Category Archives: Artificial Colors

There’s an all-important ingredient missing from Starbucks famous Pumpkin Spice Latte … and it’s not the espresso

starbucks (1)You probably can guess that FoodFacts.com has the utmost respect and admiration for Food Babe, Vani Hari. She’s never afraid to take on food manufacturers and challenge them to change. Her efforts have led to many successes that are helping consumers enjoy healthier options. Hari’s writing has prompted petitions that forced Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from its bread, criticized pizza chains for using MSG, and even convinced Chick-fil-A to phase out chicken given antibiotics.

Hari’s latest investigation is aimed at Starbucks, specifically its pumpkin spice latte, with an August 25 blog post titled “You’ll never guess what’s in a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. (Hint: You won’t be happy).”

As with many of her investigations, the Food Babe’s most pressing concern begins with Starbucks’ failure to disclose ingredients for all of its beverages online. Hari writes:

While they list some ingredients on their website, they still do not list the ingredients in their most popular items: their drinks! This includes all of their lattes, frappuccinos, macchiatos, smoothies, etc.

Indeed, Starbucks.com lists the ingredients only for all its food items — but no beverages. However, the issue is something the company says it’s working to amend.

“With more than 170,000 ways to customize your Starbucks beverage, listing ingredients can be very complex. We’ve been working on listing our core beverage recipes online via Starbucks.com, same as we do with our food, and hope to have an update in the near future,” a media spokesperson said Wednesday via email.

The Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is a superstar in the coffee world. It has millions of afficionados. Consumers wait patiently for the beverage to reappear in Starbucks locations nationwide every fall. Unfortunately, it appears that it lacks an all-important ingredient. There’s no actual pumpkin in the beverage.

In her post, Hari goes on to list several “harmful” ingredients found in Starbucks’ most popular beverage, the PSL, including IV caramel coloring, Monsanto milk, pesticide residue, artificial flavors, preservatives, and sulfites.

The ingredient list reads as follows:

Milk, Espresso (Water, Brewed Espresso Coffee), Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup or Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk (Milk, Sugar), Annatto (for color), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color (class IV), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (preservative)), Whip Cream (Whipping Cream, Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Caramel Color (class IV)), Pumpkin Spice Topping: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfites.

While Starbucks did not respond to questions about the Food Babe’s pumpkin spice latte blog post — including whether it has affected the company’s decision to make any changes to the drink — the media representative confirmed that the company is actively working to remove the caramel coloring from its beverage syrup.

“We are actively looking at phasing out caramel coloring, though we don’t have timing to share,” the media spokesperson said. “In any instances where it is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) and safe to consume.”

While Hari’s claim that the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte contains absolutely no real pumpkin is also true, it appears Starbucks is going with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stance. According to the spokesperson, the coffee giant won’t be giving in on that one anytime soon.

“The idea behind the Pumpkin Spice Latte has always been to have an espresso-forward beverage, which is core to what Starbucks is known for, infused with pumpkin-inspired flavors and spices of the fall season,” she said. “The PSL has become the company’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time, and we have no plans to change the recipe.”

So, if we’ve got this right, Starbucks most popular, widely embraced fall beverage will continue to offer consumers the great taste of pumpkin without ever including any pumpkin in its ingredient list. It was designed to bring you the taste of pumpkin with natural and artificial flavor (not to mention at least a few other questionable ingredients) and it’s just fine the way it is. Except for the caramel coloring — which Starbucks is “working on” replacing, but isn’t ready to do quite yet.

Hmmm. Kind of makes you wonder how the Pumpkin Spice Latte managed to rise to its current stratospheric level of popularity. Go Food Babe.

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/cleanplatecharlie/2014/08/starbucks_to_food_babe_no_plans_to_put_real_pumpkin_in_pumpkin_spice_latte.php

Ice cream that doesn’t melt, courtesy of Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand

Wal-Mart-Magic-665x385There are certain things in the world we take for granted. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Summer is baseball season. Leaves turn color in the fall. Fourth of July brings fireworks shows. And ice cream melts.

Oops, we better cross that last one off the list.

Just over a week ago, a concerned mother in Ohio made big news of the fact that Wal-Mart’s Great Value ice cream sandwiches lack the ability to do what all the others can: melt.

Christie Watson just told WCPO in Cincinnati that her son recently left one of the unwrapped Wal-Mart sandwiches outside in 80 degree F heat for 12 hours and it hadn’t melted.

“I thought that’s quite weird,” she said. “So I looked at the box, and it doesn’t say artificial ice cream. It says ice cream.”

The same thing happened to another sandwich that Watson then left out overnight. She said, “Monday I came out and looked at it, and there was still ice cream there. So I thought to myself: What am I feeding to my children?”

So WCPO, as broadcasters are wont to do, performed its own more extensive experiment, leaving one of the Wal-Mart ice cream sandwiches out in the sun for a few hours, along with a Klondike bar and a pint of Haagen-Dazs.

Not surprisingly, reported the station, “The Wal-Mart sandwich [shown above], though it melted a bit, remained the most solid in appearance, and still looked like a sandwich.”

The others melted away. that might be because the others don’t contain the additives that Wal-Mart’s ice cream sandwich do.

According to a cursory look at Wal-Mart’s website, Great Value sandwiches contain just sugar, milk, cream, buttermilk, whey and corn syrup. But Wal-Mart’s product also contains “1 percent or less of mono- and diglycerides, vanilla extract, guar gum, calcium sulfate, carob bean gum, cellulose gum, carrageenan, artificial flavor and annatto for color.”

Just like the no-drip ice cream that Cold Stone Creamery introduced in 2009, Wal-Mart’s sandwiches make use of a modified food starch that makes their ice cream more like pudding.

“The modified food starch that sets instant pudding caused the resulting blend to gel rather than liquefy,” New York Magazine reported about Cold Stone’s product.

Wal-Mart wasn’t very forthcoming about the additives though. It released the following statement that totally avoided the subject:

“Ice cream melts based on the ingredients including cream. Ice cream with more cream will generally melt at a slower rate, which is the case with our Great Value ice cream sandwiches. In the frozen aisles, Great Value ice cream sandwiches are one of the top sellers, and we are glad to be able to offer a great treat that families love.”

What Wal-Mart is trying to say that their ice cream contains more cream than, Haagen Dazs. This isn’t very likely since Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream contains just five ingredients: Cream, Milk Nonfat, Sugar, Eggs Yolks, Vanilla Natural. Great Value Ice Cream Sandwiches (also containing vanilla ice cream) contain 51 ingredients. That’s right — 51. Here’s the list from the FoodFacts.com site:

Ice Cream: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Corn Syrup,Buttermilk, Whey, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum,Calcium Sulphate, Carob Bean Gum, Polysorbate 65,Carrageenan, Flavors Natural, Annatto, Ice Cream,Milk, Cream, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Buttermilk, Whey,Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulphate,Carob Bean Gum, Polysorbate 65, Annatto, Added For Color, Baking Soda, Caramel Color, Carrageenan,Cocoa, Corn Syrup, Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated, ), Soybeans Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Vegetables Shortening, (, Corn Flour Yellow, Mono and Diglycerides, Flavors Natural, Chocolate Wafer, :, Corn Sugar, Corn Starch Modified, Flour Unenriched Bleached

We’re pretty positive that the reason the Great Value ice cream sandwiches don’t melt has absolutely nothing to do with the idea that they contain more cream. Oh — and we also don’t want to eat ice cream with 51 ingredients.

Nope, in our world, we want the fact that ice cream melts to remain on the list of things we take for granted that will never, ever change. We also don’t want to have to repeat Christie Watson’s question, “What am I feeding my kids?” and come up with an answer that’s 51 ingredients long.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1375965/wal-marts-magical-ice-cream-sandwich-just-try-and-melt-me/

Panera Bread jumps on the healthier food bandwagon committing to remove artificial ingredients by 2016!

Panera Bread to Remove Artificial IngredientsGreat news for Panera Bread fans: the popular fast casual chain is the latest to take a big step towards healthier menu offerings. It has announced that by 2016, artificial additives will be removed from its menu including major ingredients like artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives.

“We believe simpler is better,” Scott Davis, chief concept officer said in a news release. “Panera is on a mission to help fix a broken food system. We have a long journey ahead, but we’re working closely with the nutrition community, industry experts, farmers, suppliers and others to make a difference.”

Panera will be taking artificial colors out of its roast beef, maltodextrin and potassium lactate will be removed from the citrus pepper chicken, and horseradish will lose the calcium disodium EDTA.Trans-fats will be removed from the bakery menu items as well.

The announcement is the latest in a string of similar moves from competing fast food chain outlets. Subway recently announced it was removing azodicarbonamide from its bread. The controversial chemical is also found in shoes and yoga mats.

Chick-fil-A also made the announcement that it was cleaning up its menu by reducing ingredients including dyes, HFCS and antibiotics in its popular chicken sandwiches after Vani Hari, the blogger known as “Food Babe” pressured the chain.

And then there’s Chipotle—the poster chain for “healthy” fast food. While Chipotle has been on the clean meat and local produce angle for a while now, it recently made a big step in removing genetically modified ingredients from almost all of its menu items as well as adding vegan sofritos to its offerings.

FoodFacts.com is always happy to hear of another fast food chain making the committment to work towards a cleaner, healthier menu. Panera Bread is an exceptionally popular chain with a solid reputation among consumers. While there menu options have always been thought of as fresher and healthier than many other available options, we’re certainly well aware of the poor ingredients included in so many of Panera’s dishes, tasty as they may be. Kudos to Panera Bread for this commitment. We’re positive that the flavor of their foods will only get better through this effort and that they’ll be gaining even more fans from this bold and necessary move.

This great trend has legs! We can’t wait to see which chain will be the next to make the move towards providing consumers with the healthier foods we all deserve!

http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/move-over-chipotle-panera-bread-is-removing-artificial-ingredients

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese gets a little less “colorful”

Kids get a big kick out of food products that look like their favorite characters – and parents get the benefit of knowing before they serve their children a meal that it’s going to be eaten without protest. Unfortunately parents also know that most of the time the food products that are manufactured in the shapes of popular characters don’t often come with the most desirable ingredient lists. Artificial food colors are often included in the list of those ingredients.

The use of artificial food dyes in the American food supply is rampant and quite controversial – especially when those dyes are in children’s food products. The major food colors used in the U.S. are Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. Each of these dyes has been linked to ADHD symptoms in children. Artificial colors are already banned in various countries. If they aren’t banned, many countries require the use of a warning label on the food containing the dye alerting consumers that consumption of the product may affect a child’s behavior. Nothing like this is currently required by the FDA and there are thousands and thousands of products in the use that use these dyes. Children are consuming those products every day.

According to a Kraft company spokesperson, Kraft is taking a step forward in the food coloring controversy. Beginning in 2014, Kraft has given its line of character-shaped macaroni and cheese a recipe makeover. Part of that makeover is that the product will now be using spices instead of artificial food coloring to give the pasta its famous orange-yellow hue.

In addition to the great news about the elimination of artificial colors, Kraft’s new recipe includes six additional grams of whole grains, a lower sodium level and reduced saturated fat content. The company acknowledges that this is a result of its customers communicating with them. Because of that communication, beginning in 2014, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are out of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese products in fun shapes like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

While we’re all thrilled to hear that Kraft is making real improvements to some of its products, FoodFacts.com has to wonder why those changes aren’t being made to its classic elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese products as well. Since its new recipe that does not include artificial colors will work out fine for its character-shaped line, we’re pretty sure that same recipe can be used in those classic products without a problem.

When questioned about this, the company responded by saying that switching ingredients in products isn’t a simple task as they cannot alter the product consumers have come to expect. We don’t think that’s the best answer for a few reasons. In the first place the original SpongeBob Macaroni & Cheese didn’t taste any different than the classic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Product. So if the new ingredients are acceptable in the character-shaped versions, they’ll be equally acceptable in the classic.

In addition, the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that’s sold in Europe doesn’t contain artificial colors. For those products, paprika and beta-carotene impart color. Consumers are fine with it. We certainly hope that Kraft understands that we’d like to see every blue box it’s selling to consumers free from artificial colors. We’re pretty sure they’ll make their existing customers happy – and that they’ll find new customers who had previously avoided their products because of those artificial colors.

This is definitely a step in the right direction for our food supply. Can’t wait to hear more from Kraft in the future that takes it even further!

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/01/health/kraft-macaroni-cheese-dyes/

Bug Colors. Are Cochineal Beetles in Your Food?

Here at FoodFacts.com, we have been fielding several inquiries on colors extracted from Cochineal Beetles over the past few weeks.

 

Most recently, this topic has been the talk of the town following a news report on the subject, which revealed that the coloring created from the Cochineal Beetles was used in a Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino drink. This has caused both vegans and non-vegans alike to criticize the coffee chain, both on the ick factor and the notion that vegans are unknowingly ingesting animal products when consuming the drink in question.

 

But the use of color from Cochineal Beetles is nothing new. The colors created from the beetles are cochineal extract and carmine, the latter of which was recently the focus of a controversial ingredient day on the FoodFacts Facebook page. The colors are extracted from the female Cochineal Beetles, which are raised in Peru, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere, and provides a red, pink or purple color to the products it is in.

 

What many people don’t realize when questioning the “bug ingredients” is that such colors could illicit a severe allergic reaction in some people. Over the past several years, doctors both in the United States and outside of the country have determined that colorings could cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing, asthma and even anaphylactic shock.

 

Both carmine and cochineal extract can be found in food items such as candies, juices, ice creams and yogurts. It can also be found in certain medicines, including cough drops. Finally, these ingredients can be found in dyed cosmetic products, such as lipstick.

 

So how does one avoid it? By reading the ingredients on the packaging and knowing what colors are derived from the beetles, you should be able to avoid the products if you need to because of an allergy, or want to because of the ick factor. Knowledge is power, after all.

 

We here at FoodFacts are wishing you the best!

Another Across The Pond Comparison -Nutri-Grain Bars

Here’s another example of artificial food dyes being used in foods in America but not in the United Kingdom. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars…check out the comparisons in the video!

Here’s the American version and here’s the United Kingdom’s version.

We like that in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand they tell you the amount in percentages of real ingredients like strawberry.

Good thing the F.D.A. is starting to think about warning Americans about artificial colors.

F.D.A. Thinking About Warnings for Artificial Food Colors

We have been showing you all week, in videos and blogs, how some first world countries have strict policies against artificial food dyes such as Red 40, Yellow 5, Red 3, Blue 2 and Blue 1. These colors are banned in the United Kingdom because they cause hyperactivity in children. And now, it seems like we aren’t the only ones taking notice of this, here is an article from today’s New York Time’s “F.D.A. Panel to Consider Warnings for Artificial Food Colorings

WASHINGTON — After staunchly defending the safety of artificial food colorings, the federal government is for the first time publicly reassessing whether foods like Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal and Minute Maid Lemonade should carry warnings that the bright artificial colorings in them worsen behavior problems like hyperactivity in some children.

The Food and Drug Administration concluded long ago that there was no definitive link between the colorings and behavior or health problems, and the agency is unlikely to change its mind any time soon. But on Wednesday and Thursday, the F.D.A. will ask a panel of experts to review the evidence and advise on possible policy changes, which could include warning labels on food.

Froot Loops are packed with artificial colors.

Froot Loops are packed with artificial colors.

The hearings signal that the growing list of studies suggesting a link between artificial colorings and behavioral changes in children has at least gotten regulators’ attention — and, for consumer advocates, that in itself is a victory.

In a concluding report, staff scientists from the F.D.A. wrote that while typical children might be unaffected by the dyes, those with behavioral disorders might have their conditions “exacerbated by exposure to a number of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color additives.”

Renee Shutters, a mother of two from Jamestown, N.Y., said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that two years ago, her son Trenton, then 5, was having serious behavioral problems at school until she eliminated artificial food colorings from his diet. “I know for sure I found the root cause of this one because you can turn it on and off like a switch,” Ms. Shutters said.

But Dr. Lawrence Diller, a behavioral pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif., said evidence that diet plays a significant role in most childhood behavioral disorders was minimal to nonexistent. “These are urban legends that won’t die,” Dr. Diller said.

There is no debate about the safety of natural food colorings, and manufacturers have long defended the safety of artificial ones as well. In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said, “All of the major safety bodies globally have reviewed the available science and have determined that there is no demonstrable link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity among children.”

In a 2008 petition filed with federal food regulators, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, argued that some parents of susceptible children do not know that their children are at risk and so “the appropriate public health approach is to remove those dangerous and unnecessary substances from the food supply.”

The federal government has been cracking down on artificial food dyes for more than a century in part because some early ones were not only toxic but were also sometimes used to mask filth or rot. In 1950, many children became ill after eating Halloween candy containing Orange No. 1 dye, and the F.D.A. banned it after more rigorous testing suggested that it was toxic. In 1976, the agency banned Red No. 2 because it was suspected to be carcinogenic. It was then replaced by Red No. 40.

Many of the artificial colorings used today were approved by the F.D.A. in 1931, including Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 3. Artificial dyes were developed — just as aspirin was — from coal tar, but are now made from petroleum products.

In the 1970s, Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist from California, had success treating the symptoms of hyperactivity in some children by prescribing a diet that, among other things, eliminated artificial colorings. And some studies, including one published in The Lancet medical journal in 2007, have found that artificial colorings might lead to behavioral changes even in typical children.

The consumer science group asked the government to ban the dyes, or at least require manufacturers to include prominent warnings that “artificial colorings in this food cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.”

Citizen petitions are routinely dismissed by the F.D.A. without much comment. Not this time. Still, the agency is not asking the experts to consider a ban during their two-day meeting, and agency scientists in lengthy analyses expressed skepticism about the scientific merits of the Lancet study and others suggesting any definitive link between dyes and behavioral issues. Importantly, the research offers almost no clue about the relative risks of individual dyes, making specific regulatory actions against, say, Green No. 3 or Yellow No. 6 almost impossible.

The F.D.A. scientists suggested that problems associated with artificial coloring might be akin to a peanut allergy, or “a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties” of the dyes themselves. As it does for peanuts and other foods that can cause reactions, the F.D.A. already requires manufacturers to disclose on food labels the presence of artificial colorings.

A spokeswoman for General Mills refused to comment. Valerie Moens, a spokeswoman for Kraft Foods Inc., wrote in an e-mail that all of the food colors the company used were approved and clearly labeled, but that the company was expanding its “portfolio to include products without added colors,” like Kool-Aid Invisible, Capri Sun juices and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Organic White Cheddar.

The panel will almost certainly ask that more research on the subject be conducted, but such calls are routinely ignored. Research on pediatric behaviors can be difficult and expensive to conduct since it often involves regular and subjective assessments of children by parents and teachers who should be kept in the dark about the specifics of the test. And since the patents on the dyes expired long ago, manufacturers have little incentive to finance such research themselves.

Popular foods that have artificial dyes include Cheetos snacks, Froot Loops cereal, Pop-Tarts and Hostess Twinkies, according to an extensive listing in the consumer advocacy group’s petition. Some grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, refuse to sell foods with artificial coloring.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Erin Go Bragh! It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and as holidays normally go, there are specialty foods for this day! Of course, there is the drinking, Guinness, Bailey’s Irish Coffee and plenty of famous others.

But what food is more iconic on St Patrick’s Day than Irish Soda Bread? Here’s a great recipe or this recipe is great too!

There is also the famed Corn Beef and Cabbage but watch the video and find out what we substitute for that. And learn more creative cooking ideas in the video!

We think the healthiest way to “Go Green” on Saint Patrick’s Day is to use green vegetables and get creative. Shamrock shaped cucumber slices anyone?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!!

Concerns over Caramel Color in Soda Causing Cancer

The Center for Science In The Public Interest is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the caramel color used in some sodas and foods. Soy sauces, steak sauces, dark beers, syrups and the popular Coca-Cola and Pepsi sodas may all contain this chemical color additive.

The Center for Science In The Public Interest is asking the FDA to ban Caramel IV and Caramel III, both made with ammonia. The color additive is also know as, 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI).

The American Beverage Association stated that 4-MEI is safe and is not a human carcinogen.

Coca-Cola released the following statement:

Our beverages are completely safe. Ensuring the safety of our products and maintaining the confidence of consumers are the most important priorities for The Coca-Cola Company.

CSPI’s statement irresponsibly insinuates that the caramel used in our beverages is unsafe and maliciously raises cancer concerns among consumers. This does a disservice to the very public for which CSPI purports to serve. In fact studies show that the caramel we use does not cause cancer. Further, the caramel we use does not contain the 2-MEI alleged by CSPI.

4-MEI is found in trace amounts in a wide variety of foods and beverages, including Coca-Cola. In fact, it forms normally in the ‘browning reaction’ while cooking, even in one’s own kitchen.

These extrapolations by CSPI to human health and cancer are totally unfounded. We have a responsibility to challenge Mr. Jacobson’s statements and make the truth clear for the public.

It should be noted that often animal lab tests do not correlate directly to human testing. As of now, it seems the biggest risk for drinking soda is obesity.