Tag Archives: children

Nutrition software, coming to a school near you (well eventually, anyway)

In case anyone in the Food Facts community hasn’t noticed, schools all over the country have been issuing electronic payment cards for student school lunches. Parents transfer money onto the card and then students use the card similarly to an ATM, with the cost being debited from the money in the account. Frankly, it took my own family a while to get used to … the card ended up in pockets that got washed and became unusable and the school was enormously patient with us as we (read my children) became used to the idea that those cards were important and needed to be treated that way. It all worked out in the end. But we were a bit mystified as to why we couldn’t just give the kids a five dollar bill every day to pay for their lunch (no potential card washing involved).

On Wednesday, a really fascinating article was published on Indystar.com (the Gannett owned Indiana newspaper). It gave us an insight as to why the electronic lunch payment cards have been issued and we thought our community might like to have a better understanding. So we’ll sum it up for you here.

This fall, the Waukee school district in Indianapolis will be implementing new nutrition software. With this implementation, parents will now have online access to monitor their kid’s food purchases in school. The software, called PrimeroEdge is manufactured by Cybersoft.

Parents will have online access to nutrition information for all meals available in their children’s school. That will include calories, carbs, sodium and fat. They’ll also be able to access ingredient lists. And, of course, they’ll be able to view the food purchases their kids are making on their school lunch card accounts. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed that I couldn’t figure out why we were getting those cards in the first place – even if we don’t live in Indianapolis.

When this comes to where my family lives, I’ll be able to go online and see the food choices my kids are making during the day. It might open valuable conversations between us … things like “wasn’t there anything better on the menu today?” or “wow, you went through that money pretty quick, what exactly were you snacking on?” or “gee, maybe you want to eat some fruit instead of those cookies at least a few days a week.”

But for me, personally, it will be a better window into the nutritional value of the food being served. It’s no secret that we’ve had some pretty odd occurrences regarding the nutritional value of school lunches in our country (ketchup as a vegetable, anyone?). And to be honest, some of the preparation choices in some areas as early as six years ago were kind of questionable for very young children. Kids can be picky eaters and tend to appreciate more honest food they recognize that feature fresh ingredients. Ask your children what salads look like in their schools (my own have told me that the lettuce is wilted, the tomatoes have no taste and the dressing comes in a packet).

If this software improves the communication between parents, children and schools regarding nutritional value and eating habits, we’re certainly all for it.

We’d love to hear opinions from our Food Facts community. Take a look at this link and tell us what you think.

http://www.indystar.com/article/D2/20120628/COMM/306280026/New-software-will-let-parents-monitor-kids-eating-habits?odyssey=nav|head

It would appear it’s coming soon, to a school near you!

Toucan Sam lives to see another day on your grocery shelf

 

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FoodFacts.com has been watching this story develop and wants to bring you the latest news. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention jointly wrote a series of guidelines that would set maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium for food products. This series of guidelines also included a request to the food industry not to specifically market foods that do not adhere to those suggested guidelines to children between the ages of 2 and 17. This request encompassed advertising on television, in stores and on the internet and it also included the removal of cartoon characters from cereal boxes.

The food industry has been fighting back and has aggressively lobbied against the guidelines. They claim that adherence to the proposed guidelines would severely limit the marketing of most all food products in the country and most especially children’s food products. Although they acknowledge that the guidelines are voluntary, they fear that there could be retaliation against them for not adhering.

After hearing industry objectives, government agencies are said to have reconsidered their stance. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection acknowledged that they will be making significant revisions to their proposal.

In answer to the government guidelines, food companies came up with their own set of guidelines. While the industry proposal does include limiting advertising on some children’s foods, they’ve adjusted the criteria. While the industry has been praised by officials, their own proposal is far more lenient than the government offering.

Most parents in America have lived through the “grocery store as toy store” effects of children’s food packaging and surprise-inside-the-box marketing tactics on our kids as they joined us at our local markets in their very young years. You can easily assume that those cartoon characters, images and photos are designed to market products to kids before they can actually read. How many times did your three-year-old tell you he or she wanted that box that carried those colorful images gracing not only the box, but the TV-screen as well? Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and the Trix Rabbit are pretty powerful, to say the least.

FoodFacts.com just has to ask: if the food industry understands the power of these images in marketing to children, (and we know they absolutely do) why can’t they use them to promote products we’d all be happy to feed our kids? Like cereals that are low in sugar and are made from whole grains that don’t contain fake fruit and odd colors? The industry would still be selling products to children. It’s just that our kids would want us to buy what’s good for them because those appealing characters would now grace the boxes parents would rather purchase. Seems like a win-win to us. Oh … and we could all take a vacation from repeating the word “no” as we walk down supermarket aisles with our three-year-old kids as they point out their animated pals on the store shelves.

BPA in Children’s Foods

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A major concern among many of our Foodfacts.com followers is bisphenol A , better known as BPA. We’ll try to clear up any questions you may have regarding products containing BPA, and also give you tips and resources on how to avoid exposure.

First, what is BPA?
Bisphenol A is a chemical which is produced and used in large quantities for polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins which are commonly found in cans for food and jar lids.

Why is BPA a concern?
BPA is an endocrine disruptor. Exposure has been linked to a higher risk of prostate and breast cancers, infertility in females, diabetes, obesity, and ADHD.

Where can I find BPA?
A recent report issued by the Breast Cancer Fund showed various levels of BPA in different canned-foods marketed towards children. Note that these products may not be the only items containing BPA. BPA is measured in parts per billion (ppb):

114 ppb – Campbell’s Disney Princess Cool Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth
81 ppb – Campbell’s Toy Story Fun Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth
39 ppb – Earth’s Best Organic Elmo Noodlemania Soup, USDA Organic
31 ppb – Annie’s Homegrown Cheesy Ravioli, USDA Organic
13 ppb – Campbell’s Spaghettios with Meatballs
20 ppb – Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Pasta, Mini ABC’s & 123′s with Meatballs

Now that you know some of the foods which are exposed to BPA, you can also learn some foods that do not contain this chemical. The easiest way to find out, is to go online and do some research.

We’ve found that Eden Organic, Wild Planet, Trader Joe’s, Eco Fish, Edward & Son’s products do not use this chemical in their packaging. Also, Rubbermaid, Evenflo, and a few other plastic-based companies address that their items are available without BPA. Don’t be surprised if these items are a bit more pricey, because they tend to materials that cost more for each product.

Do your research on BPA!

(Foodfacts.com)

Food Recalls 9/19

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Del Bueno de Grandview, WA is recalling 16 oz. packages of queso fresco cheese due to possible listeria monocytogenes contamination. Dates marked on the label show September 14 2011. Make sure to dispose of this product and carefully clean the area in which it was kept.

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Pesticides linked to ADHD in Kids?

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Exposure to pesticides used on common kid-friendly foods — including frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery — appears to boost the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, new research shows.
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Youngsters with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, particularly from widely used types of insecticide such as malathion, were more likely to have ADHD, the behavior disorder that often disrupts school and social life, scientists in the United States and Canada found.

Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison.

“I think it’s fairly significant. A doubling is a strong effect,” said Maryse F. Bouchard, a researcher at the University of Montreal in Quebec and lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The take-home message for parents, according to Bouchard: “I would say buy organic as much as possible,” she said. “I would also recommend washing fruits and vegetables as much as possible.”
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Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables. In 2008, detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples and 19 percent of celery samples, a government report found.

ADHD affects 4.5 million U.S. kids
Bouchard’s study is the largest to date to look at the effect of pesticides on child development and behavior, including ADHD, which affects an estimated 4.5 million U.S. children. About 2.5 million kids take medication for the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bouchard and her colleagues measured levels of six pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children ages 8 to 15 selected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2000 and 2004. The study included 119 children who were diagnosed with ADHD.

Unlike other studies of pesticides’ impact, Bouchard’s sample provided a glimpse into average insecticide exposure in the general population of children, not a specialized group, such as children of farm-workers. Because certain pesticides leave the body after three to six days, the presence of residue shows that exposure is likely constant, Bouchard said.

She found that kids with a 10-fold increase in the kind of metabolites left in the body after malathion exposure were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Because the researchers didn’t review the kids’ diets, they couldn’t say why some children had such high levels of pesticide residue. Children are at greater risk from pesticides because their young bodies are still developing and may not metabolize chemicals as well as adults’.
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The most alarming finding was a near-doubling in odds of ADHD diagnoses among kids with higher-than-average levels of the most common of the six metabolites detected. Kids with high levels of dimethyl thiophosphate were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than children with with undetectable levels of the marker.

The research may add to anxiety about ADHD, which has no known cause, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

“It does seem to suggest that at non-extreme or more typical levels, there does seem to be some increased risk,” said Adesman, who is on the professional advisory board for Children and Adults with ADHD, an advocacy group.

Pesticides prey on nervous system
Boucher studied organophosphate pesticides, which account for as much as 70 percent of the pesticide use in the U.S. They work by interfering with the nervous systems of insects, but have a similar effect in mammals, including humans. Most people in the U.S. have residues of the products in their urine.

Cheminova, the Danish firm that is the leading manufacturer of malathion in the world, declined to comment on the conclusions of the new research. Diane Allemang, vice president for global regulatory affairs, said she hadn’t seen the study.
Parents of children with ADHD, however, said Bouchard’s work will give them one more thing to worry about.
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“We’re all completely obsessed with food,” said Jamie Norman, 32, of Freeburg, Ill., whose 6-year-old son, Aidan, was diagnosed with ADHD six months ago.

The stimulant medication Aidan takes, Adderall XR, depresses his appetite, so Norman said she’s always trying to find good foods that he’ll want to eat. Other parents of kids with ADHD choose to use diet, not medication, to control the disorder and they’re constantly monitoring food, too.

News that some of the best foods for kids might be tainted with something linked to ADHD is worrisome, Norman said.
“I’ve known for some time that strawberries, in particular, contain high levels of pesticide, but as far as frozen fruit, I don’t give that a second thought,” she said.

Buy organic, make sure to wash

The best advice for parents — and anyone who wants to avoid pesticides — is to choose foods least likely to contain them. The Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy organization, advises shoppers to buy organic versions of a dozen fruits and vegetables that grow in the ground or are commonly eaten with the skin, because they’re most likely to be contaminated.

Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water and scrub firm-skinned produce with a brush. Be sure to rinse frozen fruits and vegetables, too.

But don’t wash produce with soap. The Food and Drug Administration says that could leave behind residues of detergent, yet more chemicals that everyone would do best to avoid.

(MSNBC)

Food Industries Pressuring Congress to Scrap New Healthy School Lunch Guidelines

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. So you thought all that news about Congress passing a new Child Nutrition Bill meant that we had solved the problem of junk food in our schools, right?

Think again.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the french fry industry and other food groups are pressuring Congress to scrap the USDA’s new healthy school lunch rules and start from scratch. They write:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories.

If industry is successful in convincing the Senate to do the same, the goal of seeing healthy school lunches in cafeterias across the country will be in serious jeopardy.

Click here to find out how you can tell Congress not to cave to the food industry lobbyists.

(TakePart.com)

What foods can you get with $1?

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At Foodfacts.com we feel the need to emphasize the rising obesity epidemic occurring in the US. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled among children and adolescents in the US. Obesity trends reviewed by the CDC show that communities with relatively low-incomes tend to have larger numbers of obese children. It has been argued for many years that calorie-dense processed foods have played a major factor in these growing numbers, due to their commonly low prices. Below is a chart based upon research by Adam Drewnowski, an obesity researcher and epidemiologist at the University of Washington, that shows $1.00 is more likely to get you a bag of potato chips than a fresh apple.

Click around the chart to see the price ranges of different foods based on calories, sugar, and sodium!

                         
(Chart by Ration)

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Are you Happier with the “New” Happy Meal?

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Foodfacts.com would like to report that McDonald’s president, Jan Fields, announced today that the major fast-food franchise will now be serving healthier happy meals for their younger customers.

Regardless of criticism, this is quite a big deal for many of the advocates of child nutrition. McDonald’s has been seen as a major antagonist against the fight to end childhood obesity for many years now. McDonald’s previous happy meal combinations ranged anywhere from 500-700 calories per serving, with sodium numbers going through the roof. The new happy meal will be approximately 470 calories, compared to the previous 570 calorie option. Also, saturated fat will now be reduced from 20 to 14 grams, which is still pretty high, but a good start. However, we assume these happy meals will still contain a decent amount of sugar. We’re not quite sure of the exact number yet, but the previous happy meal contained about 89 grams of sugar (or 22 teaspoons).

So what exactly are they changing? The soda is gone. Instead of kids getting a Coke or Sprite, they’ll be receiving low-fat milk. Also, apple dippers (slices) will be served, IN ADDITION to a smaller serving of french fries. The caramel dipping sauce normally associated with their apple slices will not be included. Also, parents may choose to scrap the fries all together and get 2 bags of apple dippers instead, which we’re sure some are likely to do.

We have not come across any information pertaining to a change in the chicken nuggets, or burgers. We assume these famous staples will remain untouched during this happy meal makeover.

We’re excited to hear the reactions and feedback from our followers on this announcement as to whether or not you feel this is just a ploy for press, or a step in the right direction for fast-food.

One in Twelve U.S. Children May suffer from Food Allergies

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Foodfacts.com realizes that more and more children are now suffering from food allergies. Nearly 6 million U.S. children or about one in 12 kids are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of the most common allergens, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of the parents of more than 40,000 children. About 8 percent reported having a child who had a food allergy. Of those, about 30 percent said their child was allergic to multiple foods.

Among kids with food allergies, 25 percent were allergic to peanuts, 21 percent were allergic to milk and 17 percent had an allergy to shellfish. Those were followed by tree nuts (13 percent), eggs (nearly 10 percent), finned fish (6 percent), strawberries (5 percent), wheat (5 percent), and soy (just under 5 percent).

While the study was a snapshot of the prevalence of food allergies in America and did not track change over time, researchers said anecdotal evidence — including reports from schools and the numbers of patients coming in to allergists’ offices — suggests that the rate is rising.

“Eight percent is a pretty significant amount of kids,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago. “We are seeing a lot more cases. We are seeing a lot more in schools than we used to see. It does seem that food allergy is on the rise.”

The study is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild to severe. In the survey, about 61 percent of food allergic children had a mild to moderate reaction, including swelling of the lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or an eczema flare.

The remaining 39 percent had a severe or even potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that indicates airway swelling and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.eatingpeanutsduringpregnancymayincreasechildrensriskoffoodallergies_2248_800211243_0_0_7052658_300

“Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive,” Gupta said.

Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don’t know how bad it’s going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.

Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them — while they’re at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.

Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.

“We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we’ve seen in the past,” Schuval said.

Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.

“They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants,” Schuval said.

For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fewer outgrow peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies.

A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, in which wheat cannot be digested properly and, over time, damages the lining of the intestines.

For more information on food allergies and how to avoid them check out blog.foodfacts.com.

Information provided by: MSN News

Popular Organic Milk Brand Might Be In Trouble

Horizon Organic Milk is facing criticism after the release of their new “Horizon Fat-Free Milk Plus DHA Omega 3″ product on February 22nd . The bad reviews are stemming from the popular Organic brand (their kid cartons are even at Starbucks) adding the synthetic ingredient DHA oil to their new fat-free milk line.
Horizon Milk
Note: Just this particular product is under fire, the rest of the brand, owned by parent company Dean Foods, seems to maintain it’s good organic reputation.

Organic food watchdog groups such as the Cornucopia Institute, are complaining that if a product has DHA oil in it then, it shouldn’t be considered organic.

Dean Foods’ Horizon spokesman Dr. Alan Greene said “Organic milk fortified with DHA is a great option for families looking to incorporate nutritious products in their diets with the proven benefits of DHA, including those for heart, brain and eye health.”

Charlotte Vallaeys, a farm and food policy analyst with Cornucopia is concerned that DHA’s nutritional benefits haven’t been proven nor has it been reviewed by the National Organic Standards Board “It is therefore absolutely baffling that Dean Foods would introduce a product with synthetic DHA and have the audacity to label it organic, and it’s even more disturbing that their certifier would allow this,”

What do you guys think? Should products with DHA be considered Organic?