Category Archives: Beef

Heart failure linked to process red meat in a new study

iStock_000041301708SmallWe know is that animal fats aren’t the good fats our bodies need. And we know that red meat is best consumed in moderation and then only the leanest cuts should be considered. We’ve also learned the enormous benefits of a plant-based diet, especially for those who have experienced heart problems. With all that in mind, this new research certainly makes a great deal of sense. It concerns processed red meats — things like sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats, and its results are fairly substantial.

According to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, men who consume moderate amounts of processed red meat may have an increased risk of occurrence and death from heart failure.

“Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk,” said Alicja Wolk, D.M.Sc., senior author of the study and professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of sodium.”

The Cohort of Swedish Men study is, in fact, the first to investigate the effects of processed red meat independently from unprocessed red meat. It included 37,035 men age 45 to 79 years of age with no history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease, or cancer. Study participants finished a questionnaire on food intake and other lifestyle factors. Researchers followed them from 1998 to the date of heart failure diagnosis, death, or the end of the study in 2010.

After almost 12 years of follow-up, researchers found that heart failure was diagnosed in 2,891 men and 266 died from heart failure. Also, men who ate the most processed red meat (75 grams per day or more) had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure compared to men who ate the least (25 grams per day or less) after adjusting for multiple lifestyle variables. The risk of heart failure or death among those who ate unprocessed red meat didn’t increase.

Results of the study for total red meat consumption are in line with findings from the Physicians’ Health Study, which found that men who ate the highest amount of red meat had a 24 percent higher risk of heart failure incidence compared to those who ate the least.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure, with about half of those who develop heart failure dying within five years of diagnosis.

Processed meats are notorious for containing some specific controversial ingredients, like nitrates. They’re also too high in sodium. For years, conflicting research has been presented on links between processed meats and cancer and elevated blood pressure. So while this new link may not be surprising, the extent of the findings may well be. FoodFacts.com thinks it makes sense for consumers to be more aware of the amount of processed meats they are eating. Some items are more recognizable as processed than others. Pepperoni, salami, sausage and bacon are easy to identify. Some consumers may not realize, however, that the roast beef purchased at the deli counter is actually a processed meat. Let’s stay aware of our consumption to help protect our health.

Read more: http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/processed-red-meat-may-hurt-your-heart-researchers-say/#ixzz34r3Wcm1t

What’s really in the beef served at Taco Bell?

Taco Bell Beef IngredientsFast food is one of our pet peeves here at FoodFacts.com. We try to keep up with the newest introductions from the major chains and bring our community members the facts about nutritional content and ingredients. Those reports generally aren’t positive – and this one is no different.

Today we’re talking about Taco Bell beef. Shouldn’t be a tremendous problem, should it? But sometimes beef isn’t simply beef. Taco Bell admits that its product is 88 percent beef. Read below to find out what makes up the other 12 percent:

According to Taco Bell’s website, the company says that the mystery ingredients have “weird names” but they’re “all safe and approved by the FDA,” ABC News reports.

“Each ingredient helps make our Seasoned Beef taste great. Many of them are items you might use at home such as salt, peppers, and spices. Ingredients like oats and sodium phosphates help make sure the texture is right,” Taco Bell officials said.
The company also said it uses only USDA-inspected, “100 percent premium real beef” and no monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is a flavor enhancer.
“We believe it’s important that consumers make informed decisions about what they eat, and so for many years have provided details of our ingredients on our website,” Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell spokesman, told ABCNews.com.

Here are some of the ingredients and what Taco Bell has to say about them:

1. MALTODEXTRIN
“It sounds weird, but it’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda,” Taco Bell says.

2. TORULA YEAST
“This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste,” the company says.

3. MODIFIED CORN STARCH
“Actually, it’s derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It’s common in many foods like yogurt,” Taco Bell states.

4. SOY LECITHIN
“When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don’t want it to separate. That’s what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate — like oil and water. It’s a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings,” says Taco Bell.

5. SODIUM PHOSPHATES
Taco Bell says it uses this “to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture.”
“They’re also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts,” the company says.

6. LACTIC ACID
Taco Bell says, “This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”

7. CARAMEL COLOR AND COCOA POWDER
Taco Bell says the caramel color “is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”

8. TREHALOSE
Taco Bell: “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”

We were especially disturbed by Taco Bell’s explanation of caramel color because it isn’t simply caramelized sugar. Two of the four types of caramel color used in food products contain known carcinogens, so the simple term “caramelized sugar” is truly misleading.

In addition, that statement about Taco Bell providing detailed ingredient information on their website … well, we guess that really depends on your idea of detailed. This is what we found on their site regarding their seasoned beef: made with 100% premium beef, seasoned with our signature recipe. We don’t see any ingredient details in that statement.

FoodFacts.com is (as could be expected) not excited about Taco Bell’s detailed statement regarding the ingredients in their beef. We actually expect beef to be just that … beef. And we expect seasonings to be things like salt, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, garlic, cilantro or any of a host of other actual seasoning. We’re pretty certain that most in our community feel the same. A little ingredient insight goes a long way. Taco Bell can do better. Consumers deserve it.

http://www.10news.com/entertainment/around-the-web/taco-bell-reveals-its-mystery-beef-ingredients-043014

Who’s defining sustainable beef for McDonald’s?

Or better yet, exactly what is “sustainable beef” anyway? It appears that this question has been discussed quite a bit in the last few years. And even back in January, when McDonald’s announced that it will begin the transition to sustainable beef in 2016, the answers weren’t very clear. That might explain why their plan was met with skepticism.

That plan didn’t provide any answers either. In the weeks that followed, McDonald’s continued working with a group called the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) to come up with a working definition of the term, and on Monday, GRSB released a draft of its definition for public comment. In addition to McDonald’s, GRSB’s new set of sustainability guidelines will also be implemented by the group’s other members, which include Walmart, Darden Restaurants (the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), Cargill, Tyson Foods, and the pharmaceutical company Merck.

Despite its name, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is not so much an environmental organization as a meat industry group. Its executive committee includes representatives from McDonald’s, Elanco, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Just two environmental groups—the World Wildlife Fund and Netherlands-based Solidaridad—are part of its executive board. Cameron Bruett, president of GRSB and chief sustainability officer for JBS USA, a beef-processing company, said that McDonald’s, along with other members, helped come up with the organization’s “sustainability” definition and guidelines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the group’s leadership, the GRSB’s guidelines are short on specifics. Instead, the group provides a definition for sustainability that is open to members’ interpretation. The plan says, for example, that sustainable companies must provide “stable, safe employment for at least the minimum wage where applicable” and institute “where applicable, third-party validation of practices by all members of the value chain.” But it doesn’t doesn’t specify which third-party groups should conduct audits, and doesn’t explain how workplaces should be monitored to prevent labor violations. In its section on climate change, it says that GRSB members should ensure that “emissions from beef systems, including those from land use conversion, are minimized and carbon sequestration is optimized.” But it does not include any specific examples of target emissions standards or grazing policies.

Also absent from the plan is any mention of the beef industry’s use of antibiotics. In the United States, four-fifths of all antibiotics go to livestock operations. McDonald’s uses antibiotics to “treat, prevent, and control disease” in its food-producing animals, according to a McDonald’s spokesman.

Using antibiotics to prevent disease—rather than only to treat infections—has been criticized by some food-safety experts. But the new plan doesn’t recommend that members ditch the practice. “I don’t know if there’s any justification for banning antibiotics in feed, I know that’s popular in some media circles, I haven’t seen the scientific evidence,” said Bruett. Yet studies have shown that antibiotic-resistant bugs can jump from animals to humans.

GRSB says that the lack of details in the plan is intentional; it “deliberately avoids” metrics that could be used to measure progress in sustainability, instead leaving it up to local roundtables to tailor the recommendations to specific regions. Bruett noted that “You could come out with a global standard, but it would simply be ignored, and it wouldn’t lead to improvements among members.” He adds, “There’s all the discussion about sustainability, but it’s by people who have very little knowledge or participation in the livestock industry…you’ll never achieve [improvement] unless you have producer participation or support.​”

Hmmm. When we look closely at these statements, FoodFacts.com still doesn’t come away with a usable definition of sustainable beef. O.k., there seem to be some guidelines taking shape, but they seem to be fairly loose. The use of the term “where applicable” more than once might lead us to believe that members of the industry get to define the term sustainable for themselves, rather than having it defined for them.

Not that we’re suspicious about the intentions, but we could easily see this as a way for a variety of companies (McDonald’s included) to change the public’s perception of the food they serve, without actually changing the food. While the issue is certainly not finalized (as the definition is still open for public comment), we’d like to call the public’s attention to the other concerns regarding the majority of items on McDonald’s menu. If the company is looking to change perceptions, it would behoove them to begin with much-needed changes to the ingredients used in the foods they serve. And that could easily change public perception without any arguments about definition.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/mcdonalds-sustainable-beef
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/fleshing-out-the-incredibly-vague-concept-of-sustainable-beef

Eating too much red meat may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

FoodFacts.com has devoted more than a few blog posts to new information regarding how our dietary choices may affect our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking condition affecting millions around the world, and new research has lead to a better understanding of how the disease develops. While science isn’t close to curing this heartbreaking condition, we are hopeful that the growing body of research is advancing the cause of a cure. Today we read new information we wanted to share with our community.

Eating too much red meat, which raises brain levels of iron, may heighten the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, researchers from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As background information, the authors explained that iron can accelerate the damaging reactions of free radicals. Over time, iron builds up in brain gray matter regions and appears to contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related illnesses.

Alzheimer’s disease has been an exceptionally challenging enemy to defeat. Its number 1 risk factor is aging – something none of us can prevent.

Most scientists and specialists agree that Alzheimer’s is caused by one of two proteins: Tau and Beta-amyloid.

As we get older, these two proteins either disrupt signaling between neurons or kill them off.  Team leader, Dr. George Bartzokis and colleagues believe there is a third likely cause of Alzheimer’s – iron accumulation.

Professor Bartzokis and team compared the hippocampus and the thalamus using sophisticated brain-imaging high- and low-field strength MRI instruments. The hippocampus is a brain region that is damaged early on in Alzheimer’s, while the thalamus is only affected during the late stages. The MRI scans showed that iron builds up over time in the hippocampus but not the thalamus. They also saw an association between iron accumulation levels in the hippocampus and tissue damage in that area.

Most scientists concentrate on the accumulation of beta-amyloid or tau that cause the hallmark plaques associated with Alzheimer’s, Bartzokis explained. For a long time, Bartzokis had been saying that the breakdown starts off much further “upstream”.

Communication between neurons is disrupted when myelin, a fatty tissue that coats nerve fibers, is destroyed, promoting the accumulation of plaques. These amyloid plaques then destroy more myelin – a self-perpetuating cascade of destruction. The more the signaling is disrupted, the more the nerve cells die, and the classic signs of Alzheimer’s appear.

“Circumstantial evidence has long supported the possibility that brain iron levels might be a risk factor for age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s,” says Bartzokis.

Iron is vital for cell function. However, too much of it encourages oxidative damage, something to which the brain is particularly susceptible. Bartzokis and team set out to determine whether high tissue iron might cause the tissue breakdown associated with Alzheimer’s. They focused on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is involved in the formation of memories. They compared the hippocampus to the thalamus, which is relatively unaffected until the very late stages of the disease.

Their MRI technique was able to measure how much brain iron there was in a protein that stores iron – ferritin. The study included 31 Alzheimer’s patients and 68 healthy individuals of the same age.

Measuring iron in the brain is not easy if the patient has Alzheimer’s, because the amount of water in the brain increases as the disease progresses. The more water there is in the brain, the harder it is to detect iron, Bartzokis explained. Bartzokis said “It is difficult to measure iron in tissue when the tissue is already damaged. But the MRI technology we used in this study allowed us to determine that the increase in iron is occurring together with the tissue damage. We found that the amount of iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with tissue damage in patients with Alzheimer’s but not in the healthy older individuals – or in the thalamus. So the results suggest that iron accumulation may indeed contribute to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.” Because the consumption of red meat raises brain levels of iron, the researchers note that too much red meat may, in fact, raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community is aware that our healthiest dietary choices equate to a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. We know that conscious eating habits can help us avoid a whole host of health problems, regardless of age. It’s certainly worth noting our consumption of red meat for many reasons. This latest information points to the idea that there can always be “too much of a good thing” – even if you are choosing the leanest cuts of red meat available. Choosing a variety of lean protein sources is an important part of our approach to healthy eating. Awareness and balance are always significant components of our conscious dietary choices to achieve and maintain good health as we age.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265216.php

So what’s really in that beef you’re eating for dinner tonight?

FoodFacts.com has come across some information that might make you think twice before purchasing, cooking or eating beef from you local butcher or grocery store. It seems that the drought has hit ranchers very hard this year and some have been unable to keep up with the rising prices of corn – the usual feed for cattle.

As an answer to the problems, some cattle ranchers have switched their traditional feed sources and have come up with some “out of the box” solutions in order to survive this very difficult time. The only problem with that is that it may make the rest of us question whether or not we really want to be eating their beef.

Second-hand candy has become an alternative to regular cattle feed. Ranchers have explained that because candy has a higher ratio of fat than corn, they were concerned that the candy might not be effective. The candy is mixed with an ethanol by-product and a mineral nutrient. In this manner they can provide a more balanced ration of fat while still maintaining cattle health. The cows being fed this mixture are gaining the appropriate amount of weight from the feed.

The ranchers are purchasing the candy from companies at a discounted rate because manufacturers have deemed it as salvage – or not acceptable to retailers. Sadly there is some information that states that there are times the candy is fed to the cattle in the mixture while still in their wrappers. Not a very pleasant meal, if I you ask us.

In addition, some ranchers are also feeding cattle a mixture called “blood meal”. This is created from clean, fresh animal blood, and should not include material such as hair,
stomach belchings, and urine but it is acknowledged and accepted that trace amounts of these materials may occur even in good manufacturing processes.

There are several other options for cattle ranchers in terms of feed. These are a few of them that are gaining in popularity because of the higher corn prices ranchers are facing. And while we sympathize with the rising costs of traditional cattle feed, we are more than a little concerned about the quality of the beef showing up in our butcher shops and grocery stores.

FoodFacts.com makes every effort to let you know what’s REALLY in your food. This is an issue we’ll keep a close eye on and make every attempt to provide you with further information in the days ahead. Meanwhile, read more: http://www.wpri.com/dpps/entertainment/must_see_video/cows-eating-candy-during-the-drought-nd12-jgr_4323303 and http://www.uwex.edu/ces/dairynutrition/documents/byproductfeedstuffs.pdf