Category Archives: controversial

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

New study links energy drinks to caffeine syndrome and heart problems

Heart attackAfter years of hearing about the possible relationship between energy drinks and emergency room visits and even deaths, FoodFacts.com is excited to share this important information. Finally there’s been a study conducted that takes a good look at the effects of energy drinks.

Energy drinks can cause heart problems according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014 by Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France.

During the two year study period, 257 cases of adverse effects related to energy drinks were reported, of which 212 provided sufficient information for food and drug safety evaluation. They found that 95 of the reported adverse events had cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological, sometimes overlapping. Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension.

Caffeine syndrome was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people. It is characterized by a fast heart rate (called tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache. The study analyzed adverse events reported between 1 January 2009 and 30 November 2012. Some 15 specialists including cardiologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and physiologists contributed to the investigation and results were compared to published data in the scientific literature.

The researchers found that consumption of the 103 energy drinks in France increased by 30% between 2009 and 2011 up to over 30 million liters. The leading brand made up 40% of energy drinks consumed. Two-thirds of drinks were consumed away from home.

Professor Drici said, “So-called ‘energy drinks’ are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death.”

Around 96% of these drinks contain caffeine, with a typical 0.25 litre can holding 2 espressos worth of caffeine. Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells. This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart’s abilities to contract and to use oxygen. In addition, 52% of drinks contain taurine, 33% have glucuronolactone and two-thirds contain vitamins.

“In 2008 energy drinks were granted marketing authorization in France. In 2009 this was accompanied by a national nutritional surveillance scheme which required national health agencies and regional centers to send information on spontaneously reported adverse events to the A.N.S.E.S, the French agency for food safety.”

Rare but severe adverse events were also associated with these drinks, such as sudden or unexplained death, arrhythmia and heart attack (myocardial infarction). Their literature search confirmed that these conditions can be related to consumption of energy drinks.

Drici added,”Patients with cardiac conditions including catecholaminergic arrhythmias, long QT syndrome and angina should be aware of the potential danger of a large intake of caffeine, which is a stimulant that can exacerbate their condition with possibly fatal consequences.

“The general public need to know that so-called ‘energy drinks’ have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose. When used in long alcoholic cocktails, the caffeine in ‘energy drinks’ enables young people in dance clubs or elsewhere to overcome the unwanted effects of alcohol, leading to an even greater intake of caffeine.

“Patients rarely mention consumption of energy drinks to their doctors unless they are asked. Doctors should warn patients with cardiac conditions about the potential dangers of these drinks and ask young people in particular whether they consume such drinks on a regular basis or through binge drinking.”

Energy drinks are too popular. They’re too popular among teens, young adults and adults. And regardless of whether or not any direct links have been found between the enormous increase of emergency room visits and deaths that have involved energy drink consumption, these drinks are dangerous. This new research certainly reflects that and is just the beginning of what we’re certain will be many new revelations regarding the importance of avoiding energy drinks.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/caffeine_syndrome_energy_drinks_linked_to_heart_problems-143804

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

Are GMOs adding to obesity problems?

Here at Food Facts, we’re always discussing the effect of ingredients on our health and well being. We’ve always believed that the ingredient list is key to many, many issues … including weight gain. While calories are important, we don’t believe that they are the be all and end all of weight control for anyone. If a low-calorie food has a bad ingredient list, we understand that a person might actually end up hungrier and looking for more to eat. We understand that ingredients like MSG or hidden MSG ingredients are actually known to increase hunger.

With the country more focused than ever on the obesity epidemic, we feel that it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the foods we eat and their effects. Now it appears that we may be able to add GMO ingredients to the list of those that might make you eat more and consequently gain more weight.

There’s some new research coming from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Yes, it’s an animal study, but its results are certainly a cause for concern throughout the human population. It has linked GMO food products to weight gain.

The study was conducted over a 90-day period and involved both rats and salmon and was focused specifically on how these populations reacted to a diet of genetically modified foods.

The rat population was divided into two study groups. One group was fed only GMO foods and the other only non-GMO foods. The rats who were fed genetically modified corn not only got slowly fatter than the non-GMO population, they also grew considerably quicker and ate more food, more often.

The salmon population studied experienced the same results, with some extra findings. The GMO salmon population experienced more weight gain, and ate more food, more often. In addition, they developed an inability to properly digest protein and developed intestinal changes.

In both rats and salmon, there was a link between the consumption of genetically modified foods, hunger and weight gain. It’s important to remember that in both the rat and salmon populations, there was no restriction of movement (or calorie expenditure). The weight gain occurred regardless of the normal energy expenditure of either the rats or the salmon. Therefore, calories consumed vs. calories burned had nothing to do with the weight gain.

While the study concentrates on animals and fish, it does lead you to ask if it’s possible that the obesity explosion we’re experiencing in our own country and throughout the world, might just have something to do with the amount of processed foods we’re ingesting and their ingredients. Considering that corn is present in almost every processed food available, soy is a common ingredient (and mostly GMO) and canola oil is a popular and “better” oil (that’s also GMO), and that the phenomenal infiltration of these food products actually might coincide with the obesity problem, it’s definitely something we want to keep an eye on.

Food Facts wanted to make sure our community has this important information so that we can all continue to make the best choices we can for our diet and health. Read more here: http://sciencenordic.com/growing-fatter-gm-diet

New York’s proposed ban on super-sized sugary beverages …the right thing to do or government interference? Thoughts from our community, please

Food Facts wants our community to weigh in on this very controversial piece of news. Last month, Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s mayor proposed a ban on the sale of large sized sodas and other sugary drinks. The ban would affect restaurant establishments, movie theaters and street food sellers. Mayor Bloomberg is proposing this ban in order to curb the rising problem of obesity in New York City.

The ban would apply to drinks that are larger than 16 fluid ounces and range from sodas to energy drinks to sweetened iced teas which would be prohibited from sale in delis, fast-food outlets, sporting venues and even hot-dog and sandwich carts which are common on most New York City street corners. If the proposal is approved, it could go into effect in March of 2013. In New York City, more than half of adults are obese or overweight. And about one-third of New Yorkers drink more than one sugary drink per day. This information comes from the New York City health commissioner. The proposed ban would not apply to drinks with fewer than 30 calories per 8-ounce serving, so unsweetened iced teas, diet sodas and flavored or vitamin waters with no calories would not be affected.

According to the mayor, the only thing the ban actually would do is make it less convenient to consume more than 16 ounces of a chosen sugary beverage. After all, a consumer would be free to buy a second one. Because the city does have jurisdiction over local eating establishments they are confident they have the authority to restrict the sales of these beverages.

Since the proposal, other mayors around the country are considering similar actions. Many in the health and nutrition community are supportive of the measure. Many in the New York City community and the government are not.

Here, in our Food Facts community, many are aware of the unhealthy and possibly downright harmful ingredients in soda. But, we’re also pretty aware that those statements don’t just involve sugary sodas and pretty much extend to diet versions, as well. You can check out two examples right here:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Diet-Soda/Coke-Cola-Diet-Coke-Soda-20-oz/778

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Cola/Coca-Cola-20-fl-oz/44984

We’d like our Food Facts friends to weigh in on this issue. Let us know:

1) Is the ban, and others like it that will undoubtedly follow, an infringement on our basic rights? If the New York City government can ban large sized sugary beverages, what other nutrition-based decisions can they go on to force on adult residents?

2) Is the ban a viable way to attempt to control a growing obesity problem in New York and other cities like it?

3) Does the ban actually not go far enough? If we know that the ingredients in soda are actually harmful to our health and that’s true for both diet and sugar-laden beverages, why aren’t governments trying to control the intake of all kinds of drinks? Aspartame is just as controversial as high-fructose corn syrup and phosphoric acid and potassium benzoate certainly don’t qualify as additives we don’t need to worry about.

It’s a fascinating conversation and one that can be looked at from many points of view. As a member of the Food Facts community, we’d like to hear your stance and reasoning. As educated consumers, your opinions are valuable, not only to us, but to all communities and cities considering ways and means to curtail the growing problems of obesity and poor nutrition becoming more and more prevalent in our country every day.

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.

Biting into a Twinkie may never be the same…

hostess twinkies at Foodfacts.com!

Many Foodfacts.com consumers are very familiar with the Hostess brand and their wide variety of cakes and sweets. Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Mini Muffins, and Donettes are just a few of their famous products. What some may not know is that most of these delicious childhood favorites contain beef fat. Why? We’re not quite sure, but we found a response from Hostess to a concerned consumer regarding this issue:
tallow1
Our Hostess Fruit pies contain beef fat. The shortening ingredients noted on our labels are: vegetable (may be soybean and/or canola and/or cottonseed and/or palm oil) and beef shortening. “Beef Fat” when noted, is a very small trace used in the creamy fillings of our cakes for taste. Also, it is used in a trace amount in the vegetable oil frying medium.

Beef fat being used for taste? Sounds ironic for a cake product. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, check the labels to make sure beef fat is not listed as an ingredients. Also, gelatin is normally animal-derived too, so don’t be fooled!

Foodfacts.com