Category Archives: controversial food additives

Most children in the U.S. are exposed to artificial food dye — many at levels that can trigger behavioral difficulties

dyesArtificial food dyes have been a very controversial topic for years now. These chemical colorings carry many problems with them straight into our food supply. Unfortunately, one of the most concerning problems surrounding artificial colors is that they’ve almost certainly been linked with hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Unfortunately, according to new information coming from the FDA, this important message hasn’t reached everyone just yet.

Nearly every child in America is exposed to Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1, according to a new estimate of Americans’ exposure to the controversial chemicals released by the Food and Drug Administration. For children who consume a lot of dyed foods, the estimate of the amount of Red 40 alone exceeds the amount of total dyes sufficient to trigger hyperactivity and other adverse effects on behavior in some studies.

The results were first released at a poster session held at a conference sponsored by the American Chemical Society on August 13. FDA has not yet published the full results and says the assessment is ongoing.

This meal of Hamburger Helper (2 cups), salad with Kraft Creamy French dressing (4 T.), and Powerade Orange (8 oz.) contains 47.5 mg of artificial food dyes. Behavioral tests found as little as 30 mg can trigger hyperactivity or ADHD symptoms in sensitive kids.

“Such widespread exposure to artificially colored foods is bad news for all children, since artificially colored foods aren’t healthy foods in the first place,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest senior scientist Lisa Y. Lefferts. “The FDA is failing kids and parents by allowing the use of these purely cosmetic chemicals in food, which trigger behavioral problems in some children, as even FDA conceded in 2011.”

The FDA tested more than 580 foods whose labels indicated they contained artificial colors, and matched the test results with government data on food consumption for those products, to produce exposure estimates for the general population, young children, and teenage boys. The estimates only include foods that contain dyes, and only include data for people who consumed those foods over a two-day period. The agency has not yet publicly disclosed the brand names of the tested foods.

FoodFacts.com is difficult for parents to be vigilant about eliminating food dyes from their families’ diets. Often it can be a daunting proposition. And often, if your child isn’t affected by smaller levels of artificial colors, it’s easy enough to think this might not be a problem for your family. But it’s important to remember that the studies that have been conducted point to the idea that it isn’t just kids with ADHD who are affected by artificial colors. These chemicals can trigger hyperactivity and behavioral problems in ANY child. If that’s not enough to keep foods with artificial colors out of your home, you can throw in the additional problems associated with colorful processed foods. Things like migraines and facial swelling in adults, the possibility of carcinogenic contaminants, and DNA in mice included in certain animal studies and you can easily see the importance of keeping artificial food dyes out of your diet.

http://cspinet.org/new/201409041.html

Introducing Oreo’s newest flavor: Pumpkin Spice Oreos

sgfwpemysfg3byqk9ijwMaybe the fall flavor craze has really gone too far now. We’re sorry but we really can’t imagine Oreo lovers hoping for a Pumpkin Spice flavored Oreo. It just doesn’t seem incredibly appealing. But it’s also possible that FoodFacts.com has been overwhelmed with everything pumpkin related this season.

That said, we are admittedly not thrilled with this idea. And, admittedly, we’ve been underwhelmed by previous Oreo flavor introductions. For instance the Cookie Dough Oreo wasn’t particularly tasty — and it didn’t make much sense to us. Cookie Dough flavored cream stuffed between two cookies. Did anyone else notice a redundancy there?

Here at FoodFacts.com we take our responsibility of informing our community about what’s really in the foods they’re eating very seriously. So if you’re among the millions of consumers who just can’t say no to pumpkin-spice anything and these cookies seem like a great idea to you, we thought you’d be interested in the ingredients used to create this latest fall “innovation.”

Ingredients: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos. Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie. And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

We’re sorry, this ingredient list doesn’t tempt us with the flavors of the fall season. If we’re building a snowman in the winter, we want to use real snow — not fake snow from a snow machine. The same theory applies to food. The real thing doesn’t contain ingredients that have already been identified as fake, chemical creations. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to use actual spices here.

We’re sticking with the idea that if we’re craving pumpkin — or pumpkin spices, we’re going to actually make something completely out of the box — maybe a pumpkin pie — using the actual ingredients that seem to be inspiring waaaaay too many products this season. Crazy idea we’ve got there. At least we’ll know what we’re eating.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/pumpkin-spice-oreos-the-snacktaku-review/

Can you walk off the negative health effects associated with high-fructose corn syrup?

Pouring a glass of colaWe all know the details of the controversies surrounding high-fructose corn syrup. We all remember the “corn sugar” commercials that tried to convince us that “sugar is sugar.” And we know that just about everyone in the FoodFacts.com community remembers the angrily disputed research linking high-fructose corn syrup to obesity, diabetes and even cancer. There have been some attempts by manufacturers to remove it from a variety of products, but for the most part, high-fructose corn syrup is still a far too popular ingredient in far too many common products, including — and most especially soda.

We’re pretty comfortable with the idea that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup puts people at risk for developing a variety of health problems. But the risk drops substantially if those people get up and move around, even if they don’t formally exercise, two new studies found.

The problem with the sweetener is that, unlike sucrose, the formal name for common table sugar, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver. There, much of the fructose is transformed into fatty acids, some of which remain in the liver, marbling that organ and contributing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The rest of the fatty acids migrate into the bloodstream, causing metabolic havoc. Past animal and human studies have linked the intake of even moderate amounts of fructose with dangerous gyrations in blood sugar levels, escalating insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, added fat around the middle, obesity, poor cholesterol profiles and other metabolic disruptions.

But Amy Bidwell, then a researcher at Syracuse University, noticed that few of these studies had examined interactions between physical activity and fructose. That was a critical omission, she thought, because movement and exercise change how the body utilizes fuels, including fructose.

Dr. Bidwell sought out healthy, college-aged men and women who would agree to drink soda in the pursuit of science. They were easy to find. She gathered 22.

The volunteers showed up at the university’s physiology lab for a series of baseline tests. The researchers assessed how their bodies responded to a fructose-rich meal, recording their blood sugar and insulin levels, and other measures of general and metabolic health, including cholesterol profiles and blood markers of bodily inflammation. The students also completed questionnaires about their normal diets and activity levels and subsequently wore an activity monitor for a week to gauge how much they generally moved.

Then half of the volunteers spent two weeks moving about half as much as they had before. The other 11 volunteers began moving around about twice as much as before, for a daily total of at least 12,000 steps a day, or about six miles.

After a rest period of a week, the groups switched, so that every volunteer had moved a lot and a little.

Throughout, they also consumed two fructose-rich servings of a lemon-lime soda, designed to provide 75 grams of fructose a day, which is about what an average American typically consumes. The sodas contained about 250 calories each, and the volunteers were asked to reduce their nonfructose calories by the same amount, to avoid weight gain.

After each two-week session, the volunteers returned to the lab for a repeat of the metabolic and health tests.

Their results diverged widely, depending on how much they’d moved. As one of two new studies based on the research, published in May in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reports, after two weeks of fructose loading and relative inactivity, these young, healthy volunteers displayed a notable shift in their cholesterol and health profiles. There was a significant increase in their blood concentrations of dangerous very-low-density lipoproteins, and a soaring 116-percent increase in markers of bodily inflammation.

The second study, published this month in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on blood-sugar responses to fructose and activity, and found equally striking changes among the young people when they didn’t move much. Two weeks of extra fructose left them with clear signs of incipient insulin resistance, which is typically the first step toward Type 2 diabetes.

But in both studies, walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively wiped out all of the disagreeable changes wrought by the extra fructose. When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming plenty of fructose every day.

The lesson from these studies is not that we should blithely down huge amounts of fructose and assume that a long walk will undo all harmful effects, said Dr. Bidwell, who is now an assistant professor of exercise science at the State University of New York in Oswego. “I don’t want people to consider these results as a license to eat badly,” she added.

But the data suggests that “if you are going to regularly consume fructose,” she said, “be sure to get up and move around.”

The study did not examine how activity ameliorates some of the worst impacts of fructose, but it’s likely, Dr. Bidwell said, that the “additional muscular contractions” involved in standing and taking 12,000 steps a day produce a cascade of physiological effects that alter how the body uses fructose.

Interestingly, the young people in the study did not increase the lengths of their normal workouts to achieve the requisite step totals, and most did not formally exercise at all, Dr. Bidwell said. They parked their cars further away from stores; took stairs instead of elevators; strolled the campus; and generally “sat less, moved more,” she said. “That’s a formula for good health, in any case,” she added, “but it appears to be key,” if you’re determined to have that soda.

FoodFacts.com still thinks that avoiding high fructose corn syrup AND soda is really what makes the most sense. What is striking here is that keeping our bodies moving can have such a tremendous effect on our health — and how that effect can be achieved with small efforts. Staying active can sometimes appear daunting — getting to a gym and exercising for a certain period of time each day can seem constricting and time consuming for some. But our bodies seem to appreciate increased activity in even the most basic of forms. Regardless of our dietary habits, it’s in our best interest to get moving and stay moving!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/drink-soda-keep-walking/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Baskin-Robbins picks up on the latest Fall trend with new Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream

mainLogoIt appears we no longer need to see the leaves falling from the trees around us to know that Fall has finally arrived. We just wait to see fast food chains and packaged food and beverage manufacturers introduce their new pumpkin-flavored anything to know that the new season is upon us. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin tea, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pudding … there’s pumpkin everywhere!

Baskin-Robbins didn’t miss out on the pumpkin trend this year, introducing Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream.

We’re slowly discovering that many of the pumpkin options being offered don’t include any actual pumpkin, containing instead natural and/or artificial flavors. So FoodFacts.com had to investigate Baskin-Robbins latest fall addition.

We found out that in fact Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream DOES, in fact, include pumpkin in its ingredient list! But don’t get too excited — there’s more news ahead, and it isn’t all good.

Let’s start with the nutrition facts for a 4 ounce serving:

Calories:                          260
Fat:                                    12 grams
Saturated Fat:                    7 grams
Sugar:                               27 grams

Baskin-Robbins refers to a single 4 ounce scoop as a large serving. We’re not in agreement with their serving size assessment. 4 ounces of ice cream is the basic single serving size detailed on most packaged ice creams — and it’s not what most people are consuming as a serving. So we need to keep that in mind. We also need to keep in mind that the 4 ounce serving detailed on the Baskin-Robbins website contains almost 7 teaspoons of sugar, most of which (as indicated by the ingredient list) is added sugar. Please don’t misunderstand, we know it’s ice cream, but this one does appear to be somewhat over-sweetened. In addition, the ingredient list is really unpleasant, at best. Take a look:

Cream, Nonfat Milk, Cinnamon Cream Cheese Flavored Ribbon [Sugar, Cream Cheese (Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Cheese Culture, Salt, Carob Bean or Xanthan or Guar Gum), Invert Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Spice, Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color)], Pumpkin Pie Base [Solid Pack Pumpkin, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Cane Molasses Syrup), Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Spices, Orange Juice Concentrate, Propylene Glycol, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Yellow 6], Sugar, Ginger Snaps [Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Molasses, Soybean Oil, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Ginger, Salt, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Sulphur Dioxide], Corn Syrup, Cheesecake Base [Corn Syrup, Water, Cheese Blend (Nonfat Milk, Cellulose Gum, Lactic Acid, Cultures), Buttermilk, Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Whey Powder, Stabilizer/Emulsifier Blend (Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80), Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Well over 50 ingredients. Artificial color. Natural Flavor. Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80. High Fructose Corn Syrup. And that’s just a handful of the controversial ingredients featured in this ice cream. There are so many sugar additions in this list — Sugar, Brown Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Molasses — even someone with a sweet tooth might think this is overkill. Even Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie ice cream contains less sugar per serving — and honestly, those sugar additions are actual sugar unlike what we’re finding in this new Baskin-Robbins flavor.

It occurs to us that if we’re craving pumpkin flavor, it makes sense to cook with this beautiful fall vegetable. We can find organic pumpkin puree and prepare an actual cheese cake — one that doesn’t include the ingredients featured here. O.k. – it’s won’t be ice cream. But the weather’s cooling down anyway.

So Baskin-Robbins, while you did manage to include pumpkin in this new pumpkin-flavored offering, we’ll definitely be skipping the Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream. There are better treats out there to satisfy our fall food cravings!

https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors.html?popupurl=/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors/pumpkin-cheesecake-ice-cream.html

Consumer voices heard by WhiteWave: Horizon and Silk products losing the carrageenan

iStock_000003462088SmallOne of the most common questions we get here at FoodFacts.com has to do with the controversial ingredient carrageenan. The questions take on a variety of forms, but the basic idea is “What’s wrong with carrageenan, it’s just seaweed, right?” The quick answer is “Nope, wrong.” Carrageenan isn’t seaweed. It’s derived from seaweed and therefore considered a “natural” ingredient. Carrageenan is extracted from the seaweed with an alkaline solution like potassium hydroxide (used to manufacture soaps, batteries and cuticle remover solutions, as well as in the refining of petroleum and natural gas). In short, chemicals are used to produce Carrageenan.

Carrageenan, used as a thickener and emulsifier in foods and beverages, will be phased out from Horizon and Silk products over time, said Sara Loveday, a company spokeswoman.

The ingredient has been the subject of criticism in some circles, with natural-food advocates pointing to animal studies that suggest it causes gastrointestinal inflammation and other problems.

Loveday says WhiteWave still thinks carrageenan is safe, but decided to remove it because customer feedback has been so strong.

“When you get to a certain point of how vocal and strongly a consumer feels about it, we felt it was time to make a change,” she said.

It’s just the latest example of a food maker removing an ingredient customers found objectionable. Regardless of whether an ingredient is safe, companies are finding themselves under growing pressure from customer sensitivities about ingredients, especially given their ability to mobilize on social media sites.

WhiteWave, based in Broomfield, Colorado, did not immediately detail when the ingredient would be phased out of various products. But in a communication with Hari that was shared with The Associated Press, the company said carrageenan will be removed from Horizon flavored milked in the first quarter of next year. It will be removed from all other Horizon items such as eggnog, low-fat cottage cheese and heavy whipping cream, by the second quarter of 2015, the statement said.

The ingredient will be removed from its top five Silk Soy and Coconut drinks by the second quarter of 2015 and other Silk products in 2016.

FoodFacts.com is thrilled with this great news! Carrageenan is an ingredient that confuses so many consumers because it is considered natural, no matter how it is produced. It’s great to see a major manufacturer listening to consumer voices and removing it from their popular products. Consumer voices count. There’s more and more proof of that every day. We know that the consumers who are speaking their minds about carrageenan will express their approval for this move by WhiteWave with increased loyalty for their favorite products. And we know that WhiteWave will set the tone for other manufacturers to step up to the plate and follow suit.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/whitewave-remove-ingredient-horizon-silk-25042264

Coca-Cola Company to remove brominated vegetable oil from U.S. soft drinks

Coca Cola Company Removes Brominated Vegetable OilBrominated vegetable oil is a highly controversial ingredient that’s banned in many different countries worldwide, but is still, for some reason allowed for human consumption here in the U.S. You can find it in some citrus-flavored soft drinks. The Coca-Cola company has announced that they will be removing brominated vegetable oil from soft drinks sold in the U.S.

FoodFacts.com is obviously very happy with this news. But we still certainly wonder why it remains true that there are several ingredients other countries have seen fit to ban that still degrade our food supply here in America.

Though there are exceptions running both ways, it’s generally accurate to say, “Food regulations in the European Union are much stricter than in the United States.”

This especially holds true for chemical preservatives; there are many for which you can say, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows this substance in food and drink, but it is banned in the EU, and possibly elsewhere too.”

For example, the chemical azodicarbonamide is, according to FDA regulations, “Generally Recognized As Safe” in food — in densities no greater than 45 parts per million. But in most of the world, azodicarbonamide is used primarily in the manufacture of rubber and plastics. Various governments in Europe and Australia consider azodicarbonamide a “respiratory sensitizer” that can trigger asthmatic reactions, and in Singapore, using azodicarbonamide in food warrantshigh fines and lengthy prison sentences.

Azodicarbonamide made American headlines last February when the Subway sandwich chain, presumably responding to a petition started by a health-food blogger, announced that it would henceforth stop using the chemical in its bread.

And this week another company, presumably in response to a petition, announced plans to alter its recipes so that the products it sells in America are more in line with its offerings elsewhere in the world: the Coca-Cola company will stop adding bromiated vegetable oil to its American drink products. Brominated vegetable oil contains bromide, which has proven useful as a flame retardant, though Japan and the European Union ban it for human consumption.

Why the wide discrepancy between the U.S. and worldwide views of such chemical additives? Is the United States too lax about food safety where chemicals are concerned — or is the European Union too strict?

Charles Vorhees is a Cincinnati toxicologist who studied the neurological effects of BVOs in the early 1980s. In 2011 Vorhees said, “Compounds like these that are in widespread use probably should be reexamined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren’t effects that would have been missed by prior methods … I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some reexamination.”

There are definitely cases of people who developed massive health problems after excessive consumption of bromide. Consider this example from the 2011 SciAm article:

In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.

In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.

While you’ll read a lot of news that speaks pointedly about the amounts allowed in food products being far too small to cause harm, you may want to consider some other ideas as well:

Brominated vegetable oil has been shown to bioaccumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses.

Bromines are common endocrine disruptors, and are part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. When ingested, bromine competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. This can lead to iodine deficiency, which can have a very detrimental impact on your health.

Bromine is a central nervous system depressant, and can trigger a number of psychological symptoms such as acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms. Bromine toxicity can also manifest as skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias.

The Coca-Cola Company is taking a big step and we’re happy to know that soon Fanta and Fresca will be sold without the brominated vegetable oil. And for all the claims of “a little won’t hurt anyone,” we’d like to emphasize the bioaccumulation of the ingredient. To us, that basically means that there’s really no such thing as just a little brominated vegetable oil. The U.S. needs to catch up with other countries and begin banning chemical additives that citizens abroad don’t need to worry about in their food supply.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/coca-cola-to-remove-flame-retardant-from-american-drinks-050614.html

Holiday flavored chips. Yes. Really.

Well that’s new and different, isn’t it?

We’re used to holiday flavors all around us. We’ve posted recently about the new holiday flavored coffees being offered from the major coffee retailers. Most of us are looking at holiday cookies every day in our offices thanks to home bakers who faithfully, every year, get to work in their kitchens to create incredible holiday flavors for us all to enjoy. And many of us are attending holiday parties offering us an array of seasonal flavors on their tables.

Let’s face it – we’re all about holiday flavors. So it’s no wonder that Pringles picked up on that and decided to offer us some holiday flavored chips. That’s right for a limited time we can all enjoy Cinnamon Sugar Pringles and Pecan Pie Pringles. Honestly, we’re not quite sure how tasty this sounds, but we haven’t tried them yet. So FoodFacts.com did a little research to fill you in on how these holiday Pringles stick up. Here’s what we found:

Cinnamon & Sugar Pringles:
Serving Size: about 15 chips
Calories: 150
Fat: 9g
Ingredients: Dried potatoes, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil), corn flour, wheat starch, sugar and maltodextrin, contains 2% or less of rice flour, salt, dextrose, cinnamon, caramel color, natural flavor and paprika extract (color). Contains wheat ingredients.

If you’re counting out 15 chips, or crisps as Pringles refers to them, it’s honestly not too bad. But the ingredient list certainly leaves something to be desired – complete with some caramel color and “natural” flavor (which really isn’t natural at all).

Pecan Pie Pringles:
Serving Size: about 15 chips
Calories: 150
Fat: 9g
Ingredients: Dried potatoes, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil), corn flour, wheat starch, sugar and maltodextrin. contains 2% or less of rice flour. salt, dextrose. butter (cream, salt). dried molasses, gum acacia, natural flavors, yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake and canola oil.
Contains wheat and milk ingredients.

This flavor has the same profile for calories and fat. But let’s take a closer look at the ingredient list here. In addition to those “natural” flavors included in the cinnamon & sugar flavor, the Pecan Pie Pringles are exceptionally colorful – including Yellow 6, Red 40 and Blue 1. Not the best option out there for any snack.

So that’s the FoodFacts.com assessment of holiday flavored chips. While they aren’t that bad in terms of calories and fat, upon closer look there are better ways to indulge this holiday season. Interesting flavors to be sure – but we’re always concerned about how interesting flavors are derived, and honestly, these ingredient lists leave something to be desired. We’re pretty positive that we can find other ways to flavor our holiday season that don’t include the controversial ingredients in these limited edition Pringles flavors.

http://www.pringles.com/products/limited-edition

Can consuming processed meats increase your chances of developing thyroid cancer?

FoodFacts.com has always maintained the position that the consumption of processed meats is not the best choice to make while trying to maintain a healthy diet. We know that most in our community feel the same way and try to avoid processed meats as much as possible.

We recently read about some new research published in the International Journal of Cancer that links nitrites used in processed meats to a increased risk of cancer. The study comes out of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago and focused on participants with higher and lower intakes of nitrites.

Over 73,000 females up to the age of 70 were followed through a food frequency questionnaire. They were followed for an 11 year period. During that follow-up period, 164 cases of thyroid cancer developed within this population. While there was no general association made between nitrate intake and risk for thyroid cancer in most of the studied population, that in the highest range of nitrite intake had a 100% increased risk of developing thyroid cancer when compared with those who had the lowest range of nitrite consumption. You read that right – a 100% increased risk!

While the study is suggesting a link, that link may be quite factual because nitrites can be converted into cancer causing N-nitroso compounds. These compounds have already been discovered to cause other types of cancers.

Nitrites are common ingredients in products such as hot dogs, processed deli meats, ham, bacon, sausage, and many boxed or canned products where preservatives are found. FoodFacts.com cannot stress the importance of reading ingredient labels strongly enough. There are times when a consumer picks up a product in which they would never expect to find nitrites and the ingredient is listed clearly on the product.

In addition to the possibility of picked up a processed food product where you wouldn’t expect to find nitrites as an ingredient, FoodFacts.com is also aware that there are many folks who do have a difficult time completely giving up foods like bacon and sausage. For these folks, the research suggests that taking a high dose of a Vitamin C supplement, or drinking a high Vitamin C fruit juice can help prevent the conversion of nitrites into N-nitroso compounds. The study also points out that while a juice product may be labeled as high in Vitamin C, it is a more reliable option to take Vitamin C supplements regularly because you can be sure of the content of the supplement more readily than that of the juice.

When looking for a healthy Vitamin C supplement, keep in mind that FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals offer you pure, natural, real ingredients that are free from most items you may be actively avoiding in your supplements, like sugar, salt, gluten and corn. FoodFacts.com would, of course as always, be an advocate of eliminating nitrites from your diet completely. It’s one of the best, healthiest decisions you can make for your body.

We invite you to read more about this fascinating study:  http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Food/processed_meat_linked_to_thyroid_cancer_1222120314.html

When it comes to our food, do we worry about the wrong things?

Everyday, FoodFacts.com adds a plethora of different foods to our database. We post about various food products and ingredients on our Facebook page. We deliver information that encourages people to get to know what they’re actually eating that they can’t see. And, of course, we read labels ourselves. And it makes us wonder …

The first thing anyone looks at on food packaging is the nutrition label. We all know what they look like:

And we are all familiar with what they list out: Calories, Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, Sugars, Protein, Vitamins and minerals. And for the most part, as a society, these are the things we worry about.

Maybe we don’t worry enough about the product’s ingredient list. Maybe we should consider that if a product’s ingredient list is so long that it takes up a good portion of the package, that it might outweigh the fact that the product is low in calories, fats and sugars and high in fiber and protein. Do we determine what’s healthy by the Nutrition Facts label or do we determine what’s healthy by the ingredient list carried on the product? And finally, how do we determine what makes more sense — eating foods with ingredient lists that we can pronounce and understand or eating foods whose calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs and proteins fall within the prescribed requirements?

FoodFacts.com understands that the nutrition label is, of course, extremely important. But we don’t think that all consumers understand that it’s not the only important thing to consider when making a food purchase. Too many of us rely on convenience products that we believe are healthy for us, without ever considering that ingredient list. Sure, that diet frozen dinner is low in calories and fat, with an acceptable amount of sodium and it’s only going to take 10 minutes to heat up in the microwave. But, go ahead and try to decipher what some of the ingredients are that are listed on the box. And that bowl of microwave popcorn that took just minutes to prepare without any oil or having to wash out any pans involved in preparing it? There’s a good possibility you can’t pronounce more than a few of the ingredients on the package it came from.

While we’re all rightfully concerned about the nutrition labels, we need to commit ourselves to being equally concerned about ingredient lists. We need to be alert to ingredients in food like BHT, BHA, MSG, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Bisulfite, Ethoxyquin, Benzoyl Peroxide, Potassium Bromate and hundreds of others that are not only potentially harmful in our food supply, but have actually been banned for use in other countries.

FoodFacts.com wants everyone in our community to be the most informed food consumers possible. And we want you to make the choices that are right for you and your family. So we’d like to make sure that the next time you’re in a grocery store with a product in your hand looking for the nutrition label that you pay close attention to the ingredient list and appreciate the information it’s giving you. You might be surprised as to how quickly you put the box down and go find the real, natural ingredients out of which you can create a comparable dish that contains products you can understand, pronounce and have no chance of being banned anywhere.

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