Category Archives: FDA

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?

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

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.”
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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’.
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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!
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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!

Asian honey unsafe?

Foodfacts.com recently came across this article from Food Safety News and knew we had to share! Many people are choosing honey as a natural sweetener rather than processed sugar substitutes. Check out this article below to learn more about recent activity with honey production and it’s potentially harmful additives.

(Food Safety News)
A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

And the flow of Chinese honey continues despite assurances from the Food and Drug Administration and other federal officials that the hundreds of millions of pounds reaching store shelves were authentic and safe following the widespread arrests and convictions of major smugglers over the last two years.

HoneyExperts interviewed by Food Safety News say some of the largest and most long-established U.S. honey packers are knowingly buying mislabeled, transshipped or possibly altered honey so they can sell it cheaper than those companies who demand safety, quality and rigorously inspected honey.

“It’s no secret that the honey smuggling is being driven by money, the desire to save a couple of pennies a pound,” said Richard Adee, who is the Washington Legislative Chairman of the American Honey Producers Association.

“These big packers are still using imported honey of uncertain safety that they know is illegal because they know their chances of getting caught are slim,” Adee said.

Food safety investigators from the European Union barred all shipments of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics. Further, they found an even larger amount of honey apparently had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated.

An examination of international and government shipping tallies, customs documents and interviews with some of North America’s top honey importers and brokers documented the rampant honey laundering and that a record amount of the Chinese honey was being purchased by major U.S. packers.

Food Safety News contacted Suebee Co-Op, the nation’s oldest and largest honey packer and seller, for a response to these allegations and to learn where it gets its honey. The co-op did not respond to repeated calls and emails for comment. Calls and emails to other major honey sellers also were unreturned.

EU Won’t Accept Honey from India

Much of this questionable honey was officially banned beginning June 2010 by the 27 countries of the European Union and others. But on this side of the ocean, the FDA checks few of the thousands of shipments arriving through 22 American ports each year.

According to FDA data, between January and June, just 24 honey shipments were stopped from entering the country. The agency declined to say how many loads are inspected and by whom.

However, during that same period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that almost 43 million pounds of honey entered the U.S. Of that, the Department of Commerce said 37.7 million pounds came from India, the same honey that is banned in the EU because it contained animal medicine and lead and lacked the proper paperwork to prove it didn’t come from China.

“There are still millions of pounds of transshipped Chinese honey coming in the U.S. and it’s all coming now from India and Vietnam and everybody in the industry knows that,” said Elise Gagnon, president of Odem International, a worldwide trading house that specializes in bulk raw honey.

The FDA says it has regulations prohibiting foods banned in other countries from entering the U.S. However, the agency said last month that it “would not know about honey that has been banned from other countries …”

Adee called the FDA’s response “absurd.” He said the European ban against Indian honey is far from a secret.

“Why are we the dumping ground of the world for something that’s banned in all these other countries?” asked Adee, who, with 80,000 bee colonies in five states, is the country’s largest honey producer.

“We’re supposed to have the world’s safest food supply but we’re letting in boatloads of this adulterated honey that all these other countries know is contaminated and FDA does nothing.”

The food safety agency said it’s doing the best it can with existing resources and will do more when the newly passed Food Safety Modernization Act is up and running.

Where Is Our Honey Coming From?

honey-text455The U.S. consumes about 400 million pounds of honey a year – about 1.3 pounds a person. About 35 percent is consumed in homes, restaurants and institutions. The remaining 65 percent is bought by industry for use in cereals, baked goods, sauces, beverages and hundreds of different processed foods.

However, the USDA says U.S. beekeepers can only supply about a 48 percent of what’s needed here. The remaining 52 percent comes from 41 other countries.

Import Genius, a private shipping intelligence service, searched its databases of all U.S. Customs import data for Food Safety News and provided a telling breakdown:

- The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months.

- About 48 million pounds came from trusted and usually reliable suppliers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay and Mexico.

- Almost 60 percent of what was imported – 123 million pounds – came from Asian countries – traditional laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds from India alone.

“This should be a red flag to FDA and the federal investigators. India doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity – enough bees – to produce 45 million pounds of honey. It has to come from China,” said Adee, who also is a past president of the American Honey Producers Association.

Why Is Chinese Honey Considered Dangerous?

Chinese honeymakers began using various illegal methods to conceal the origin of their honey beginning in about 2001. That’s when the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a stiff tariff – as much as $1.20 a pound — on Chinese honey to dissuade that country from dumping its dirt-cheap product on the American market and forcing hundreds of U.S. beekeepers out of the business.

About the same time, Chinese beekeepers saw a bacterial epidemic of foulbrood disease race through their hives at wildfire speed, killing tens of millions of bees. They fought the disease with several Indian-made animal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol. Medical researchers found that children given chloramphenicol as an antibiotic are susceptible to DNA damage and carcinogenicity. Soon after, the FDA banned its presence in food.

“We need imported honey in this country. But, what we don’t need is circumvented honey, honey that is mislabeled as to country of origin, honey that is contaminated with antibiotics or heavy metal,” said Ronald Phipps, co-chairman of the International Committee for Promotion of Honey and Health and head of the major honey brokerage firm CPNA International.

Heavy Metal Contamination

The Chinese have many state-of-the-art processing plants but their beekeepers don’t have the sophistication to match. There are tens of thousands of tiny operators spread from the Yangtze River and coastal Guangdong and Changbai to deep inland Qinghai province. The lead contamination in some honey has been attributed to these mom-and-pop vendors who use small, unlined, lead-soldered drums to collect and store the honey before it is collected by the brokers for processing.

The amount of chloramphenicol found in honey is miniscule. Nevertheless, public health experts say it can cause a severe, even fatal reaction — aplastic anemia — in about one out of 30,000 people.

European health authorities found lead in honey bought from India in early 2010. A year later, the Indian Export Inspection Council tested 362 samples of honey being exported and reported finding lead and at least two antibiotics in almost 23 percent of the test samples.

The discovery of lead in the honey presents a more serious health threat.

“The presence of heavy metals is a totally different story, because heavy metals are accumulative, they are absorbed by organs and are retained. This is especially hazardous for children,” Phipps said.

All the bans, health concerns and criticism of Indian honey hasn’t slowed the country’s shipping of honey to the U.S. and elsewhere. In February, India’s beekeepers and its government agricultural experts said that because of weather and disease in some colonies, India’s honey crop would be late and reduced by up to 40 percent.

Yet two months later, on April 15 in Ludhiana, officials of Kashmir Apiaries Exports and Little Bee Group, India’s largest honey exporters, posed for newspaper photographers in front of “two full honey trains” carrying 180 20-foot cargo carriers with a record 8.8 million pounds of honey headed for the export ports.

“They’re clearly transshipping honey from China and I can’t believe that they are so brazen about it to put it right on the front page of a newspaper,” honey producer Adee said.

Data received by FSN from an international broker in India on Friday showed that within the last month 16 shipments – more than 688,000 pounds – of honey went from the Chinese port of Nansha in Guangzhou China to Little Bee Honey in India. The U.S. gurus of international shipping documents – Import Genius – scanned its database and found that just last week six shipments of the honey went from Little Bee to the port of Los Angeles. The honey had the same identification numbers of the honey shipped from China.

Government investigators in the U.S. and Europe and customs brokers in India told FSN that previous successful criminal investigations had proven that the Chinese honey suppliers and their brokers are masterful at falsifying shipping documents.

Each of the shipments – whether from China or India – bore an identical FDA inspection number. However, FDA’s Division of Import Operations did not respond to requests for information on how and where it issued that FDA number.

Food Safety News left several messages for the Little Bee Group to discuss the source of their honey and how they were breaking records when the rest of India’s honey producers were months behind schedule. None of the phone messages or emails were returned.

Other major Indian honey exporters insist that India gets no honey from China. However, Liu Peng-fei and Li Hai-yan of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences disagree. In a scientific study of the impact the global financial crisis is having on China’s honey industry, the apiculture scientists wrote that to avoid the “punitive import tariffs” Chinese enterprises “had to export to the United States via India or Malaysia in order to avoid high tariffs…”

Why Hasn’t Smuggling Stopped?

The massive honey laundering scams that plagued the U.S. for more than a decade – the transshipment of Chinese honey to a second country before being reshipped to the U.S. — were presumably given a deathblow over the past two years.

During that period, Justice Department lawyers and Department of Homeland Security and FDA investigators launched a series of indictments and arrests of 23 German, Chinese, Taiwanese and American corporate officials and their nine international companies.

They were charged with conspiracy to smuggle more than $70 million worth of Chinese honey into the U.S. by falsely declaring that the honey originated from countries other than China. That allowed them to avoid paying stiff anti-dumping charges imposed on China.

It was an impressive series of complex busts spanning three continents, and instant fodder for a great whodunit novel. But, according to some of North America’s largest producers and importers of honey, the arrests bombed as a deterrent.

“There are still millions of pounds of transshipped Chinese honey coming into the U.S.A. and it’s all coming now from India and Vietnam. Everybody in the industry knows that,” said Odem International’s Gagnon.

How Do They Get Away With It?

When it comes to honey laundering, the crooks are always trying to stay one step ahead of the criminal investigators.
honey
For example, when customs agents discovered that China usually shipped its honey in blue steel drums, the exporters quickly painted the drums green.

It took investigators a while to learn that often — while the drums were in port or en route at sea — the Chinese shuffled drum labels and phony paperwork showing country of origin as places that didn’t have an onerous anti-dumping tariff. The Russian Honey Federation blew the whistle on the Chinese relabeling millions of pounds as coming from Russia.

After that scam became known, the felons then shipped Chinese honey to countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Australia. There the honey was repacked, authentic local documents were issued and the honey was shipped on to the U.S. or elsewhere.

Another favorite con among Chinese brokers was to mix sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey. In recent years, many shippers have eliminated the honey completely and just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey.

However, sophisticated analysis that will match the pollen in honey to flowers from a specific geographic region is available at just two or three laboratories around the world. There are also simpler, less expensive tests to detect the telltale presence of commercial sweeteners and other adulterants that are more readily available.

A laboratory in Bremen, Germany, founded a half century ago by German beekeepers, can accurately scan honey samples for flower pollen. There is only one expert in the U.S. known to analyze pollen in honey to determine where it was actually grown and that would be at the Palygnology Laboratory at Texas A&M. The lab was created and is run by Vaughn Bryant, a forensic palynologist and Professor of Anthropology.

Melissopalynology, or pollen analysis, has been used for years by geologists seeking evidence of ancient coastal areas – often sites of major oil deposits. Scientists tracing the origins of the Shroud of Turin have identified 61 different pollens on the cloth that could only have come from around Jerusalem.

Forensic scientists have used pollen identification to help solve murder, rapes, kidnapping and at least one espionage case. Now, at least in the labs in Texas and Germany, melissopalynologists use pollen to determine – with great accuracy – the geographic area where the bees foraged for the nectar.

“If they find, for example, pollen from flowers that grow in northern latitudes – like China – but it’s found in honey ostensibly produced in tropical countries – like India, Vietnam, Malaysia and the like – you know something’s rotten or illegal,” said CPNA International’s Phipps, who also produces a quarterly, international intelligence report that monitors the country-by-country supply of honey and everyone’s exports.

To avoid detection by concerned purchasers or criminal investigators, some Chinese producers in state-of-the-art processing plants pump the alleged honey, heated and under high pressure, through elaborate ceramic filters. This ultra-filtration removes or conceals all floral fingerprints and indicators of added sweeteners or contaminants.

“The Chinese have refined methods of masking their contaminated product by ultra-filtration so their honey seems perfect. But it’s not honey anymore. There’s no color. There’s no flavor. There’s nothing. So you take this perfect product, which could be confused with honey, and you blend it with real Indian honey,” Gagnon said.

“Everyone avoids tariffs because government agents cannot test to prove it’s from China.”

The FDA says it has sent a letter to industry stating that the agency does not consider ultra-filtered honey to be honey.

“We have not halted any importation of honey because we have yet to detect ultra-filtered honey. If we do detect ultra-filtered honey we will refuse entry,” said FDA press officer Tamara Ward.

“FDA is just not looking” was the answer that most honey brokers offered. They added that the FDA doesn’t want to find it because then the agency would have to test for it, something it is incapable of doing in its existing laboratories.

Honey experts worry that new technologies will make detection of adulterants even more difficult.

At June’s conference of the Institute of Food Technologists in New Orleans, there were hundreds of Chinese vendors working in small clusters beneath bright red banners. They offered for sale almost any spice, food-processing substance or additives a food processor might want and promises of concocting anything else they could dream of. “All FDA approved,” they emphasized to potential clients.

One salesman quickly jerked back his business card when a reporter pulled out a tape recorder to capture the man’s promises offering a “nanoparticle sweetener for honey that cannot be detected.”

Does the FDA Care?

The U.S. Departments of Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have dollar and cents issues to worry about because hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese imports are circumvented by the honey laundering.

“These honey crimes are not a Republican or Democratic, Liberal or Conservative issue. The country is being ripped off of millions and millions,” Phipps said.

Recent news releases by the border patrol and the FDA say they have developed an anti-smuggling strategy to identify and prevent smuggled foods from entering the United States and posing a threat to national security and consumer safety.

But at the field level, investigators with the two agencies and an agent with ICE’s Commercial Fraud Unit said the cooperation is more on paper then in practice and that the FDA continues to be the weak link. They say the FDA either doesn’t have the resources to properly do the job or is unwilling to commit them.

ICE and the border patrol can and do go after the honey launderers by enforcing the anti-dumping and tariff violation laws. But protecting consumers from dangerous honey, identifying it as adulterated and therefore illegal for importation, falls to the FDA. And many of its enforcement colleagues say the food safety agency doesn’t see this as a priority.

A Justice Department lawyer told Food Safety News that the FDA has all the legal authority and obligation it needs to halt the importation of tainted honey. He cited two sections of the agency’s regulations defining when food products are considered “adulterated.”

The regulations say: “Food is adulterated if it bears or contains a poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health” and “damage or inferiority has been concealed.”

Those two factors pretty much sum up the health concerns that many have with the smuggled honey. But the honey industry and Congress can’t get the FDA to even come up with a legal definition of what honey is.

Eight years ago, America’s beekeepers and some honey packers petitioned FDA to issue an official definition of honey. Their concern was how to determine whether honey is bogus if there is no official standard to measure it against. The FDA did nothing.

Last Nov. 15, senators asked the food safety agency for the same thing. Again, nothing.

On Aug. 10, two members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations tried once more.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and John Hoeven (R-ND) urged the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to issue the official definition.

Calling the lack of regulations “a food safety concern,” Gillibrand said a national standard of identity for honey is needed “to prevent unscrupulous importers from flooding the market with misbranded honey products…”

An investigator in FDA’s import section explained the agency’s refusal to develop an official definition to FSN. “If we had an official description of honey then FDA would have to inspect everything we’re importing to ensure it’s legal. That’s the last thing we want to do,” he said, but would not allow his name to be used because he wasn’t authorized to make public statements.

How Do You Stop The Illegal Flow?
honey_photo_health_benefits
Gagnon and four other major players in the honey industry have formed a voluntary group called True Source Honey. They hope it will eventually expand into an international, industry-wide program to certify the origin and quality of honey.

“We need an origin traceability program, a professional audit of both the exporters and the packers so those buying and selling honey can ensure its authenticity and quality,” said Gagnon, who is the group’s vice chairman.

Meanwhile, it’s rumored that the feds are increasing their surveillance of the large U.S. importers and not too soon, Adee and others say.

Adee likens the honey laundering to a huge auto chop shop, where the police occasionally arrest the low-level car thieves but others pop up to continue supplying the criminal operation, which authorities never go after.

“That’s what’s happening here,” Adee explained. “ICE and the other investigators have arrested a handful of the middle men, the brokers who supply the honey packers, but haven’t gone after the big operators buying the phony foreign honey.”
Adee and others interviewed by Food Safety News say there are 12 major honey packers in the U.S. and four or five that are involved with the bulk of illegal trade.

“We know who they are,” he said. “Everyone in the industry knows. If these packers are allowed to continue buying this possibly tainted but clearly illegal smuggled honey, the importers will always find a way to get it to them.”

Brominated Vegetable Oil in Soda!

sunkist-soda-can-flavorBrought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Soda sales around the world have sky-rocketed in the last 6 decades. Brands such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Cadbury Schweppes have made billions of dollars in revenue selling their flavorful and bubbly beverages worldwide. Another trend running parallel to this one; lack of reading nutrition labels. Major food companies recognize that many consumers neglect to read the nutrition fact labels. Therefore, they have more room to sneak in potentially harmful ingredients without raising any eyebrows. One ingredient in particular is brominated vegetable oil.
squirt-diversion-safe
As mentioned in last week’s blog pertaining to potassium bromate; Bromine is a harmful halogen element which is highly reactive and potentially lethal to biological organisms. In soda applications, bromine is bonded to atoms of vegetable oil to be used as an emulsifier. This emulsifier helps citrus flavors stay suspended in the beverage and also provide a cloudy appearance. Brominated vegetable oil has been used in soda industries since the early 1930′s.

In many countries, BVO has already been banned as a food additive. However, the US has yet to make take this step. So how does the FDA regulate this ingredient? BVO is on the short list of interim food additives. This is basically a list of “questionable” food additives that are still in production as research continues to explore the safety and potential health effects. Why this list was created?

mountain-dew

“The Commissioner recognizes that, with the vast increase in the quantity of scientific testing and in the sophistication of test methodology, there is virtually no[ ] natural or synthetic food substance that cannot be questioned on some technical ground. It would be impossible to require elimination from the food supply of every food substance for which such scientific questions have been or will be raised.”

Currently, BVO is added in certain quantities to flavorings for citrus sodas. Make sure to closely examine food labels and be on the lookout for this ingredients!