Category Archives: sugar

Should sodas carry warning cigarette-style warning labels?

sugary-soda-del1014-lgnSugary sodas have been in the news constantly over the last few years. FoodFacts.com has seen New York City consider and dismiss a ban against larger sized sugary beverages. We’ve watched Berkeley, California institute a nominal soda tax and San Francisco consider and dismiss the same. We’re even watching the federal government mull over a national soda tax.

While thus far these initiatives haven’t gone anywhere, the news surrounding soda is serving to educate consumers about exactly how unhealthy the chemical concoctions really are.

Americans are waking up to the dangers of drinking sugary sodas in excess. Now that science is increasingly showing a link between high sugar consumption and chronic disease like diabetes and obesity, some lawmakers think it’s time to warn people about the detrimental health effects of drinking soda much like cigarette labeling did in the 1960′s.
In New York, Brooklyn lawmaker Karim Camara is proposing a state law requiring sugary sodas to carry a warning label: “SAFETY WARNING: DRINKING BEVERAGES WITH ADDED SUGAR CONTRIBUTES TO OBESITY, DIABETES AND TOOTH DECAY.”

“I firmly believe that this will lead to a reduction in people drinking soda and in children drinking soda,” Camara told CBS News.

Camara calls his labeling initiative “public education” and likens it to seeing calorie counts posted on the pastry case at Starbucks. He says when he sees that a donut has 400 calories he chooses the healthier option because he’s informed.

While cigarette warning labels played a role in informing the public about the dangers of smoking and reducing the popularity of cigarette smoking in America, warning labels alone may not be enough.

According to the CDC, higher costs for tobacco products through increased excise taxes, along with mass-media campaigns targeted toward youth to counter tobacco marketing, also contribute to reducing smoking and preventing teens from starting a tobacco habit.

In recent years, American legislators have been trying a variety of tactics to make sugary drinks less attra many have failed. In 2010, then New York Gov. David Paterson sought a penny-an-ounce “fat tax” on soda and other sugary drinks. After a multi-million-dollar campaign by the beverage industry claiming the tax would cost jobs, the state legislature turned down what would have amounted to a 12-cent tax on a can of Coke. But, in an ironic twist, they agreed to add another $1.60 in taxes to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

A few years later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried a different approach by banning the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, delis and other outlets. The ban was thrown out by the courts without ever taking effect.

Now, the soda tax idea may be getting a second wind. Voters in Berkeley, California, recently passed the nation’s first soda tax, a penny an ounce, in order to curb the consumption of sugary drinks. However, across the bay in San Francisco, voters rejected a proposed 2-cents an ounce soda tax.

Passing this type of legislation takes time, effort, and money. Is it really worth it?

Camara, the author of the warning-label bill, thinks so. “The people that are disproportionately affected by diabetes are poor or people of color, and I believe increasing awareness will help parents stop giving soda to their children,” he says.

“Government action to address the dangers of sugary drinks is crucial as the epidemics of obesity and diabetes continue to wreak havoc on the health of our communities. We commend Assembly Member Camara for taking this important step,” the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

Warning labels on sodas. We’re not sure how well that will work. Honestly, we’re not so sure how well it worked with cigarettes. It’s more likely that the higher taxes imposed on every pack that hit smokers in their wallets had a larger effect. Sugary soda taxes might be the way to go.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-drinking-soda-the-new-smoking/

Spreadable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are in your grocery store right now

222This is big news for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fans. It’s been nicknamed “the Nutella killer.” It’s actually all over the internet. And it’s getting great reviews. Folks are saying that Reese’s new Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread actually tastes like you’re eating a peanut butter cup. Candy in a jar.

Obviously that makes FoodFacts.com think “Hmmmmm … we have to wonder what’s going on in there.”

So just in case you’re one of those folks that’s always dreamed about spreading a peanut butter cup between two slices of bread, or on an apple slice or a banana, we wanted to find out what you can expect inside that jar that’s made all your peanut butter cup dreams come true.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size:             2 tablespoons
Calories:                    190 calories
Fat:                            12 grams
Sugar:                       19 grams

Not the healthiest spread in the world. But we do need to point out that the facts for the Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread are almost an exact replica of those for Nutella. The sugar content is fairly high here, and it’s definitely not something you want to mindlessly dip apple slices into for that very reason. There are almost 5 teaspoons of sugar in every serving and you’ll probably go through a few servings on one sliced apple.

We’ve got the ingredient list too — and these are very similar to the ingredients found in the candy:

Sugar, Peanuts, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower and Palm Oil), Dextrose, 20% or less of: Cocoa Processed with Alkalai, Cocoa, Salt, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil ( Palm and Canola Oil), Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor, TBHQ, Citric Acid

We’re not thrilled. First, we can talk about the idea that the first ingredient is sugar. As we already stated, there’s a lot of it in here. There’s a lot of oil here as well — and while it isn’t partially hydrogenated oil, we’re not fond of the need for it in a product that features peanuts (that contain their own oils). We’d also like to point out the presence of TBHQ (which the actual candy also contains) and “natural vanilla flavor.” Remember that as long as the word flavor follows natural and vanilla, it’s not really natural or vanilla.

So, even though the reviews point out how tasty the Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread is and how they feel like they’re eating candy out of a jar, we can’t quite get on the bandwagon for this one. The main reason for that is that people really are eating candy out of a jar, sugar and controversial ingredients included. Honestly, it was bad enough as candy.

http://www.hersheys.com/reeses/spreads/flavors

Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Under Federal Consideration

Three Soda BottlesWe followed the fate of the proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban in New York City and watched as it was defeated. Former Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to curtail the sweet tooth of millions of New Yorkers was met with everything from applause to extreme criticism. A pizzeria in Manhattan actually refused to serve the former mayor a second slice of pizza, telling him that if he wanted to force New Yorkers to count their calories and reduce their sugar intake, the pizzeria could also control his. While that made for some memorable headlines, there are many who still believe that the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban (which applied only to drinks over 16 ounces) was a healthy move for New Yorkers. In that spirit, the federal government is moving towards its own version of health-oriented legislation.

For the first time since 2009, legislation proposing a national tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is under consideration in the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act — or SWEET Act — last week.

The bill would levy an excise tax on sugar content in beverages. Under the SWEET Act, manufacturers would pay a tax of one cent per teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener added to most beverages. For point of reference, a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tax works out to just under a penny-per-ounce of beverage. Drinks such as milk, infant formula, alcoholic beverages and many juices are excluded.

But because the tax is based on amount of sugar and not on ounces of beverage, the federal approach is “a built-in incentive for manufacturers to diminish the concentration of sugar,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with Oakland’s Public Health Institute. Silver and other PHI staff gave input to DeLauro’s staff in formulating the bill and also has been part of the Berkeley coalition that helped draft the measure there.

She said the national approach is different from local efforts, because a graduated tax is “more complicated” to implement at the local level. “It makes more sense at the federal level which has the resources to track down all the beverages and figure out how much they should be taxed,” Silver said. “But for smaller communities, that would be challenging.”
One of the first questions that reasonably pops into people’s minds when they hear about such a bill is what is the possibility of it passing? Silver countered that question with a question: “How many times did health care reform get introduced? Lots. Almost a hundred years before it actually passed — and it passed in pieces, with Medicare and Medicaid each being created separately.”

Silver said she expected “many attempts and incremental efforts to really make change.”

Mexico passed a similar soda tax to the one proposed — a peso per ounce, or about 10 percent — which took effect in January. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promptly dropped 5 to 7 percent. At the same time, consumption of diet sodas and bottled water are up.

“I think the first lesson of the Mexican soda tax,” said Silver, “is that it’s working as expected.” People are cutting back on sugary beverages and increasing consumption of more healthy alternatives.

If the SWEET Act passes, the money would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to any public health programs the money might fund, a tax is estimated to have modest effects on health, because of reduced consumption of sugar.

A U.C. San Francisco study found that a national penny-per-ounce tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. Researchers said that reduction would lead to modest weight loss and reductions in diabetes. Over 10 years, researchers estimated there would be 26,000 fewer premature deaths, 95,000 fewer instances of heart disease and 8,000 fewer strokes.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax. A statement on its website is titled, “Taxes Do Not Make People Healthy.”

FoodFacts.com can agree with that general statement. But we’d follow it up with “Taxes can motivate people to consume healthier beverages.”

We all know that as soon as manufacturers are being charged for sugar by the teaspoon in their sodas, iced teas, and some of their juice drinks, they will immediately pass those costs off to their consumers with higher prices. We feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that once prices go up, consumption will go down. Seems like a pretty good reason for those same manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their beverages.

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/07/30/national-soda-tax-bill-introduced-in-washington/

Too much salt may spell heart disease for diabetics

iStock_000030596950SmallDiabetes rates have soared in recent decades. For those who suffer with the disease, dietary vigilance becomes a way of life. It’s a condition that requires constant attention in order to maintain health and well-being. Diabetes can lead to any number of serious health problems, including heart disease.

Many have come to relate diabetes with sugar. Diabetics have to be careful of sugar and carbohydrate consumption. But it’s not only sugar that raises alarms for people with diabetes. Eating a high-salt diet may double the risk of developing heart disease in people with diabetes, according to a new study from Japan.

For any person, too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. To assess how people with diabetes fare in relation to the salt in their diet, the researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 diabetic patients, ages 40 and 70, from across Japan. The study participants answered questions about their diets, including their sodium intake, and were followed for eight years.

Participants with the highest sodium intake (about 6,000 milligrams per day, on average) were twice as likely to develop heart disease over the study period than those with the lowest sodium intake (about 2,800 milligrams per day, on average), the researchers found. Among the 359 people with the highest sodium intake, 41 developed heart disease, compared with 23 of the 354 people with lowest sodium intake. [4 Tips for Reducing Sodium]

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” study researcher Chika Horikawa, of the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, said in a statement.

The researchers adjusted the results for other factors that may contribute to people’s heart disease risk, such as their alcohol consumption and total calorie intake, according to the study published today (July 22) in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The findings add to the evidence that consuming less salt could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes, the researchers said.

The negative effects of salt on blood pressure and heart health has long been established. Even for healthy, young people, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. A limit of 1,500 mg is recommended for groups at increased risk of heart disease, including African-Americans, people older than 51, and people with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes.

The average American takes in about 3,300 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Main sources of salt in people’s diet include salt used in cooking and sodium naturally found in meat, vegetables and dairy, as well as processed foods, which have high levels of sodium.

People with Type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, and the condition is a risk factor for heart disease. More than 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and another 86 million have high blood sugar levels and could progress to having diabetes, according to the CDC.

In the study, the researchers also found the effects of a high-sodium diet were worsened by poor blood sugar control. But they didn’t find a link between high-salt diet and other complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease or vision problems, or dying.

Sugar and salt. Sugar and salt. It seems we hear disturbing news about either or both more and more consistently. FoodFacts.com wants to remind everyone in our community that Americans consume far too much of each of them on a daily basis. And most importantly, we want to remind everyone that the bulk of the sugar and salt we are consuming does not come from the sugar bowls and salt shakers in our kitchens. Rather, they come from the copious amounts of processed foods it becomes more and more difficult for average consumers to avoid on a daily basis. This research is one more reason to be as conscious as we possibly can be about the quality and content of the foods we consume.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/07/23/high-salt-diet-may-double-diabetics-heart-disease-risk/

Food Fight! Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates at odds over added sugar transparency on food labels

iStock_000001563163SmallFor many of us of a certain generation, the words “Food Fight” will always invoke the memory of John Belushi’s Bluto screaming the phrase in the middle of the cafeteria featured in the classic movie, Animal House. If only the world could always be that simple and funny. This post, however, details a real-life, real-time food fight that has erupted between powerful Big Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates on the heels of the Food And Drug Administration’s proposed changes to nutrition labels that include listing the amount of added sugar in food products.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we think everyone would like to know how much sugar the food industry is actually adding to the products we purchase. We’re sure that even the most uneducated food consumer would choose transparency when it comes to this serious and well-publicized issue.

Scientific studies increasingly are finding links between sugar consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. With public health at stake, advocates say, consumers need to be informed of what is being introduced into their food.

“Food producers and others that represent sugar interests are robbing us of this information that we should have access to, they’re robbing us of our health,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “People have a right to know how much sugar is in their foods.”
The inclusion of added sugars appears to be a jab from the FDA at food manufacturers, whether the agency intended for it to be or not. Other measurements on nutrition labels—calories, fat, sodium—are passive: They simply state how much is in the food. But the added sugars measurement is active: It implies that the company the consumer is purchasing from has included something that could be dangerous in high doses over the long term.

Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?

“There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring sugars or added sugars, and…there is no scientific evidence that added sugars are linked to obesity or other chronic diseases,” said Lee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the American Bakers Association.

But foods containing added sugar are among the most unhealthy, supporters of the FDA proposal say, and more information is a good way for consumers to be more conscious of that.

“The food industry response has said that the body doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugar, and that’s true…but we do no harm by limiting added sugar, and we know it’s a good way to limit calorie intake. It seems to be a logical step to include added sugars on the label,” said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The American Heart Association, which supports the label change, came out with a scientific statement in 2009 that recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for women, and nine teaspoons a day for men, citing the body of evidence that connects high intake of sugar to health problems.

Big Sugar, advocates say, is employing strategies reminiscent of Big Tobacco in its heyday.

“[They’re] different players, but it’s the same game,” Goldman said. “We’re seeing the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco was using. They’re trying to manufacture doubt in the science, they’re trying to pay their own experts to carry their talking points, and they’re doing these things with the intent to undermine public policy.”

Industry also has other objections to the proposed change to nutrition labels: Sanders, from the bakers’ lobbying group, said it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to calculate added sugar.” The FDA acknowledges the costs of the rule change for businesses, estimating that the one-time expenditure would be $2.3 billion for labeling, reformulation of products, and record keeping.

And there are more individualized concerns. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, is concerned that the definition of added sugar includes natural sugars isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component—fruit juice concentrate, for example. That would affect the added sugar count for dairy products such as whey, nonfat dry milk, or milk protein concentrate.

The proposed FDA change appears to have left the biggest of the industry lobbying groups unenthusiastic about communicating with the media. A Sugar Association spokeswoman, Tonya Allen, declined to speak by phone on the issue, pointing only to a weeks-old statement put out by the organization. The Corn Refiners Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stakeholders and business groups have until August 1 to comment on the proposed change. The FDA then will review the comments and consider them in edits to the proposed label, followed by the enactment of a final label. Industry will then, under the proposed rules, have a two-year transitional period over which to comply with the new requirements.

Over the next two weeks, as the FDA comments period draws to a close, industry groups are expected to turn up the heat on the proposal.

“The food industry knows that when they add it to food, you buy more. They don’t add it for any other reason,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California-San Francisco professor who has campaigned against sugar consumption. “You [currently] can’t tell how much sugar has been added, and the food industry wants it that way.”

Read that last quote carefully. We can’t tell how much sugar has been added to our food. We’re being told to keep sugar consumption to between 6 and 9 teaspoons per day (depending on our gender). It appears we don’t know how much sugar we’re consuming and lobbyists are trying to keep it that way. And it certainly doesn’t appear that the “sugar is sugar” argument being made by the sugar lobby has much to do with the problem. The problem originates with the question, “how sweet is sweet enough?” The food industry wants to continue to answer that question without transparency or input. We’re hopeful that the FDA will begin making these major changes next month.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/guess-who-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-how-much-added-sugar-is-in-your-food.html

Dunkin’s newest summertime treat … the Frozen Oreo Coffee Coolatta

1398160875255It had to happen sooner or later, after all there are Oreos featured in hundreds of different products. Ice cream, ice cream cake, pudding, cheesecake, cereal, cake frosting … Oreos are everywhere. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dunkin Donuts latest Coolatta features the Oreo.

On the Dunkin website, the new Coolatta flavor is promoted as “The Best of Both Worlds. The perfect blend of everything that’s delicious in the world. Our signature Frozen Coffee flavor with delicious OREO® cookie pieces mixed in. Just what your taste buds ordered.” O.k. maybe it’s what someone’s taste buds ordered, but what about someone’s healthy lifestyle?

Let’s find out.

Right away, it’s easy to notice that the nutrition facts for the new Dunkin Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta leave a lot to be desired. The facts listed are for the medium size of the beverage (the most common size sold for frozen drinks). It’s also for the skim milk version, because we’re being kind.

Calories:           440
Fat:                   4.5 g
Sugar:              83 g

That’s right, 83 grams of sugar in the medium-sized drink — or to be more specific 20.75 teaspoons of sugar in just one Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta. Imagine that for a moment if you will; someone adding 20.75 teaspoons of sugar into a 24 ounce beverage. That’s almost a teaspoon of sugar per ounce. A bit much for us.

Here are the ingredients:

Frozen Coffee Base: Water, Frozen Coffee Concentrate (Water, Sugar, Coffee Extract, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor); Skim Milk; Oreo® Chocolate Base Cake Cookie Crumbs: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Canola Oil, Cocoa processed with alkali, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).

So for 440 calories, we would be enjoying caramel color, natural and artificial flavors and some high fructose corn syrup.

FoodFacts.com can definitely find a better use for 440 calories during any given day. So for us, this is one of many Oreo-laden treats in which we won’t be indulging.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/frozenbeverages/coffee1/oreo_frozen_coffee_coolatta.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Oreo&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_DAIRY=Skim+Milk

Could drinking soda raise your risk of breast cancer?

Woman in cinema. Beautiful young woman drinking soda while sitting at the cinemaSoda consumption is back in the news. This time, though, that news is reporting on much more than how sugar consumption is linked to the obesity crisis, diabetes and heart disease (as if those problems weren’t enough). FoodFacts.com didn’t actually need any further convincing that soda is an unnecessary beverage — too much sugar, too many bad ingredients and no nutritional benefits whatsoever have left us with a bad taste in our mouths.

Sugary drinks are notorious for their health hazards, and unfortunately, Americans are nowhere close to giving them up. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans surveyed drank soda on a daily basis. Of the 48 percent who consumed soda daily, the average intake of the beverage is 2.6 glasses a day.

And if you think a lack of awareness is to blame, then think again! A study from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Interlex Communications found that most Americans know that drinking soda is bad for you.

Now, researchers have found yet another troubling association with soda consumption: a higher risk of breast cancer in women. Specifically, the scientists discovered that the more sugary drinks a woman consumed, the more density her breasts would have. Breast density is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer, since there is less fatty tissue and more cells that are at risk of becoming cancerous.

“Among all women, those who had a sugary drink intake of more than three servings per week had a mean of 29.6 percent in breast density, but those who did not drink this type of drink had a mean of 26.2 percent in breast density,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Caroline Diorio from Laval University in Quebec. “An increase of about 3 percent in breast density is not negligible in terms of breast cancer risk. By comparison, it has been shown that healthy women at high risk of developing breast cancer who received (the breast cancer drug) tamoxifen for four-and-a-half years had a reduction of 6.4 percent in breast density, and it has been observed that tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent in high-risk women.”

So in addition to all the other valid concerns surrounding soda, this new association with breast cancer is certainly an eye-opening one. While we understand that soda sales have dropped, we know that millions of consumers are still consuming these beverages — and consuming them in excess. We do hope that research like this makes its way into the consciousness of those consumers and that they take it seriously.

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/life/breast-cancer-and-4-other-health-issues-linked-to-drinking-soda.html/

What’s not a diet soda, but not a regular soda? Coming soon to the U.S. … Coke Life

0616_coke_life_970-630x420Soda drinkers have a bit of a problem these days. The widely held opinion used to be that diet sodas were a better choice than sugared sodas. Now, though, the artificial sweeteners in sugared sodas are linked to actual weight gain, instead of weight loss. Their sugary counterparts are under fire for contributing to the obesity crisis, in addition to the rise in diabetes and heart disease. Of course, for those of us who aren’t soda drinkers, both diet and regular sodas are the equivalent of chemical nightmares. But soda drinkers are having a hard time figuring out what to do. So much so that soda sales have steadily declined over the last 9 years. Consumers aren’t happy with soda choices and it’s beginning influence manufacturer decisions.

Coca-Cola, notably, is responding. There’s a new Coke on the horizon. Packaged in a green can that most of us aren’t yet familiar with, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to consumer concerns. Sweetened with stevia, this new version of regular Coke has been released in Argentina and Chili. This coming fall, it will debut in the U.K. It’s worth pointing out that this is the first new addition to Coke branded sodas in almost eight years.

Coke Life isn’t exactly a diet drink. It contains more than four tablespoons of real sugar and has about 89 calories per can—less than the 140 calories found in a can of regular Coke, but hardly something that will be championed by the quinoa crowd.

Instead, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to the two health concerns that have been hitting the company’s soda sales with a one-two punch: the anti-sugar movement, which rails against its full-calorie, full-sugar line of beverages, and the perception that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in both Diet Coke and Coke Zero) are unhealthy and can even contribute to weight gain.

These concerns have contributed to a steady nine-year decline in U.S. soda sales. Last year they slid even further—dropping 3 percent, or more than double the 1.2 percent they’d fallen the year before. (Soda is already down a further 2 percent this year.) Diet soda sales withstood the decline for a while; now they appear to be tumbling, too. Last year, Diet Coke sales in the U.S. dropped nearly 7 percent, according to Beverage Digest.

As soda sales have fallen, Coke has also found itself fending off health-policy experts and state governments pushing for increased regulation of sugary drinks and snacks. New York City’s limit on soda container sizes is currently making its way through state courts, and a California law that would add a warning label to cans saying, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay” has made it through the state senate, despite heavy lobbying by the local arm of the American Beverage Association (of which Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are members). In the U.K., where Coke Life will make its next debut, Coca-Cola has agreed to reduce the average calories in its sodas by 5 percent by the end of this year.

Coca-Cola has more than 100 years of experience fighting health crazes and government regulation campaigns. In 1906 the U.S. government sued the company in attempt to get it to abandon caffeine. (It lost.) In 1950, a Cornell professor named Clive McCay testified before a Congressional committee on food additives that Coke could eat through teeth. (Not true.) But so many drink choices are now available that Americans’ current move away from soda doesn’t appear to be temporary.

At the moment, Coke Life doesn’t have a U.S. debut date. Given the company’s heavy investment in stevia-based drinks—in 2007, Coca-Cola and Cargill teamed up to create Truvia, a consumer brand of stevia sweetener—it seems likely that the drink will soon see much wider release.

While Coke Life may in fact offer less sugar than regular soda and healthier sugar than both regular and diet soda, it still contains about 4 teaspoons of sugar in every can. That’s still too much when you consider the new recommendations of 6 teaspoons per day for men and 9 for women.

Step in the right direction? For some, maybe. But then there’s us. Here at FoodFacts.com, sugar is just part of our concerns — a big part, undoubtedly, but still only a part. At the end of the day, it will still be a Coke that’s sweetened differently. The changes in the ingredient list won’t go far enough. We’ll still be left with plenty of items on the ingredient list that we can’t bring ourselves to consume. Still soda. Still a problem.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-17/cokes-new-low-cal-low-sugar-soda-is-designed-to-quiet-critics

Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s … did you get yours this St. Patrick’s Day?

366305547,366305548,366305549.jpgWe were wondering … and if you did, do you know what was in it?

It’s an unmistakable concoction. The Shamrock Shake is bright green (a little too bright for our taste here at FoodFacts.com). One look and you know for certain that this is a St. Patrick’s Day specialty, of the same order of the green beer and green eggs and ham sold at local pubs all around the country to celebrate this particularly festive holiday when everyone experiences some good Irish cheer.

So in case you did run into your local McDonald’s and grab one, we thought we’d take some time to tell you exactly what you consumed. It isn’t pretty (even if you really like the shade of green featured in your cup).

We’ll begin with the ingredient list:

Ice Cream Reduced Fat (Milk, Sugar, Cream, Milk Nonfat Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Flavors Artificial Vanilla, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate) ,Syrup (Corn Syrup High Fructose, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Flavors Natural, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Yellow 5, Blue 1) , Cream Whipped (Cream, Milk Nonfat, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Contains 1% or less of the following: [Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Tocopherols Mixed Vitamin E] ) , Cherries Maraschino(Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Red 40,Sulphur Sulfur Dioxide [Contains Sulfite] )

To save you from actually having to count the ingredients, there are 54 of them. Seems a bit heavy handed to us for one shake. To make matters even worse, 20 of those ingredients are controversial. And that bright green color that qualifies it as a “Shamrock Shake,” that’s Yellow 5 and Blue 1. We’d like to point out that while the shake is green, there’s no such thing as Shamrock flavor, so we’re not exactly sure what McDonald’s was going for here. At least the Irish Creme coffees from Dunkin Donuts are trying to simulate Irish Creme flavor. This is just a green shake with bad ingredients.

The nutrition facts for the Shamrock Shake are no better. Let’s take a look at the 16 oz. medium size shake:

Calories:                             660
Fat:                                      19 g
Saturated Fat:                   12 g
Cholesterol:                       75 mg
Sugar:                                 93 g

Yes, you read that right. There are 93 g of sugar in a medium Shamrock Shake. That’s 23.5 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR. Wow! The World Health Organization wants us to limit sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day. So one medium Shamrock Shake is almost 4 DAYS worth of sugar intake.

If you treated yourself to a Shamrock Shake this St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to count your sugar grams carefully for the remainder of the week. If you didn’t have one, don’t feel badly about missing out on McDonald’s once a year green “treat.” Oh, and either way, next year, you can find plenty of other, far better treats to indulge in for a little Erin Go Bragh. Sometimes we can take a sweet treat much too far!

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/DessertsShakes/McDonalds-McCafe-McShamrock-Shake-Medium-16-fl-oz/91918

How tough would it be to eat just 6 teaspoons of sugar every day?

sugar.jpgIt sounds like a simple enough challenge, doesn’t it?  You might be thinking that you don’t add sugar to your foods or that you don’t use much sugar in your coffee.  But FoodFacts.com wants you to think really carefully about that question, because it certainly isn’t as simple as it might appear.

In a new guideline on sugar consumption, the World Health Organization reiterates its 2002 recommendation that no more than 10% of daily calories come in the form of sugar. But this time around, the WHO adds that people would get additional benefits if they can keep their sugar consumption below 5% of daily calories.

That’s likely to be a tall order. For an adult with a normal body mass index, 5% of daily calories works out to about 25 grams of sugar, or six teaspoons, the WHO says.

In an announcement on its website, the WHO says it is offering new guidance on sugar consumption in response to research documenting its deleterious effects: “There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).”
Worries about cavities and other dental problems played a role too, WHO says: “Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and … continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide.”

A study published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that a whopping 71.4% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from sugar. Even worse, the study linked higher levels of sugar consumption with an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

Added sugars go by many names when they are listed on nutrition labels of processed foods. Some of their aliases include high fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrates.

So let’s take a FoodFacts.com look at three meals on a busy day for a U.S. consumer who is not eating food prepared at home and is somewhat careful about the foods he or she is choosing. Perhaps there was a bowl of Quaker Instant Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for breakfast before running to work, then lunch at Panera Bread with a co-worker for the Low-Fat Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and a soft roll, then two slices of a Kashi Margherita Pizza for a quick dinner before the gym. We won’t even count snacks and beverages. At the end of the day, those three meals cost that consumer 7 and a half teaspoons of sugar. Add a few snacks and drinks into the mix and we’re more than one and a half teaspoons over the World Health Organization recommendation.

The scenario we just detailed is for someone making “better” choices. We can only imagine the teaspoon count for someone who isn’t. It’s eye-opening to realize that a small chocolate shake at McDonald’s contains 15 teaspoons of sugar … or that drinking two cans of regular coke adds 19 teaspoons of sugar to your daily intake.

It’s time for everyone in America to start taking added sugar seriously and counting up those grams on a daily basis. How much sugar are you really eating every day?

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-added-sugar-who-six-teaspoons-per-day-20140305,0,4431783.story#ixzz2vcANtHIZ