Tag Archives: food facts

The ugly truth about the correlation of race, income and diabetes in U.S. communities

Farmer's marketThe steadily rapid increase of the number of people with diabetes in the United States is, needless to say, alarming. About 30 million Americans are now confirmed with the disease, and about 95 percent of them suffer from type 2 diabetes. Many of these cases have resulted to devastating consequences. Severe ones, which are poorly managed and/or left untreated have led to kidney damage, limb amputations and even death. In the last six years, diabetes is cited as among the top 10 causes of fatality in the United States.

Type 2 is the food-related form of diabetes, generally caused by diets that are high in sugar, sodium and fat. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains lower the risk of this form of the disease. Unfortunately, proper, nutritious foods are not always accessible for all, thus making individuals and families in certain communities more susceptible to type 2 diabetes. More often than not, issues on access to healthy foods involve proximity and affordability.

Diabetes is, undoubtedly, a concern for the entire U.S. population. However, staggering reports show that low income, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are twice as likely to be diabetic than the affluent, whites. It is important to note that there are other factors that contribute to this disparity, including barriers to proper health care, which essentially gets the members of these communities diagnosed and treated – scarcity of local clinics, transportation to medical facilities, lack of insurance and the ability to afford medication.

The Union of Concerned Scientists recently conducted a study that shows the correlation between diabetes, and race and income that centers on the physical accessibility to healthy foods. The researchers used public data on food access, demographics and ultimately, health outcomes.

The study conclusively reports that diabetes and food access are directly correlated. Counties with populations consisting of lower income people of color lower are significantly more at risk of the disease than higher income communities, due to fewer food retailers that offer healthy options and more fast foods and convenience stores in their proximity.

foodfacts.com founder, Stanley Rak, started The Rak Foundation for Nutritional Awareness to bring attention to issues just like this that are impacting low-income communities. See how you can help here.

Find some helpful information on ways you can reduce your risk of diabetes here

Easy, healthy guacamole for your Cinco De Mayo shindig

guac-386796No Mexican shenanigan is complete without a bowl of good old guac! For your Cinco De Mayo celebration, whip up this Foodfacts.com-approved, easy-peasy guacamole recipe from New York’s Dos Caminos’ executive chef, Ivy Stark.

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped onions, divided
  • 4 teaspoons minced jalapeno peppers, divided (tip: remove seeds and membrane)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 4 large avocados
  • 4 tablespoons cored, seeded, and finely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice

Directions

  1. Mash 2 tablespoons cilantro, 2 teaspoons of onion, 2 teaspoons jalapeno, and kosher salt together against the bottom of a large bowl with the back of a spoon.
  2. Add avocados.
  3. Fold in remaining cilantro, onion and jalapeno.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and lime juice. Add seasonings to your taste and/or if necessary.

Ivy’s pro tip: for a twist, gently mash avocados with a fork, instead of using a food processor, until chunky-smooth.

Top this Mexican party staple with an additional dash of kosher sea salt before serving, and you are good to go!

A new school of thought: treating food allergies with food

Peanut Allergies 2Food allergies are frightening – not only for the children and adults who those allergies affect, but for the caregivers of those people, as well. FoodFacts.com continually hears stories from our community describing the life-threatening effects of food allergies on their loved ones. No matter how vigilant a person with food allergies ever is and no matter how vigilant the parent of a child with food allergies ever is … they will, to a certain extent, always be in the position of having to monitor the world around them. And that world isn’t always as allergy friendly as friends and family.   There’s a new school of thought for prevention and treatment.  Treating food allergies with food.

One bite can be enough to cause symptoms such as itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or a tightening of the throat — the tell-tale signs of an allergy.

Food allergies have been on the rise in recent years and are currently estimated to affect up to eight percent of children worldwide, according to the World Allergy Organization.

Numbers are greatest in industrialized countries. In the U.S. alone, 4 million children reportedly suffered from food allergies in 2014.

Now, researchers at Kings College London are investigating a way to prevent food allergies — using food.

Until now, the common advice given to those suffering from allergies has been simply to steer clear of their dreaded food item.

“For decades we have been focusing on avoidance and that didn’t seem to work,” says Gideon Lack, Professor of Pediatric allergy at Kings College London.

Lack believes avoidance may in fact have fueled the problem.

“Active avoidance of food allergens in baby’s diets did not protect them from developing food allergies, and may even have contributed to the large increase we’ve seen,” says Lack.

With his patients, Lack has seen the frustrations of both parents and children living with food allergies over the years and has now set his sights on curing, rather than managing the condition.

In previous studies, Lack worked with other experts in the field to investigate the impact of feeding peanuts to children at higher risk of allergies. The studies were part of the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial and found that feeding six grams of peanut protein to children from 4 months of age led to significant reductions in the rates of peanut allergy.

The theory behind this is that exposure enables a child’s immune system to learn to recognize, and tolerate, the allergens rather than react to them, as it does with other organs and cells in the body.

Lack’s most recent study set the bar even higher and investigated the potential to use food to prevent multiple allergies at once, as part of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) study. Infants from the general population were exposed early to six common food allergens– peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, wheat and sesame. The first three are estimated to account for 80% of all food allergies seen in the USA.

The study recruited more than 1300 infants aged 3 months old, half of whom were given up to 4 grams of each of the six food proteins, weekly.

Overall, the team found a 20 percent reduction in the rates of food allergy among infants exposed to the food allergens, which was not significant enough to suggest that the introduction alone was responsible, but did show that providing the food at an early age could be done safely.

Lack later discovered that many infants in the trial had not been consuming the required amounts of proteins — only 34 percent adhered to the regimen properly, according to Lack.

Among the group that did follow their instructions, significant reductions were seen including a 100 percent protection against peanuts allergy and a 75 percent reduction against egg allergy, according to Lack.

“The effects were greatest for peanut and egg, [but for the others] there wasn’t a high enough rate to make a proper comparison,” says Lack.

For now, the team do not recommend using the approach outside of a supervised trial, and advise parents to continue World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations in terms of food provision to infants, such as breast feeding, until further evidence is available.

The smaller, insignificant, impact seen in the study population as a whole highlights a key issue when recommending this strategy as an approach to allergy prevention — the likelihood of people following instructions adequately.
“Only one third of families actually complied with the protocol,” says allergy expert Hugh Sampson, Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai.
“[This] reflects what will happen if this becomes a general policy,” he says.

The underlying science has been proven and will now need further research to understand the realistic quantities than can be used, and followed, to prevent future allergies.

Sampson’s team at Mount Sinai are investigating the feeding approach as well, but focusing on peanut, milk and egg as their targets and only among high-risk groups.

“You can design all kinds of treatment, but if people don’t follow them it won’t work,” says Sampson.

Experts in the field are now working to refine the treatment and discover its true potential.

“It could be beneficial for everybody, but we don’t have the evidence for that,” says Sampson.

While this would be a wonderful and natural approach to food allergies, FoodFacts.com can see this being potentially frightening to parents and patients alike. As the article pointed out even the best treatments won’t work unless people embrace them. We’ll be following this research to see what can be further understood about this treatment and its potential benefits for food allergy sufferers.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/07/health/feeding-to-prevent-food-allergy/index.html

Let’s say thank you to Vermont … the small state causing big changes in food labeling for GMOs

GMO LABEL EXAMPLEVermont is the small state that roared – at least when it comes to transparency in the use of GMO ingredients in our food supply. FoodFacts.com is sure that most in our community recall that Vermont passed a law requiring food manufacturers to begin labeling GMO ingredients on food packaging by July 1st of 2016. One small state passed one big law.  And now, Vermont is the small state causing big changes in food labeling for GMOs.

Vermont started a trend. You’ll soon know whether many of the packaged foods you buy contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants, such as soybeans and corn.
Over the past week or so, big companies including General Mills, Mars and Kellogg have announced plans to label such products – even though they still don’t think it’s a good idea.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has fought back against Vermont’s law, both in court and in Congress, but so far it’s been unsuccessful.
Last week, Congress failed to pass an industry-supported measure that would have created a voluntary national standard for labeling — and also would have preempted Vermont’s law. Which means for now, food industry giants still face a July 1 deadline to comply with the state’s labeling mandate. And since food companies can’t create different packaging just for Vermont, it appears that the tiniest of states has created a labeling standard that will go into effect nationwide.

This statement, from General Mills’ Jeff Harmening, sums it up: “Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines,” Harmening wrote on the General Mills blogs. “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” explains Harmening.

So, as a result: “Consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products,” he concludes.
Chocolate giant Mars struck a similar tone in its announcement: “To comply with [the Vermont] law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide,” the company statement says.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require such labels the agency has determined that the nutritional quality and safety of GMO ingredients, such as corn starch or soybean oil, are no different from the same ingredients derived from conventional crops.

According to Mars, “we firmly believe GM ingredients are safe.” But consumer expectations are changing. “We aim to deliver products that match the different tastes, preferences and perceptions of consumers,” the Mars statement says.

According to a 2015 poll, two-thirds of Americans support labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

“Consumers are pushing for more transparency,” stated food industry analyst Jack Russo. Earlier this year, the Campbell Soup Co. acknowledged this when it became the first major food company to switch its position and come out in support of mandatory GMO labels.

The food industry overall is still hoping that the federal government will step in.

“We continue to strongly urge Congress to pass a uniform, federal solution for the labeling of GMOs to avoid a confusing patchwork of state-by-state rules,” wrote Paul Norman, president of Kellogg North America in an emailed statement.

But it’s clear that companies can no longer wait for this federal action. “The horse [is] out the barn,” says attorney David Wallace, of the firm Herbert Smith Freehills, who specializes in food issues. Companies are already preparing new labels to begin hitting store shelves in a few weeks.

“Companies had no choice. … They’ve been making plans for this. They had to,” explains Wallace.

As a result, both sides in the debate over GMO labeling now will learn the answer to a question that many have posed over the past 20 years: How will consumers react to a label that says “produced with genetic engineering?”

Food companies have argued that such a label will scare consumers away, because they’ll see it – incorrectly – as a warning. If it has that effect, companies will react by removing genetically modified ingredients from their products. In fact, food companies see the labeling campaign as a veiled attempt to drive genetically engineered crops out of agriculture.

Privately, however, many companies are hoping that consumers will disregard those labels and continue to buy the same products as always. Consumers who are motivated to avoid GMOs may be doing that already, by buying organic or non-GMO products.

Thanks, Vermont for the impressive movement we’re seeing from food manufacturers to save money by changing all of their labeling because you stuck to your guns and insisted on transparency for GMO ingredients in your own state.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/27/471759643/how-little-vermont-got-big-food-companies-to-label-gmos

Earlier exposure to peanuts may help decrease peanut allergies

Peanut Allergies 2If you have children, you know that there are certain foods you’re advised to hold off on introducing until after infancy. Foods like eggs and peanuts that so many are allergic to are great examples of this. Now a new study is illustrating that earlier exposure to peanuts may help decrease peanut allergies in children.

Peanut allergies are frightening for parents and can be deadly to the children they affect. Reactions can be as mild as a minor outbreak of hives to anaphylaxis and even death. Peanut allergies are not easy to manage for parents, schools or the children those allergies affect.

The concern is real. Between 1997 and 2008, the incidence of peanut and tree nut allergies nearly tripled, according to one published study.

Now, there’s a growing consensus about how to prevent peanut allergies in kids who are at high risk. This includes children with a strong family history of food allergies and those with eczema.

Last year, a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that high-risk babies who were fed a soupy, peanut-butter mush (starting between 4 and 11 months of age) were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by age 5, compared with kids who were not exposed.

“Giving peanuts very early on actually protected them from developing a peanut allergy,” says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Previously, parents of high-risk kids had been advised to delay the introduction of peanuts.

Now, a new follow-up study involving the same group of children adds to the evidence that, contrary to previous advice, early exposure can be beneficial.

Researchers followed the kids for one additional year. The kids were between 5 and 6 years old during this follow-up period. It turned out, these high-risk kids’ tolerance to peanuts held up even if they stopped eating peanuts.

“A 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy,” the authors write in the paper.

This is an important finding, because it wasn’t known whether the kids would need to maintain regular weekly consumption of peanuts in order to stave off developing an allergy.

“This new study is great because … it looks like the benefit [of early exposure] is essentially permanent,” says Scott Sicherer, a pediatric immunologist and allergy specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Immunologists will continue to study this.

Sicherer has helped develop new interim guidance based on the emerging evidence of the benefits of early, rather than delayed, introduction of peanut.

“There is now scientific evidence that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of “high-risk” infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age),” the consensus guidance states.

But that doesn’t mean all parents should just rush in with the peanut mush. The guidance recommends that “infants with eczema or egg allergy in the first 4 to 6 months of life might benefit from evaluation by an allergist” — before they’re introduced to peanut-based foods.

The evidence from the two studies together represents an important step forward in immunology, says Anthony Fauci. “It’s a very important proof of concept,” Fauci says.

And he says it’s possible that early exposure will turn out to be a successful strategy to prevent other allergies as well.

FoodFacts.com is happy to see research helpful in the development of strategies to reduce the instances of peanut allergies in our children. Peanut and tree nut allergies affect the lives of children in ways people unaffected may not realize because there may always be an incident hiding somewhere … a movie theater, a children’s party, the school lunchroom. While early exposure may sound frightening to some, increasing evidence points to this as a great possibility for reducing the incidents of childhood peanut allergies.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/04/469237111/peanut-mush-in-infancy-cuts-allergy-risk-new-study-adds-to-evidence

Changing the face of food processing

Food ShelvingProcessed foods carry a bad connotation for most people. The term conjures up images of chemical processes, controversial intredients, artificial colors and flavors – and that’s just to name a few. These aren’t great images for sure – and Foodfacts.com has spent a lot of time and energy educating people on the side effects and unhealthy, unsavory aspects of processed foods. But processing food was actually designed to keep food safe and accessible. Can that be accomplished while changing the face of food processing?

When it comes to food, at least in a Western context, we want it all, we want it now and we want it chemical-free. Consumers do not want to be limited to eating only local and seasonal produce; however, they expect their food to make its journey in an unadulterated state, and with colours, flavours and textures intact.

Against this backdrop is the necessity for food to be safe from bacteria.

About 75% of the new diseases that have affected humans over the past 10 years have developed from animals or products of animal origin.

According to the Europe Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Campylobacteriosis remains the most commonly reported foodborne disease in the European Union, with over 190,000 human cases annually. Common routes of the bacterium are raw milk and undercooked poultry.

Salmonella, often transmitted by eggs, is the second most common intestinal infection, with over 100,000 human cases reported each year.

Listeriosis is also causing great concern, and continues to rise in Europe. In 2014, there were 2161 confirmed cases, resulting in 210 deaths, the highest annual number reported since 2009. Dairy products, vegetables, fruit and seafood are the possible vehicles of the infection.

“Globalization and the movement of people have brought about trade in food, but there are also the chemical and biological hazards that come with it — and they know no borders,” explained Marta Hugas, head of the Biological Hazards and Contaminants Unit at EFSA.

For food processors, the challenge is huge. “Consumer preferences for convenient food that is easy to prepare, but as fresh as possible and minimally processed, are sidelining techniques like freezing, canning and chemical preservatives. Such techniques are very effective in terms of safety but may affect food quality and taste. Now we have to create new technologies to meet these demands and to ensure the long shelf life required by distant export markets,” said Geraldine Duffy, researcher at the Head Food Safety Department of the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland.

Duffy’s department is contributing to a European project called HIPSTER, which is attempting to validate and implement a food processing technology combining high pressure processing (HPP) with temperature (HPT).

Using high pressure to preserve and sterilize foods is a century-old technique known as high pressure processing (HPP) or Pascalisation, from the 17th-century French scientist Blaise Pascal, famous for studying the effects of pressure on fluids.

Applied to certain foods, high pressure can render inactive some microorganisms such as yeast, mould and bacteria, and some enzymes too, which contribute to deteriorating foods when processed.

In Japan since 1990, HPP has been used to preserve some juices, jellies, and jams; it is now used to preserve fish and meat, salad dressings, rice cakes and yoghurts. In the US, the technique has been used for guacamole: it did not change the taste, texture or colour, but the product’s shelf life increased from three to 30 days.

However, HPP has its limitations. After HPP, most of the enzymes are intact, which means the colour and texture (and also flavour) are not stable during chilled shelf life. Another important difference is food safety of non-acidic products, like vegetables or meat. Due to bacterial spores, non-acid food is not safe after HPP treatment.

Enter the new version of HPP, the snappily-named ‘high hydrostatic pressure in combination with temperature’ (HPT) technique, which adds a heating step to the high pressure processing.

The combination of a preheating stage and high pressure is expected to sterilize food products and ensure greater food safety, freshness and nutritional quality, while extending shelf life. In addition, HPT promises to be environmentally friendly thanks to its low energy costs and reduced water consumption.

“We are testing its efficacy on prepared meals with extended shelf life, including soups and ready-to-eat meals that contain chicken and fish. If the HPT technology works, it could be applied to other foodstuffs in the future,” explained Duffy.

The high hydrostatic pressure on its own inactivates vegetative bacteria on the food, but not the spores that could make it unsafe or lead to spoilage.

Thus, scientists are investigating if submitting the food product to the high pressure treatment, in combination with temperatures of about 90°C, will inactivate such spores while guaranteeing quality, safety and taste and in addition to giving a long shelf life — conditions that are much valued by the market and the catering industry.

HPT promises much, but has not yet been scaled up and fully implemented into the food industry to be compared against existing food processing techniques.

The HIPSTER project
The European HIPSTER research project is aimed at validating, implementing and marketing this new method.

Nine European partners (five industries and four RTD organisations) will work together until August 2017, to implement HPT in the food industry on an industrial scale.

HIPSTER addresses the main barriers preventing the first market introduction and full deployment of HPT. The project will focus on the following activities:

R&D:
• Identify process windows (pressure/temperature/time) ensuring inactivation of pathogens and spoilage microorganisms using defined model systems and real foods.

Prototyping:
• Engineering and construction of a full-scale HPT equipment unit suitable for processing at different pressure/temperature ranges. The equipment is based on an innovative design of the vessel. Include auxiliary units for the preheating and cooling.
• Construction of tools (sensors, gauges, etc) for process monitoring.
• Develop a public database containing microbial kinetic parameters determined under well-defined processing conditions for guidance to food industry and control authorities.

Validation:
• Pilot and industrial scale testing of HPT treatments.
• Experimental production of a range of new food products (ready-to-eat and ready-to-use fish, meat and vegetable products).
• Shelf life studies.
• Viability study: compliance with legal requirements, economic feasibility and sustainability.
• Demonstrating in full-scale operational conditions the sustainability and techno-economic feasibility of the equipment and tools developed in collaboration with end users from the food sector.

Dissemination and exploitation:
• Communication of the technology to the broad public.
• Market plan to be deployed by each of the industrial partners.

It would be a remarkable development to embrace processed food without the current connotations. This is a HIPSTER we can all embrace!

http://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/food-design-research/article/hipster-wants-to-change-the-face-of-food-processing-752687262

Happy National Drink Wine Day! Raise your glass and toast the health benefits!

Wine CorksFoodFacts.com is pretty convinced that most people understand that there are major health benefits that can be obtained from drinking wine. What we’re less convinced of is that those same people know what those health benefits actually are. We thought that in honor of National Drink Wine Day a review might be in order.

The Benefit: Promotes Longevity
The Evidence: Wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers. Source: a Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007.

The Benefit: Reduces Heart-Attack Risk
The Evidence: Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers. Source: a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
The Evidence: Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines. Source: a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006.

The Benefit: Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The Evidence: Moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes. Source: research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, published in Diabetes Care, 2005.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Stroke
The Evidence: The possibility of suffering a blood clot-related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol. Source: a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Cataracts
The Evidence: Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers; those who consume wine are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer. Source: a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer
The Evidence: Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent. Source: a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005.

The Benefit: Slows Brain Decline
The Evidence: Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers. Source: a Columbia University study of 1,416 people, published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006.

There’s no denying it … drinking wine can do a lot for your health and well-being. Raise your glass and toast the health benefits!

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/8-health-benefits-of-drinking-wine

You may never look at Parmesan cheese the exact same way again

grated parmesanHow do you use Parmesan cheese? FoodFacts.com can think of countless different ways we enjoy a lovely Italian cheese topping. Of course, we can sprinkle it on pasta and salads and vegetables. Some people enjoy it on chicken and pork. Still others may quietly – and very discreetly – use it on fish (but that’s supposed to be a culinary no-no so few people ever really mention it.) We love Parmesan. But after reading this latest article, it’s highly possible that you may never look at Parmesan cheese the exact same way again.

Acting on a tip, agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paid a surprise visit to a cheese factory in rural Pennsylvania on a cold November day in 2012.

They found what they were looking for: evidence that Castle Cheese Inc. was doctoring its 100 percent real parmesan with cut-rate substitutes and such fillers as wood pulp and distributing it to some of the country’s biggest grocery chains.

One might be tempted to think of this as a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of “NYPD Bleu,” except that the FDA wasn’t playing. Some grated Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products by filling them with too much cellulose, a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp, or using cheaper cheddar, instead of real Romano. Someone had to pay. Castle President Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. She faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

German brewers protect their reputations with Reinheitsgebot, a series of purity laws first drawn up 500 years ago, and Champagne makers prohibit most vineyards outside their turf from using the name. Now the full force of the U.S. government has been brought to bear defending the authenticity of grated hard Italian cheeses. Which is good news for Neal Schuman.

For years, Schuman has been a one-man Reinheitsgebot, insisting that the fragrant granules Americans sprinkle on their pizza and penne ought to be the real thing; if not, the label should say so.

The stakes are 100 percent real for him. Schuman’s Fairfield, New Jersey-based company, Arthur Schuman Inc., is the biggest seller of hard Italian cheeses in the U.S., with 33 percent of the domestic market. He estimates that 20 percent of U.S. production — worth $375 million in sales — is mislabeled.

“The tipping point was grated cheese, where less than 40 percent of the product was actually a cheese product,” Schuman said. “Consumers are innocent, and they’re not getting what they bargained for. And that’s just wrong.”

How serious is the problem? Bloomberg News had store-bought grated cheese tested for wood-pulp content by an independent laboratory.

Cellulose is a safe additive, and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin. Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.

“We remain committed to the quality of our products,” Michael Mullen, a Kraft Heinz Co. spokesman, said in an e-mail. John Forrest Ales, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said he questioned the reliability of testing a single sample and that Wal-Mart’s “compliance team is looking into these findings.”

Jewel-Osco is also investigating, spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco said in an e-mail. “We pride ourselves on the quality of products we deliver for our customers,” Trucco said.

“We strongly believe that there is no cellulose present,” Blaire Kniffin, a Whole Foods Market Inc. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail, adding that it could have been a false positive. “But we are investigating this matter.”

According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.

Castle has never been an authorized Target vendor, according to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. “We are investigating the information provided in the report,” she said in an e-mail. Jeff Pedersen, an executive vice president of Associated Wholesale Grocers, had no comment.

DairiConcepts, a Springfield, Missouri-based cheese maker that’s a subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, said on its website that in a test of 28 brands, only one-third of label claims about protein levels in grated parmesan were accurate. The company blamed fillers such as cellulose.

Until recently, there was little incentive to follow labeling rules. Criminal cases are rare. That’s because the FDA, which enforces the country’s food laws, prioritizes health hazards, said John Spink, director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University. But civil lawsuits abound. A Jan. 29 complaint accuses McDonald’s Corp. of selling pure mozzarella sticks that contain starch, considered a filler, a claim the company denies.

Cheese makers commit adulteration because it saves money.

Marty Wilson, chief executive officer of New York-based Sugar Foods, which buys cheese from Schuman and supplies major pizza chains with to-go packets of parmesan, said whenever his contracts come up for renewal, competitors peddling ersatz cheeses surface. And he has lost business to them. “We’re constantly battling cheap imitators across all of our product lines,” Wilson said.

Bob Greco of Cheese Merchants of America said competitors hawking bastardized products have underbid him by as much as 30 percent. “The bad guys win and the rule-followers lose,” Greco said.

The FDA regulates what can legally be called Parmesan or Romano according to standards established in the 1950s to ensure that manufacturers wouldn’t sell cheeses wildly different in composition.

Americans love their hard Italian cheeses. Last year, U.S. Parmesan output rose 11 percent from 2014 to around 336 million pounds, while Romano production grew 20 percent, to 54 million pounds, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Italian producers, however, aren’t loving it as much. The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, a trade group based in Rome, asked the European Union in December to protect its manufacturers against U.S. companies that were using the names of their cheeses and Italian flags on their packaging. “A deceit” is how the organization’s president, Giuseppe Alai, characterized Americans’ use of Italian names and symbols.

Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan. That two-pound difference means millions of dollars to manufacturers, according to Sommer.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania-based Castle produced mainly imitation cheeses for nearly 30 years. The company, whose factory was adorned with crenelated battlements and curved archways to look like a medieval castle, had $19 million in sales in 2013.

The trouble started in 2010 when it began making what it called 100 percent grated Parmesan. A plant manager designed flawed recipes, and after Castle fired him in 2012, he alerted the FDA, the company said in a December 2012 letter to the agency, obtained through the FOIA.

The FDA accused Castle Cheese of marketing as real grated Parmesan what was in fact a mixture of imitation cheese and trimmings of Swiss, white cheddar, Havarti and mozzarella. After the probe, Castle stopped production of the problematic cheeses and dumped inventories. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

A lawyer for Michelle Myrter and Castle Cheese didn’t respond to requests for comment. In the 2012 letter to the FDA, Castle said there was inadequate documentation, and the FDA could note only the potential that the products weren’t 100 percent pure.

Lauren E. Sucher, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency couldn’t comment on pending legal cases. “The FDA takes economic fraud very seriously,” she said in an e-mail.

The FDA’s investigation may be the spark that changes things, said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

“The industry wants to be known for a wholesome, safe, honest product — it’s what’s kept the industry growing for 100 years,” he said. “The wholesomeness of dairy products is a treasured part of our story.”

While we can appreciate that the FDA takes economic fraud very seriously, we’d also like some recognition of the consumer fraud being perpetrated. FoodFacts.com doesn’t like the idea that any consumer, anywhere can pick up a package of grated parmesan cheese believing that it is, in fact, parmesan cheese and be fooled. The safety of the product is fine. The lie in the labeling isn’t.

We deserve to know the truth about the food we eat. Anything less is unacceptable.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-16/the-parmesan-cheese-you-sprinkle-on-your-penne-could-be-wood

10 aphrodisiac ingredients for your Valentine’s Day menu.

There are holidays that we immediately relate with food. Thanksgiving turkey. Easter eggs. And then there’s Valentine’s Day. FoodFacts.com isn’t surprised that we relate Valentine’s Day with many different foods … chocolate, champagne, caviar – the list goes on. Not surprisingly those foods are considered aphrodisiacs … foods that put you in the mood. We thought in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’d share the details on 10 aphrodisiac ingredients for your Valentine’s Day menu.

Oysters: Oysters are high on the list of aphrodisiacs because they are rich in zinc. The notion that oysters are an aphrodisiac dates back to the 18th-century, when Giacomo Casanova would consume dozens of oysters to spike his arousal. There’s also science to back it up: American and Italian researchers found that oysters have rare amino acids (D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate) that triggers a spike in hormones.

Avocado: The pear shaped fruit was considered to be an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs, as the fruit hangs from trees in pairs, similar to testicles. There could be some science behind this notion, as the fruit has high levels of vitamin E which helps keep your energy level high.

Chili Peppers: If you have a penchant for spicy food, then know that chili peppers are an aphrodisiac since they mimic the feelings of arousal by stimulating endorphins (the feel good chemicals in your brain), speeding up your heart rate, and making you sweat.

Honey: Honey contains boron, a chemical element that regulates hormone levels and boosts your energy naturally.

Coffee: A study published in the journal Pharmocology, Biochemistry, and Behavior found that the caffeine found in coffee stimulates your heart rate and makes your blood flow.

Arugula: While arugula doesn’t sound like a likely aphrodisiac, its abilities have reportedly been noted since the first century A.D. The leafy vegetable has minerals and antioxidants that block contaminants that would harm your libido.

Olive Oil: Filled with antioxidants, the oil has many other health benefits including heart health, good blood flow and a rich source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Pine nuts: Though these little nuts are expensive, it may be worth the high price for their aphrodisiac abilities.

Chocolate: Dark chocolate has been shown to cause a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure.

Bananas: The fruit contains bromelain, an enzyme which Dr. Oz says triggers testosterone production, and the fruit’s potassium and vitamin B elevate energy levels.

The holiday of love deserves the food (or foods) of love. So when you plan your Valentine’s Day menu, make sure you include a few aphrodisiac ingredients. You’ll make your meal more authentic to the holiday … and make your special someone feel even more special!

http://www.latintimes.com/valentines-day-ideas-eat-these-10-aphrodisiac-foods-sex-your-date-369203

What happens to a 6-year-old McDonald’s Happy Meal left in its bag? Absolutely nothing.

Six year old happy mealFoodFacts.com came across this very frightening story that starts out with a question. What happens to a 6-year-old McDonald’s Happy Meal left in its bag? Absolutely nothing is the correct answer.

We shouldn’t be shocked. The movie “Supersize Me” put forth the concept that all those preservatives in McDonald’s food actually preserve the food. So we’re not shocked. We’re disgusted, turned off and horrified that food can be six years old and not turn. It means it isn’t food because real food goes bad.

A mum claims to have conducted an experiment where she kept a McDonald’s Happy Meal for SIX years – just to see if it would decompose.

Jennifer Lovdahl, from Alaska, in the U.S., posted a status on Facebook about a meal she bought from the fast food chain back in 2010.

She said: “It’s been 6 years since I bought this “Happy Meal” at McDonald’s. It’s been sitting at our office this whole time.”

Shockingly, the pictures – one of the box, with receipt, another of the meal itself – show that the food has hardly changed.

She wrote: “[It] has not rotted, molded, or decomposed at all!!! It smells only of cardboard. We did this experiment to show our patients how unhealthy this “food” is. Especially for our growing children!!

She added: “There are so many chemicals in this food! Choose real food! Apples, bananas, carrots, celery….those are real fast food.”

FoodFacts.com has a pretty strong opinion about fast food. If it won’t decompose, it shouldn’t qualify as food to begin with. Just don’t eat this.

http://news.yahoo.com/woman-keeps-mcdonalds-happy-meal-untouched-for-132942288.html?nf=1