Tag Archives: consumers

Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann says food industry is OVER-regulated

Photo by New York Times

Foodfacts.com likes to share with consumers the secrets and loopholes involved with nutrition labeling and regulations. We often find that many food companies get away with listing misleading ingredients, or maybe skimping out on food safety protocols. Hence, the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls we’ve had lately. Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has come out to sympathize with food industries, saying they’re OVER-regulated! Check out the article below to learn more!

GOP presidential candidate vows to slash government rules.
Never mind the recent spate of food borne illness outbreaks in America. One of the leading lights of the GOP thinks the government has too much say in how our food industry operates.

Appearing at a family-owned meatpacking plant in Iowa on Tuesday, Michele Bachmann contended that federal food regulations were “overkill,” and hurting small businesses. According to the Des Moines Register:

Her message: slash the excesses of federal rules and restrictions on small businesses.

“Is Washington helping or is Washington hurting?” she asked a crowd of perhaps 10 business owners and employees. “What we’ve heard today from this meat market here in Iowa is that Washington is hurting; it’s no longer helping.”

The visit was relatively short on policy talk and heavier on meat-packing tutorials and small talk between the candidate and Amend employees. But Bachmann focused in on federal regulation, noting that the six-person staff of Amend includes one employee devoted to compliance with federal food-safety regulations.

Gesturing with a binder full of federal requirements, Bachmann said such restrictions held the small business back.

Among the culprits identified by Bachmann: the requirement that meat undergo multiple e.coli tests. She agreed with her host that he should only have to carry out a single test.

Not that we’ve ever had any issues with e.coli in this country. Not at all.

(Max Follmer – Takepart.com)

Some consumers willing to pay more for GMO foods

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

According to a recent study done by researcher Wallace Huffman at Iowa State University, research shows that some consumers will pay up to 25% more for genetically modified foods. For the few of you that may not know, genetic modification is basically carrying genes from one organism into another to create a new hybrid product. This became popular within the last 2 decades, and we’re still not quite sure if there are any long-term health implications involved. However, it’s still being done by major biotechnology companies, and apparently some people are willing to pay extra bucks for it.

Why are some willing to pay more money? There has been a lot of hype surrounding antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals. We too recognize that these nutrients can provide an abundance of health benefits, and we suggest getting them from natural sources. However, some fruits and vegetables now undergo intragenic modification (modified within own species, rather than from other species) to take antioxidant properties from other plants, and insert them into new ones. This means that some produce that once lacked a certain vitamin or antioxidant, now has the ability to carry different nutrients.

Some farmers and home-gardeners try accomplishing this through cross-breeding, however this can be very difficult to do with many plants. This is when genetic modification came into play, eliminating the difficulties with cross-breeding.
However, many are still skeptic about purchasing any genetically modified product. Again, we’re not exactly sure of any long-term effects or health implications that this process may cause, because it is still fairly new.

Few studies using animals as subjects have suggested genetic modification to cause renal damage, progressive tumor growth, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular issues. However, these studies have been for the most part small in sample size and brushed off by government agencies.

“The basic idea is that when consumers saw that the intragenic produce had elevated healthful attributes, they were willing to pay more for them,” said Huffman.

What do you think? Would you be more at comfort knowing a genetically modified product was modified with a plant within its own species rather than a plant outside of its species? Or is genetic modification still lacking evidence for you to trust it at all?

Oatmeal now available at BK as a “healthier” option

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Foodfacts.com has reported on the trend of “healthier” options becoming marketed at major fast-food chains. McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, and Denny’s have all opted to add oatmeal to their menus in hopes of reaching a newer demographic of consumers. Burger King is now including oatmeal on their menu for just $1.99 in hopes of boosting revenue for the remainder of the year. Check out the article below to find out more on this new menu item!

Huffington PostOatmeal is the new burger.

Burger King, the world’s second-largest hamburger chain, added oatmeal to its breakfast menu this week, joining a slew of other chains that have brought the hot cereal out of the cupboard and into restaurants and drive-thrus.
Click logo for Burger King products at blog.foodfacts.com!
Burger King says it is trying to offer customers a healthier breakfast option beyond its sausage croissant sandwiches and French toast dipping sticks. It’s also an attempt by the struggling chain to catch up to competitors and boost sagging sales by appealing to customers beyond its base of burger-and-fries fans.

“We are definitely looking to broaden our target and our audience,” said Leo Leon, vice president of global innovation for Burger King Corp.

Breakfast is becoming the most important meal of the day for restaurants – accounting for nearly 60 percent of traffic growth between 2005 and 2010. And oatmeal is the latest battleground. It’s low-cost, easily prepared and doesn’t spoil quickly. It also appeals to people who want quick, affordable food they perceive as healthier than the typical fast-food breakfast fare.
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Starbucks Corp., the world’s biggest coffee chain, said its $2.49 oatmeal has become its most popular breakfast item since it launched in 2008. Last year, McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest burger chain, added $2.99 oatmeal to its menu. Fast food chain Chick-fil-A and Denny’s casual dining restaurants also offer oatmeal, for $2.49 to 2.85 and 3.49 to 4.49, respectively. Burger King’s oatmeal, at $1.99, is the cheapest of the group.

Restaurants are trying to capitalize on oatmeal’s good-for-you reputation. But some industry experts say it’s not a good fit for fast-food chains.

McDonald’s has faced scrutiny for its oatmeal’s 4.5 grams of fat and 260 to 290 calories. That’s roughly equal to the number of calories in its own hamburger or cheeseburger. By comparison, Burger King’s oatmeal, which was created by Quaker Oats Co., has 110 to 270 calories and 1 to 4 grams of fat.

Still, Steve West, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said: “People don’t go to Burger King or McDonald’s for their oatmeal … they go for an Egg McMuffin.”

For Burger King, oatmeal is part of a larger strategy. It’s critical for the chain to find a convenient new breakfast option. Burger King said 10 percent to 15 percent of its customers visit during breakfast. And the fast-food chain sells the majority of its food to go or at the drive-thru.

The company also is eager to replicate the success of McDonald’s, which has reinvented itself as a more hip and healthy place to eat, remodeling stores, offering wireless Internet service and introducing new salads, smoothies and coffee drinks. That’s brought in higher-income customers than the young males fast-food chains typically depend on – a demographic hit particularly hard by unemployment in the weak economy.

Burger King, based in Miami, has a lot of catching up to do. McDonald’s brought in more than $32 billion in U.S. sales last year, nearly four times Burger King’s $8.7 billion, according to research firm Technomic. That was a 4.4 percent increase for McDonald’s and a 2.5 percent decline for Burger King.

In the second quarter, Burger King’s profit fell 13 percent and its revenue fell 4 percent to $596.2 million, compared with a year earlier, due in large part to weakness in its North American operations. McDonald’s profit rose 15 percent and revenue grew 16 percent to $6.9 billion during its comparable period.

It’s going to take more than a hot meal to turn around Burger King’s business. Industry experts say the company has let its product lineup grow stale, and the quality of its stores has deteriorated.

“You can sell all the oatmeal and lattes and smoothies you want,” said West, the analyst. “But they’ve got to remodel the stores – for the most part Burger King stores are very old and rundown.”

Burger King, which has been reevaluating its business since it was acquired by investment firm 3G Capital last year, recently made other changes. The chain said Friday that it was retiring its mascot “The King” and launching a new campaign focused more on food. The company also added new salads and “Apple Fries” – apple slices cut to look like fries for its kids’ meals.

ConAgra Lawsuit: GMO’s are NOT Natural

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Foodfacts.com would like to report that ConAgra is being sued for labeling “natural” on their GMO infested Wesson oils. As we all know, there is nothing natural about genetic modification. In fact, Monsanto itself defines their biotechnology as “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.” Consumers are rallying together to take down ConAgra. Maybe this will be another closer step towards GMO-labeling? Check out the story below!
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If you use Wesson brand cooking oils, you may be able to join a class action against food giant ConAgra for deceptively marketing the products as natural.

These days it’s hard to walk down a supermarket aisle without bumping into a food product that claims to be “all-natural.” If you’ve ever wondered how even some junk food products can claim this moniker (witness: Cheetos Natural Puff White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Snacks – doesn’t that sound like it came straight from your garden?) the answer is simple if illogical: the Food and Drug Administration has not defined the term natural.

So food marketers, knowing that many shoppers are increasingly concerned about healthful eating, figured: why not just slap the natural label on anything we can get away with? That wishful thinking may soon be coming to an end if a few clever consumer lawyers have anything to say about it.

While various lawsuits have been filed in recent years claiming that food companies using the term natural are engaging in deceptive marketing, a suit filed in June in California against ConAgra could make the entire industrial food complex shake in its boots.

The plaintiff claims he relied on Wesson oils “100% natural” label, when the products are actually made from genetically modified organisms.

GMOs Not Exactly Natural, So Says Monsanto

Ironically, the complaint cites a definition of GMOs by none other than Monsanto, the company most notorious for its promotion of the technology. According to Monsanto, GMOs are: “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.”

The complaint also quotes a GMO definition from the World Health Organization: “Organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”

Four Wesson varieties are implicated in the case: Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend. And it’s not just on the label that ConAgra is using the natural claim, but also online and in print advertisements. (Additional silly health claims on the website include “cholesterol free”–vegetable oils couldn’t possibly contain cholesterol anyway.)

The complaint describes the extent of ConAgra’s deception, alleging the “labels are intended to evoke a natural, wholesome product.” And further:
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The “100% Natural” statement is, like much of the label on Wesson Oils, displayed in vibrant green. The “Wesson” name is haloed by the image of the sun, and the Canola Oil features a picture of a green heart.

A green heart — you just can’t get any healthier than that. However, as registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told me: “These oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids, which in excessive amounts are actually bad for your heart.” Guess they left that part out of the green heart icon.

Supermarkets Chock-full of GMOs

But what makes this lawsuit especially intriguing is its potentially far-ranging impact. According to the Center for Food Safety: “upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves — from soda to soup, crackers to condiments — contain genetically-engineered ingredients.” While it’s unclear how many of these products also claim to be natural, given all the green-washing going on these days, it’s likely to number in the thousands.

Specifically, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans, both extremely common ingredients in processed foods. Numerous groups including the Center for Food Safety have been calling attention to the potential hazards of GMOs for years. From their website:

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.

Not exactly the stuff that green hearts are made of. The legal complaint also notes that on its corporate website (“but not on the Wesson site that consumers are more likely to visit”), ConAgra implies that its oils are genetically engineered. The company concludes: “Ultimately, consumers will decide what is acceptable in the marketplace based on the best science and public information available.”

But by being told the oils are “100% natural,” consumers can no longer make an informed decision as they are being misled.

Which reminds me of a great quote from Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser: “If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t.”

Misleading Beverage Labels

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Foodfacts.com came across an article this morning which verifies that nutrition labels are often very misleading and boast unrealistic claims, such as “improving brain function.” Many of our followers already know that nutrition labels can’t be trusted 100 percent, however, this can be eye-opening for the few still trying to figure things out.

How well do you really know what you’re drinking?

Savvy shoppers know not to take product labels at face value. Still, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for consumers trying to keep the facts straight about what’s in what they drink.
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First it was the news about how not-so-one-hundred-percent 100% orange juice is. For those who may be unaware of the controversy, here’s what you need to know: During processing, things like orange aroma, oil, and pulp can get separated from the actual juice. Specifically, the process of removing the oxygen from the juice (which is done to keep it from spoiling without the use of preservatives) strips the juice of a lot of its natural flavors. And so to make up for the loss, those natural components — in the form of “flavor packs” — get added back in after processing. Not surprisingly, the backlash among the OJ-drinking set was fast and furious.

Now, hot on the heels of this revealing information, comes word that some of the popular brands of coconut water fail to deliver the “promised” amount of sodium — an electrolyte key to the drink’s appeal as a sports and energy drink. A report from ConsumerLab.com revealed that only one out of the three tested beverages offered an amount of electrolytes comparable to other sports drinks like Gatorade. Even though some may not outright call themselves sports drinks on the label (O.N.E. Coconut Water has), that’s certainly how they’re marketed (not to mention some even boast athlete endorsements). As ConsumerLab president Dr. Tom Cooperman told the Huffington Post, “People should be aware that the labels are not accurate on some of the products, and they shouldn’t count on coconut water for serious rehydration.”
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Thing is, when it comes to finding out news like this, are you really even surprised? Beverage labels, and labels in general, are a product’s face to the world — that they’re used as a canvas to improve the image of their product and make it more appealing to consumers is easy to understand. Of course, some cases are more egregious than others. For instance, how Snapple’s teas were labeled as “all natural” despite listing citric acid as an additive. Or worse, the example of Nestle’s Juicy Juice Brain Development Fruit Juice claiming that it “Helps Support Brain Development.” Apparently, such claims, called structure/function claims, require no FDA pre-certification.

(Huffington Post)