Tag Archives: food labeling

Orange juice secret revealed

FoodFacts knows that orange juice is one of the most popular breakfast choices in the United States, with up to two thirds of all Americans including the beverage in their breakfast routines. We were saddened to learn late last week that on top of coming to terms with arsenic in apple juice, we’ll also have to come to terms with the idea that our premium orange juice is not “All Natural” like we’ve been led to believe.

There’s a “secret ingredient” that is included in any premium, not from concentrate, 100% pure orange juice that manufacturers are not required to put on their labeling.

So the secret’s out and here it is: Premium orange juice (pretty much all of it) is made and then stored in tanks for up to a year. While it’s being stored it loses much of its flavor and needs to be “reinvigorated” with flavor packets. For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as “pasteurized” orange juice. The top brands on grocery store shelves like Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others have always used this practice. The addition of flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate. Consumers have never known about this and are under the impression that the juice they are purchasing is better in both flavor and content than juices mad from concentrates. The “not from concentrate” brands are priced higher than their “from concentrate” competitors. And consumers have felt good about purchasing them believing that they were of higher quality.

But it doesn’t appear to be the case. After the oranges are squeezed and pasteurized, if they’re being used in a “not from concentrate” brand, they are kept in aseptic storage. This means oxygen is removed from the juice in a process called deaeration. It is then stored in tanks for up to a year. Prior to packaging and shipped, flavor packs are added to the stored juice. The flavor packs contain orange byproducts such as peel and pulp which compensate for the loss of taste and aroma. Those flavor packs are also how manufacturers are able to maintain a consistent flavor profile for their juices. Each brand has its own flavor pack formula.

In case you missed the news this weekend, FoodFacts wanted to make sure that our community stays up to date on important issues like this one. While the juice isn’t made from concentrate, it really isn’t “100% pure” like the manufacturers have been leading us to believe. And while the manufacturers are saying that their flavor packs are made from the oranges themselves through the pasteurization process, we understand that the addition of the packs really does defy the claims for the product. Let us know what you think.

Labeling Tricks

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Foodfacts.com came across an article featured on Food Network which discusses how to avoid food labeling tricks which are used to make some foods appear healthier. Check it out below! Have any advice of your own to share?

Food labels are carefully worded to entice shoppers to choose certain items. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found dieters often fall for simple labeling tricks that make them believe certain foods are healthier than they are. Find out the top 5 traps people fell into and how to avoid them.

#1: Fruit Chew vs. Candy Chew
The same food labeled with the word “fruit” verses “candy” had dieters opting for the fruit-labeled boxes with identical chews inside. If it doesn’t contain real fruit, it’s probably the same product with different flavoring. Check the ingredients before you buy!

#2: Pasta vs. Salads

Diners watching their calories often jump to the salad section over pasta, since that seems like the healthier choice. But not always: Toppings like avocado, cheese, beans, croutons, fried chicken or too much dressing drive salad calories sky-high (that’s why they made our top 9 “healthy” foods to skip). Ask the server how the salad is prepared, and if any of the toppings or dressings are optional. Get our tips for swapping out high-cal salad toppings >>

#3: Flavored Water vs. Juice
Find yourself grabbing the “flavored” water because it seems like the healthier choice? That’s what the Journal of Consumer research study found their subjects did. Water seems harmless, but many varieties are nothing more than sugar water. If sugar isn’t added, then oftentimes artificial sweeteners are. A glass of freshly squeezed juice may contain natural sugar called fructose, but also a variety of vitamins and minerals. If in doubt, real, unadulterated water is always a great choice.

#4: Veggie Chips vs. Potato Chips
Think veggie chips are healthier than potato chips? Think again: Aren’t potatoes vegetables?!? Any vegetable fried and made to look like a chip can be labeled a veggie chip, so don’t fall for that labeling trick! If you want chips (whether veggie or potato), be sure to stick to a reasonable portion (about 15 chips).

#5: Smoothies vs. Milkshakes

Milkshakes are loaded with fat and calories, but slap on a label that says “smoothie” and dieters feel they’ve made a healthier decision. Be sure to inquire about the ingredients that go into that smoothie, and keep the portion size reasonable. Get our tips for a healthier smoothie >>

Bottom Line: Don’t fall into the naming trap — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Do some investigating by reading food label ingredient lists and nutrition facts. If you’re dining out, don’t be shy! Ask the wait staff about menu items.

(Food Network- Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN)

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.

Changes coming on food safety rules

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The country is about to witness dramatic changes in food norms, impacting the industry significantly, if initiatives being taken by the Food Safety & Standards Authority (FSSAI) are a yardstick.

Formulation of food recall procedures in case of unsafe or hazardous products , mandatory compliance with GAP (good agricultural practices) for big retailers, labelling changes for packaged food items, organic food certification, setting water quality standards and verification of claims by food supplement companies are among the major reforms being planned by the sector regulator and the government.

FSSAI is currently in the process of consulting with industry stakeholders on food recall procedures. Speaking to Business Standard, FSSAI chairman P I Suvrathan said food recall was a rather complex process and the Authority would be able to come out with related norms early next year.

The provision of recall exists in the new integrated food safety law, expected to come into effect this August, but “we have not developed a recall procedure yet”, said Suvrathan. According to him, many countries do not have a recall procedure. The draft food recall rules state the objective of the procedure as “guiding food business operators on how to carry out a food recall through an efficient, rapid identification, as well as removal of unsafe food and food that violate the Act and Rules & Regulations…” Informing consumers about the food hazard, establishing a written recall plan, and having a follow-up action plan are also part of the draft.

OTHER PRIORITIES
The Authority is also set to look at GAP (good agricultural practice) as an effective way of assuring food safety. FSSAI will now start putting GAP-certification as a mandatory condition for large retail companies in India. “GAP is important because a major part of all food products originate from agriculture,” the FSSAI chairman said. If we know the extent of pesticide a farmer is using, checking food safety and level of contamination will be that much simpler.

Organic food is another area of focus for the Authority. What can be called organic and what is near-organic are some of the things that FSSAI will look at. “We have plans of taking up organic food certification,” said Suvrathan. Many agencies and ministries are working in this area and FSSAI is consulting with all of them on the issue.

Another priority area are new guidelines on labelling and claims by manufacturers of food products and health supplements. If a food product or supplement manufacturer claims something, it will have to establish it. The Authority has developed the first part of the regulation and the new norms should be in place by the end of this year.

“We are updating the current labeling provisions. Scientific backing for claims will be necessary. What study have you done, what is the evidence — you have to prove your claims. These are the questions we will ask,” said Suvrathan.

As for contents on the cover/packaging, the print size and logo, everything will be vetted. “Often companies say that they have to make the print very small because they need to put in so many things as part of labelling.” Now, they have been told that only relevant information like expiry date and ingredients should be there. Take away all that is irrelevant.”

Setting standards for quality of water used in food products is also on the to-do list of the Food Safety Authority. “Water is dealt with by 15 agencies, including several ministries in India,” said Suvrathan . The Authority will come out with a standard for potable water within six months.

Information provided by: http://www.business-standard.com