Tag Archives: food labels

Just because it says it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it is .

iStock_000003492931SmallPretty simple concept, isn’t it? Or at least it should be. But food marketers are well aware that minds can be swayed in a particular direction with the use of some very simple language.

Health-related buzzwords, such as “antioxidant,” “gluten-free” and “whole grain,” lull consumers into thinking packaged food products labeled with those words are healthier than they actually are, according to a new research study conducted by scholars at the University of Houston (UH).

That “false sense of health,” as well as a failure to understand the information presented in nutrition facts panels on packaged food, may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in the United States, said Temple Northup, an assistant professor at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at UH.

“Saying Cherry 7-Up contains antioxidants is misleading. Food marketers are exploiting consumer desires to be healthy by marketing products as nutritious when, in fact, they’re not,” said Northup, principal investigator of the study, “Truth, Lies, and Packaging: How Food Marketing Creates a False Sense of Health.”

The study examined the degree to which consumers link marketing terms on food packaging with good health. It found that consumers tend to view food products labeled with health-related euphemisms as healthier than those without them. The research also showed that the nutrition facts panels printed on food packaging as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do little to counteract that buzzword marketing.

“Words like organic, antioxidant, natural and gluten-free imply some sort of healthy benefit,” Northup said. “When people stop to think about it, there’s nothing healthy about Antioxidant Cherry 7-Up — it’s mostly filled with high fructose syrup or sugar. But its name is giving you this clue that there is some sort of health benefit to something that is not healthy at all.”

The study also looks at the “priming” psychology behind the words to explain why certain words prompt consumers to assign a health benefit to a food product with unhealthy ingredients.

“For example, if I gave you the word ‘doctor,’ not only ‘doctor’ would be accessible in your mind — now all these other things would be accessible in your mind — ‘nurse,’ ‘stethoscope,’ etc.,” Northup said. “What happens when these words become accessible, they tend to influence or bias your frame of mind and how you evaluate something.”

This triggered concept is then available to influence later thoughts and behaviors, often without explicit awareness of this influence — the so-called priming effect, Northup said.

Northup developed an experiment using priming theory to gather quantitative research on how food marketers influence consumers. He developed an online survey that randomly showed images of food products that either included actual marketing words, like organic, or a Photoshop image removing any traces of those words, thereby creating two different images of the same product. A total of 318 study participants took the survey to rate how “healthy” each product was.

The products with trigger words in their labels analyzed in the study were: Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks (Organic), Apple Sauce (Organic), Chef Boyardee Beefaroni (Whole Grain), Chef Boyardee Lasagna (Whole Grain), Chocolate Cheerios (Heart Healthy), Cherry 7-Up (Antioxidant), Smuckers Peanut Butter (All Natural) and Tostitos (All Natural).

Northup found when participants were shown the front of food packaging that included one of those trigger words, they would rate the items as healthier.

“I took a label from Cherry 7-Up Antioxidant and Photoshop it without the word ‘antioxidant’ and only the words, ‘Cherry 7-Up.’ I then asked people via the online survey which one they thought was healthier,” said Northup. “Each time a participant saw one of the triggering words on a label, they would identify it as healthier than the other image without the word. ”

After completing the product evaluations, the study participants then reviewed the nutrition facts panels on a variety of products. These labels would be presented two at a time so the participants could choose the healthier food or drink option.

“Food marketers say there are nutritional labels, so people can find out what’s healthy and what’s not,” he said. “Findings from this research study indicate people aren’t very good at reading nutritional labels even in situations where they are choosing between salmon and Spam. Approximately 20 percent picked Spam as the healthier option over salmon,” said Northup.

Northup hopes the results of this study will contribute to an increased dialogue on how food is marketed, guide development of specific media literacy and help people understand the effects of how food is marketed to consumers.

While we like to think of ourselves as sophisticated consumers (and just about everyone these days considers themselves as such), the proliferation of those small , yet powerful words on food labels everywhere — even where they don’t make sense — speaks directly to their actual influence. Antioxidant soda? Whole grain canned macaroni? Can those words actually manage to make an unhealthy product full of bad ingredients healthy? We know they can’t and yet, somehow, time after time, consumers are fooled. Armed with the insight as to why this manufacturers ploy continues to work, FoodFacts.com suggests we all think a little harder the next time we’re attracted to a product label bearing an extra descriptive word or two.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140613130717.htm

Is that really fat free?

 


FoodFacts
knows that reading (and understanding) a foods nutrition label is key to a healthy diet – whether you are counting your calories, increasing your fiber or watching fat intake. After what seems like way too long, you may have finally found your holy grail of healthy foods to replace a high fat, high calorie favorite. Low and behold, a product that is fat free! Before you rejoice, keep reading.

…The ingredients list that is. The ingredients list will give you a better picture of the nutrients in your food. So is there an item on the ingredients list that didn’t end up on the nutrition panel? If you happen to notice “mono and diglycerides” on the list – these are fats. They carry the same amount of energy per gram (9) as a triglyceride (3 fatty acids and a glycerol), yet the food item in question has “0 calories,” and “0 fat.”

Two things are at play here. Number 1 is the definition of a fat. The FDA requires fats to be listed as triglycerides, which mono and diglycerides are not. Number 2 are the labeling laws – if a product has less than 5 calories or less than 0.5g fat per serving , it can be listed as “0.” As an example, let’s say we have cooking spray X that is listed as having “0 calories” and “0 fat” per 1/3 second spray ( I’m not sure about you guys, but we don’t stop spraying at .33 seconds, nor can we operate a stop watch and spray at the same time, but that is our short coming). Further reading shows one of the first ingredients are mono and diglycerides aka oils, aka fats, that are magically fat free. Since we don’t live in a magical world where somehow fat has become fat free, let’s assume that one serving contains 5 calories of fat. That means one seconds worth of spraying has given us 15 calories and approximately 1.7 grams of fat. Let’s say you sprayed for 5 seconds. That would run you 75 calories and 8.3 grams of fat. That is, sadly, not as fat free as the nutrition panel suggests.

However, FoodFacts understands that if we are watching what we eat and we do our homework, then we have a better idea of what we are putting into our bodies. And bravo to us, since that is not always easy!

Serving sizes are about so much more than weight control

FoodFacts knows that for years consumers have been concerned with serving sizes as a way to control weight. If one serving from a package fits into someone’s caloric intake goals for the day, it can help make the decision to purchase a particular product.

But when you really look into a processed food product’s serving size, there are so many other issues besides calories to be concerned about. That’s especially true when we talk about “fun” foods. Those are the foods we usually limit in our diets because they aren’t incredibly good for us. We use them as treats … foods like ice cream, chips, cookies and cakes. FoodFacts sometimes wonders if the serving size information is a way to ease us into being comfortable with a food that might not be healthy for us.

Your average, nameless brand of peanut butter cup ice cream, for example, cites a serving size of half a cup. This weighs in at 150 calories, 10 g total fat (4 of which are saturated), 25 mg cholesterol, and 15 g carbohydrates. In order for this information to be correct, it would be necessary to physically measure out a half cup of ice cream in a measuring cup prior to consumption. In addition, it would require that you only have one serving of said ice cream. If you don’t stick to that one serving, you’ll be getting double the fat (20 g total). You might not even realize that while it’s happening.

Cookies are another of our favorite examples of the serving size dilemma. Chocolate chip cookies are probably the most popular cookies. Almost any brand of chocolate chip cookies carries a serving size of 3 cookies. Those three cookies carry a calorie count of 190, with 8 grams of fat (2.5 of which are saturated, but 0 g trans fat) and 22 g carbohydrates. If you didn’t read the ingredient list, you won’t realize that they’re made with partially hydrogenated oil. That one ingredient means that the product DOES, in fact, contain trans fat, but they can claim to be trans-fat free because there’s less than .5 g in a single serving. So, if you have 6 cookies, instead of three, you just consumed one gram of trans fat, no matter what the label said.

How about potato chips with an average serving size of 12 chips? When was the last time you ate exactly 12 potato chips? We couldn’t tell you if we had 12, or 24 or 36. It would probably depend on the desirability of the accompanying dip. And that could have elevated trans-fat consumption up to 2 grams. For that one food product.

When you realize that every food we consume has a suggested serving size and that the nutritional information listed is applicable to that serving size, you can see the opportunities we have all day long to turn foods that might not seem so bad into unhealthy items.

FoodFacts wants our community members to keep in mind how certain food items can appear innocuous on the food label, while in reality hold more serious implications for your healthy diet. It’s always about education. .5 grams of trans-fat might not make you uncomfortable. But 2 grams for two separate food items during a one day period might make you stop and think. So don’t just read the label. Understand how that food product fits into your day and your goals for diet and health.

What Fish Oil Does for Your Health

salmon

Foodfacts.com looks into the benefits of having Fish Oil in your diet. Found in fatty fish or supplements, fish oil can work wonders, from preventing inflammatory diseases to reducing the stroke risk in people with heart disease. There’s a good reason why the American Heart Association recommends that most people eat fish — particularly fatty fish — at least twice a week for heart health. Fatty fish has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that the body can’t make on its own.

Research has shown that fish oil offers many health benefits, but the strongest evidence points to fish oil benefits for heart health. Fish oil has been shown to:

Lower triglycerides — fats which are unhealthy in high levels (its role in high cholesterol, however, is unclear)
Cut the number of strokes in people with heart disease
Prevent heart disease
Slow the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques, also called hardening of the arteries
Slightly reduce blood pressure

More Fish Oil Benefits: Reducing Inflammation

Because most of the benefits of fish oil come from omega-3’s anti-inflammatory properties, says clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas, BS, CN, of Laguna Beach, Ca., fish oil may play a role in treating and preventing inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and osteoporosis.

“Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are especially fascinating to me because current [treatment] methods [for example, calcium supplementation] are not as promising as once expected,” Metsovas says.


More Fish Oil Benefits: What Else It May Do

While fish has long had a reputation as a brain food, recent studies have shown that fish oil may specifically help with:

Depression
Attention deficit disorder
Infant eye-brain development
Alzheimer’s disease
Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder
Other brain disorders
Some studies are investigating the role that fish oil may play in preventing weight loss caused by cancer drugs, reducing the growth of colon cancer cells, and lowering rejection rates for heart and kidney transplant patients. Still others are looking at fish oil to help with dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.

Fish Oil: Fish or Supplement?

Your body doesn’t make omega-3s. To get the amount you need, you have to eat foods that have omega-3s or take supplements. Besides fatty fish, omega-3s are found in some nut oils (English walnuts) and vegetable oils, such as canola, flaxseed and linseed, olive, and soybean. Fish oil has two essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while vegetable and nut sources contain the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Some studies suggest that the benefits of EPA and DHA are greater than those of ALA.

“Although I might get some flak from vegetarians and vegans, the best sources of omega-3s are animal-based,” Metsovas says. Food sources include omega-3 enriched egg yolks, fatty fish, krill oil, and grass-fed beef. She recommends 1 gram of fatty acids per day. A 3.5-ounce serving of fish has about that amount.

Like most nutritionists, Metsovas recommends eating fish rather than taking supplements. When that’s not possible, she says, look for high-quality fish oils that offer concentrated sources of omega-3s per capsule.

Check with your doctor before taking higher doses of fish oil — more than 3 grams a day. People on anti-clotting drugs should take extra care, as fish oil can cause excessive bleeding.

Fish Oil: Watch for the Mercury

A problem with eating fish is that it can contain high levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The solution may be to choose fish by its size.

Smaller fish, such as sardines, tend to accumulate fewer toxins because they are lower on the food chain. Avoid larger fish such as shark or swordfish because the bigger the fish, the more mercury it can have.

Also, shellfish, salmon, or catfish may be lower in mercury. If you’re thinking of eating fish from local lakes, rivers, or streams, first check if any advisories about mercury levels or contaminants have been issued.

You also need to be careful about false claims, Metsovas says, regarding the actual purity and freshness of fish oil supplements. Recent studies suggest that many fish oils are prone to oxidation within a few days of processing. She says you should purchase high-quality fish oil that has added antioxidants, such as vitamin E, or a mixture of different forms of vitamin E, called mixed tocopherols, to make the oil less prone to breaking down and becoming rancid. Metsovas also says there is no standard definition of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. Many companies will assign grades to their product to generate higher retail pricing.

Studies show fish oil has many good benefits, including promoting heart health and preventing inflammatory diseases. So eat fish often, and when you can’t, take fish oil supplements.

Woman Faces Jailtime for Creating Organic Garden

water-the-grass

At Foodfacts.com we like to share the latest news on everything food related. In recent years there has been a tremendous movement in promoting organic foods due to the fear of pesticides and other chemicals leaking into much of the available produce. Many people have taken their health into their own hands by starting their own organic gardens. Check out the story below describing one woman’s battle in creating her own organic garden.

A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden—in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn’t much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.
peach1
But Bass chose to take the unusual step of installing neatly arranged raised beds of vegetables in her front, rather than back, yard. Bass explained her unorthodox garden location (and showed off how neat and organized it is, for those curious) to a local TV station:
“We thought it’d be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” she said.

Front yard or back, it’s her property, and she’s allowed to do with it what she pleases, right? Wrong, say the local authorities, citing local codes that require front yards to have only “suitable” live plant material. City planners say that vegetables, for some reason, don’t qualify for the standard, even though they are certainly alive, and certainly are planted. To some, this sort of code enforcement makes the restrictions against drying clothes on a clothesline seem reasonable.
blueberries2
Bass was given a warning, then a ticket, and now she has been charged with a misdemeanor for violating the City of Oak Park’s planning code. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 26, and Bass is facing up to 93 days in jail.

For growing vegetables.

On her own property.

Bass isn’t giving in, however, and it looks like she has plenty of support on her side. A thread at Reddit with information on rallies and petitions to stop the prosecution has already generated 299 comments (and counting).

Bass does have a backyard, but she has no plans to uproot and replant her garden back there any time soon:
“They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained,” said Bass.

(Time Magazine)

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

Here at foodfacts.com, we like to keep our readers informed of all current and up-to-date information regarding health and food. Here is a recent news article discussing the 10 scariest food additives in some of the most popular food products most can find in their pantry.

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments of Eat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

Scary Ingredient #1: Olestrapringles
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it’s scary: In the late ’90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you’ll find it: Lay’s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.stove-top

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.sweet-n-low

Why it’s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats’ diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes.

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ‘N Low, TaB cola

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it’s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
.orbit

Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.sandwich

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn’t over. At Long John Silver’s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day.

Where you’ll find it: McDonald’s McChicken, Long John Silver’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth. fig-enwton

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people—especially asthma sufferers—experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won’t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner bagel

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns

Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.popsicle

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn’t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles

Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.4036996_orig

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary—a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com

7/6: National Fried Chicken Day! Read before you order!

chick-fil-a-logo2

Here at FoodFacts.com, we like to keep our followers up-to-date with current trends, research, and events. Today we share with you that July 6, 2011 is deemed National Fried Chicken Day. In fact, July 6th has celebrated this “holiday” for many years now. Although we aren’t so sure how it was originated, we do know that many people do choose to celebrate this day, especially with the immense patriotism still lurking from Independence Day.

We too would like to celebrate this holiday, but in a more health-conscious manner. You see, fried chicken can be very high in trans-fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Therefore, we would like to take the time to reveal some products you may want to learn more about, prior to indulging. Today we have decided to feature the very popular chicken-based franchise, Chick-Fil-A.

We’ll start off with the breakfast Chicken Biscuit. This sandwich provides about 51% of the daily value for sodium alone. With only a 5.1 oz serving, and 440 calories, 1,230mg of sodium is quite a lot, especially to start off the day! biscuit2Although this sandwich is high in protein with 17g, and also carries a decent amount of iron, this still cannot compensate for the 8g of saturated fat and variety of controversial ingredients. You may want to replace ordering this ingredient-packed sandwich with an item more nutrient-dense and filling, such as the yogurt parfait with granola. This may be a better option for a morning meal or snack.

Then there’s the Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe. The pros of this sandwich, it has a good amount of protein, vitamin C, and calcium, most likely from the tomato, lettuce, and single slice of cheese. However, this 570 calorie sandwich also contains 8g saturated fat, and 27g total fat. These amounts count for approximately 40-42% your daily value of saturated fat and total fat, which are undeniably very high numbers for one single sandwich. spicy_chicken_sandwich2We must also point out that this sandwich contains almost 100 different ingredients. Some of which include monosodium glutamate (MSG), high fructose corn syrup, a variety of coloring additives, and TBHQ, all controversial ingredients which we have thoroughly discussed in prior blog posts. To get your chicken “fix” without all the extra mess, you may want to instead try the char-grilled chicken garden salad, without dressing or on the side.

To find chicken and other recipes for today and the rest of the week, try the Foodfacts.com recipe page!

Artificial Sweeteners

sugar
Artificial Sweeteners

A major topic among Foodfacts.com readers and foodies alike are the amounts of artificial sweeteners in processed foods, and their possibly damaging properties. Diet sodas, juices, breakfast foods, and thousands of other products contain aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, or acesulfame potassium. These five artificial sweeteners have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as food additives.

However, heavy debates continue over some of these sweeteners as to whether or not they are truly safe. Despite their assistance in rising obesity numbers, increased cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and tooth decay; markets are still pushing these low-calorie additives to make huge profits. Below is a brief history of some of these controversial sugar substitutions. What do you think of these sweeteners??

Saccharin also known as “Sweet n’ Low”
Saccharin was unintentionally discovered in 1879 by Johns Hopkins University Scientists trying to concoct a miracle drug. What these scientists found was that this non-nutritive coal-tar derivative was approximately 300 times sweeter than that of sugar. Just a few short years later saccharin was being widely used as a food additive in most processed and canned foods.

In 1907, under the Pure Food and Drug Act, a top food safety agent for the USDA investigated saccharin as a possibly illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient. President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, opposed this idea and stated, “Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.” A few short days later, this top food safety agent opposing saccharin was released from his position with the USDA.

In 1970, saccharin was presented with a warning label after studies found that this non-nutritive sweetener was causing tumor-growth in bladders of rodents. However, these labels were lifted from saccharin in the early 2000s after scientists frantically justified that rodents may have different pH, calcium, and protein levels in their urine which may lead to bladder cancer with or without saccharin. In late 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency removed saccharin from their long list of hazardous substances, deeming it a safe product.

Aspartame also known as “NutraSweet/Equal”
Coincidentally, aspartame was also unintentionally discovered in 1965 when scientist, James Schlatter, was trying to discover a preventative ulcer drug. As Schlatter was mixing amino acids, asparatic acid and phenylalanine, he decided to taste the product. After realizing its immediate sweetness, he realized he may have struck gold with this accidental product. This was the day that aspartame was first discovered as the next low-calorie artificial sweetener.

Aspartame underwent several trials and tests before a pharmaceutical company, GD Searle & Co decided to manufacture the product. After the popularity of saccharin was slowly on the downfall due to lab results showing bladder cancer in rats, Schlatter and GD Searle decided to petition for FDA’s approval of aspartame, hoping to release their product into the sugar-crazed market.

The scientist and GD Searle included lab results within their petition, proving safety and validity of their product. Around 1974, the FDA approved aspartame as a food additive, but only for certain foods. However, after further speculation, the FDA later found deficiencies in GD Searle’s operations and practices, requiring aspartame to undergo more vigorous testing and clinical trials, before once again receiving approval.

For years now aspartame has gone through various clinical trials and lab testing to validate its safety for human consumption. A study was done by Olney in 1996 regarding the safety of aspartame. This study suggested that the introduction of aspartame into the United States consumer market in 1975, to 1992, was associated with an increased number of subjects diagnosed with brain tumors. This caused a major damper for manufacturers as people now feared what would occur if they continued to eat and drink products loaded with this sweetener. What was once deemed a “miracle sugar” quickly became a “cancer sugar.”

In 2006, the National Cancer Institute conducted a study with approximately half a million people to determine the mentioned link between cancer and aspartame. The study compared subjects that consumed beverages with aspartame, with subjects that did not. Results showed that increased levels of consumption of this sweetener had no positive association with any lymphomas, leukemia, or brain cancers in men and women. Aspartame is still approved by the FDA, and since 1996, is now allowed to be used in all foods.

Sucralose also known as “Splenda”
Sucralose was created in 1976 by a major British-based agribusiness, Tate & Lyle. One of their tests involved a chlorinated sugar compound. Scientist, Shashikant Phadnis, decided after creating the product to taste it, and discovered it was exceptionally sweet. It was immediately patent in 1976 by Tate & Lyle.

Sucralose (or Splenda) was first approved to be used as a food additive in Canada in 1991. Soon after, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the European Union followed. As of 2008, Splenda has been approved in over 80 countries. This product is deemed safe by a number of organizations including the FDA, Joint Food & Agriculture Organization, and Center for Science in the Public Interest. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the amount of sucralose that may be consumed over a person’s lifetime without any adverse effects is 9mg/kg/day.

The Food and Drug Administration has reviewed hundreds of clinical trials involving both animals and humans that show no harmful long-term results of the consumption of sucralose. However, adverse events reported by consumers include enlarged liver & kidneys, thymus shrinkage, nausea, vomiting, headache, and weight loss.

What are your thoughts on these sweeteners?

10 Misleading Food Labels

Misleading Food Labels | Foodfacts.com

Misleading Food Labels | Foodfacts.com

My Amazing Fact published a recent article emphasizing how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients? Continue reading

Are U.S. Foodmakers Trying to Pre-Empt FDA on Front Labels?

Foodfacts.com has learned that the two leading trade associations of mainstream American food and beverage manufacturers opened up a new front – literally – in the raging war over how they market their products to an obese nation this week. They have proposed an overhaul of how they place nutrition facts on the front of their packages. Continue reading