Category Archives: cereal

Fortified breakfast cereals — too much of a good thing?

cerealFor years, cereal manufacturers have been touting the fortification of their products with vitamins we need to stay healthy. Manufacturers are even fortifying the cereals you really don’t want your kids to eat. Apple Jacks, for instance, are fortified with 11 different essential vitamins. It appears now, though that young children who dig into a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal may be getting too much of a good thing.

A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.

Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group(EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.

Although the Food and Drug Administration is currently updating nutrition facts labels that appear on most food packages, none of its proposed changes address the issue of over-consumption of fortified micronutrients, or that the recommended percent daily values for nutrition content that appear on the labels are based on adults,, says Renée Sharp, EWG’s director of research.

Only “a tiny, tiny percentage” of cereal packages carry nutrition labels that list age-specific daily values, Sharp says. “That’s misleading to parents and is contributing to the problem.”

The daily values for most vitamins and minerals that appear on nutrition facts labels were set by the FDA in 1968 and haven’t updated, she says, making them “wildly out-of-sync” with currently recommended levels deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

Getting adequate amounts of all three nutrients is needed to maintain health and prevent disease, but the report says that routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, over time, lead to health issues such as liver damage and skeletal abnormalities. . High zinc intakes can impair copper absorption and negatively affect red and white blood cells and immune function, and consuming too much niacin can cause short-term symptoms such as rash, nausea and vomiting, the report says.

When combining food intake and vitamin supplements, the report calculates that more than 10 million American children are getting too much vitamin A; more than 13 million get excessive too much zinc; and nearly 5 million get too much niacin.

EWG’s analysis of nutrition facts labels for 1,556 breakfast cereals and 1,025 snack and energy bars identified:

•114 cereals fortified with 30% or more of the adult daily value ( or recommended level of intake) for vitamin A, zinc and/or niacin.

•27 snack and energy bars fortified with 50% or more of the adult daily value for at least one of the three nutrients.

•23 cereals with added fortification of one or more of the nutrients in amounts “much greater” than the levels deemed safe for children age 8 and younger by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cereals with the highest added nutrient levels include national brands such as Kellogg’s Product 19 and General Mills Total Raisin Brain, as well as store brands from Food Lion, Safeway and Stop & Shop.

In a statement, Kellogg spokesperson Kris Charles says, “The report ignores a great deal of the nutrition science and consumption data showing that without fortification of foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, many children would not get enough vitamins & minerals in their diets. Less than 2 percent of all cereals assessed by EWG made their “Top 23″ list and the vast majority of these are adult-oriented cereals not regularly consumed by children.”
The FDA, in a statement, said that proposed daily values for infants (7-12 months) and young children (1-3 years) are being considered, but not for 4-8 year olds “because they consume the same foods as the general population” and the FDA “is not aware of foods that are sold specifically for this age group.”

The agency added that it is proposing lowering daily intakes for these nutrients for the revamped food labels.

The evidence that millions of children are exceeding the safe upper levels for some nutrients “is fairly good and traceable to excessive marketing-driven fortification,” says Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University, who was not involved in the EWG report. “But right now we don’t have a lot of evidence that it is creating massive health problems. Rather, I would say it is unnecessary, not health-promoting, and in some individual cases may be causing toxic problems.”

To help reduce the amount of vitamin A, zinc and niacin that kids consume, EWG says parents should limit the fortified cereals and other foods kids eat to those that contain no more than 20% to 25% of the adult daily value for each of the nutrients.

Just about every cereal we know of includes a notation that the nutrition facts listed apply to a typical 2000 calorie-a-day diet for the average adult. According to the report, Cocoa Krispies when eaten with milk provides 30% of the adult intake of Vitamin A — the upper acceptable limit for 8-year-olds.

FoodFacts.com certainly agrees this offers a new perspective on breakfast cereals — most of which are fortified. It’s interesting to learn that what consumers have always thought of as a good thing might just be a little too good after all.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/24/cereals-fortified-childrens-health/11103783/

Online food marketing and our kids

FoodFacts remembers years ago, when many of us were children, back before the internet, food companies found creative ways of advertising to smaller people. They knew, even back then, that kids were pretty valuable. Put a toy in a box of cereal, print a great picture of it on the front of the box and we could drive our mothers crazy for however long she chose to keep us with her in the grocery store. Cracker Jacks always had a prize inside. Some of the cereal toys were actually fun, even if they didn’t last very long. Food companies have always understood the value of marketing to children.

As the world has become more technologically advanced, so have marketing tactics which target children. In the absence of real regulation, since 2006, 17 major corporations — including General Mills, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Burger King — have taken a voluntary pledge to reduce marketing of their least nutritious brands to children, an effort they updated last year to include marketing on mobile devices. Nutrition experts say that the voluntary pledges come complete with loopholes, and that “better for you” is really in the eye of the beholder. Companies are still marketing foods that really aren’t considered healthy. And they’re doing it in highly creative ways.

Take a minute and go visit:
www.babybottlepop.com
www.happymeal.com
www.mcworld.com
www.bkcrown.com
www.applejacks.com
www.luckycharms.com
www.cookiecrispcity.com
www.pfgoldfish.com

We could actually include a full page of these URLs, but this is a good sampling for our community. Click through and you’ll see that kids can play free games, get involved in safe online communities AND be exposed to brand marketing specifically designed to appeal to children. Most of these sites actually tell the kids and parents right there on the site with a call-out in small type that reads something to the effect of “Kids: this is advertising”. We guess this means that if they’re honest about it, they get to do what they want. It seems to be a great way to ensure brand loyalty amongst the smallest in society. If they like the food company’s games and they can play them for free, they’ll probably drive their parents crazy until they buy that particular food product. Of course, that product might contain all sorts of preservatives, food dyes, trans fats and other ingredients you might not expect to see in food meant for consumption by children.

Just like the “toy-in-the-box” concept that started many years ago, this “free-online-games-marketing” is not a healthy thing for our kids. It succeeded in helping a lot of us get used to things in our diets that never needed to be there in the first place like excess sugars, food coloring that serves no purpose other than visual appeal, fake ingredients that we still can’t pronounce, etc. And now, in the online age, those same tactics are working to ensure the same “food future” for millions of children.

FoodFacts knows there are many in our community who may already be aware of these marketing tactics and which companies are utilizing them. For those who may not already have that understanding, we wanted to make sure that you get the information you need to make the decisions that will help you build and maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Who’s got the highest scores in the sugar ratings?

Foodfacts was not surprised to learn in a report released from the Environmental Working Group, we’ve discovered that many of the breakfast cereals are kids are eating could be reasonably marketed as desserts based on the amount of sugar per serving they contain.

America likes cereal. Moms and Dads like it. You pour it in a bowl, pour milk over it and you have breakfast. And most cereals try to make you feel good with claims like “Whole Grains”, “Natural” and other “healthy euphemisms”.

And our kids like cereals. They have funny commercials with memorable characters, brightly colored boxes with more memorable characters and sometimes, there’s even a surprise hiding in the box. But there’s an even better reason kids like cereals. They taste good. Actually, they taste sweet. They  taste so sweet, our kids probably don’t even think they’re having breakfast. It might as well be dessert.

Some of the products in the study contain as much sugar per serving than a piece of candy of a Twinkie. Here’s a list of the cereals who get the highest scores in the sugar ratings and should be receiving the lowest scores from Moms and Dads everywhere:

1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks—55% sugar

2. Post Golden Crisp—51.9% sugar

3. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Marshmallow—48.3% sugar

4. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries—46.9% sugar

5. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch Original—44.4% sugar

6. Quaker Oats Oh’s—44.4% sugar

7. Kellogg’s Smorz—43.3% sugar

8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks —42.9% sugar

9. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch’s Crunch Berries—42.3% sugar

10. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Original—41.4% sugar

While it’s difficult to help our kids drown out the loud voice-overs from cereal commercials, there are things that have been able to keep the fun in breakfast while keeping the sugar out.

Make oatmeal together: Oatmeal is a pretty quick breakfast. Children love helping adults cook and measuring out the oatmeal and getting it into the pot can involve your child in the cooking process. Sliced bananas, an assortment of berries, raisins and other fruits can be fun mix-ins for oatmeal.

Add some dried fruit to the cereal you like: “Doctor” your healthier cereal with some sweet things that are better for your kids.

Prepare a “fun” looking breakfast: Breakfast smoothies and parfaits look like fun and can be much healthier than the traditional kids breakfast offenders.

FoodFacts hopes that information like this is continually put in front of the public. If we can all have a better understanding of how are kids SHOULD NOT be eating, we’ll have a better chance of having the food companies produce real foods that we can feel comfortable with our children consuming.

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

Here at foodfacts.com, we like to keep our readers informed of all current and up-to-date information regarding health and food. Here is a recent news article discussing the 10 scariest food additives in some of the most popular food products most can find in their pantry.

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments of Eat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

Scary Ingredient #1: Olestrapringles
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it’s scary: In the late ’90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you’ll find it: Lay’s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.stove-top

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.sweet-n-low

Why it’s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats’ diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes.

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ‘N Low, TaB cola

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it’s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
.orbit

Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.sandwich

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn’t over. At Long John Silver’s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day.

Where you’ll find it: McDonald’s McChicken, Long John Silver’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth. fig-enwton

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people—especially asthma sufferers—experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won’t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner bagel

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns

Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.popsicle

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn’t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles

Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.4036996_orig

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary—a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com

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.

Cereal may help ward off hypertension

cereal

Starting each day with a bowl of cereal — especially a whole-grain variety — could trim up to 20% off your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to preliminary research presented Tuesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be caused or worsened by a range of factors, including obesity, lack of exercise, too much sodium, and stress. Although cereal alone won’t keep blood pressure in check, eating it regularly may be an easy and practical way to prevent hypertension, the researchers say.

“Cereal is something that people can easily get into their diet and that they enjoy,” says lead researcher Jinesh Kochar, M.D., a geriatric specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “And it costs a lot less than the drugs you’d have to take if you had hypertension.”

Cereals made from whole grains appear to protect against hypertension slightly more than those made from refined grains (which have had their fiber- and nutrient-rich parts removed), the study found.

Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the College of St. Catherine, in Minneapolis, says that cereal may be a better source of whole grain than bread and other foods because of how it tends to be served. “Usually with cereal you don’t add a source of saturated fat, while you might add something like sausage to bread,” says Jones, who points out that the study did not control for saturated-fat intake. Jones was not involved in the new research.

In addition, the nuts, raisins, or fruit often added to cereal contain fiber and potassium, both of which can help lower blood pressure. Milk’s effects on blood pressure can’t be discounted either, Jones says. “It may be more about the way you put the breakfast together than anything magical about breakfast cereal.”

7 breakfasts under 300 calories
Kochar and his colleagues analyzed data on more than 13,000 men who were part of the long-running Physicians’ Health Study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. All the participants had normal blood pressure and averaged 52 years old at the start of the study. Over the next 17 years, more than half developed hypertension.

Compared with men who never ate cereal, those who averaged one serving per week had a 7% lower risk of hypertension. Those who consumed cereal more frequently had even greater reductions in risk: Two to six weekly servings were associated with an 11% lower risk, and one or more servings per day were associated with a 19% lower risk. (To pinpoint the effect of the cereal, the researchers took several other risk factors for hypertension into account, including age, smoking history, fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity.)

Although the food questionnaires used in the study did not ask about specific brands of cereals, popular brand-name cereals made from refined grains include varieties of Corn Flakes, Special K, and Rice Krispies, while examples of whole-grain cereals include Cheerios, shredded wheat, and bran.

10 heart-healthy rules to live by

More research will be needed to determine whether cereal is associated with a lower risk of hypertension in women, too, Kochar says. Although previous studies have shown that women derive heart benefits from whole grain, the findings can’t be immediately generalized beyond men.

Roughly 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. The AHA estimates that hypertension costs the country an estimated $90 billion in health-care and other costs each year.

Kochar presented his findings at the AHA’s annual conference on nutrition, physical activity, and metabolism. Unlike the studies published in medical journals, the research presented at the meeting has not been thoroughly vetted by other experts.

Information provided by: health.com

Many Cereals may not be as Healthy as you Think!

Cereal

When most of us have a bowl of cereal, especially those that claim they are “healthy,” we never think about their sugar content, but the fact is that some cereals on the market has as much sugar as ice cream and as much salt as a packet of crisps.

Foodfacts.com has discovered some recent information that indicates only 8 percent of cereals are getting approved for their healthy sugar level content and some even some so-called healthy cereals failed to make the grade at all. For example, a person starting the day with a cereal that promotes weight loss, actually offers the same amount of sugar found in a some popular brands of Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Ice Cream! Continue reading

FDA Slams Cheerios

FDA Slams Cheerios

FDA Slams Cheerios

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Cheerios cereal may not be as healthy as the package claims.

According to the FDA, the label on the boxes says that eating Cheerios can lower bad cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

These facts, state the FDA are untrue, thus they have issued a warning letter demanding that the label on boxes be revised.

General Mills has until May 15th to make the necessary changes requested by the FDA or face court injunctions.

The cereal, which is made by General Mills Inc. is the top selling cereal in the world.

“The claim on your Web site leaves out any reference to fruits, vegetables, and fiber content,” the FDA letter said. “Therefore, your claim does not convey that all these factors together help to reduce the risk of heart disease and does not enable the public to understand the significance of the claim in the context of the total daily diet.

Cheerios first hit the market way back in 1941 and has long been thought of as a healthy cereal.

As of today, Cheerios has a special message on their home page about this issue, prior to accessing their main site.

Source: HealthKnowItAll.Net