Category Archives: FDA

More cantaloupe recalls…

cantaloupe-listeria-outbreak

Foodfacts.com will continuously update you on the latest food recalls! Make sure to check back daily for more updates pertaining to the deadly cantaloupe outbreak.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 6, 2011 – Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, New York is recalling approximately 4,800 individual packages of FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. was not advised of the possible contamination of the cantaloupe it acquired from an independent wholesale vendor until last Thursday, September 27th.

The recalled FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE was distributed in Buffalo, New York and surrounding areas in retail stores and through catering orders.

The fresh cut fruit subject to this recall was sold between August 31, 2011 and September 11, 2011, and consisted of the following products: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays. The packaging in which these products were packed has best-if-used-by dates ranging from September 4th through September 11th. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the cantaloupe processed by Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. Before cutting whole melons for packaging, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. uses stringent procedures to minimize the risk of contamination. The rind of the whole cantaloupe is thoroughly washed with a sanitizing solution before cutting, and after the seeds are removed, the flesh is washed with this same solution before it is cut or sliced. Despite these procedures, which greatly minimize the risk of contamination, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution.

The Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. recall is part of a larger recall involving cantaloupe traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver area store and the Jensen Farms packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 17 different states across the U.S. between July 29th and September 10th. As of Wednesday there were a total of 96 illnesses, including 18 deaths, related to the contaminated cantaloupe sold by Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms earlier issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its cantaloupes after news of the multi-state outbreak. Jenson Farms has ceased production and distribution of the product while the FDA and the company continue their investigations as to what caused the problem.

Consumers having the recalled Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. product in their possession should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or destroy it. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is located at 2928 Walden Avenue, New York 14043. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (716) 684-4300, Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Food Recall: Mrs. Freshley’s Cereal Bars

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Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Flowers Foods is voluntarily recalling the following Mrs. Freshley’s multipack cereal bars, labeled in English/French for Canadian distribution, because they may contain undeclared non-fat dry milk. People who have allergies to dairy products run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Apple Cinnamon Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002400

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Blueberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002387

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Strawberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002363

The recalled product involves the following distribution:

In Canada: To food and convenience stores in Quebec and Ontario provinces

In U.S: To discount stores nationwide in the dual-language (French/English) multipack carton

The recall was initiated after Flowers discovered that product containing non-fat dry milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk, and that product labeled for sale and distribution in Canada was sold for distribution in the U.S.

Much of the product involved has been contained within the distribution system. Out of an abundance of caution, Flowers issued the voluntary recall and is advising its trade customers to withdraw these products from sale. The company is in the process of recovering the product involved and is in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure the continued safety of those consumers who may be impacted by this issue. The company also has reported the recall to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Canadian and U.S. consumers who have purchased the dual-language (English/French) labeled Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars with the UPC codes noted are urged to return them to the place of purchase for product replacement or refund. No other Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars are included in this recall; only Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars in dual-language packages are involved.

Consumers with questions may call Flowers’ Consumer Relations Center at 1-866-245-8921. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Consumers also may contact the center via e-mail by visiting the Contact Us page at www.mrsfreshleys.com.

Soy Flour Recall!

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Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Thumb Oilseed Producer’s Cooperative of Ubly, Michigan is recalling 2623, 40 lb. bags and 360, 1500 lb. totes of soybean flour; in addition to 924, .08 ton loads of bulk soy meal because they may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products. Especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe or chronic illnesses.

Animals with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and/or vomiting. Some animals will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your animal has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The soy flour was distributed in 40 lb. paper bags under the names:
Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB; Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011).
The soy flour was also distributed in 1500 lb. polyurethane totes under the name
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF082311).
The soy meal was distributed as .08 ton loads after custom processing with Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711.

The recalled soybean flour and meal was distributed to a limited group of wholesale customers located in Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Canada. The shipments occurred in November 2010 thru September 2011. Thumb Oilseed is contacting these customers and taking necessary steps to protect consumer health.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The recall resulted from routine sampling conducted by the company and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which revealed the bacteria in finished product and the manufacturing environment. Thumb Oilseed is cooperating with the FDA in investigating the situation.

This recall does not involve soy oil products produced by Thumb Oilseed.

Consumers who have purchased 40 lb. bags of Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF033011); 1500 lb. totes of Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF092311); and bulk meal with the Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711 are urged to return them to Thumb Oilseed Producers Cooperative for a credit or a refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 989-658-2344 between 9:00 am. and 4:00 pm. EST Monday-Friday.

Sucralose in our drinking water???

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Foodfacts.com works to find all the latest news and research pertaining to the food we eat, and water we drink. We just recently came across this article which we think many of you would be interested in, regarding a recent study determining that sucralose has been found in 19 different water treatment plants in the US. Read below to learn more!

If you’ve been diligently avoiding the consumption of chemical sweeteners like sucralose, you may be alarmed to learn that researchers have found sucralose lurking in the drinking water supply of more than 28 million Americans.

A recent study tested water samples from 19 water treatment plants in the United States serving more than 28 million people. Researchers analyzed the samples for the artificial sweetener sucralose. Samples tested positive for sucralose in the source water of 15 out of 19 plants. Furthermore, treatment failed to remove the sucralose from the drinking water: sucralose was also found in the finished drinking water from 13 out of 19 plants.

Researchers determined that current water treatment methods fail to effectively remove sucralose from our water supply, leaving millions of Americans to unknowingly consume this artificial sweetener every single day.

Why is Sucralose in Our Drinking Water?

When a person ingests sucralose, a large percentage of it is not broken down and is instead excreted as waste. This waste goes through the water treatment plant, where the sucralose remains intact and goes on to become part of our drinking water supply.

Because sucralose has become one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in commercial soft drinks and snack foods, it is no wonder that it is making an appearance in our drinking water. If sucralose consumption continues to rise, it stands to reason that everyone drinking public water will be ingesting more of this chemical sweetener as well – whether they want to or not.

Sucralose is Not Safe for Consumption

The public should be aware that the majority of the studies on the safety of sucralose are funded by the creators of the most popular sucralose product on the market. The conflict of interest is obvious and the results of these studies are clearly biased in favor of sucralose.

Independent studies aren’t nearly so positive. Questions about the negative impact sucralose has on male fertility, red blood cell count, kidney health, gut flora balance and body weight are serious concerns generated from the results of these studies. Many researchers and health experts are convinced that sucralose should never have been deemed safe for human consumption.

Common sense dictates that any chemically-processed food is unfit for human consumption. The fact that these substances are now running rampant through our water supply is an atrocity that violates our right to choose what we put into our own bodies.

(NaturalNews.com)

Pesticides linked to ADHD in Kids?

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Exposure to pesticides used on common kid-friendly foods — including frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery — appears to boost the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, new research shows.
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Youngsters with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, particularly from widely used types of insecticide such as malathion, were more likely to have ADHD, the behavior disorder that often disrupts school and social life, scientists in the United States and Canada found.

Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison.

“I think it’s fairly significant. A doubling is a strong effect,” said Maryse F. Bouchard, a researcher at the University of Montreal in Quebec and lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The take-home message for parents, according to Bouchard: “I would say buy organic as much as possible,” she said. “I would also recommend washing fruits and vegetables as much as possible.”
pears
Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables. In 2008, detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples and 19 percent of celery samples, a government report found.

ADHD affects 4.5 million U.S. kids
Bouchard’s study is the largest to date to look at the effect of pesticides on child development and behavior, including ADHD, which affects an estimated 4.5 million U.S. children. About 2.5 million kids take medication for the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bouchard and her colleagues measured levels of six pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children ages 8 to 15 selected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2000 and 2004. The study included 119 children who were diagnosed with ADHD.

Unlike other studies of pesticides’ impact, Bouchard’s sample provided a glimpse into average insecticide exposure in the general population of children, not a specialized group, such as children of farm-workers. Because certain pesticides leave the body after three to six days, the presence of residue shows that exposure is likely constant, Bouchard said.

She found that kids with a 10-fold increase in the kind of metabolites left in the body after malathion exposure were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Because the researchers didn’t review the kids’ diets, they couldn’t say why some children had such high levels of pesticide residue. Children are at greater risk from pesticides because their young bodies are still developing and may not metabolize chemicals as well as adults’.
apples
The most alarming finding was a near-doubling in odds of ADHD diagnoses among kids with higher-than-average levels of the most common of the six metabolites detected. Kids with high levels of dimethyl thiophosphate were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than children with with undetectable levels of the marker.

The research may add to anxiety about ADHD, which has no known cause, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

“It does seem to suggest that at non-extreme or more typical levels, there does seem to be some increased risk,” said Adesman, who is on the professional advisory board for Children and Adults with ADHD, an advocacy group.

Pesticides prey on nervous system
Boucher studied organophosphate pesticides, which account for as much as 70 percent of the pesticide use in the U.S. They work by interfering with the nervous systems of insects, but have a similar effect in mammals, including humans. Most people in the U.S. have residues of the products in their urine.

Cheminova, the Danish firm that is the leading manufacturer of malathion in the world, declined to comment on the conclusions of the new research. Diane Allemang, vice president for global regulatory affairs, said she hadn’t seen the study.
Parents of children with ADHD, however, said Bouchard’s work will give them one more thing to worry about.
raspberries
“We’re all completely obsessed with food,” said Jamie Norman, 32, of Freeburg, Ill., whose 6-year-old son, Aidan, was diagnosed with ADHD six months ago.

The stimulant medication Aidan takes, Adderall XR, depresses his appetite, so Norman said she’s always trying to find good foods that he’ll want to eat. Other parents of kids with ADHD choose to use diet, not medication, to control the disorder and they’re constantly monitoring food, too.

News that some of the best foods for kids might be tainted with something linked to ADHD is worrisome, Norman said.
“I’ve known for some time that strawberries, in particular, contain high levels of pesticide, but as far as frozen fruit, I don’t give that a second thought,” she said.

Buy organic, make sure to wash

The best advice for parents — and anyone who wants to avoid pesticides — is to choose foods least likely to contain them. The Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy organization, advises shoppers to buy organic versions of a dozen fruits and vegetables that grow in the ground or are commonly eaten with the skin, because they’re most likely to be contaminated.

Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water and scrub firm-skinned produce with a brush. Be sure to rinse frozen fruits and vegetables, too.

But don’t wash produce with soap. The Food and Drug Administration says that could leave behind residues of detergent, yet more chemicals that everyone would do best to avoid.

(MSNBC)

Will we be eating genetically modified Salmon soon?

GM Salmon
Foodfacts.com tries to stay updated with recent news pertaining to genetically modified organisms. Due to the continuing rise of GM crops, fish, and poultry, we believe it’s necessary to alert consumers of these issues because we’re not quite sure yet what the health implications are from consuming such products. Read the article below to learn more about GM salmon!

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are pushing to stop the Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically engineered salmon, saying not enough is known about a fish they say could harm fishery businesses in coastal states.

It appeared last year that the FDA might approve the engineered salmon quickly. But the congressional pushback and a lack of action by the FDA could mean the fish won’t be on the nation’s dinner tables any time soon.

The fish, which grows twice as fast as the conventional variety, is engineered by AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company, but not yet allowed on the market. The company’s application has been pending for more than 15 years. If the agency approves it, it would be the first time the government allows such modified animals to be marketed for people to eat.

Congressional opposition to the engineered fish is led by members of the Alaska delegation. They see the modified salmon as a threat to the state’s wild salmon industry.

In June, the House adopted an amendment by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, to an agriculture spending bill that would prevent the FDA from spending any money on approving the fish. His amendment was approved by voice vote with no objections.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said last week she will attempt to add the same amendment to the Senate version of the bill.

“It kind of gives me the heebie jeebies that we are messing with what Mother Nature did a pretty good job with in terms of a king salmon,” Murkowski said.

While Murkowski’s opposition is rooted in concern for her state’s fishing industry, other senators have expressed worries about potential food safety or environmental risks. More than a dozen senators have written the FDA with concern about the approval process and food safety and environmental risks. Bills to stop the salmon have been introduced in both chambers.

Ron Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty, said he was optimistic when the FDA decided to hold hearings on the company’s application. But a year later, he said, he is frustrated by the delay and has lost investors in his business.

“If you had asked me a year ago if we would be having this conversation, I would have said no,” he said.

The FDA is still in the process of completing their review, spokesman Doug Karas said, “although we cannot predict when that will be.”

Karas said the FDA is planning on releasing a review of potential environmental impacts of growing the salmon – and soliciting public comments on that review – before reaching a decision. That means a decision could be months or even years away.

In the hearings last year, FDA officials said the fish is as safe to eat as the traditional variety. But critics call the modified salmon a “frankenfish.” They say they are concerned it could cause human allergies and the eventual decimation of the wild salmon population if the engineered animals escape.

AquaBounty has maintained that the fish is safe and that there are several safeguards against environmental problems. The fish would be bred female and sterile, though a very small percentage might still be able to breed. The company said potential for escape is low. The FDA backed these assertions in documents released before these hearings last year.

Genetically engineered – or GE – animals are not clones, which the FDA has already said are safe to eat. Clones are copies of an animal. In GE animals, the DNA has been altered to produce a desirable characteristic. The process is common in plant foods like corn and soybeans.

In the case of the salmon, AquaBounty has added a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon that allows the fish to produce growth hormone all year long. The engineers were able to keep the hormone active by using another gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that acts like an on switch for the hormone. Typical salmon produce the growth hormone only some of the time.

Stotish acknowledged that approval of AquaBounty’s product is likely more difficult because they are the first. Approval of the company’s application would open the door for a variety of other genetically engineered animals, including an “Enviropig” being developed in Canada that has less-polluting manure or cattle that are resistant to mad cow disease. Each would have to be individually approved by the FDA.

“Blocking us is the best way to block anything that would come behind us,” Stotish said.

(Huffington Post)

New Nutrition Fact Labels

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:
label
LOS ANGELES — Uncle Sam wants you to know more about what you’re eating.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to revise the nutrition facts label – that breakdown of fats, salts, sugars and nutrients on packaging – to give consumers more useful information and help fight the national obesity epidemic.

A proposal is in the works to change several parts of the label, including more accurate serving sizes, a greater emphasis on calories and a diminished role in the daily percent values for substances like fat, sodium and carbohydrates.

It’s the latest attempt to improve the way Americans view food and make choices about what they eat, and comes in the wake of major advances in nutrition regulations by the Obama administration.

Calorie counts are popping up on menus of chain restaurants across the country and the longstanding food pyramid was toppled this year by the U.S. government in favor of a plate that gives a picture of what a healthy daily diet looks like.

The struggle to redesign the labels on every box, can and carton has been in the works since 2003, and some of the changes could be proposed as soon as this year. FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor cautions not to expect a grand overhaul, but the revamped label does mark a shift to create a more useful nutritional snapshot of foods millions of Americans consume every day.

“There’s no question obesity is a central public health concern that the nutrition facts panel can play a role in. It’s obviously not a magic wand but it can be an informative tool,” said Taylor.

For two decades, the black and white label has offered a glance of nutritional information about what’s inside each package, including calories and grams of fats, cholesterol, protein and carbohydrates. Critics have complained it’s confusing and doesn’t offer a simpler way to make a choice about whether it’s good for them – a judgment the industry wants to leave to consumers.

The proposed label is likely to produce several changes, said Taylor.

For starters, portion sizes should better reflect reality. The 2.5 servings listed on a 20-ounce soda bottle are typically slurped up by an individual in one sitting rather than split between a couple and their child. The same goes for a can of soup, where one serving is often listed as two-fifths of a can.

The FDA is also likely to find a way to emphasize calories, which many people rely on for weight control. Other items likely to disappear or change because they haven’t proven useful include calories from fat and the daily percent value numbers that show how much what an average diet should include.

Still, some wish the revisions would go further to list information about the amount of preservatives in a food and the degree of processing it has undergone. Health activists say such changes could help trim waistlines in America.

The food industry wouldn’t like to see many major changes. The current label is easily recognizable and adaptable to food packages of different sizes because it’s simple, said Regina Hildwine, director for science, policy, labeling and standards at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Hildwine says her Washington-based group, which represents 300 top food, beverage companies – including Nestle, General Mills Inc., and Coca-Cola Co. – has provided extensive feedback to the FDA in the run-up to their proposed rule.

“I personally talk with FDA on a regular basis to share views and get information and sometimes they call me,” said Hildwine.

Advocates believe that the government and industry are too cozy, and that food companies are reluctant to overhaul food labels for fear of their profits being hurt.

“It’s against the industry’s interest to help the consumer make better choices because then they’ll sell less food,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “If the population is going to lose weight, it’s going to eat less food, so that means less business for them.”

There’s no shortage of ideas on how to improve the label. A recent contest by the University of California, Berkeley and Good Magazine yielded 60 colorful new designs.

A familiar theme popped up: red, yellow and green colors of a traffic light to indicate whether a food is good or bad. Another offered thumbs up and thumbs down on nutrients, depending on how much.

Manufacturers don’t think a stoplight system would work because most foods have a mix of nutrients and diets are not the same for everyone, Hildwine said.

“A color-coded scheme would not be as helpful to consumers as a fact-based approach,” she said.

The winning design was created by Renee Walker, whose label is topped by a large blocks of color above the nutrient listing, with each block representing an ingredient. For example, a jar of peanut butter would typically have a big box for peanuts, a smaller box for sugar, and other blocks for other ingredients.

The FDA has long avoided putting qualitative judgments about food on labels in favor of a simple listing of macronutrients, said contest judge and Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael Jacobson.

Before the FDA first introduced the nutrition facts label in 1992, choosy Americans puzzled over a tiny printed listing of ingredients on packages to help determine what to feed their families.

As a result, Americans often relied on gut feelings to choose their diets at a time when the obesity epidemic was taking root.

Dr. David Kessler served as FDA commissioner during what he called a “battle royale” over the first label.

“Every change is a battle with the food industry,” said Kessler. “The food label that we implemented – did it harm the food industry in any way? No. In fact, I’m sure they profited from it.”

Kessler, now a University of California, San Francisco professor and author, says the label is due for an update.

Like many experts, he’d like to see the new label address how much ingredients are processed.

A pie-chart could, for example, show how much of a jar of tomato sauce is from actual tomatoes, and how much is sugar, fats, sodium, water and whatever else may be in it.

Not that all food processing is bad. Skim milk and lean meat have been skimmed and trimmed of fat. Frozen vegetables are typically captured at peak ripeness without introduction of preservatives or sodium.

But many highly processed foods are stuffed with unpronounceable and nutritionally questionable substances. Add fat, sugar and salt, as processed foods so often do, Kessler said, and you have the perfect recipe for an American-style obesity epidemic.

“Twenty years ago, you would have maybe 20 to 30 chews per bite of food,” said Kessler. “Today, food is so highly processed and so stimulating it goes down in a wash (of saliva), like we’re eating adult baby food.”

(Huffington Post)

ConAgra Lawsuit: GMO’s are NOT Natural

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Foodfacts.com would like to report that ConAgra is being sued for labeling “natural” on their GMO infested Wesson oils. As we all know, there is nothing natural about genetic modification. In fact, Monsanto itself defines their biotechnology as “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.” Consumers are rallying together to take down ConAgra. Maybe this will be another closer step towards GMO-labeling? Check out the story below!
wesson
If you use Wesson brand cooking oils, you may be able to join a class action against food giant ConAgra for deceptively marketing the products as natural.

These days it’s hard to walk down a supermarket aisle without bumping into a food product that claims to be “all-natural.” If you’ve ever wondered how even some junk food products can claim this moniker (witness: Cheetos Natural Puff White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Snacks – doesn’t that sound like it came straight from your garden?) the answer is simple if illogical: the Food and Drug Administration has not defined the term natural.

So food marketers, knowing that many shoppers are increasingly concerned about healthful eating, figured: why not just slap the natural label on anything we can get away with? That wishful thinking may soon be coming to an end if a few clever consumer lawyers have anything to say about it.

While various lawsuits have been filed in recent years claiming that food companies using the term natural are engaging in deceptive marketing, a suit filed in June in California against ConAgra could make the entire industrial food complex shake in its boots.

The plaintiff claims he relied on Wesson oils “100% natural” label, when the products are actually made from genetically modified organisms.

GMOs Not Exactly Natural, So Says Monsanto

Ironically, the complaint cites a definition of GMOs by none other than Monsanto, the company most notorious for its promotion of the technology. According to Monsanto, GMOs are: “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.”

The complaint also quotes a GMO definition from the World Health Organization: “Organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”

Four Wesson varieties are implicated in the case: Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend. And it’s not just on the label that ConAgra is using the natural claim, but also online and in print advertisements. (Additional silly health claims on the website include “cholesterol free”–vegetable oils couldn’t possibly contain cholesterol anyway.)

The complaint describes the extent of ConAgra’s deception, alleging the “labels are intended to evoke a natural, wholesome product.” And further:
green-heart
The “100% Natural” statement is, like much of the label on Wesson Oils, displayed in vibrant green. The “Wesson” name is haloed by the image of the sun, and the Canola Oil features a picture of a green heart.

A green heart — you just can’t get any healthier than that. However, as registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told me: “These oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids, which in excessive amounts are actually bad for your heart.” Guess they left that part out of the green heart icon.

Supermarkets Chock-full of GMOs

But what makes this lawsuit especially intriguing is its potentially far-ranging impact. According to the Center for Food Safety: “upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves — from soda to soup, crackers to condiments — contain genetically-engineered ingredients.” While it’s unclear how many of these products also claim to be natural, given all the green-washing going on these days, it’s likely to number in the thousands.

Specifically, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans, both extremely common ingredients in processed foods. Numerous groups including the Center for Food Safety have been calling attention to the potential hazards of GMOs for years. From their website:

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.

Not exactly the stuff that green hearts are made of. The legal complaint also notes that on its corporate website (“but not on the Wesson site that consumers are more likely to visit”), ConAgra implies that its oils are genetically engineered. The company concludes: “Ultimately, consumers will decide what is acceptable in the marketplace based on the best science and public information available.”

But by being told the oils are “100% natural,” consumers can no longer make an informed decision as they are being misled.

Which reminds me of a great quote from Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser: “If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t.”

Misleading Beverage Labels

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Foodfacts.com came across an article this morning which verifies that nutrition labels are often very misleading and boast unrealistic claims, such as “improving brain function.” Many of our followers already know that nutrition labels can’t be trusted 100 percent, however, this can be eye-opening for the few still trying to figure things out.

How well do you really know what you’re drinking?

Savvy shoppers know not to take product labels at face value. Still, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for consumers trying to keep the facts straight about what’s in what they drink.
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First it was the news about how not-so-one-hundred-percent 100% orange juice is. For those who may be unaware of the controversy, here’s what you need to know: During processing, things like orange aroma, oil, and pulp can get separated from the actual juice. Specifically, the process of removing the oxygen from the juice (which is done to keep it from spoiling without the use of preservatives) strips the juice of a lot of its natural flavors. And so to make up for the loss, those natural components — in the form of “flavor packs” — get added back in after processing. Not surprisingly, the backlash among the OJ-drinking set was fast and furious.

Now, hot on the heels of this revealing information, comes word that some of the popular brands of coconut water fail to deliver the “promised” amount of sodium — an electrolyte key to the drink’s appeal as a sports and energy drink. A report from ConsumerLab.com revealed that only one out of the three tested beverages offered an amount of electrolytes comparable to other sports drinks like Gatorade. Even though some may not outright call themselves sports drinks on the label (O.N.E. Coconut Water has), that’s certainly how they’re marketed (not to mention some even boast athlete endorsements). As ConsumerLab president Dr. Tom Cooperman told the Huffington Post, “People should be aware that the labels are not accurate on some of the products, and they shouldn’t count on coconut water for serious rehydration.”
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Thing is, when it comes to finding out news like this, are you really even surprised? Beverage labels, and labels in general, are a product’s face to the world — that they’re used as a canvas to improve the image of their product and make it more appealing to consumers is easy to understand. Of course, some cases are more egregious than others. For instance, how Snapple’s teas were labeled as “all natural” despite listing citric acid as an additive. Or worse, the example of Nestle’s Juicy Juice Brain Development Fruit Juice claiming that it “Helps Support Brain Development.” Apparently, such claims, called structure/function claims, require no FDA pre-certification.

(Huffington Post)

Propyl Gallate. Cancer causing Food Additive?

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Maybe on Friday night’s you eat popcorn, during the day you’ll pop a few M&M’s, and late one night you may indulge with a slice of Digiorno pizza. As some may already be aware, these aren’t the greatest choices, but some people may consider them as treats every so often. Well all of these products have one ingredient in common, propyl gallate. Sounds very scientific, doesn’t it? Well, it is.

As an anti-oxidation additive, propyl gallate is commonly found in edible fats, oils, mayonnaise, shortening, baked goods, candy, dried meat, fresh pork sausage, and dried milk; but that’s not all. Propyl gallate is also an ingredient in shampoos and conditioners, cosmetics, lubricating oil additives, and transforming oils. In summary, the same additives you put in your hair, car, and some appliances; you put in your mouth. Sounds delicious.

AFTER food companies began to use this additive, studies were done by the National Toxicology Program and the National Institute for Health to determine the carcinogenic properties of propyl gallate. Yes, that’s right, after this additive was already added to our foods. Research including mice and rats were conducted by including propyl gallate into the diet in small amounts. Although these studies did not conclude that propyl gallate directly causes cancers, results did show that it may potentially increase risk of certain cancers. Other side-effects associated with this additive are asthma attacks, stomach and skin irritation, liver damage, and kidney damage.

And still, propyl gallate is added to many foods, such as:
DiGiorno Pizzas
Pop-Secret Popcorn
Johnsonville Sausage
M&M’s
Stove Top stuffing
Stouffer’s prepared frozen products

Keep your eyes on the lookout for propyl gallate!