juice with arsenic , http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/arsenic-apple-juice (there are a few interesting links here you may want to surf,  Sen. Schumer Calls on the FDA to Regulate Juice Companies, FDA Statement, Current Standards, Research Results…).

A part of this controversy stems from the fact that the apples used to make the juice are grown in China, where food regulation laws are not as stringent, are contaminated as a result of pesticide spraying. I did some research on this and came up with an interesting study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21632110, entitled, “Inorganic Arsenic in Chinese Food and its Cancer Risk”.

Shockingly, I found more information about arsenic in U.S. chickens, http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2011/09/19/dr-oz-apple-juice-and-arsenic-chicken-may-have-10-times-more/. Apparently chickens ingest the arsenic in the feed they are fed.

Dr. Michael Greger quotes the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration,  “Chicken consumption may contribute significant amounts of arsenic to total arsenic exposure of the U.S. population….Levels of arsenic in chicken are so high that other sources may have to be monitored carefully to prevent undue toxic exposure among the population.” Read more at http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2011/09/19/dr-oz-apple-juice-and-arsenic-chicken-may-have-10-times-more/.

These reports seem to support the fact that arsenic is not foreign to our food supply and before we go burying the hatchet on apple juice, maybe we need to turn over a few more stones to uncover just how deep-rooted arsenic and other toxic contaminants are in our food supply.
What does this mean for the unsuspecting consumer?
Arsenic is linked to poor mental health in children as well as diabetes, heart and nerve disease for the entire population.
 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Arsenic, Dr. Oz

 

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Cancer Warning Labels on Soda for California in 2012

Cola is usually colored dark brown using caram...

Image via Wikipedia

California is requiring that a cancer warning label be placed on brown colored sodas that contain caramel coloring because toxicology reports, in 2003 and 2005 from The National Institute of Health‘s National Toxicology Program, suggest that ingredients contained in caramel coloring are linked to cancer. It is believed that the caramel color contains two cancer causing ingredients, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI). I’m a label reader and have never seen 2 or 4-MEI listed on the label of any bottle of brown colored soda. If you are interested in reading USA reporter Elizabeth Weise’s story, here’s the link, http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-02-21-colacolor21_ST_N.htm.  I guess caramel coloring is a more friendly sounding term than each of the chemical components in question that sound like they  may be something that actually might cause cancer. 

Just to be fair…The American Beverage Association denies the caramel color/cancer connection. However, if it is true, I wonder how much money they lose if they stop production NOW!?

Here’s the stuff that got me when I went to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramel_color, “caramel color is made by a carefully controlled heat treatment of carbohydrates, generally in the presence of acids, alkalis, or salts, in a process called caramelization. It is fully oxidized has an odor of burnt sugar and a somewhat bitter taste. Its color ranges from pale yellow to amber to dark brown .”  In my readings, I recall, oxidation and burnt foods have been linked to the aging process and cancer.

It’s not just the caramel color and cancer link you should be worrying about when you drink soda. Awhile back I wrote about the risks of drinking soda, http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/page/4/, and listed a few reasons why you should trade in soda for healthier beverages, such as tea, tomato juice or V-8,  homemade lemonade, Greens+(http://greensplus.com/index.php)…

Other foods that contain caramel color are: beer and liqeour, brown bread and custard, doughnuts, cookies, fruit preserves and I guess you’ll have to start checking the ingredient section on the label to see just how many products contain caramel coloring.

Bottom line just like anything else, you need to be the judge and make the right choice for you. Would love to hear your thought, please let me know which side you are on.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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