Tag Archives: Meat Labels

There may not be a “safe” level of sugar

FoodFacts.com has always been very concerned about added sugar in the American diet. We know that unless we do our best to avoid processed foods and sugary beverages, our diets will continue to contain far too much sugar. The majority of the sugar found in our diets isn’t coming from the sugar bowls on our tables; it’s coming from the food and beverage products we’re purchasing at our grocery stores and fast food restaurants. The unreasonable amount of sugar consumed in the U.S. has contributed to the obesity crisis as well as the sharp rise in diabetes and heart disease. Today we found more information about sugar consumption that we should all be aware of.

Consuming the equivalent of three cans of soda on a daily basis, or a 25% increased added-sugar intake, may decrease lifespan and reduce the rate of reproduction, according to a study of mice published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from the University of Utah conducted a toxicity experiment on 156 mice, of which 58 were male and 98 were female.

The experiment involved placing them in room-sized pens called “mouse barns” with a number of nest boxes. The researchers say this allowed the mice to move around naturally to find mates and explore the territories they wished.

The mice were fed a diet of a nutritious wheat-corn-soybean mix with vitamins and minerals. But one group of mice had 25% more sugar mixed with their food – half fructose and half glucose. Mice in a control group were fed corn starch in place of the added sugars. The National Research Council recommends that people should have no more than 25% of their daily calories from foods and beverages with added sugar.

This study in mice suggests that consuming the equivalent of three extra sodas a day could decrease your length of life. This is the equivalent of consuming three cans of sweetened soda a day alongside a healthy, no-added-sugar diet.

Results of this most recent research showed that after 32 weeks in the mouse barns, 35% of the female mice who were fed the added-sugar foods died, compared with 17% of female
The research also showed that male mice on the sugar diet produced 25% fewer offspring compared with the male mice in the control group.

However, the results reported no difference between the mice fed the healthy diet and those fed the added-sugar diet when looking at obesity, fasting insulin levels, fasting glucose levels and fasting triglyceride levels.

The study authors say of the findings:

“Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health. This demonstrates the adverse effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels.”

The researchers add that the strength of this study is built on how the mice were tested in a natural environment they are accustomed to, providing more accurate results.

Wayne Potts, professor of biology at the University of Utah and the study’s senior author, says:

“Mice happen to be an excellent mammal to model human dietary issues because they have been living on the same diet as we have ever since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago.”

FoodFacts.com finds this information especially important specifically because our population consumes so much processed food and beverages. It would be quite difficult for any consumer to keep conscious track of the amount of added sugars in their daily diet and would require notation of every product they consume – from their morning coffee or mocha or latte, instant flavored oatmeal for breakfast, granola bar snack, canned soup at lunch to the rice mix they’re preparing as a side dish for dinner. You get the idea. It’s not enough to be aware that processed foods contain added sugar. It’s important to avoid added sugar. And the best way to avoid added sugar is to prepare our own foods at home in our own kitchens. When we do, we can be confident of the amount of sugar in our diets, and avoid the serious health issues that can arise from the “sugar culture” we’re surrounded by in our grocery stores and fast food establishments.

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264788.php

A new strategy for nutritional awareness in children

FoodFacts.com knows that most of us find ourselves sounding just like our parents with our own children at the dinner table. “Eat your vegetables!” It’s the admonition most heard at dinner time, much to the chagrin of millions of children. We painstakingly prepare vegetables in manners we think will make them more palatable for kids, trying our hardest to get them used to the flavors we know are so important for their health and well-being.

So what’s the deal, anyway? Thinking back on it, we probably weren’t the best vegetable-eaters ourselves when we were children. Now we think they can be delicious components of meals, or even meals themselves! Perhaps our own nutritional awareness expanded (as well as our taste buds) as we grew older.

Now there’s new research that suggests that teaching children nutritional awareness may actually help them develop an appreciation for healthy foods earlier. Coming out of Stanford University and published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the research began by hypothesizing that preschoolers would be capable of understanding a more conceptual idea of nutrition.

Based on the idea that young children have a natural curiosity and desire to understand why and how things work, the researchers developed five storybooks that simplified various nutrition-related themes. These included dietary variety, digestion, food categories, microscopic nutrients and nutrients as fuel for biological functions.

The researchers assigned some preschool classrooms to read nutrition books during snack time for about 3 months, while other classrooms were assigned to conduct snack time as usual. Later, the preschoolers were asked questions about nutrition.

The children who had been read the nutrition books were more likely to understand that food had nutrients, and that different kinds of nutrients were important for various bodily functions (even functions that weren’t mentioned in the books). They were also more knowledgeable about digestive processes, understanding, for example, that the stomach breaks down food and blood carries nutrients.

These children also more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables during snack time after the three-month intervention, whereas the amount that the control group ate stayed about the same.

When the conceptual program was pitted against a more conventional teaching strategy focused on the enjoyment of healthy eating and trying new foods, the results showed that both interventions led to increased vegetable consumption. Yet, the children in the conceptual program showed more knowledge about nutrition and a greater overall increase in vegetable consumption.

Subsequent research is needed to confirm whether nutritional interventions like these can encourage healthy eating habits in children over the long-term, but the researchers are confident that these results show promise.

FoodFacts.com knows that our children are smart, small humans. They grow increasingly smarter over the generations. We also believe strongly that nutritional awareness is the key to our population’s successful adaptation to healthier lifestyle habits. Teaching our young children the concepts of healthy eating at their own level may have more beneficial effects than simply telling them to eat their vegetables at every meal. And we’ll be empowering them for making a lifetime of healthy eating choices!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701135600.htm

Meat labels get a make-over

While FoodFacts.com has been waiting patiently to announce a different kind of labeling news (for GMOs … which hasn’t quite happened yet), we’re excited to see that at least our meats here in the U.S. will soon carry more significant information for consumers.

Up until now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requirement for meat labels has been the statement of the animal’s country of origin. New rules set by the USDA will now require steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to list where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. So where previously, a product would read “Product of the U.S. and Canada”, it will not read “Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” These rules will apply to cuts of meat like steaks and roasts, not ground meats.

The USDA has required country of origin labels on seafood since 2005 and on meat and other products since 2009. The new rules for meat are meant to bring the U.S. in line with World Trade Organization standards after the organization determined the old labels discriminated against livestock imported from Canada and Mexico.

President Barack Obama’s administration had asked the meat industry in 2009 to voluntarily provide the additional information on labels. The new requirements come after the WTO’s appeals body in June upheld the organization’s earlier decision.

The meat industry and grocery stores have protested the changes. In addition to the new labeling being difficult and complicated to accomplish, it can also lead to higher prices. It is estimated that this change will cost the meat industry between $53 million and $192 million to complete. The National Grocers Association expects the change to cost grocery stores at least $100 million dollars in new signs, labels and machinery.

The rules have had support from other farmers’ organizations, along with consumer and environmental groups. Nearly 230 signed an April letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, including the National Farmers Union, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and Center for Food Safety.

The National Farmers Union issued a statement Thursday praising the Obama administration for “providing more information on the origins of our food, instead of simply watering down the process.”

“Consumers want and have the right to know where their food comes from,” it added.

FoodFacts.com agrees that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from. Any changes we can make in our food supply that create transparency for the population brings us closer to educated consumption. We can think of a few important next steps for regulation from the government … they would include labeling GMO ingredients in our food supply, as well as requiring a real ingredient list to replace the terms “artificial and natural flavors.” We hope the trend continues.

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268743/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=ipM6oD4P