Tag Archives: food facts

Attention cola fans: caramel color may put you at risk for cancer

GETTY_12414_SodaFoodFacts.com has had a lot to say about caramel color over the years. The artificial color is quite high on our avoid list for several important reasons. Caramel color can decrease the body’s immune response. People with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease can experience an allergic reaction to caramel color. It can raise blood pressure. And it has been linked to cancer. There are four types of caramel color and two of the most common types have been proven especially harmful. The problem is that consumers can’t identify the type of caramel color used in any product because manufacturers aren’t required to identify it on ingredient lists. While caramel color is used in thousands of products, sodas are the most common place you’ll find the ingredient.

Thousands of Americans drink soda every day and these individuals do not just increase their sugar intake and their odds of packing unnecessary weight. They also put themselves at risk of developing cancer.

The ingredients of colas and other soft drinks typically include a caramel coloring, which gives these beverages their distinct caramel color.

Unfortunately, some types of this food coloring contain a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a potential carcinogen.

Now, an analysis published in the journal PLOS ONE on Feb. 18 has revealed that more than half of Americans between 6 and 64 years old sip amounts of soft drinks per day that could expose them to amounts of 4-MeI that could raise their risks of developing cancer.

Keeve Nachman, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and colleagues looked at a previous study conducted by researchers from the Consumer Reports that analyzed the concentration of 4-Mel in 12 brands of sodas and soft drink. They also analyzed the soft drinks consumption in the U.S. using data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the potential cancer risks of soft drinks consumption.

The researchers found that the average soda consumption in the U.S. ranges from a little over 12-ounces(1 can) to almost two and a half cans of soda per day with the biggest consumers being those between 16 and 44 years old. Children between 3 to 5 years old were likewise found to drink soft drinks on a typical day averaging about two thirds of a can.

The researchers said that at the rate at which Americans consume soda, they expect the emergence of between 76 to 5,000 cancer cases in the U.S. over the next seven decades that can be attributed to exposure to 4-MeI alone.
“It appears that 4-MeI exposures associated with average rates of soft drink consumption pose excess cancer risks exceeding one case per 1,000,000 exposed individuals, which is a common acceptable risk goal used by some U.S. federal regulatory agencies,” the researchers wrote.

Nachman said that soft drink consumers get exposed to unwanted and avoidable cancer risks from an ingredient that is added to beverages and other foods for aesthetic purposes and this raises concerns on the continued use of caramel coloring in sodas. The Food and Drug Administration said that it will take a closer look at the use of this artificial coloring in a variety of foods.

Soda is unnecessary in any diet. Skipping the sugar and calories in sugared sodas and the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, the ingredient lists are laden with chemicals. Caramel color is one of the most popular chemicals in those ingredient lists. Watch for it — not only in sodas, but in a variety of other foods and beverages as well.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/34580/20150222/caramel-color-in-cola-may-give-you-cancer-time-to-ditch-it.htm

News for people with peanut allergies: FDA advises avoiding cumin

cumin-and-corianderCross contamination is a big concern for folks with peanut allergies. Labeling has come a long way in alerting people that some products that do not contain peanuts may have been manufactured in a plant where other products are. And that makes the peanut-free products unsafe for those with this specific, sometimes life-threatening allergy.

Now, FoodFacts.com has just learned that If you’ve got severe peanut allergies, you may want to avoid more than just peanut products and other foods in plants manufacturing other peanut-containing foods.

The Food and Drug Administration has advised people allergic to peanuts to avoid cumin — multiple cumin shipments tested positive for peanuts and weren’t labeled as such. According to an FDA alert, people who are highly allergic to peanuts could be at risk of “a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction” if they eat the contaminated cumin,The Associated Press reports.

The recall affects more than spice jars, too. The FDA has recalled hundreds of cumin products, including spice mixes, soups, and meats with marinades that have cumin.

If you believe you have suffered a reaction to the contaminated cumin, you can file a report with the FDA.

If you or a loved one lives with a peanut allergy, this important information can directly affect you. Please keep this alert in mind when shopping and dining and stay safe!

http://theweek.com/speedreads/540173/fda-tells-people-peanut-allergies-eat-cumin

Taking a turn in the wrong direction — unhealthy eating outpaces healthy eating globally

BLT-10-010710-FaWe get a lot of good news regarding the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption around the world. So FoodFacts.com was dismayed to read a new study containing information conflicting with the idea that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the quality of their diets.

Worldwide, consumption of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables has improved during the past two decades, but has been outpaced by the increased intake of unhealthy foods including processed meat and sweetened drinks in most world regions, according to the first study to assess diet quality in 187 countries covering almost 4.5 billion adults, published in The Lancet Global Health journal.

Improvements in diet quality between 1990 and 2010 have been greatest in high-income nations, with modest reductions in the consumption of unhealthy foods and increased intake of healthy products. However, people living in many of the wealthiest regions (eg, the USA and Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) still have among the poorest quality diets in the world, because they have some of the highest consumption of unhealthy food worldwide.

In contrast, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Asia (eg, China and India) have seen no improvement in their diet quality over the past 20 years.

The authors warn that the study presents a worrying picture of increases in unhealthy eating habits outpacing increases in healthy eating patterns across most world regions, and say that concerted action is needed to reverse this trend.

Led by Dr Fumiaki Imamura from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a team of international researchers analysed data on the consumption of 17 key food items and nutrients related to obesity and major non-communicable diseases (eg, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers) in countries around the world, and changes in diets between 1990 and 2010.

This analysis was performed by the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE), chaired by Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author on the paper and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. NutriCoDE is an ongoing project assessing dietary information from more than 300 dietary surveys across the world and UN Food and Agriculture food-balance sheets, covering almost 90% of the global adult population.

The international team examined three different diet patterns: a favourable one based on 10 healthy food items (fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, milk, total polyunsaturated fatty acids, fish, omega-3s, and dietary fibre); an unfavourable one defined by seven unhealthy items (unprocessed meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium); and an overall diet pattern based on all 17 food groups. The researchers calculated a diet score for each pattern and assessed differences by country, age, sex, and national income, with a higher score indicating a healthier diet (range 0-100).

The findings reveal that diet patterns vary widely by national income, with high-income countries generally having better diets based on healthy foods (average score difference +2.5 points), but substantially poorer diets due to a higher intake of unhealthy foods compared with low-income countries (average score difference -33.0 points). On average, older people and women seem to consume better diets.

The highest scores for healthy foods were noted in several low-income countries (eg, Chad and Mali) and Mediterranean nations (eg, Turkey and Greece), possibly reflecting favourable aspects of the Mediterranean diet. In contrast, low scores for healthy foods were shown for some central European countries and republics of the former Soviet Union (eg, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan).

Of particular interest was that the large national differences in diet quality were not seen, or were far less apparent, when overall diet quality (including both healthy and unhealthy foods) was examined as previous studies have done.

“By 2020, projections indicate that non-communicable diseases will account for 75% of all deaths. Improving diet has a crucial role to play in reducing this burden,” says Dr Imamura. “Our findings have implications for governments and international bodies worldwide. The distinct dietary trends based on healthy and unhealthy foods, we highlight, indicate the need to understand different, multiple causes of these trends, such as agricultural, food industry, and health policy. Policy actions in multiple domains are essential to help people achieve optimal diets to control the obesity epidemic and reduce non-communicable diseases in all regions of the world.”

According to Dr Mozaffarian, “There is a particularly urgent need to focus on improving diet quality among poorer populations. If we do nothing, undernutrition will be rapidly eclipsed by obesity and non-communicable diseases, as is already being seen in India, China, and other middle-income countries.”

Unfortunately, the availability of low-quality, nutritionally deficient foods remains a wedge between consumers worldwide and healthier diets. It appears that the choice between healthier foods and junk foods continues to be a global problem that needs to be addressed in order to insure the future well being of every population. Let’s make sure that we remain committed to healthy food and healthy choices for ourselves and everyone we love.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218191719.htm

Taco Bell introduces the Country Grilled Breakfast Burrito with Sausage

menu_item_country-grilled-breakfast-burritoThe Taco Bell breakfast menu keeps right on growing. The latest offering is the new Country Grilled Breakfast Burrito with Sausage.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s the description from the website:

A warm flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, delicious sausage, seasoned breakfast potatoes and warm country gravy, wrapped up and grilled to seal in all the flavors.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Let’s hold on though. FoodFacts.com thinks we shouldn’t form an opinion about the new breakfast burrito until we look at the nutrition facts and ingredients.

Calories:                          340
Fat:                                   13 grams
Saturated Fat:                3 grams
Sodium:                          810 grams

We’ve certainly seen worse. It’s not great, but it’s not out of the realm of other fast food breakfast sandwiches either.

Let’s not forget about the ingredient list. But before we review it, we want to mention that if you’re having difficulty locating ingredients on the Taco Bell website, you’ll need to piece the ingredients together from the list you’ll find in the Ingredient Statement in the Nutrition section of the website. It’s a bit onerous, but you can put it all together. So here we go:

Flour tortilla: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Contains less than 2% of the following: Sugar, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate), Fumaric Acid, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid (used as preservatives), Yeast, Molasses, Dough Conditioner [Distilled Monoglycerides, Enzymes, Wheat Starch and Calcium Carbonate with Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid (added as Antioxidants)] CONTAINS: WHEAT Fluffy Scrambled Eggs: Whole Eggs, Butter Flavor (Liquid And Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color), TBHQ And Citric Acid Added To Protect Flavor, Dimethylpolysiloxane, An Anti-foaming Agent Added). Contains Less Than 1% Of The Following: Salt, Citric Acid, Pepper, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum. CONTAINS: EGGS, MILK AND SOYBEANS, Sausage: Pork, Seasoning (Salt, Corn Syrup Solids, Spices, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, And Less Than 2% Soybean Oil And Silicon Dioxide Added As Processing Aids), And Water, Breakfast Potatoes: Potatoes, Contains One Or More Of The Following: (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil), Dehydrated Potato, Salt, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (To Promote Color Retention), Dextrose. Oil: High Oleic Low Linolenic Canola Oil, TBHQ (To Protect Flavor), Dimethylpolysiloxane (An Antifoaming Agent). Hash Browns do not contain wheat proteins; however, they are fried in the same oil with ingredients containing wheat proteins. Country Gravy: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Whey, Modified Corn Starch, Non Dairy Creamer (Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Mono and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Soy Lecithin), Nonfat Dry Milk, Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato), Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Salt, Spices, Color (Titanium Dioxide, Annatto, Turmeric), Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors (contains milk), Dehydrated Butter, Carrot Powder, Dextrose, Torula Yeast, and Less Than 2% Each of Silicone Dioxide and Soybean Oil Added As Processing Aids. CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT, SOYBEANS

We should mention that in trying to weave together these ingredients from the long list in the Ingredient Statement, we couldn’t find Breakfast Potatoes, only Hash Browns. And the only gravy listed was “Breakfast Gravy” not Country Gravy, as listed in the description. So we put the list together from what we could glean from the statement. We’ve done our best with the information available, and our best doesn’t look so great from where we stand. TBHQ, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors, Artificial Flavors. We could think of more than a few things we’d rather eat.

Pretty typical fast food. It’s easy enough to prepare a breakfast burrito at home with ingredients we know and trust. That’s what we’ll do in the event we’re craving one.

Sorry Taco Bell. And just in case you read this, it would really be great if you could make it easier to match ingredients to menu items. Transparency is best when it’s actually transparent. We don’t think you’d really want anyone to think that you’re trying to confuse them, would you?

http://www.tacobell.com/breakfast/
http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/ingredientstatement

Heinz wants you to spice up that burger — introducing new Sriracha Flavored Ketchup

heinzsrirachaketchupLooking for a little zip with your ketchup? Heinz has just the thing for you — the new Heinz Tomato Kechup Blended with Sriracha Flavor!

It will feature the recognizable taste of ketchup, with an added kick from spicy chili pepper and garlic flavors.

In a press release Joseph Giallanella, Brand Manager of Heinz Tomato Ketchup said: “We are thrilled to announce that Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended with Sriracha Flavor will join the beloved Heinz Ketchup portfolio.” Giallanella added, “Building off of our successful line of flavored ketchups, fans told us that they would love another bold take on their favorite condiment. The new offering adds a new kick to your favorite foods and recipes, pairing well with cheeseburgers, French fries and hot dogs, and is the perfect flavor boost for chicken and eggs.”

While the flavor may, in fact, add a boost to foods, FoodFacts.com is just as concerned with the ingredients. So, here they are:

TOMATO CONCENTRATE FROM RED RIPE TOMATOES, DISTILLED VINEGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SALT, NATURAL FLAVORING, PAPRIKA EXTRACTIVES

That Sriracha flavor sure sounds good — but where is it in the list?????? Oh that must be what that natural flavoring is all about! And, of course, there’s high-fructose corn syrup.

Heinz, most consumers like to find the actual ingredient flavoring the product in the ingredient list. To find anything else leaves us feeling somewhat ripped off.

Some products sound much better than they actually are. This is one of them.

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/02/10/heinz-unveils-new-sriracha-ketchup-flavor/
http://www.heinzketchup.com/Products/Heinz%20%20Ketchup%20Blended%20with%20Sriracha%20Flavor%2014oz

Women following Mediterranean diet reduce their risk of ischemic stroke

medi3112014We’re constantly hearing about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. It’s also not a diet — it’s an eating lifestyle originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. Mediterranean diet basics include high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. The diet has been shown to be more effective than a low-fat diet in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure and promotes cardiovascular health.

Now, a new study reveals that Mediterranean diet is beneficial for women as it can lower ischemic stroke by 18 percent. This is mostly effective if women will strictly follow their Mediterranean diet.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the response of more than 100,000 female educators and administrators who answered the California Teachers Study and surveyed their data. The participants answered food-frequency questionnaires to analyze their diets then they were group based on the frequency of having a Mediterranean diet.

For the analysis, the researchers adjusted all factors that can affect the result such assmoking history, exercise and BMI. After adjusting all factors, the researchers found out that indeed, teachers who often had Mediterranean diet had lower risk of stroke.

As Ayesha Sherzai said, the study showed that women who closely followed the Mediterranean diet cut their stroke risk by up to 18 percent. Sherzai is a neurologist and one of the authors of the study.

For the research, Mediterranean diet means having a diet that includes plenty of legumes, vegetables, olive oil and nuts, and smaller amounts of full-fat dairy products and red meat.

According to the researchers, aside from lowering risk of ischemic stroke, this type of diet has been linked to lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. a Harvard study also reported that Mediterranean diet helps in lowering inflammation and also helps in increasing the longevity.

“Eating a mostly plant-based diet and eating less meat and saturated fats can make a real difference in stroke risk,” said Sherzai.

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that the Mediterranean diet is simple to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle. It’s a satisfying dietary option, offering tremendous variety and flavor. And let’s not forget that the health benefits just keep adding up!

http://www.smnweekly.com/mediterranean-diet-benefits-women-by-reducing-risk-of-ischemic-stroke/15818/

Diet and exercise may not be the cure for obesity

obesity 1FoodFacts.com is fairly certain that most people think that the best thing to do for obesity is to establish a healthy, low-calorie diet and a consistent exercise schedule. It only makes sense that diet and exercise would be the key ingredients in reversing the condition. Sometimes, though, the things that may appear to make the most sense could, in fact, be counterintuitive to the problem.

According to a new research done by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, diet and exercise might not be enough to cure obesity. The researchers are asking the physicians to look for their biological mechanisms, which makes it harder for obese people to lose weight. According to Christopher Ochner, an assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, “When people diet, the body thinks that it’s starving, so several biological mechanisms kick in to encourage people to eat more so that they gain the weight back”. He then added, “For example, the body slows down the rate at which it burns calories in order to conserve fat, and there are changes in brain signaling that make people more attracted to high-calorie foods”.

In the statement Ochner also stated that, “These mechanisms originally evolved to help humans survive when food was scarce, but the problem is that those same mechanisms kick in if somebody is 400 lbs. and trying to lose 40 lbs”. Ochner noted, “In people who have been obese for many years. Body weight seems to become biologically ‘stamped in’ and defended”.

He suggested that doctors should consider before giving advice to these people about losing weight by dieting and exercising as these methods are not going to work for them. But researchers are also saying that the current biological treatment for obesity is expensive and there are no proven data about the long term effectiveness of this treatment is available. Over the long term till to date an operation on the stomach and intestine is the only treatment for obesity that has been shown to be effective.

Ochner said, “We don’t have enough treatments to address our underlying biology [of obesity]. We would like to see other, safer, more widely available treatments”.

We should all be concerned with the quality of our diet and making sure we get enough exercise. But it does seem that diet and exercise have their limits in terms of extensive weight loss. While weight loss surgery has certainly become more successful and, thus, more common, it remains serious surgery with many risks. We’ll be watching for the introduction of other obesity treatments in addition to better diet and exercise.

http://www.microcapobserver.com/according-to-a-new-research-diet-and-exercise-may-not-be-enough-to-cure-obesity/236180/

Our addictions to salt and sugar may start with baby food

baby-eatingFoodFacts.com has been advocating for better childhood nutrition for quite some time. We’ve watched as commercially prepared baby food extended to include commercially prepared toddler food. Snacks for babies and toddlers increasingly include packaged products from our grocery stores. It’s a tough situation for parents as their schedules become busier and busier. In a two-parent working household, these products save time, which is the most precious commodity for any busy family in 2015. But it may come with a high price.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers in the US contain high levels of salt or sugar, which researchers say could be putting children’s health at risk.

Study leader Mary Cogswell, of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team used a 2012 US nutrient database to analyze the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 commercial foods for infants and toddlers.

Within their analysis, they included pre-packaged dinners – such as macaroni cheese and mini hot dogs – snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.

Their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that 72% of the pre-packaged toddler meals assessed were high in sodium, containing an average of 361 milligrams (mg) per serving.

According to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), toddlers should consume no more than 210 mg of sodium per food serving, meaning that the pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher.

IOM recommendations for school foods also state that children should consume no more than 35% of calories from sugar in each food portion.

However, the researchers found that dry fruit-based snacks included in the study contained an average of 60 g of sugar per portion, meaning around 66% of calories were coming from sugar. Sugar made up an average of 47% of calories among mixed grains and fruit and accounted for more than 35% of calories in dairy-based desserts.

At least one added sugar – including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose – was found in around 32% of pre-packaged infant and toddler meals, as well as the majority of dry-based fruit snacks, cereal/breakfast bars and pastries, desserts and fruit juices.

While around 7 out of 10 meals for toddlers contained too much sodium, the researchers found most foods for infants were low in sodium – only two of the 657 infant foods contained sodium at levels higher than 140 mg per serving.

It is estimated that 79% of children aged 1-3 years in the US consume sodium at levels higher than the recommended 1,500 mg per day, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attackand stroke. Approximately 1 in 6 children in the US have high blood pressure.

In addition, a 2009 study from the American Heart Association found that the average child aged 1-3 years consumes around 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, while recommendations from the organization state that children this age should consume no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar each day.

As well as high blood pressure, excess sugar and salt intake can increase the risk of obesity. In the US, more than a third of children and adolescents are obese.

As such, Cogswell and her team say the high sodium or sugar content of infant and toddler foods assessed in their study are worrying:

“Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts and juice drinks.”

The researchers add that excess intake of foods high in sugar and salt early in life may cause children to develop a preference for such foods later in life, increasing their risk of obesity and related diseases. Limiting the intake of these foods for infants and toddlers, however, may reduce this risk.

So what are busy parents supposed to do? Great advice is given right here. Read labels as carefully as you can. Take note of sodium and sugar levels in the products you buy for your children. And whenever you have time, make food for your children in your own kitchen. Before baby and toddler food ever existed in the grocery store, parents did exactly that. And toddlers can and should be eating whatever you are in smaller amounts and smaller pieces. Let’s do our best to make sure that our kids grow up without demanding additional salt and sugar in their diets because they’ve been over-exposed from the time they were first introduced to foods. They’ll be happier and healthier in the long run!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288837.php

Starbucks gives non-dairy fans a reason to smile — coconut milk!

2D274907784499-starbucks.blocks_desktop_largeMore and more consumers are looking for non-dairy options for everything from their cereal to their coffee. And for some … soy milk has taken a back seat to other options they consider more healthful.  Coconut milk is becoming one of the favorite non-dairy options for so many. It tastes great and people are thrilled with the health benefits it offers.  While finding non-dairy options beyond soy milk has been a bit difficult for consumers, some forward-thinking coffee chains have been embracing the needs of the non-dairy consumer.   Starbucks is the latest chain to join the trend.

Starbucks announced it’s adding coconut milk to its menu starting later in February.

The coffee chain said customers have been asking for a non-dairy alternative to soy, and Starbucks chose coconut milk over almond milk because of fewer “allergen challenges,” according to a statement. But the brand’s latest option appears to have several additional benefits — including a potentially better cup of joe than other milk alternatives.

A Starbucks spokesperson told Today.com that more than 84,000 people voted that the brand should introduce another non-dairy alternative on its website, and it tested coconut milk in about 600 stores last year to see what customers thought.

Starbucks chose coconut milk because its “rich creaminess” tasted best with its coffee and espresso, the spokesperson added.

Alex Bernson, a barista for eight years who now writes for the Portland-based coffee website Sprudge, is no stranger to the alternative milk debate. He told Today.com that coconut milk is a good choice because it foams well — meaning you can have a real non-dairy cappuccino.

“Rice milk, you can’t steam at all. It gets hot but it doesn’t have any sort of foam,” said Bernson, who worked at several independent coffee shops. “Hemp doesn’t steam well and kind of tastes like milk that’s in the bottom of the bowl when you finish Lucky Charms.”

As for soy, Starbucks’ current only option for the non-dairy crowd, “it’s not the greatest,” Bernson said of the milk’s foaming abilities.

He questioned the mass market appeal of milks made from rice or hemp, for example, but noted coconut has already proven to be popular.

“There’s definitely been a coconut water craze in the last five years,” he said. “You see coconut oil used in lots of things, in holistic health and cooking.”

While soy has been a popular milk alternative for years, customers might be shifting away from soy milk for several reasons. Dana James, a nutritionist based in New York City, pointed out that it has more calories than milks made from nuts, like coconut.

“A cup of soy is 120 calories, versus a cup of coconut milk which can be anywhere from 40 to 60 calories,” James told Today.com. Aside from additional calories, soy has been a controversial product for some time.

“It’s believed that 95 percent of soy is genetically modified, and it really raises concern for people,” James said.

Research into soy’s role in breast cancer is conflicted, but doctors suggest soy, like everything else, is okay in moderation. But while nut allergies are a well-known concern, some people may also have trouble tolerating soy.

Starbucks will offer coconut milk in its stores starting February 17. Just like soy milk, the option will cost customers 60 cents.

Starbucks joins a few other coffee chains who are catering to the needs of the substantial dairy-free population with an option other than soy milk. For instance, you can already find almond milk at Dunkin Donuts. FoodFacts.com is thrilled that Starbucks is recognizing the health needs of non-dairy consumers everywhere!

http://www.today.com/food/starbucks-offer-coconut-milk-coffees-lattes-2D80476816

For a limited time only on your grocery store shelves … Red Velvet Oreos. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.39.10 AMIntroduced earlier in February and expected to last for about eight weeks — or until packages run out — Red Velvet Oreos are here to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend!

For all red velvet everything lovers, FoodFacts.com thought we should take a closer look at these very special limited edition Oreos. So let’s get started with the nutrition facts for a serving size of two cookies (even though we honestly don’t know anyone who eats only two):

Calories:                       140
Fat:                                7 grams
Saturated Fat:             2 grams
Sugar:                          13 grams

Admittedly, these don’t look any different than most cookies. The nutrition facts for Red Velvet Oreos are fairly standard. Of course, most folks would have to double those, because they’re likely eating four instead of two. But who are we to argue about the serving size? We can only hope that in the future the servings quoted will fall more in line with actual eating habits.

But what about the ingredients for these red-velvety treats?

Sugar, Unbleached Flour (What Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid) Palm and/or Canola Oil, Dextrose, Cocoa (natural and processed with Alkalai), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Brown Sugar, Cornstarch, Baking Soda, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake), Chocolate

While we didn’t think Oreos would approach the red in Red Velvet Oreos with beet juice (the natural and preferable way to achieve the expected color of red velvet anything), we didn’t quite expect the ingredient list to be as colorful as it actually is. Add to that some Natural and Artificial Flavor and a little High Fructose Corn Syrup and, as you might imagine, we’re not really thrilled.

While many may view it as complicated and time consuming, if we’re looking for a red-velvet Valentine’s Day treat, we’ll be making it ourselves in our own kitchens.

If you do decide to give Red Velvet Oreos a try, remember they’ll only be around for a short while.

Happy Valentine’s Day!