Category Archives: food coloring

Americans still consume ingredients banned in other countries

Maybe we’re just late to the ingredient ban party. Maybe we’re never going to get there. We’re really not sure. What we do know, however, is that Americans are still eating food products that contain a variety of ingredients that many other countries have deemed unsafe for consumption. FoodFacts.com is already aware that the designation of a food additive as Generally Recognized as Safe is a pretty questionable process. And it’s obvious that there are countries where the safety designation of certain ingredients was much more stringent than our own. Let’s review a few of the ingredients that the U.S. FDA still includes on the GRAS list – even though they are banned in other countries.

Food Coloring:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 are both banned in Norway, Finland and France
Studies in the 1980s linked these food dyes to cancer in animal studies. They are also linked to the exacerbation of ADHD symptoms in children.

Yellow #5 is banned in Norway and Austria. Yellow #6 is banned in Norway and Finland. Six of the studies on yellow #5 showed that it caused genotoxicity, a deterioration of the cell’s genetic material with potential to mutate healthy DNA. Both colors have been linked to cancer in animal studies and are implicated in the exacerbation of ADHD symptoms in children.

Brominated Vegetable Oil:
Banned in over 100 different countries, including the European Union, Japan and India, Brominated Vegetable Oil is still approved as additive in the United States with specific restrictions that limit its concentrations in products. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, acts as an emulsifier in various products, and contains bromine, a chemical whose fumes can be corrosive and toxic.

Azodicarbonamide:
The governments of the UK and many countries in the EU have determined that they do not think it’s safe for their populations to consume an ingredient that’s also popular in the manufacture of foamed plastics – things like yoga mats and sneaker soles. So Azodicarbonamide is not permitted in the baked products sold in these countries.

Azodicarbonamide is proven to exacerbate (and even cause) asthma symptoms. It is referred to as an “asthma-causing allergen”. While the use of this dough conditioner has certainly declined in the production of U.S. baked products – it’s still out there.

rBGH and rBST:
Recombinant bovine growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin, a synthetic version of bovine growth hormone, can be found in nonorganic dairy products unless noted on the packaging. These hormones are banned in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the EU because of dangers to both human and bovine health. While there are American producers who don’t use these hormones, neither are outlawed here in the U.S.

There are other ingredients in addition to these, of course, which have been designated unacceptable in other countries. FoodFacts.com tends to think that we’ve got a problem when we’re recognizing more additives as safe all the time that other countries have discovered problems with. It does appear possible that we aren’t being selective enough when it comes to the ingredients in our food supply and that the FDA could be doing a better job of keeping our foods safe for consumption. And while we’re all thinking that no doctor has ever deemed a person’s cause of death to be consumption of azodicarbonamide or the reason for a person’s cancer to be consumption of artificial food coloring, there’s absolutely mounting evidence that specific ingredient do carry specific health concerns and we’re better off leaving them out of our diets.

Does Water Really Need Flavoring???

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Foodfacts.com recalls a trend that began a few years back to help steer consumers from purchasing sodas and sugar-filled drinks, and concentrate beverage consumption solely on water. Food companies took advantage of this opportunity and began cranking out flavored waters to make sure they received some profits. Their labels boasted sugar-free, low in calories, and great refreshing tastes. However, it took a plethora of ingredients for these food companies to get the “right” product. Check out more on these ingredients below to see what you’re actually consuming!
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Natural Flavors: A variety of beverages contain “natural flavors.” What these natural flavors are; no one is really quite sure. The FDA believes that consumers have a right to know what is in their foods, however, they also believe food companies have a right to protect their trade secrets. This gives food companies the opportunity to slip in some ingredients we may not be so happy with, but still under mandated regulations.

Products that contain this ingredient: Vitamin Water, Propel, Fruit-2-O, Hint Water, Poland Spring, Sobe, Aquafina, and many more!
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Sweeteners: Acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and other sugar substitutes are added to flavored waters to not only provide sweetness, but to also guarantee that the label reads 0 grams of sugar. These artificial sweeteners have been known to cause a number of reactions in different quantities. Consumers have reported headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and mild fatigue after consuming products containing artificial sweeteners.

Products that contain this ingredient: Dasani, Fruit-2-O, Aquafina, Propel, Tava, Vintage, Nestle, Minute Maid, Wegman’s
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Artificial Dyes & Coloring: You can’t just have CLEAR water! What kind of liquid is that?! That’s why food companies pump Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow Lake 5, and a bunch of other fancy colors into single-serving flavored powders to drop in our water bottles if we’re in a hurry. Well, having a pink beverage may be pleasing to the eye, but fact of the matter is that they may pose some health risks. Food colorings have been associated with triggering hyperactivity in children’s and adults with ADHD; reactions with asthma, rhinitis, urticaria, or other allergies; and may possibly assist in growth retardation and severe weight loss.

Products that contain this ingredient: (Powdered mixes) Gatorade G2, Crystal Light, Flavor-Aid, Mio, South Beach Living, Kool-Aid
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Propylene Glycol: This additive has been seen in a few new flavored dry mixes primarily due to it’s sweet taste. This petroleum based sweetener is commonly found in brake fluid, acrylic paints, tile grout, primer, shoe polish, antifreeze, floor polish, tire sealant and sealant paste. It has been reported that symptoms associated with this compound include throat irritation, headache, backache, and kidney problems. If swallowed, propylene glycol can cause drowsiness, slurred speech, vomiting, respiratory failure, coma, convulsions, or even death.

Products that contain this item: Kraft brand Mio Liquid Water Enhancer

Carefully read food labels before purchasing any flavored waters!

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
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Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com

Poop Burger! Scientists in Japan create Meat out of Human Feces!

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Foodfacts.com is looking into the storythat has been reported by various news outlets including both Fox News and Yahoo, that scientists in Japan have created a meat out of human feces! Yes, you read that correctly, human feces! Is their any truth to the story? We will let you be the judge of that.

Mitsuyuki Ikeda, a researcher from the Okayama Laboratory, has developed meat based on proteins from human excrement. Tokyo Sewage approached the scientist because of an overabundance of sewage mud. They asked him to explore the possible uses of the sewage and Ikeda found that the mud contained a great deal of protein because of all the bacteria.
The researchers then extracted those proteins, combined them with a reaction enhancer and put it in an exploder which created the artificial steak. The “meat” is 63% proteins, 25% carbohydrates, 3% lipids and 9% minerals. The researchers color the poop meat red with food coloring and enhance the flavor with soy protein. Initial tests have people saying it even tastes like beef.
Inhabitat notes that “the meatpacking industry causes 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to the release of methane from animals.” Livestock also consume huge amounts of resources and space in efforts to feed ourselves as well as the controversy over cruelty to animals. Ikeda’s recycled poop burger would reduce waste and emissions, not to mention obliterating Dante’s circle for gluttons.

It makes you wonder doesn’t it? How would the nutritional information for a burger made out of human feces compare to a burger made from McDonald’s? big-mac

The scientists hope to price it the same as actual meat, but at the moment the excrement steaks are ten to twenty times the price they should be thanks to the cost of research. Professor Ikeda understands the psychological barriers that need to be surmounted knowing that your food is made from human feces. They hope that once the research is complete, people will be able to overlook that ugly detail in favor of perks like environmental responsibility, cost and the fact that the meat will have fewer calories. So, would you ever consider eating meat made from human feces? Go to our facebook page and tell us what you think!

Information provided by Yahoo.com

**Update**

Is this story a hoax or a scam?
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When we first found this story at foodfacts.com, we were immediately shocked and repulsed. Since then, we have decided to do our own research and find whether or not this story is true. Many may believe at first site that this story is a scientific milestone; turning human waste into an edible protein source. However, others instantly raise skepticism, thinking how one could possible eliminate all waste and toxins from feces and serve it as a dinner, or why they would even want to!

Initially searching for more information on “Okayama Laboratory”, you find that this research establishment is not centered on food technology or sciences, but produces medical devices. I wouldn’t think this type of lab would have safety and sanitation codes allowing large quantities of excrement, but who knows. Also, with such a “miraculous” invention, one would think they would post a press release or somehow mention their ground-breaking science, but there is no word of this “meat poop” listed.

Next, I decided to look up the scientist that is deemed creator of this “meat product”, Mitsuyuki Ikeda. What I found is that it seems he has been made famous just by this story alone. Looking for his name on any search engine will mostly give you results of only the mysterious meat feces. However, if you go a couple pages through the results, you do find what seems to be a personal webpage for a Mitsuyuki Ikeda. Whether or not it’s the same one, we don’t know, but this webpage is centered around environmental education in school systems. Not too related, but at least this guy has some type of science background.

The large reason we believe this story is a hoax is because of the unprofessional nature of the accompanying video, “Solution to the Global Food Crisis – Let them eat TURD BURGERS!?”. The title alone makes you doubt the credibility behind this story, but they also show a few other components that just seem strange, like at 1:33 of the video, when the scientist open up the refrigerator labeled sh*t burger, and again later on lifts a sh*t burger bag. Another part shows the scientist going over his calculations and scientific process, with a pointer shaped like a giant finger, just weird.

What are your thoughts? Is this news story fake or real? Check it out below.

McDonald’s Chemical Cocktail is Just in Time for Summer

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By Margaret Badore for DietsInReview.com

Foodfacts.com is teaming up with our friends over at Dietsinreview.com to look into McDonald’s “Chemical Cocktail.” Admittedly, a mango pineapple smoothie sounds like a refreshing treat to enjoy in the heat of the summer. But the new McCafé Mango Pineapple Real Fruit Smoothie that they’re promoting, and which was a number-one trend on Twitter this week as #ANewMcDFavorite, is anything but real fruit. Unless you consider “clarified demineralized pineapple juice concentrate”, “mango puree concentrate”, or “pineapple juice concentrate” to be real fruit.

There are certainly items on the McDonald’s menu that are worse for you (you’d need a chemistry degree to understand their scrambled eggs), but few that so blatantly try to deceive.

You’ll slurp down a whopping 220 calories in this impostor fruit beverage. When you drink that kind of empty calories, you aren’t likely to feel full or satisfied.
The “fruit” smoothie also contains 49 grams of sugar, which is more than you’ll find in a can of Coke. Recent research has shown that that sugar consumed in liquid form is metabolized differently than sugar in solid foods, and may be more prone to convert to fat.

It’s a travesty that McDonald’s has the audacity to claim this product contains anything resembling real fruit. Other McDonald’s fruit smoothies do contain whole fruit, but the concentrates in this particular menu item don’t make the cut.

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No matter your health goals, you will be better off getting some fresh fruit, low-fat milk or yogurt and blending up something at home. Let us show you how to make a healthy smoothie.

Nutrition Information via McDonalds

Do you know what’s in your Taco??

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Foodfacts.com takes a closer look at what’s really in a some Taco Bell products. By simply looking at the Nachos Bell Grande at Taco Bell, some would think there are maybe 5 or 6 ingredients. There’s the sour cream, layers of nacho cheese, mountain of tortilla chips, some tomatoes, little bit of chive, and topped off with ground beef. In reality, this menu item contains about 125 ingredients; some of which aren’t ideal, and may possibly cause some hazardous health effects. At Food Facts we like to point out these controversial ingredients and help consumers become more aware of what’s REALLY in their food.

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Let’s start off with autolyzed yeast extract, because many people may be unfamiliar with this ingredient, and coincidentally it is in all three featured products. This ingredient naturally contains glutamic acid, a flavor enhancer. Therefore, most types of yeast extract are used as food additives to help give flavor to different products. In autolyzed yeast extract, sodium chloride is added during the fermentation process to create monosodium glutamate, commonly referred to as MSG.

Most consumers are very familiar with MSG because it has received a great deal of attention in recent years. This ingredient can be found in salad dressings, mixed seasonings, snacks, chips, beef stocks, and much more. With the increased popularity of this product, came increased reports of migraine headaches, dizziness, nausea, and so on. In fact, all the symptoms of MSG can be categorized as “MSG Symptom Complex”, because there is a large variety of symptoms that may occur. Also, some people may also have intolerance to MSG, so be careful to check food labels for monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, and other hidden MSG forms.

The Burrito Supreme at Taco Bell is another menu-favorite. Aside from this item providing a hefty dose of the recommended daily value for sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol; it also contains a variety of controversial ingredients you may not be aware of. burrito-supremeThe one ingredient some may be curious about is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. Not only is this ingredient a mouth-full, it is also a phenol used as a food additive to enhance storage life of different products. Although deemed safe by the FDA, certain studies have shown that high doses of TBHQ are not only carcinogenic, but may also cause damage to DNA and promote growth of tumors. Make sure to read food labels carefully for this food additive.

Crunchy tacos are a staple for the Taco Bell franchise. Although these more basic items contain less controversial ingredients, they still include hidden MSG and TBHQ. taco-bell-beefTheir nutrition label also displays high amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which consumers should carefully monitor when eating at any fast-food restaurant.

What’s really in Snapple Apple!

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Foodfacts.com looks into what’s really in Snapple “Apple.” Many consumers and bloggers recently took notice that “Snapple Apple” contains zero apples! Instead, this “apple” drink contains pear concentrate. Isn’t this false advertising? The Consumerist recently reached out to Snapple in regards to this matter to receive the following e-mail back:

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“Thank you for contacting our Company regarding our ingredients in our products.

Our Company complies with all applicable labeling regulations promulgated in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies. Product flavor components that form part of our “natural” or “natural and/or artificial flavors” ingredients are considered proprietary to our Company.
If you have a concern regarding the intake of this product, we suggest that you contact your health care provider. If you have known sensitivities to any substance listed in the ingredient statement, we advise discontinuing use of the product.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Sincerely,
Consumer Relations”

So why doesn’t Snapple Apple use actual apple juice in their “apple” drink? The Consumerist points out that a real apple apparently doesn’t provide the same “apple” taste some people expect. However, pears are somehow able to provide the “true apple flavor.”

Apples score very high at Food Facts! They provide plenty of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and lutein, (an antioxidant which promotes eye health in preventing macular degeneration, light sensitivity, and cataracts.) Snapple Apple is missing out.apple

Next time you’re looking for an apple juice or any type fruit juice, make sure to look for “100% pure” or “100% fruit juice” to get all the nutrients of the fruit or vegetable.

5 Chemical Foods to Remove from Your Diet

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Foodfacts.com is teaming up with our friends over at Dietsinreview.com to help inform you about what chemicals you should try removing from your diet. These days it seems you need an advanced science degree to read and understand a food ingredient label. Most of us scan over them simply because it’s easier. However, what we’re overlooking in all that multi-syllabic jargon are chemical additives that can have incredibly negative effects on our health.

Manufacturers use chemical additives for a number of reasons, including a longer shelf life, better taste or color, and even to keep production costs down. We’ve identified five that are especially concerning, and hope you’ll take an extra minute to review your food labels before making a purchase.

Trans Fat – One of the most controversial additives, this can be found on food labels as “Partially Hydrogenated Oil or Vegetable Oil.” The consumption of trans fat can be detrimental to cardiovascular health, and it has been linked with the obesity epidemic. Watch food labels closely because a food with less than.5 grams of trans fat per serving is allowed to list zero grams on its label.

Foods with Trans Fat: Fried Food, Microwave Popcorn, Margarine, Crackers, Chips, Store-bought Cookies

Artificial Coloring - Food dyes are a chemical and offer no nutritive value, meaning they don’t offer any vitamins or minerals. Artificial coloring is noted in food labels, with some of the more common (and considered carcinogens) being Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Yellow 6.

Foods with Artificial Coloring: Soda, Candy, Juice, Frosting, Canned Fruit, Hot Dogs

Sodium Nitrite or Nitrate - These additives are used to give “cured meats” a salty taste and give their reddish hue. As an example hot dogs nd bacon would be more of a grey hue without these chemicals. Linked with cancers in adults and children, these are easily avoided by looking for natural meats and checking labels.

Foods with Nitrites or -ates: Bacon, Hot Dogs, Sausage, Deli Meat

Saccharin or Aspartame - These artificial sweeteners are actually sweeter than natural sugar, but far worse for your health. While they’ve made it possible for many to enjoy sweet treats, the affects on the body aren’t any better. Saccharin has been considered for ban by the FDA, and is linked with multiple types of cancers in many studies. These are manufactured chemical additives and, like the others, offer nothing in the way of nutrition.

Foods with Artificial Sweeteners: “Sugar” Packets, Diet Soda, Sugar-Free or Reduced-Sugar Foods

Diacetyl - The buttery flavor you enjoy from many packaged foods is probably not butter, but instead dactyl, a chemical ingredient linked with a lung disease nicknamed “popcorn lung.” While that health concern helped reduce its use, it’s still looking at the ingredients label to see if it’s lurking.

Foods with Diacetyl: Artificially-flavored Butter Products, Microwave Popcorn

By Brandi Koskie for DietsInReview.com

Will a gluten-free diet improve your health?

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Foodfacts.com is looking into gluten free diets. Sarah Cooper was a new mom in her mid-20s, busily juggling her family and a career as an electrical engineer, when everything came to a halt. She lost all her energy. She developed acne. And she began experiencing gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation. Her doctors, thinking something must be missing from her diet, put her on various vitamins, none of which helped.
“It was all I could do to go to work,” she says.
After years of failed treatments, Cooper’s luck changed. She saw a doctor who suspected she might have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can appear at any age and is caused by an intolerance to gluten.
A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye (and countless food products — like bread and pasta — that contain those grains), gluten gradually damages the intestines of people with celiac disease, preventing the absorption of vitamins and minerals and setting off a slew of related health problems, which can include fatigue and bad skin.

Cooper tested negative for celiac disease, but the doctor advised her to try a gluten-free diet anyway.
“Within a week of eliminating [gluten], I started to feel markedly better,” says Cooper, now 36, from Melbourne, Australia. “It wasn’t a gradual feeling better; it was almost a crossing-the-street kind of thing.”
That was 10 years ago. The general practitioner who treated Cooper was ahead of his time, as most doctors are only now starting to realize that some people who don’t have celiac disease may benefit from diets free of (or low in) gluten.
In fact, experts now believe that celiac disease represents just one extreme of a broad spectrum of gluten intolerance that includes millions of people like Cooper with less severe — but nevertheless problematic — reactions to the protein.
While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.

“This is something that we’re just beginning to get our heads around,” says Daniel Leffler, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “There is a tight definition of celiac disease, but gluten intolerance has been a moving target.”

Growing awareness of gluten sensitivity has led some people who struggle with gut problems but have tested negative for celiac disease to take matters into their own hands and try a gluten-free diet, even though it’s an extremely difficult diet to follow.
Sales of gluten-free products increased 16 percent in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company.
“Gluten is fairly indigestable in all people,” Leffler says. “There’s probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us.”

The spectrum of gluten intolerance

Experts now think of gluten intolerance as a spectrum of conditions, with celiac disease on one end and, on the other, what’s been called a “no man’s land” of gluten-related gastrointestinal problems that may or may not overlap.
Leffler estimates, for instance, that half of the approximately 60 million people in the U.S. who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are probably sensitive to gluten. (Gluten allergies, which are similar to other food allergies, also fall on the spectrum but affect only about 0.1 percent of the population.)

Gluten intolerance of any kind — including celiac disease — is often underdiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) because it manifests itself in many and murky ways that can baffle doctors.
People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity usually have stomachaches, gas, and diarrhea — as do people with IBS.

Celiac patients can also develop headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms, because the autoimmune attack at the root of the disease gradually erodes the wall of the intestine, leading to poor absorption of iron, folate, and other nutrients that affect everything from energy to brain function.
People with gluten sensitivity sometimes experience these far-reaching symptoms as well, though it’s less clear why.
Gluten intolerance “starts in the intestines as a process, but doesn’t necessarily stay in the intestines. It may affect other organs,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, in Baltimore.
Celiac disease can be definitively diagnosed using a two-step process: Doctors test the patient’s blood for the presence of intestine-attacking antibodies activated by gluten, and, if those tests come back positive, they order a biopsy (or series of biopsies) to look for intestinal damage, any evidence of which confirms the diagnosis.

Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a gray area that “lacks any defining medical tests,” Leffler says. People who fall into this group exhibit the classic symptoms of celiac disease yet have no detectable intestinal damage, and test negative for certain key antibodies (though in some cases they may have elevated levels of others).
Gluten sensitivity is a kind of “non-diagnosis,” in other words — a diagnosis by default for those who don’t have celiac disease but feel better on a gluten-free diet.
A recent study by Fasano and his colleagues offers some clues about what gluten sensitivity is, and how it differs from celiac disease. Although they show no signs of erosion or other damage, the study found, the intestines of gluten-sensitive patients contain proteins that contribute to a harmful immune response, one that resembles — but is distinct from — the process underlying celiac disease.
Blood tests that can diagnose gluten sensitivity by measuring these and other proteins are in the works, but they are still a ways off.
“The reason we don’t have tests yet is mainly because we don’t have a clear definition of [gluten sensitivity],” Fasano explains.

How much gluten is OK?

People with celiac disease must commit to an absolutely gluten-free diet, as eating the protein can, over time, increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis, infertility, and certain cancers, in addition to worsening short-term symptoms.
“You’re going to be on this diet for life, and it has to be extremely strict. Even crumbs can turn on the autoimmune process typical of celiac disease,” Fasano says. “If you make a mistake with celiac disease, you pay the price on the spot, but there can be a cumulative price, too.”
Recommendations for people with gluten sensitivity aren’t as clear-cut. Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity hasn’t been linked to intestine damage and long-term health problems, so some experts say that people on the less severe end of the spectrum should feel comfortable eating as much gluten as they can handle without feeling sick.
“Some people can be exquisitely sensitive and have to be as strict as people with celiac disease, while others can eat a pizza,” Fasano says.

The impact that gluten can have on those without celiac disease was illustrated by a recent study in Australia.
When gluten-sensitive people were asked to eat bread and muffins every day that, unbeknownst to them, had been laced with gluten, 68 percent saw all their old symptoms come back rapidly, compared with 40 percent in a similar group that ate only gluten-free products.
“People complained that they felt like they were pregnant, had gut pain…and tiredness increased,” says the lead researcher, Jessica Biesiekierski, a Ph.D. candidate at Monash University Department of Medicine and Gastroenterology.
Sarah Cooper participated in the study and felt like she had been “hit by a bus” after the first day of gluten snacks. Her symptoms got so bad that she had to drop out halfway through the six-week study.
People with gluten sensitivity who don’t respond this way aren’t necessarily in the clear, however. Experts like Marlisa Brown, a registered dietitian in private practice in Long Island, N.Y., and the author of “Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free,” worry that gluten could have long-term negative consequences that just haven’t been identified yet.
Even if you feel better, “definitely don’t try to add it back in,” she urges. Brown counts herself among the gluten sensitive.
After enduring sinus infections, hair loss, sensitive skin, and fatigue since she was a little girl, and despite a negative celiac-disease test in her 20s (which she thinks may not have been thorough enough), Brown finally cut out gluten in her late 40s.
“I felt better in a week,” she says.

Gluten-free doesn’t equal healthy

If you suspect your body can’t tolerate gluten, the first thing you should do is get tested for celiac disease. If the test comes back negative, try a gluten-free diet for a week to see if you feel better, Leffler says.
Cutting out gluten is the most reliable way to determine if you are, in fact, sensitive to the protein — and if you are sensitive, it’s the only treatment.
However, Leffler stresses that you should get help from a dietitian to make sure that you avoid hidden sources of gluten (like soy sauce and salad dressing), and that you don’t miss out on the vitamins that wheat products provide.
Even though celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow have reportedly cut out gluten to “detox,” there’s nothing inherently healthier about a gluten-free diet.
“It can be very healthy, or it can be junk food,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Some of the many gluten-free products on the market can be unhealthy, Fasano says, because manufacturers add extra sugar and fat to simulate the texture and satisfying fluffiness that gluten imparts.
Another potential pitfall is that gluten-free products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular bread products, Sandquist says.
“Vitamins B and D are the ones particularly at risk of being deficient in [gluten-sensitive] people.”
If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled “gluten free,” Sandquist says.
She adds, however, that gluten-free products are “evolving” and may become healthier overall as manufacturers develop ways to fortify them.

Article provided by Carina Storrs

Is “Natural Flavoring” Really Natural?

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Foodfacts.com wants everyone to be aware of what the term “Natural Flavor” means on the side of a products label. We’ve all heard of products being labeled “artificially flavored” or “naturally flavored,” but ever wonder what exactly “natural flavor” means? Is it really natural? What is the difference? Well, the definition of “natural flavor” under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22). Any other added flavor therefore is artificial. (For the record, any monosodium glutamate, or MSG, used to flavor food must be declared on the label as such). Both artificial and natural flavors are made by “flavorists” in a laboratory by blending either “natural” chemicals or “synthetic” chemicals to create flavorings. Gary Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota says “The distinction in flavorings–natural versus artificial–comes from the source of these identical chemicals and may be likened to saying that an apple sold in a gas station is artificial and one sold from a fruit stand is natural.” He also says, “Artificial flavorings are simpler in composition and potentially safer because only safety-tested components are utilized. Another difference between natural and artificial flavorings is cost. The search for “natural” sources of chemicals often requires that a manufacturer go to great lengths to obtain a given chemical…. Furthermore, the process is costly. This pure natural chemical is identical to the version made in an organic chemist’s laboratory, yet it is much more expensive than the synthetic alternative. Consumers pay a lot for natural flavorings. But these are in fact no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their cost-effective artificial counterparts.”

So what about organic foods? Foods certified by the National Organic Program (NOP) must be grown and processed using organic farming methods without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic livestock cannot be fed antibiotics or growth hormones. The term “organic” is not synonymous with “natural.” The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) defines “natural” as “a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural.” Most foods labeled natural are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and heath codes. Steffen Scheide, organic savory flavorist for an ingredients supplier says, “Minor ingredients, such as natural flavors, often cause some confusion with regard to NOP rules. Only ‘natural flavors,’ as defined in the CFR—not artificial or EU-Nature-Identical Flavors—can be considered in the development of organic foods.”

The NOP food labeling standards include a National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Substances. This list has a section on allowed non-synthetic substances, some with restrictions (205.605(a)) for products labeled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” Four categories of organic labels were approved by the USDA, based on the percentage of organic content: 100% Organic, Organic, Made with Organic Ingredients, and Less than 70% Organic. Natural flavors, then, can be considered NOP compliant as “organic” when used under the 95% rule (flavorings constitute 5% or less of total ingredients and meet that meet the appropriate requirements) if their organic counterparts are not available. “Made with organic ingredients” can be used on any product with at least 70% organically produced ingredients.”

According to the National List, under section 7CFR205.605(a)(9), non-agricultural, non-organic substances are allowed as ingredients that can be labeled as “organic” or “made with organic,” including “flavors, non-synthetic sources only, and must not be produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative.” Other non-synthetic ingredients allowed in this section include: acids such as microbially-produced citric acid, dairy cultures, certain enzymes and non-synthetic yeast that is not grown on petrochemical substrates and sulfite waste liquor.

So, it seems that “natural” might not be so natural and that even some organic foods might contain some of these “natural flavors.” There are still many grey areas for consumers and producers alike. Research is being done and attempts are being made to produce more organic flavorings, but the process is slow. We as consumers need to be more aware of what ingredients go into our foods and also take more initiative to encourage the government’s responsibility to regulate these ingredients and disclose the information to the public.

Article provided by: Phil Lampert