Category Archives: food facts

Know your ingredients with All My FoodFacts app: Madhava Agave Nectar Amber

Agave nectarAgave nectar is a product of blue agave plant that typically thrives in Southern Mexico. The agave plant is fairly low on the glycemic load chart, and larger amount of sweetness than refined sugar. This means that a small amount of agave nectar goes a long way. According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the agave plant contains phytochemicals that are beneficial in strengthening the immune system.

Agave nectar comes in light, dark, amber and raw varieties. The amber variety has a medium-intensity caramel flavor. It is commonly used for savory dishes and sauces, healthy fruit drinks and most especially desserts. The amber agave nectar can also be consumed directly from the bottle as a topping for pancakes and French toast.

Agave nectar is sometimes called agave syrup or agave sweetener. It is similar to honey, and is therefore widely used by vegans as a substitute because it is not derived from animals. This week, FoodFacts.com took a look at Madhava Agave Nectar Amber with the All My FoodFacts app, and here’s what we found.

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Note: The product information shown above is only a general overview of Madhava Agave Nectar Amber. Sign up on our website for personalized specifications on which products are good for you and which you should avoid based on your dietary data, or you can get the All My FoodFacts app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Know your ingredients with All My FoodFacts app: McCormick Gourmet Anise Seed


AAniset FoodFacts.com, we are committed to informing you of the nutrition found in the food that you are consuming. We have decided to start a new series on the FoodFacts.com blog, which will feature a product and its ingredient data to be published every Friday.

In our previous blog post, we shared the most commonly used spices that can cause allergic reactions, and anise is one of them. Anise is an aromatic plant used as an herb for centuries for cooking and medicinal purposes. It is similar in taste to tarragon and fennel. Typically, anise leaves are only used only for additional flavoring, and the seeds are used as a spice ingredient added to a recipe.

If you’ve been using McCormick Gourmet Anise Seed to season your dishes, then we have good news for you! Using the All My FoodFacts app, we found that this product scored an A on our healthgrade score based on its ingredient data!

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Note: The product information shown above is a general overview of McCormick Gourmet Anise Seed. Sign up on our website for personalized specifications on which products are good for you and which you should avoid based on your dietary data, or you can get the All My FoodFacts app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Yes, you can be allergic to spices

spices-73770We have written quite a bit about turmeric on the Foodfacts.com blog this week. The trending superfood is so good for you that it is hard not to be obsessed with it. Have you tried making the turmeric tonic recipe we shared, too? It is reportedly an excellent fix for those stubborn spring allergies!

Speaking of allergies…

As we approach the end of Food Allergy Awareness Week, it is only fitting that we discuss certain spices that can cause allergic reactions. Because spices offer a great deal of health benefits, particularly medicinal, many people believe that these wonder foods can do no wrong to the body. With the exception of the side effects of overconsuming them, it is generally thought that these plant-based products are everything nice.

The bad thing is, allergic reactions to spices are real; the good thing is, these reactions are rare. Studies have shown that less than five percent of all adults with food allergies suffer from reactions to spices – whether these plants are fresh or dried, and ground, toasted or processed.

Here are some of the most common spices that cause food allergy.

  • Garlic – Whether fresh or cooked, garlic can cause an allergic reaction. People allergic to garlic are recommended to forgo similar food additives, like onions and chives, altogether.
  • Paprika – It’s great for barbecue marinades and general seasoning, but it can cause severe reaction to anyone allergic to it. Thankfully, there are other ingredients that can serve as substitutes to paprika.
  • Mustard – Those who are allergic to mustard should exercise proper care when using it. It is said that mustard is prone to anaphylaxis in those who suffer an allergic reaction to it.
  • Anise – Although anise is not as commonly used in the home kitchen as the other previously mentioned spices, it is widely used as a flavoring for specialty candies, pastries and drinks. It is also a common ingredient in health and beauty products such as shampoos.
  • Fennel – Fennel is a flavoring commonly found in food dyes. Like anise, it can also be found in household products like soaps, toothpastes and air fresheners.
  • Turmeric – Our wonder food is of no exception. Allergic reactions to turmeric may include dermatitis and hives.

As with any food allergies, reactions to spice can be manifested in a number of symptoms: from hives and rashes, swelling of the throat and asthma, vomiting and diarrhea, to unconsciousness and even death. These are just some of the most commonly known symptoms, and certain spices may cause other mild or severe reactions. It is best to evade any spice that causes a negative effect on you.

The all my foodfacts app can help you manage your allergies by letting you log the types of foods that you are allergic to. You can even key in specific ingredients to see whether or not certain food products are safe for you to consume.

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Get the app:

iTunes – http://apple.co/1QE8Gb6

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Imr3ie

Google Play - http://bit.ly/1QYN0kM

Turmeric, the golden spice

indian-spices-829198In the beginning of the year, McCormick released its Flavor Forecast report for the top foods in 2016, and there is nothing that pleases us at Foodfacts.com more than to see healthy foods getting much-deserved attention. Thanks to the growing organic food movement, not only did healthy, functional superfoods made the list, they dominated it! Among the superfoods predicted to be popular this year is turmeric. Nearly halfway through the year, physical grocery stores and online food merchants, like GrubHub, have seen an increase in sales of turmeric and turmeric-based products.

What exactly is turmeric?

Turmeric, aptly called the golden spice, is that thing on the spices shelf with the yellow-orange hue. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that comes from the curcuma longa or curcuma domestica plant, which is native to South Asia. Turmeric is generally used in the region for cooking and formerly as a fabric dye, but most importantly, has been widely used for centuries to treat a myriad of illnesses.

The basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It is also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium. The ideal serving to get all those nutritional aspects is an ounce, but it would be impossible for a person to ingest that kind of amount in one seating. The good thing is that incorporating even just a tablespoon in your meal already allows you to reap the benefits of this wonder spice!

Health benefits

Purported to cure everything from depression to cancer, turmeric offers plenty of benefits. Aside from the nutritional value mentioned above, a study on turmeric and curcumin (turmeric powder is 3.14% curcumin) reveals that curcumin have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and immune modulating activities.

Among the health benefits of turmeric include pain relief, reducing gas and bloating, an improved ability to digest fats, and improved skin conditions from psoriasis to acne. In addition, turmeric reportedly also has artery-clearing effects that decreases congestion, and can reduce levels of bad cholesterol within weeks of use. Other reports, though further studies are required, say that turmeric is also good for improved eye health.

Search our website for the highest graded turmeric-based products!

Healthy meals to prepare for Mother’s Day

Mom’s cooking is the best, alright, but this Mother’s Day, give your favorite resident chef a break! Spoil mom with these delicious and healthy meals to show her how much you love and appreciate her.

Whether you’re making breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a little snack for mom, Foodfacts.com has got you covered!

Breakfast: Organic buttermilk blueberry pancakes

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Wake mom up with the smell of freshly-cooked pancakes delivered to her bed. These organic buttermilk blueberry pancakes are sure to get her ready to start the day!

Get the recipe: Buttermilk blueberry pancakes

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Maple Grove Farms of Vermont Organic Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mixes

Lunch: Grilled pork chops and peaches

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This seared-on-the-grill, caramelized, charred pork chops-and-peaches combo is guaranteed to be a hit! Add in some kale, and you’ve got the perfect lunch!

Get the recipe: Grilled pork chops and peaches

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce

Dinner: Sun-dried tomato and feta stuffed artichokes

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End the day with this light, scrumptious and nutritious dinner. The burst of flavors these tasty sun-dried tomatoes and tangy feta cheese stuffed in hearty artichokes is sure to be a party in her mouth!

Get the recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Artichokes

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Wegmans Traditional, Feta Cheese in Brine, Fat Free

Dessert: Chickpea Cookie Dough

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Of course, mom gets to have some dessert. Treat mom with these sweets, minus the guilt!

Bonus: It makes for a great opportunity for quality time to make them together with mom, too!

Get the recipe: Chickpea Cookie Dough

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Nature’s Agave Premium Raw Agave Nectar

 

Note: Though some of these meals require some level of kitchen experience, don’t worry about messing them up. It’s practically impossible for mom to get disappointed at any gesture on Mother’s Day. You could get all the recipes all wrong, but she’ll still love them anyway — and you even more!

We’re welcoming a new brand to the FoodFacts.com family … Introducing FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals!

Tonight we have a tremendous announcement to make here at FoodFacts.com. We are launching FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals. We’ve been around a long time – well over 15 years. One of the things we’ve been exceptionally aware of throughout those years is how poorly most vitamin and supplement products rate on our Health Score.

FoodFacts.com has brought its tremendous knowledge to bear in this product category and is debuting FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals – vitamins and supplements you can feel good about. Take a look at our new site: FoodFactsTri … for the most part we are free of everything you want to avoid – Gluten, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Dairy, Artificial Flavors, Artificial Colors. Our brand – FoodFacts Tri – has been run through our own scoring system.

We’re so excited – just take a look … These days your expenditures are so important. We really believe that our new brand of vitamins and supplements are really above the bar that’s been set. And we want you to know that this launch for FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals has taken us well over twelve months to formulate and decide on so that we can present to you the best formulations we can honestly bring to market.
We are happy with our work. Please visit our site: www.foodfactstri.com. Please let us know what you think! We hope that you’ll be happy with the research and development we’ve put behind this new brand!

FoodFacts.com will continue our research and hopes to add to our brand with products you can feel good about. We want to bring you the products you can trust for purity and quality. We hope you’ll feel the same way!

Salmonella. Are You Up to Date on the Latest Outbreak?

FoodFacts.com will be looking at Salmonella today.

 

As of April 6, 2012, 100 people have been stricken with Salmonella in an outbreak that has spread across 19 states. The specific serotype is Salmonella Bareilly. Dates for the onset of the illness ranges from January 28 to March 25, with reported cases of the disease occurring in people ranging from 4 years of age to 78. People who are reported to have contracted Salmonella live from Texas eastward, with New York having the highest number of reported cases thus far at 23, and Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri have the lowest number of reported cases at one. The outbreak has resulted in 10 hospitalizations, but no deaths.

 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together on an investigation into the cause of this outbreak, there has yet to be an official food source identified, but it has been said that the cause of the outbreak is most definitely a food source. One possibility being investigated by the FDA is sushi, as several people who were infected reported eating sushi, sashimi, or other related products in the week prior of infection symptoms showed up.

 

This particular serotype of Salmonella is actually one of the rarer ones. Symptoms of being infected with Salmonella include:

 

-         Abdominal Cramps

-         Nausea

-         Vomiting

-         Diarrhea (which can be bloody and with mucus)

-         Headache

-         Drowsiness

-         Rose spots

 

The symptoms of Salmonella infection can typically last up to seven days, with symptoms showing up anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment, but some may be hospitalized for dehydration caused by the symptoms of the infection.

 

Some common foods that have caused Salmonella outbreaks in the past include ground beef, ground turkey, cantaloupe, and whole, fresh imported papayas, all in 2011 alone. In 2010, alfalfa sprouts and shell eggs sickened 140 people and over 1900 people, respectively.

 

So how can you protect yourself against Salmonella? First and foremost, make sure you cook your food thoroughly. The better it’s cooked, the more likely you are to kill the germs in it. Also, make sure to wash your cooking utensils and prep area thoroughly, as well as your hands often. Finally, pay attention to the news and food recalls – if you have a product listed in a recall, don’t hesitate to get rid of it. It could save you some agony down the road. There is no medication to prevent the disease, but you can cut down your chances of developing the infection by following a few basic safety tips such as the ones listed above.

 

Wishing you a safe and healthy week from FoodFacts.com!

Expiration date: Never? … nutritional information brought to you by FoodFacts.com

We’ve all seen foods that have seemingly endless shelf lives. If these foods never expire, how are they be digested by our systems? Today, FoodFacts is going to take a look at what our bodies are capable of digesting and what happens to food we don’t digest.

The digestive system involves many different organs (from the mouth to anus) whose primary function is to break large molecules of food into smaller molecules of food and convert them into energy  and nutrients that our cells can use to sustain healthy bodily functions. Each organ in our digestive system has a primary function which lends itself to the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). For example, digestion begins in our mouths when we mechanically break down food using our teeth and the enzymes in our saliva (salivary amylase) start breaking down starches. In our stomachs, carbs, proteins and fats are broken down using gastric acid  (pH 1.5 – 3.5, by comparison, vinegar is around 3/4) and enzymes which denature proteins, digest lipids and further breakdown fats. This continues in the small intestines, where, with the exception of fiber) the macro (carbs/proteins/fats) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients are absorbed.  In certain cases, such as lactose intolerance, the body does not have the enzyme (lactase) to break down the sugar (lactose). Bacteria in the intestines break down lactose, resulting in painful gas and stomach cramps (among other symptoms).

With the exception of fiber, substances that are not nutrients – such as additives and/or preservatives in foods – cannot be broken down by the body, as we do not have the enzymes to break them down.  Some foods, which are undigested, remain in the large intestine for a much longer period of time rather than being excreted.  These foods stay in our large intestines, incompletely digested and  are eliminated in our waste after being broken down by microbes in our intestines. Foods that stay in the large intestine could restrict motility, block absorption of other nutrients into our cells and /or result in malodorous excrement.

Some such ingredients would be Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and butylated hydroxyanisole. These are preservatives keep food from spoiling, and probably from being properly digested. While these (and other) ingredients are considered safe for human consumption by our government,  it isn’t necessarily a good choice for our bodies. Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, shows us how our ramen noodles  are digested in our stomach (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/ramen-digestion_n_1263825.html?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl12|sec1_lnk3pLid%3D134120  

Perhaps it is best to leave foods with long shelf lives on the shelves.

Watching sodium levels?

While grocery shopping the other day, we came across a bouillon that claims to be “Sodium Free.” The nutrition label even backs it up. There are exactly 0 mg of sodium per serving. Amazing! However, upon closer inspection of the ingredients list, we noticed that it contains “disodium inosinate” and “disodium gunaylate.” FoodFacts found this to be intriguing enough to share with everyone we know (and some that we don’t).

These ingredients are added to the bouillon in such tiny amounts (parts per million) that it could be considered negligible for most normal people. However, if you are sensitive to sodium, and/or monosodium glutamate, aka MSG (see how to spot MSG here: http://blog.foodfacts.com/index.php/2011/07/07/msg-is-sometimes-hidden-in-food-with-labels-that-say-no-added-msg-no-msg-added-and-no-msg/) this might be something of interest to you. Further still, if you happen to look up those two ingredients on foodfacts.com, you’ll see that they are used as flavor enhancers, used in conjunction with MSG. Meaning, just because you don’t see the words “monosodium glutamate” anywhere on the ingredients list, it could be hidden as something else, somewhere else on that list.

Many different sodium food additives exist in the food world. They have a range of uses as stabilizers, preservatives and/or flavor enhancers. However, if, for whatever reason, you are watching your sodium intake, you might want to not only look at the nutrition label, but keep reading the ingredients list. Keep an eye out for any ingredient that has sodium in it. For instance, sodium caseinate, sodium nitrate (nitrite), disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, sodium bisulfite and disodium 5′ guanylate (a combination of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate).
These are also ingredients we have listed as “controversial” on foodfacts.com, as they could have potentially harmful effects. For example, sodium benzoate, when mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can create benzene – a known carcinogen. Effects of another sodium additive, Disodium 5′ Guanylate is not safe for babies under twelve weeks and should generally be avoided by asthmatics and people with gout, as the guanylates are metabolized to purines. However, with both of these ingredients, the typical amounts found in food are generally too low to produce significant side effects or cause serious damage.

Food science has found many great uses for sodium (which is both a naturally occurring and necessary mineral in our bodies). Without some additives, we could have spoiled food and gray deli meats (ew). In small amounts they may not cause any side effects, but what if you add up all the sodium additives in your diet? A little in your lunch meat, a little in your dairy, a little in your beverages. The amount of additives could add up. If you are watching your sodium intake, it could be something to be mindful of.

More cantaloupe recalls…

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Food and Drug Administration)