General Mills settles suit over 100% Natural claims on Nature Valley Granola Bars

Earns General MillsHere at FoodFacts.com we often talk about the “halo effect” surrounding certain food products. Language used on certain food products is often designed to impart a certain image. The brand name Nature Valley, for instance, ascribes a wholesome stature to products bearing the name. And often you’ll find 100% natural claims on Nature Valley products.

The non-profit Center for Science in the Public acts as a sort of truth squad for food claims, outing many “good for you” labels and ads for the shameless distortions that they are.

Now, the center reports the settlement of a suit it brought against General Mills for calling Nature Valley granola bars and other products “100% Natural” even though they contained highly processed sweeteners. (Wait, you mean “high-fructose corn syrup” doesn’t just count as corn?) From it’s press release:

WASHINGTON—A settlement agreement announced today prevents General Mills from claiming that its Nature Valley granola bars, crispy squares, and trail mix bars are “100% Natural” if those products contain high-fructose corn syrup, high-maltose corn syrup, dextrose monohydrate, maltodextrin, soy protein isolate, or several other artificially produced ingredients. The agreement, which is effective immediately and applies to labeling and marketing for 30 Nature Valley products, settles a 2012 lawsuit brought on behalf of consumers by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and two law firms.
CSPI privately raised its concern with General Mills over its “100% Natural” claims as early as 2005. The company began phasing out its use of high-fructose corn syrup in some products, but at the time of CSPI’s lawsuit was still using high-maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin. While those ingredients are derived from corn, they are produced by treating corn starch with acids, enzymes, or both before being refined into a substance that does not occur in nature.

The center notes that a bill introduced in Congress in 2013 “would prohibit the use of the word ‘natural’ on a food that includes any synthesized ingredient, or any ingredient that has undergone chemical changes such as corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, high-maltose corn syrup, maltodextrin, chemically modified food starch, or alkalized cocoa.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that some Nature Valley packaging had apparently already been changed. It says a “spokeswoman for General Mills said the changes were made in 2012 and preceded the lawsuits, which she said the company fought because the suits sought damages. She said General Mills agreed to the settlement to avoid further litigation, and has no plans to change its current labels.”

The Journal also reports that lawsuits over “natural” labeling have been proliferating of late, with more than 100 filed in recent years.

Consumers have targeted PepsiCo Inc., Campbell Soup Co. , Ben & Jerry’s, Kashi, Skinnygirl and dozens of other food and drink brands.

Several companies have quietly removed “natural” claims from the juice, ice cream, potato chips and other foods they make. Campbell eliminated the claim from Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers and Pepsi got rid of the phrasing on its Naked juice bottle.

A commenter on The Wall Street Journal story writes:

The sad truth is that if you are buying something in a wrapper, box, can or any sealed container, it almost certainly is adulterated with either sugar, hydrogenated oil, preservatives, or all of these, not to mention excess salt, and “additives.”

Go to your friendly neighborhood chain food market and take a magnifying glass. Read the labels on “breakfast cereal”. Of the fifty brands there, chances are that all fifty contain added sugar/corn syrup, or concentrated fruit juice for sweetening. Do the same with “juices” and discover there MAY be ONE or TWO actual juices there, everything else is adulterated and soaked in corn syrup. Basically if it’s in a container, it’s semi junk or junk food.

None of this comes as a surprise to the FoodFacts.com community. And while it is true that many manufacturers have removed natural claims from their labels, well … let’s just say it remains a good idea to read ingredient lists consistently. Remember, every manufacture can change ingredients without notification. A while back, Hunt’s promoted the removal of high-fructose corn syrup from its ketchup. Shortly thereafter, it reverted to using high-fructose corn syrup because they claimed consumers preferred the original recipe. They do still have a version of their ketchup without HFCS. But the whole chain of events occurred very quietly.

Be a consistent label reader who isn’t influence by packaging claims and you’ll naturally avoid unnatural ingredients!

http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2014/11/nature-valley-granola-bars-suit

Rates of obesity-related cancers rising … and it’s mostly in developed countries

picCanmexIn case anyone was wondering if the obesity crisis has been contained or is showing any signs of reversing course, the unfortunate fact is that from all available information, the world is still suffering. This reversible and tragic situation is still continuing at an alarming rate. In addition to actual obesity statistics, news surrounding the crisis points squarely to the concept that millions of people across the globe continue to gain far too much weight to be able to maintain health.

Being overweight or obese have become major risk factors for developing cancer, particularly among women and in more developed countries, the specialized cancer agency of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Overweight and obesity are responsible for an estimated 481,000 or 3.6 per cent of all new cancer cases in 2012, and reducing such health issues at the population level could have significant health benefits, according to a new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology today, also shows that one quarter of all cancers attributable to overweight and obesity worldwide 118,00 cases could have been prevented if populations had simply maintained their average body-mass index of 30 years ago.

The number of cancers linked to obesity and overweight is expected to rise globally along with economic development, Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, said in a press release.

This study stresses the importance of putting in place efficient weight control measures, to curb the high number of cancers associated with excess body weight and to avoid the problems faced by rich countries being repeated in those now undergoing rapid development, he added.

Cancer due to overweight and obesity is currently far more common in more developed countries which reported 393,000 cases, or 5.2 per cent of all new cancer cases than in less developed countries which reported 88,000 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases.
North America remains the most affected, with an estimated 111,000 obesity-related cancers in 2012, accounting for 23 per cent of the total global cancer burden linked to high body-mass index, the agency said.

In Europe, the proportion of cancers due to overweight and obesity is also large, particularly in eastern Europe which reported 65,000 cases, or 6.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the region, according to the study.

Overall, the countries with the highest cancer burden attributable to overweight and obesity in men are the Czech Republic (5.5 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases); Jordan (4.5 per cent); the United Kingdom (4.4 per cent); and Malta (4.4 per cent).

Among women, Barbados (12.7 per cent), the Czech Republic (12.0 per cent) and Puerto Rico (11.6 per cent) are most affected. In the United States one of the largest contributors of global cancers associated with high body-mass index 3.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent of the country’s new cancer cases are linked to excess body weight in men and women, respectively.

Although in most Asian countries the proportion of cancers associated with overweight and obesity is not large, it still translates into a considerable absolute number of cases due to the large population size, the study noted.

For example, in China, about 50,000 cancer cases in women and men are associated with overweight and obesity, accounting for 1.6 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases, according to the study.

In contrast, the contribution of overweight and obesity to cancer burden remains low in Africa which had 7,300 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the continent.

Overall, we see that while the number of cancer cases associated with overweight and obesity remains highest in richer countries, similar effects are already visible in parts of the developing world, said Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, one of the study’s lead authors and the projects principal investigator.

A high body-mass index is a known risk factor for cancers of the oesophagus, colon, rectum, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, postmenopausal breast, ovary and endometrium, as well as for other non-communicable diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A body-mass index is a measure of body fat that is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres.

The study also highlights that the proportion of cancers related to obesity is higher in women than in men, with population-attributable fractions of 5.3 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.

Women are disproportionately affected by obesity-related cancers, said IARCs Dr. Melina Arnold, one of the study’s lead authors.

For example, for postmenopausal breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, the study suggests that 10 per cent of these cancers could have been prevented by having a healthy body weight.

FoodFacts.com can clearly understand how the rates of obesity-related cancers are higher in more developed, wealthier countries. Our grocery store shelves are lined with the seeds of obesity far more than those in underdeveloped nations. We’re surrounded by the processed foods and sugary beverages that are the sources of obesity problems. We need changes that begin with our food supply and carry down through to our dietary habits. It’s only then that we’ll see a reversal in worldwide obesity statistics and a reduction in the rate of obesity-related cancers.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49453#.VH_BmVWJOuZ

High-fructose diet in adolescence may be linked to depression later in life

urlDepression and anxiety have become common conditions these days. Millions of highly functional, accomplished people are taking antidepressants to combat the effects of these issues as they battle depressive behaviors every day. We do know that nutrition can play a role in depression. Studies have been conducted that have linked junk food consumption to behavioral health difficulties. New information, however, is pointing to a specific culprit consumed during a specific time period and showing a definite link to the development of depression.

The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress, according to new animal research scheduled for presentation at Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“Our results offer new insights into the ways in which diet can alter brain health and may lead to important implications for adolescent nutrition and development,” said lead author Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta.

Harrell is a graduate student working with Gretchen Neigh, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

Fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables but also added to many processed foods and beverages, can promote negative cardiovascular effects. It also stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioral effects, including the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain’s stress response.

To determine whether fructose consumption has the potential to create long-term changes in metabolism and behavior during adolescence, Harrell and her colleagues gave both adolescent and adult rats either a standard or a high-fructose diet. After 10 weeks, the adolescent but not adult rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behavior. A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered.

These findings indicate that consuming a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence may exacerbate depressive behaviors and affect the way the body and the brain respond to stress.

FoodFacts.com is always concerned about nutritional awareness in our teenagers. Unlike younger children, teens spend more time away from our homes and our kitchens. They are more likely to consume junk food containing high-fructose corn syrup on a regular basis. Healthy eating habits begin early. And while we’re not going to prevent teenagers from eating bad food when they’re away from us, the habits we instill early on will influence the choices they make as they get older. Depression is debilitating. We owe it to the coming generations to help them avoid behavioral conditions as much as we can. It’s important to remember that sugar-addicted children become sugar-addicted teens. We need to exercise control over our children’s dietary habits while we can. There’s no room for sugary beverages and processed foods in the diets of small children if we want them to grow into teens who make healthier food choices away from home.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141118141852.htm

Want younger looking skin? Ditch the soda!

Why-Diet-Soda-Bad-YouAs time marches on, virtually everyone becomes concerned about the appearance of their skin. We’re so concerned, in fact, that there are hundreds of creams, serums, scrubs, peels and masks that we can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to purchase throughout the year to help in our quest to remain looking as young as possible. FoodFacts.com happily read some new information on skin care today that has nothing to do with making yet another investment in products that may — or may not — work for us.

We all want to look good as we get older, and for the majority of people, the signs of aging are most obvious on our face. Dermatologists remind wearing sunscreen, keeping sun exposure to a minimum and avoiding smoking, but what about slowing down premature aging from the inside? Recent studies say part of the answer may be cutting out soda.

It seems like every time we turn around, there is another study about the negative health effects of soft drinks, and recently attention has turned to the damage it can do to your skin.
Dr. Steven Victor, dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told FoxNews.com that in more than 33 years of practice, he’s experienced the effects of soda on his patient’s skin first-hand.

“The biggest problem about soda is the crazy amount of sugar,” Victor said. “The dangers of sugar to the body are not new, scientists have been studying it for years. When a patient consumes a lot of sugar, it shows in their skin.”

Results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the top source of added sugar in American’s diet is beverages.

“I notice wrinkles, skin texture, oil content,” he said. “When you see somebody who is having a lot of sugar, their skin doesn’t look glowing or bright, it looks saggy and dull.”

Victor said the major problem of consuming soda is the inflammatory effect it has on the body.

“Soda is a factor in the aging process of the skin because it causes the body to produce all kinds of inflammatory products,” he said. “I compare it to Pac-Man, going around the body eating good tissue. Diet, and especially soda, greatly affects your skin.”

Many dark colas contain advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health determined that AGEs react with proteins, lipids and nucleic acids in almost all skin cells, contributing to and potentially accelerating skin aging.

In addition to sugar and AGEs, the caffeine found in soda can dehydrate the skin, emphasizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Plus, soda may cause certain skin conditions to become more problematic.

“If you are drinking a lot of soda, you are starting a whole inflammatory cascade in the body, so if you have a skin condition you are exaggerating it,” Victor said. “Especially eczema, or very dry, itchy inflamed skin, and acne, specifically cystic acne.”

The visible effects of soda on the skin can even be compared to those of smoking. The side effects of sugar on the skin, including dullness, dryness and the decrease in skin cell production, coincide with the effects of nicotine.

“Soda causes damage to the skin just like smoking,” Victor said. “Just like sugar, nicotine causes inflammation. Whether you are drinking or smoking chemicals, it’s hard on the body to fight them.”

The good news? Victor said it’s possible for the skin damage soda causes to be reversed.
“Cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with water definitely produces a visible change in the health of the skin, in a very short amount of time,” he said. “If you can reduce the amount of soda you drink, you will start looking better and your skin will look better.”

If you, or someone you love, is having difficulty reducing or eliminating a soda habit, this information can provide plenty of motivation! A visible change in the health of your skin in a short amount of time. No fancy creams or scrubs or expensive treatments. Just giving up soda. Sounds like a less expensive, more effective plan. And let’s not forget that we’ll be doing the rest of the body a big favor at the same time!

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/11/12/what-is-soda-doing-to-your-skin/

Baskin Robbins ode to the military … Camouflage Ice Cream

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.02.01 PMUpon hearing about some new food products or flavors, FoodFacts.com often asks ourselves “Did anyone really need that?”

Honestly, that was our question when we heard that last month Baskin-Robbins introduced its new Camouflage Ice Cream. While its a lovely concept that Baskin-Robbins wanted to honor veterans and our military, we’re not quite sure that anyone was ever thinking about consuming ice cream that looks like camo. Overall, the reviews we’ve read were positive … once people got past the unusual appearance. But that unusual appearance (dark brown, light brown and khaki green) peaked our interest.

We thought we’d take a closer look.

On the Baskin-Robbins website, you’ll find this description for the new flavor: “Chocolate, Salty Caramel, and Cake flavored ice creams team up to make a flavor so delicious, you’ll never see it coming.” Admittedly, the flavor combination sounds interesting. But let’s find out what’s really going on inside those scoops.

In every 4 ou. serving you’ll find:

Calories:                     240
Fat:                             14 grams
Saturated Fat:           9 grams
Sugar:                       19 grams

It’s ice cream and no one expects ice cream to carry stellar nutrition facts. Ice cream is all about ingredients. And here are the ingredients for Baskin-Robbins camouflage ice cream:

Cream, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Vanilla Cream Flavor Base [Sugar, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Whey Powder, Salt Caramel Base [Corn Syrup, Butter (Cream, Salt), Water, Sugar, Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk (Condensed Skim Milk, Sugar), Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Annatto (Color), Salt, Carrageenan, Sulfites], Chocolate Liquor and Cocoa processed with alkali, Stabilizer/Emulsifier Blend (Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80), Caramel Color, Red 40, Yellow 5 , Blue 1, Yellow 6, Natural Flavors (Contains Barley).

Like we said, ice cream is all about the ingredients. First of all we now understand how that interesting camo pattern was achieved. There are far too many colorful ingredients in this list. In addition, 15 of the 38 ingredients are controversial. Too many ingredients to begin with and too many controversial ingredients on top of that.

The question remains. Did anyone really need this? Our answer is absolutely not. We never wanted to eat camo. And we certainly don’t want to eat camo made from these ingredients.

https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors.html

Starbucks ushers in the holiday season with the new Chestnut Praline Latte

579f048cfc7741ed98c494b8d5eeb29bThe holiday season is officially upon us … and so are fast food holiday beverage introductions! Fall is the “pumpkin spice” everything season and the winter holidays are open to a whole host of flavor combinations in a cup.

This year, Starbucks has introduced the new Chestnut Praline Latte. Certainly sounds like the holidays, doesn’t it?  It calls to mind an old Christmas carol … “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…” And if everyone loves hazelnut-flavored coffee, chestnuts will probably be a big hit.

So what’s going on with this new holiday latte?

While Starbucks has yet to release the ingredients, we can tell you how the Chestnut Praline Latte is being promoted on their website.

“Introducing our new seasonal sip – a tantalizing flavor sensation of Espresso, steamed milk, and caramelized chestnut flavor and spices. Topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbles. Stop in and sip your way to seasonal bliss.”

Even with the ingredient list unavailable, we can understand right away that the “caramelized chestnut flavor” is probably not something we should be excited about. We can’t really criticize what we’re not sure of, though, and will leave it at that.

We do know about the nutrition facts for the latte. We’re sharing the facts for the 16 ou. Chestnut Praline Latte with whole milk.

Calories:               370
Fat:                       17 grams
Saturated Fat:     10 grams
Sugar:                  39 grams

If you choose to start your morning with the Chestnut Praline Latte, you’ll be consuming 50% of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat with your coffee and just about 10 TEASPOONS of sugar.

FoodFacts.com doesn’t really need to see an ingredient list for this one. We prefer actual chestnuts roasting on an open fire to put us in a holiday mood. The Chestnut Praline Latte can stay at Starbucks.

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/chestnut-praline-latte?foodZone=9999#size=11033006&milk=67&whip=125

Thinking about a gluten-free diet? Some information to consider first …

gluten-free-banner1We hear about diet trends all the time. Low carb. No carb. Mediterranean. Low fat. No fat. It’s rare that a diet trend has any real staying power. A few decades back everyone was trying to avoid fat — all fat, in everything. People were avoiding egg yolks. Fat-free cheese, fat-free potato chips, fat-free cookies … the grocery store shelves were lined with fat-free products. Most of those products aren’t available today.

There is one diet trend, though, that certainly has had a longer life than others. There are countless people that swear by a gluten-free diet — not just for weight loss, but for overall health as well.

A recent study has suggested that although only 7% American need a gluten-free diet, more than 63% of Americans are conscious of gluten intake and try to avoid it. The most supported claim for this action is the belief that gluten would make them healthy and improve their mental capabilities. Among the most popular beliefs were how a gluten free diet would improve digestion, the immune and digestive systems, and memory as well as increase energy and reduce cholesterol levels.

AlessioFasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston notes that there is very little research regarding the beneficial and harmful effects of gluten.

“Gluten free” is advertised by many brands now. Gluten is a protein that is present naturally in grains like wheat and barley and rye. This protein is beneficial for health. Through evidenced-based knowledge, gluten has positive effects on levels of carbohydrates and blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy intestinal flora and reduce inflammation.
However for those 6-7% who do require a gluten free diet, it is essentially a toxic substance that damages the intestines. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by gluten-mediated-damage to the intestinal wall. Thus for these people, the avoidance of gluten is necessary.

For those who are not sensitive to gluten, though, researchers have found gluten free diets to actually be harmful.

Gluten free products tend to have more calories, be less nutritious, and have low levels of vitamins and other elements that are required by the body and may also be high in sodium content and carbohydrates.

Gluten free foods are generally rice products, since rice is well tolerated in patients with celiac disease. According to previous research, the highest levels of arsenic (a heavy metal poison) are found in rice. Since most products contain rice even when the label says they don’t, there is invariably some exposure to arsenic.

Weight gain is an issue when it comes to a gluten free diet. Celiac disease patients can gain weight because they are able to absorb more nutrients than when they were consuming gluten.

People who may have some other underlying condition may mistake it for gluten sensitivity and may end up exacerbating their disease.

Researchers suggest that the best way to stay healthy is by reducing carbohydrate intake and eating more fiber, since fiber promotes satiety and fruits and vegetables provide a boost to the immune system.

FoodFacts.com knows that there are many people in our own community who have experienced enormous benefits by avoiding gluten – people who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. We ourselves have been impressed with the quality of many of the gluten-free food products becoming more and more popular in our grocery stores. There is value in other views, however, and every individual can have a different experience. Some food for thought …

http://www.esbtrib.com/2014/11/23/2502/secret-behind-gluten-free-diet-facts-need-know/

Have a healthier Thanksgiving! Common sense ideas that DON’T involve avoiding your favorite holiday foods

shutterstock_224254609-676x450In every corner of America, Thanksgiving will see families and friends sitting down to a marvelous and overindulgent feast. Thursday will involve turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and pies. The preparation of these favorites rarely, if ever, takes into consideration calories, fat, sodium or sugar. It’s a fact, we expect to indulge over the holidays. We even look forward to it.

But, how can we allow ourselves to enjoy that indulgence without the traditional late day “food coma” or the possible weight gain that can easily accompany a meal that some experts have estimated contains an average of 4500 calories?

Here are a few ideas that can help you through your Thanksgiving feast while still maintaining some reasonable standards.

1. Drink Water Through Out the Day
The holidays might make you forget about the most basic need of your body: hydration. Be sure to sip water through out the day to stay hydrated. In addition to staying hydrated, you won’t be as hungry in the face of all those holiday treats.

2. Switch to Sea Salt (And Use Less of It)
The white table salt commonly used at home is the result of many refining processes that leaves us with “dead salt” laden with chemical additives. You can add more healthy minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium to your diet instantly by making the switch to sea salt.

3. Load Up On Cranberries, Not Sugar
These little red berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels in berries, and their bright anthocyanin pigments may also act as antioxidants. For a healthier cranberry sauce, try adding a cup of orange juice and a cup of honey instead of sugar.

4. Skip the Turkey Skin
If you are eating turkey, be choosy about what parts you consume. A single serving of white, skinless turkey (about a size of a deck of cards) has about 160 calories and 4 grams of fat, whereas dark turkey breast meat with skin contains twice the amount of fat and 70 more calories.

5. Stick to Whole Grains
Scientists have found that a diet consisting mainly of whole grains can help lower blood pressure and may help with weight control. Whole grains may also help decrease the risk of heart disease. Yet more than 40 percent of Americans do not consume any whole grains in their diet, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Instead of loading up on white breads and rice, opt for whole-grain products such as brown or wild rice and whole wheat bread.

6. Don’t Forget Your Greens
You may be excited about the turkey, potatoes and gravy, but don’t forget to have some fresh, colorful salads on the table. In general, Americans consume less vegetables than the recommended five servings per day, so give your family the option of a fresh salad with at least three colors (orange, green and red) for an abundant dose of antioxidants and vitamins.

7. Ditch the Dairy Dessert
Ice cream may seem like a necessary companion to pumpkin pie, but it might not be the best option after an already decadent feast. According to FDA’s standards, ice cream must contain at least 10 percent (mostly milk) fat content. Eliminate the fat and cholesterol in your dessert and reduce unpleasant side effects of dairy (such as skin irritation and upset stomach) by switching to organic soy, rice, or coconut ice cream.

8. Listen To Your Stomach
Finally, a simple but effective rule of thumb for festive eating: know when your stomach is full. When your brain starts justifying eating one more bite because it “tastes so good,” it’s time to put the fork down.

A few small suggestions that might leave you feeling much better on Friday morning! FoodFacts.com wants to point out that no one is suggesting that you forego the candied yams or your favorite stuffing. Instead, you can skip the turkey skin, use less salt and drink more water and you can help yourself avoid the 4500 calorie price tag that might be attached to your Thanksgiving feast!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1095683-8-easy-ways-to-a-healthy-thanksgiving/

How much money does obesity cost the world? A new report claims that it’s just as much as war and terrorism.

_pek102d_4944201It’s no secret that the obesity epidemic is costing governments money. Until now though, it’s been difficult to measure exactly how expensive it’s become.

The obesity epidemic is now so widespread it is hurting economies as much as war and terrorism, new research reveals.

More than 2.1 billion people are overweight or obese – costing the world US $2 trillion a year.  And while China has lower obesity rates than advanced economies, its numbers are rising fast.

The study, published by McKinsey & Company, calculated the combined social burden by estimating the cost of health care, lost productivity and mitigating the impact of obesity.
According to the research, obesity costs US$600 billion more than alcoholism, US$1.1 trillion more than outdoor air pollution and US$1.3 trillion more than drug use. It has the same impact on the economy as war and terrorism, and is just short of having the same negative impact as smoking.

Almost 30 per cent of the world’s people are overweight or obese, more than twice the number who are undernourished.

McKinsey estimates that if obesity rates continue, almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.

A report in medical journal The Lancet reveals China has 62 million obese people – behind only the United States.

While the battle of the bulge remains a relatively adult problem in China, obesity in children is growing at alarming rates. Almost a quarter – about 23 per cent – of Chinese boys under the age of 20 are either overweight or obese, as are 14 per cent of girls.

The prevalence of obesity in cities is up to four times that in rural areas. And obesity rates are expected to rise as incomes go up in poorer areas.

China is attempting to combat the growing obesity problem by constructing more playgrounds and making exercise mandatory in schools.

However, McKinsey argues that obesity reduction requires engagement from many sectors, including government, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, media organisations, educators and health-care providers.

It’s so important to emphasize that the obesity crisis is a global problem. FoodFacts.com also wants to emphasize that the growth of this crisis tracks closely with the enormous growth in the availability and popularity of processed foods, junk foods and fast foods across the globe. That’s not coincidental. Fat, sugar and sodium ARE the issues of the day. Controversial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup are adversely affecting our health, regardless of how the food industry attempts to explain them away.

Obesity, at its most minor level, changes people’s lifestyles in countless negative manners. At it’s worst, it causes debilitating disease and death. And it’s costing countries horrendous amounts of money for a condition that is completely preventable. It’s time to make real changes to our food supply on a global level.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1645764/obesity-epidemic-costs-world-much-wars-and-terrorism-report-says

McDonald’s answers some questions about the McRib

HT_mcrib_beauty_jtm_141104_16x9_992Possibly the most iconic of any of the McDonald’s menu items, the McRib might just have more fans than the Big Mac. Part of its appeal comes from its limited time availability releases. Since fast food lovers can’t always have a McRib, its allure is heightened. For FoodFacts.com the McRib is not an alluring sandwich. It’s nutrition facts and ingredient list tell us to stay far away from it.

McDonald’s recently launched a new campaign called “Our Food, Your Questions” in an effort to offer consumers more transparency into exactly what’s in their menu items.

The latest dish it tackles is the popular McRib, which only makes limited-time appearances, causing fervor among its devotees. Here’s a step-by-step look at how the beloved barbecue sandwich is made.

Step 1: It begins with boneless pork shoulder.
“We have a boneless pork picnic, which is the main ingredient in the McDonald’s McRib patty,” Kevin Nanke says. “This is what we purchase and bring in to the facility to make the McRib.”

Nanke is the vice president of Lopez Foods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which is McDonald’s USA pork supplier. All the bones and gristle from the pork shoulder are removed to prepare for grinding.

Step 2: The meat is ground and flavoring and preservatives are added.
During grinding, water, salt, dextrose and preservatives are added to the meat.
The dextrose is a type of sugar used to add sweetness, and the preservatives (BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid) help maintain the flavor, according to McDonald’s.

Step 3: The McRib shape is formed.
In the factory, the ground meat is pressed into the iconic McRib shape, meant to resemble meat and bones — except this is all meat, and the bone shape is pork as well.

Step 4: Water is sprayed on to prepare for freezing.
A fine mist of water is added to the formed McRib to prevent dehydration during freezing.

Step 5: The McRib is frozen.
The factory flash-freezes the McRib to prepare for shipment.

Step 6: The McRib is cooked.
When the McRib is at the restaurant and ready to be prepared, it’s cooked in a Panini press-type machine.

Step 7: The McRib patty is done when both sides are seared to a golden brown.
Food safety, quality and regulatory technicians at Lopez Foods regularly make test batches for quality assurance.

Step 8: After it’s seared, the cooked McRib marinates in barbecue sauce.
The barbecue sauce has a lot of ingredients. According to McDonald’s, here they are and why:

For flavor and texture: Tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, chili pepper, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, natural smoke flavor (plant source), salt, sugar and spices

For flavor and as a preservative: Distilled vinegar

For thickness, body and sheen: Water, xantham gum, soybean oil, modified food starch

For color: Caramel color, beet powder

As a preservative: Sodium benzoate

Step 9: The sandwich is assembled.
First, the hoagie-style roll is toasted and layered with onions and pickles before the McRib is placed on.

McDonald’s has been criticized for using azodicarbonamide in their rolls because the same ingredient is used in non-food products, such as yoga mats. Here’s the official explanation:
“The ingredient you refer to is azodicarbonamide (ADA) and it’s sometimes used by bakers to help keep the texture of their bread consistent from batch to batch, which is why it is used in the McRib hoagie-style roll.”

“There are multiple uses for azodicarbonamide, including in some non-food products, such as yoga mats. As a result, some people have suggested our food contains rubber or plastic, or that the ingredient is unsafe. It’s simply not the case. Think of salt: the salt you use in your food at home is a variation of the salt you may use to de-ice your sidewalk. The same is true of ADA — it can be used in different ways.”

The rest of the ingredients in the roll are:

Main ingredients: Enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water

For caramelization when toasting: High fructose corn syrup

For volume and texture: Yeast, wheat gluten, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono and diglycerides, calcium peroxide

For tenderness: Soybean oil

For flavor: Salt, barley and malt syrup, corn meal

For leavening: Calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate

As a preservative: Calcium proponiate

As for the other ingredients, the onions are just onions, and the pickles have multiple ingredients, all below:

Main ingredients: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar

For flavor: Salt, natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80 (emulsifier: helps ensure that the spice blend disperses within the brine), extracts of turmeric (for color and flavor)

To maintain crisp texture: Calcium chloride, alum

As a preservative: Potassium sorbate

So McDonald’s is being upfront about the ingredients used in the McRib. And while we think it’s impressive that they’re coming forward with them, we’re honestly offended at their attempt to gloss over the use of azodicarbonamide, as well as how they’re attempting to explain away other controversial ingredients like polysorbate 80, natural flavors, caramel color and high fructose corn syrup. Intelligent consumers aren’t going to accept the idea that McDonald’s needs to use polysorbate 80 to ensure that the spice blend (or natural flavors) disperses within the pickle brine.

Instead of providing transparency, it may appear to some that McDonald’s is actually attempting to make light of the controversial ingredients consistently included in their menu items. Maybe if they tell us they are necessary, we’ll ignore them.

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/mcrib-made/story?id=26683944