Tag Archives: artificial flavoring

Fighting Back: Lobbyists and law firm to launch class action suit against General Mills in California

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The Center For Science In The Public Interest and law firm Reese Richman will be launching a class action suit against General Mills for the presentation of its Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot brands to consumers according to a press release issued this past Friday. The suit accuses General Mills of marketing products that are “little better than candy” as “healthful and nutritious”.

The products featured in the coming class action suit contain trans fat, large amounts of added sugars, and potentially harmful artificial food coloring. They lack significant amounts of real, natural fruit and contain virtually no dietary fiber. The complaint states that although these products are portrayed as healthy and nutritious for children and adults, they aren’t at all.

General Mills has since defended all three of these products, stating that they stand behind the accuracy of their product labeling.

Technically the food label carried by these three General Mills products is accurate. The snacks are a good source of vitamin C, they are low in calories, low in fat and do contain fruit. The CSPI, however, claims that those attributes alone don’t make the products healthy and that General Mills is, in fact, deceiving parents by marketing high-sugar foods that are little more than fruit-flavored as healthy, nutritious snacks. In other words the “good” attributes listed on the label don’t qualify Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit Gushers or Fruit by the Foot as healthy, even though they’re true.

In addition, although each of these products’ trans fat content is quite low, it still contributes to cumulative trans fat content. When you consider the trans fat, with the added sugars, and artificial colors and flavorings, it’s hard to imagine that the marketing, advertising and packaging of these products is not in violation of some very specific state laws.

General Mills has stated that they have not yet been served with this lawsuit, although the Center for Science in the Public Interest has issued a press release regarding the class action. The company has stated that it has every intention to stand by their products, marketing, advertising and packaging.

Is “Natural Flavoring” Really Natural?

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

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

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

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

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

Article provided by: Phil Lampert

The Effect of Food Additives on Your Child’s Health

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Foodfacts.com wants to make everyone more aware of the harmful effects of Food Additives on Your Child’s Health. Do you ever wonder how Jello gets its pretty colors? Or how the taste of vanilla can exist in food that doesn’t contain vanilla beans? Additives and chemicals are added to our everyday foods and beverages and most have nothing to do with nutritional value. They exist to fulfill consumer’s expectation of perfection. We know that Mother Nature may not produce a perfect fruit or vegetable so we keep them unblemished with the use of fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. With the continued high demand from consumers for meals that are easy to prepare and taste good, the industry of food additives in the category of flavorings and flavor enhancers is expected to top $1.46 billion this year.

Food additives are not new (originally they were made from coal tar oil) and children have been eating them for decades. So why do we care about them now?

Today our children are exposed to additives and chemicals everyday all day. Instead of the occasional candy, or special occasion pink cupcakes, children growing up in the United States are digesting chemicals from breakfast until bedtime. Multi-colored toothpaste, colored breakfast cereals, artificial whip toppings, bubble gum, liquid medicine and highly processed convenience foods in lunchboxes (can you say Lunchables?) More children are drinking soft drinks with artificial color, flavor, caffeine and aspartame. The more they have the more they crave, and for a tired parent, sometimes the path of least resistance becomes the choice.

More importantly, pesticides, hormones and synthetic food additives have been shown to affect brain development, behavior and learning abilities in children. What you put in your shopping cart is more important than ever!

FOOD DYES Listed on the ingredients label as “Yellow No. 5″, “Red #3″, etc., dyes are used primarily to make food appear fresher than it is, or in the case of many foods made for children, to attract them with bright colors. They are used in breakfast cereals, drinks, candy, bakery goods, puddings, gelatin desserts, just to name a few. Instead, look for carrots and beets as natural coloring agents on the label.

ARTIFICIAL FLAVORINGS Are made up of hundreds of combinations of chemicals, both natural and synthetic. A popular flavoring agent is “vanillin”, also listed as “vanilla flavoring”. This flavoring agent is made from the waste product of paper mills. Instead, look for “pure vanilla” on the label. MSG, salt and sodium containing agents are popular food additives. MSG has been linked to brain damage and infertility in laboratory animals and many people who eat MSG complain of headaches, chest pains and numbness. It’s primarily used to intensify flavor in meats, condiments, pickles, soups, candy and baked goods.

PRESERVATIVES There are about one hundred preservatives, which are used to prevent food from going “bad”. BHA, BHT and TBHQ are three commonly used preservatives. They may also be listed as “anti-oxidants” because they prevent the fats in food from “oxidizing” or spoiling. (There are natural and beneficial anti-oxidants but they are more expensive than the synthetic versions that are currently widely used.) You can find them in beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods, soup bases, potatoes, breakfast cereals, dry mixes, enriched rice, animal fats and shortenings containing animal fats. These preservatives can cause allergic reactions and have been known to affect kidney and liver functions, brain function and may also convert other ingested substances into cancer-causing additives.

Nitrates, nitrites and sulfites, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate and citric acid are preservatives that trigger terrible symptoms in allergy sensitive kids, but for some they are deadly. Nitrates and Nitrites are used as a color fixative in cured meats, and studies have linked them to cancer. Sulfites are used for their anti-browning effects and to keep fruits and vegetables crisp longer.

SWEETENERS - Refined starches, high-fructose corn syrup and all artificial sweeteners (NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet’n Low, Sucralose, Acesulfame-K) not only rob your children of their health, but artificial sweeteners have been linked to brain damage, MS, Lupus and other central nervous disorders. Excessive sugar intake in children is also a contributing factor to our current childhood obesity epidemic.

As the primary grocery shopper, you are the most important person in your family’s health. By reading labels and selecting wisely, you can protect your family and affect the sales of more wholesome foods.

Article provided by www.familymagazinegroup.com