Tag Archives: nutrition facts

Tremendous oversight by Dairy Queen employees leads to panic and health concerns

iStock_000029610102SmallThis is a very unpleasant story … but one that needs to be told because fast food consumers should be aware of the possible health risks that can exist at any fast food location that have nothing to do with the fat, calories, salt, sugar or bad ingredients.

A pretty frightening incident occurred for a Colorado woman and her son when they ordered a vanilla shake from a Dairy Queen and instead got ice cream with some floor cleaner in it.

Lisa Chase said she ordered the shake at a Dairy Queen location in the town of Thornton and gave it to her son. It didn’t take long for the boy to start complaining that the treat felt like it was burning his tongue.

“Something was, like, bubbling on my tongue,” Riley Chase said, adding that the bubbling was accompanied with a burning sensation.

Apparently, the shake contained more than just ice cream. Along with the dairy and vanilla-flavored ingredients, the shake also contained floor cleaner and a degreasing concentrate.

“You couldn’t even taste the ice cream in it,” said Lisa Chase. “It tasted like you were drinking a very strong cleanser. Then, the burn started instantly.”

The cleaner that Riley ingested contains sodium hydroxide that can cause internal burns, vomiting and even shock.

While her son is already feeling better, following a trip to the hospital, Lisa Chase is worried that others may not have been so lucky.

“Now they admitted it’s two since I was there… now it’s up to three people. They need to be held accountable for what they’re doing,” she said.

The owner of the Dairy Queen franchise in Thornton said the incident was a terrible accident. Apparently, one employee was soaking the vanilla syrup container in the cleaner when another worker picked it up believing it was clean, and filled it with syrup.

The owner also said he has contacted the Health Department and poison control, and that both employees have been disciplined for failing to follow proper procedure.

When you think about this situation, it’s (sadly) easy to see how it could have happened. FoodFacts.com is, frankly, curious as to how we haven’t heard about something like this before. And while, it’s certainly not a possibility any of us might like to consider, it’s absolutely something for which fast food consumers should be on the alert. This is a mistake that is far too easy to make — especially with lines of consumers waiting for their orders and workers trying to keep up with them. So, if you aren’t making vanilla shakes in your blender with your own ice cream and milk, it’s important to be aware of this potentially deadly mistake that could so easily be repeated anywhere.

http://www.kutv.com/news/features/national/stories/vid_6698.shtml

Consumer voices heard by WhiteWave: Horizon and Silk products losing the carrageenan

iStock_000003462088SmallOne of the most common questions we get here at FoodFacts.com has to do with the controversial ingredient carrageenan. The questions take on a variety of forms, but the basic idea is “What’s wrong with carrageenan, it’s just seaweed, right?” The quick answer is “Nope, wrong.” Carrageenan isn’t seaweed. It’s derived from seaweed and therefore considered a “natural” ingredient. Carrageenan is extracted from the seaweed with an alkaline solution like potassium hydroxide (used to manufacture soaps, batteries and cuticle remover solutions, as well as in the refining of petroleum and natural gas). In short, chemicals are used to produce Carrageenan.

Carrageenan, used as a thickener and emulsifier in foods and beverages, will be phased out from Horizon and Silk products over time, said Sara Loveday, a company spokeswoman.

The ingredient has been the subject of criticism in some circles, with natural-food advocates pointing to animal studies that suggest it causes gastrointestinal inflammation and other problems.

Loveday says WhiteWave still thinks carrageenan is safe, but decided to remove it because customer feedback has been so strong.

“When you get to a certain point of how vocal and strongly a consumer feels about it, we felt it was time to make a change,” she said.

It’s just the latest example of a food maker removing an ingredient customers found objectionable. Regardless of whether an ingredient is safe, companies are finding themselves under growing pressure from customer sensitivities about ingredients, especially given their ability to mobilize on social media sites.

WhiteWave, based in Broomfield, Colorado, did not immediately detail when the ingredient would be phased out of various products. But in a communication with Hari that was shared with The Associated Press, the company said carrageenan will be removed from Horizon flavored milked in the first quarter of next year. It will be removed from all other Horizon items such as eggnog, low-fat cottage cheese and heavy whipping cream, by the second quarter of 2015, the statement said.

The ingredient will be removed from its top five Silk Soy and Coconut drinks by the second quarter of 2015 and other Silk products in 2016.

FoodFacts.com is thrilled with this great news! Carrageenan is an ingredient that confuses so many consumers because it is considered natural, no matter how it is produced. It’s great to see a major manufacturer listening to consumer voices and removing it from their popular products. Consumer voices count. There’s more and more proof of that every day. We know that the consumers who are speaking their minds about carrageenan will express their approval for this move by WhiteWave with increased loyalty for their favorite products. And we know that WhiteWave will set the tone for other manufacturers to step up to the plate and follow suit.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/whitewave-remove-ingredient-horizon-silk-25042264

The most important meal of the day may not be as important as we think

222979_10150199008818407_4160974_nWe all heard it when we were kids. And our kids still hear it now. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We also heard, “You can’t be at your best without eating breakfast” and, “Breakfast fuels your morning.” Any combination of those statements has been emphasizing to us all that our day can’t possibly begin without sitting down to a good, healthy breakfast.

But that’s actually been debated for years. Adding to the ongoing debate about what makes for good food habits is another new study refuting the long-held notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s certainly not the first study to suggest this, but just one in a chain that has suggested that breakfast may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Earlier this year, another team had reported that when overweight and obese participants were asked to skip or eat breakfast, both groups lost the same amount of weight. Now, the new research, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that normal weight breakfast eaters also aren’t necessarily any better off than breakfast skippers, at least metabolically speaking.

The study, conducted at the University of Bath, had 33 normal weight men and women either eat a breakfast (of at least 700 calories) before 11 a.m. or skip it all together. They recorded various metabolic markers – resting metabolic rate, cholesterol, and blood glucose – over a period of six weeks to see if there were any measurable differences between the two groups.

And there really weren’t any big ones. The only discernible difference was that breakfast skippers ate fewer total calories over the course of the day, which counters the image of the breakfast skipper binging later on to make up for the loss. The downside was that they did burn fewer calories over the course of a day. Meanwhile, breakfast eaters were more active in the morning, but this mainly offset the extra calories they’d consumed for breakfast.

In terms of metabolic profiles, the two groups looked pretty close. The breakfast group, especially at the end of the six weeks, did have slightly more stable blood sugar levels over the course of a day than breakfast skippers.

“I almost never have breakfast,” study author James Betts told The Times. “That was part of my motivation for conducting this research, as everybody was always telling me off and saying I should know better.” He added that he doesn’t have plans to change his routine.

Other studies have suggested that skipping breakfast is linked to considerably poorer cardiovascular health: One large study last year, which followed nearly 27,000 men over a period of 16 years, showed that skipping breakfast was linked to a 27% increased risk of coronary heart disease. The authors said this is likely due to the connections between extended fasting and blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

It’s worth mentioning that the current study was very small and short-term, and it will need to be repeated with more people and over a longer period of time. It may be that the effects of breakfast-skipping add up over time, and the results only evident after several years.

The bottom line is still that you should do what feels right. If you wake up famished and can’t make it more than an hour without feeling woozy, you should probably eat breakfast. But if you don’t even think about eating till midday, then you’re probably fine to skip it. There’s so much individual variation in nutrition and metabolism that the idea that eating breakfast is either a good thing or a bad thing is getting pretty hard to swallow.

It’s possible that some of the old food cliches that have become standard beliefs over generations may not be as true as we once thought. There are still a few, though, that FoodFacts.com believes might still be worth repeating to future generations. “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” “You are what you eat.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And while breakfast might eventually prove to NOT be the most important meal of the day, we do think there’s still something to be said for it. A healthy meal in the morning just might set the tone for the rest of the choices we make during the day.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/08/23/why-breakfast-may-not-be-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day/

11 hours of “pay it forward” at Florida Starbucks

Starbucks Coffee on Coffee BeansIt really feels like there isn’t any good news to be found recently. The news has been bleak here in the U.S. and around the world. With very little escape from disease, corruption and violence, FoodFacts.com thought it might be refreshing to focus our blog post on an ongoing string of kindness that actually lasted for 11 hours at a Florida Starbucks. It’s a much-deserved pick-me-up for us all!

A woman drove up and paid for her own iced coffee at 7 a.m. Wednesday at a St. Petersburg store, and also asked to pay for a caramel macchiato for the driver behind her, who then did the same for the next customer.

After a few people continued the chain, the employees started keeping a tally on a piece of paper by the window.

By 1:30 p.m., 260 people had paid it forward, according to the Tampa Bay Times, ordering their own drinks and paying for one for the stranger behind them. After people ordered their drinks and drove up to the window, barista Vu Nguyen explained that the drink had already been paid for and asked if they’d like to return the favor. In total, 378 people agreed to keep it going.
The baristas thought that if the chain lasted until closing, at 10 p.m., they would put the remaining money on a gift card and continue the next day, according to theTampa Bay Times. But the chain finally ended in that evening.

At 6 p.m., the 379th customer ended the chain by ordering a coffee and declining to pay for the next one.

Nguyen says he doesn’t believe that final customer understood the pay-it-forward concept.

While it would have been great if the “pay it forward” chain had continued, we do think that an 11-hour streak was impressive and exceptionally commendable. It’s great to see humanity emanating from the population … and to observe how one simple act of kindness can propel another, and another, and another.

It’s a great idea. We should all try to step up to allow a chain of kindness to begin in our own community. A nice antidote to the current onslaught of unpleasant news, as well as an important reminder that a simple act of kindness can go an awfully long way.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/08/21/378-people-pay-it-forward-at-fla-starbucks/14380109/

A new take on eating healthy combines vice and virtue to achieve goals

iStock_000023805834SmallIf consistent healthy eating proves to be a challenge, there seems to be a possibility that total dedication may not be as effective in achieving a healthy lifestyle as you think.

Variety may trump virtue when it comes to the struggle to eat healthy, says a Vanderbilt marketing professor who studies consumer self-control and endorses “vice-virtue bundles” combining nutritious and not-so-nutritious foods.

“We suggest a simple … solution that can help consumers who would otherwise choose vice over virtue to simultaneously increase consumption of healthy foods (virtues) and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (vices) while still fulfilling taste goals — ‘vice-virtue bundles,’” Kelly L. Haws, associate professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, said.

The idea is to not give up entirely foods that provide pleasure but aren’t nutritious. Instead, the focus should be on lowering the portion of the “vice” foods and correspondingly raising the portion of a healthy food to replace it.

In a series of experiments, Haws and her colleagues found that people have a “taste-health balance point” — a proportion of vice and virtuous foods that make up one serving — which they find satisfactory. For most, the perfect vice-virtue bundle is made up of a small (1/4) to medium (1/2) portion of vice. So if a vice-virtue bundle was made up of fries and slices of apple, it might take a small or very small serving of fries to satiate the need for the vice food.

Haws is among five researchers who lay out their findings in “Vice-Virtue Bundles,” a paper under review for publication.

Vice-virtue bundles could also be the answer for many in the food service industry who are actively seeking out healthy food options that consumers will voluntarily choose, Haws said.

“Given that consumers consistently find vice-virtue bundles to be attractive, managers should consider adding vice-virtue bundles to their product lines,” Haws said.

“For restaurants and food vendors that already offer pure vice and virtue options, vice — virtue bundles provide an opportunity for product line expansion through existing items rather than through development of completely new offerings.

“This provides a potential opportunity for cost-savings, as many food establishments devote considerable resources to developing new product offerings, which can in turn increase inventory or production costs.”

This round of research did not mix in any pricing or marketing components, but the researchers say it would be easy for restaurants to pursue such experiments on their own.

“With the right marketing and the right choice sets, we believe that vice-virtue bundles offer exciting directions for future research and practice aimed at maximizing health without compromising tastes,” the researchers concluded.

Haws’ research interests are related to consumer behavior, with a focus on issues relevant to consumer welfare, specifically with respect to food/health and financial decision making. Her interests include consumer self-control, strategies for improving food consumption and behavioral pricing.

So what would you like to find in your vice-virtue bundle? FoodFacts.com can think of a few ideas. How about a good-sized serving of your favorite vegetable with a very small side of fries? A serving of roasted chicken with a very small serving of mac and cheese? Baked salmon with just a spoonful of scalloped potatoes?

While the information is an interesting possibility, there are more of a few of us that agree that just a little taste of that mac and cheese paired with a regular serving of baked chicken just might make us crave a little more of the mac and cheese. Maybe it’s just us …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811180253.htm

The early demise of Burger King’s Satisfries

iStock_000016208114SmallSeems like we only just blogged about the introduction of Burger King’s lower-calorie Satisfries. Less than a year later, we’re blogging about the end of the chain’s healthier option for french fry lovers.

This is a blow to the fast-food chain, which has struggled to keep up with its direct rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s while also dealing with customers fleeing for brands like Chipotle and Panera, which are marketed as healthier options. Satisfries were supposed to make burger fans feel better about their fast-food meal.

Satisfries are made with a special batter that absorbs less oil, causing them to have 20% fewer calories than regular Burger King fries. A small serving of Satisfries contains 270 calories and 11 grams of fat, while the conventional version has 340 calories and 15 grams of fat.

Price may have been one factor in why customers largely rejected the lower-calorie option. A small order of the lower-calorie fries typically costs about $1.89, compared to $1.59 for a bag of its regular fries.

Earlier this week, Burger King’s 7,500 North American eateries were given the option of continuing to offer Satisfries. Owners of only 2,500 restaurants decided to do so.

“The remaining restaurants will treat the product as a limited-time menu offering and have begun phasing it out after this unprecedented run,” Burger King North America President Alex Macedo said in a statement.

The company maintains that it always planned to allow customer demand to decide the fate of the product.

Essentially, Satisfries are dead at 5,000 Burger Kings and on life support at 2,500 others. The product was launched to cater to what seemed like a specific consumer demand — healthier products — but ultimately it seems people who eat fries are not going to change their habits to save a few calories.

FoodFacts.com has to wonder whether it’s possible for any fast food chain to successfully introduce a menu item that can be perceived as a healthier option. An honest look at Satisfries tells us that while there is a savings in fat and calories, the difference may not be big enough to convince educated consumers that these fries could actually be deemed healthier.

Burger King did make an effort, though. And for that, they should be commended.

We’d love to see those efforts continue. Maybe they could begin with offering a burger with a lower fat content. That might make a real difference to consumers. Just a thought.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/15/why-did-customers-reject-burger-kings-satisfries.aspx

Food manufacturers quietly making the move away from GMO ingredients

GMO signWhile many states are attempting to adopt initiatives like the Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling legislation, it appears that many food manufacturers are quietly attempting to make changes to their ingredients to meet consumer demands.

There have been other companies that haven’t been quiet about their non-GMO intentions. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream publicly pledged to remove GMO ingredients from their products over a year ago and has worked hard to keep that pledge.

In fact, in the face of complaints from some of their customers, the much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch has been reworked to become Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch. That flavor reformulation was a direct result of the company’s very public pledge. Heath Bars, manufactured by Hershey, DO contain GMO ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s couldn’t leave the Heath Bars in the ice cream if they were going to remove all GMO ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed law will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont’s crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law.
The news that Ben & Jerry’s is taking a stand on a controversial issue is no surprise; it’s part of the company’s calling card. But some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies.

General Mills’ original plain Cheerios are now GMO-free, but the only announcement was in a company blog post in January. And you won’t see any label on the box highlighting the change. Grape Nuts, another cereal aisle staple, made by Post, is also non-GMO. And Target has about 80 of its own brand items certified GMO-free.

Megan Westgate runs the Non-GMO Project, which acts as an independent third-party verifier of GMO-free products, including Target’s. She says her organization knows about “a lot of exciting cool things that are happening that for whatever strategic reasons get kept pretty quiet.”

The Non-GMO Project has certified more than 20,000 products since it launched in 2007, and Westgate says this is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural food industry, representing $6 billion in annual sales. But just because they’re testing the water doesn’t mean most mainstream companies are ready to start publicizing their changes.

Nathan Hendricks, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, says big food producers are trying to gauge what direction consumers are headed in. “Ultimately,” he says, “these big companies aren’t just friends with Monsanto or something. They want to make a profit, and they want to be able to do what’s going to make them money.” So they’d better have a product line in the works if consumer sentiment starts to shift more heavily toward GMO-free food.

But even as they create GMO-free products, many of these corporations are fighting state initiatives that would require them to give consumers more information about their ingredients.

They often fight those battles through the powerful Grocery Manufacturers Association, or GMA, a trade group with hundreds of members. It has just filed suit against Vermont over the state’s GMO labeling law.

Even Ben & Jerry’s, so vocal in its anti-GMO stance, has a conflict, of sorts. It may have eliminated GMOs, but it’s still owned by Unilever, which put a lot of money toward fighting labeling legislation in California and belongs to the GMA. That might make things sticky for Ben & Jerry’s CEO Solheim.

But he equivocates. “You know,” he shrugs, “in big companies a lot of things happen behind closed doors. I think we’ll leave that conversation behind closed doors.” But Solheim says a unique agreement between the ice cream maker and Unilever allows Ben & Jerry’s to continue its social mission independent of its parent’s choices.

One reason these large companies might be quietly working to make GMO-free food now is because finding ingredients can be a major challenge. More than 90 percent of all the soybeans and corn grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Most of those GMO crops go to producers of eggs, milk and meat who feed their animals with them, but GMO soy oil and cornstarch are used in a lot of food manufacturing, too.

To ensure non-GMO ingredients, the supply chain has to remain separate and pristine. Crops need to be grown far enough away from genetically engineered seeds to prevent cross-contamination. Harvesting equipment needs to be either used only for non-GMO crops or cleaned extensively before switching. The same is true for processing and manufacturing facilities and transport receptacles like shipping containers.

That’s why Westgate says a natural foods brand like Kashi, owned by Kellogg’s, is transitioning more slowly than many fans would like. She points out that Kashi told consumers it would take a couple of years to switch over all of its ingredients. It’s a matter of changing contracts with growers, finding farmland where non-GMOs can be grown successfully, and reworking recipes so the flavors that customers have grown used to aren’t drastically changed, like what has happened with Ben & Jerry’s new toffee.
Right now, non-GMO food fetches a premium. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says that premium is likely to come down if this part of the agricultural sector gains more traction and an efficiency of scale can kick in.

Ultimately, the consumer is king. And the question of whether or not consumers will want non-GMO products is still up in the air.

Not every company is Ben & Jerry’s. Their agreement with Unilever is the exception and not the rule in food manufacturing. We do get that. And we do understand that the removal of GMO ingredients from product lines is expensive and complicated. It’s a long process and one that isn’t easy for food manufacturers to undertake. FoodFacts.com is pleased to learn that there are mainstream manufacturers taking the necessary steps towards the removal of GMO ingredients even though they aren’t making announcements. Is the “consumer king” though? While it is true that consumer voices are motivating changes in food manufacturing, we have to believe that if all of us matter so much to food companies, many of the problems inherent in our food supply probably wouldn’t exist in the first place.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/22/333725880/some-food-producers-are-quietly-dumping-gmo-ingredients

When it comes to salt, too little may be just as bad as too much

iStock_000014891232SmallWe know that high levels of sodium in our food supply are a serious problem. As also know that most of the sodium we consume daily isn’t coming from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead sodium resides in the myriad of processed foods residing on our grocery store shelves. High salt intake is in the news often with reports of a variety of health problems that can result from a high-sodium diet. But now, it appears that too little daily sodium might be bad for us too.

If the body takes in too much salt, there is a higher risk of hypertension, kidney problems, heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. In a study focused on the effects of salt on blood pressure, nutritionists found out that those with moderate salt intake did not benefit from lessening their salt consumption as much as those who have high salt intake did.

In another study that focused on heart disease and death, researchers concluded that those with extremely low salt diets are not necessarily healthier. In fact, they said that extremely low salt intake can lead to health hazards.

A third study, however, said that there is a connection between less salt intake and better health.

All three studies were published on the August 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended that a person consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, TIME reports. To have an idea, a teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.

One of the things that all three studies have in common is that they all confirm that too much salt is indeed bad for the body.

New York Daily News reports that the average daily consumption of salt worldwide is about 7.5 to 15.0 grams, which translates to three to six grams of sodium. The number is well above the limit of 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium that is recommended by different organizations.

Dr. Andrew Mente of the McMaster University in Ontario and the chief author of the blood pressure study said:

“If people are eating a very high level of sodium and they reduce their intake, you get a large reduction in blood pressure. But if you’re eating moderate level of sodium—about what most North Americans eat—and you reduce it to a lower level, you’re not really getting much in return as far as blood pressure reduction is concerned.”

With the debate on salt still ongoing, one thing is for sure. The average salt intake worldwide is more than the recommended amount, and it should be changed. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Politcy at Tufts University said:

“The big picture is that high sodium is bad and should be reversed, and there’s just some controversy over how low you should go. Whether it should be 2 grams or 1.5 grams or 2.5 grams per day, that’s all theory. Right now it’s close to 4 grams per day. Let’s get it down below 3, and the we can argue how low it should go. But right now it’s clearly way too high.”

FoodFacts.com understands that the debate over the “perfect” amount of sodium we should consume daily may not yet be agreed upon by the experts. And while we understand the importance of that debate – especially in light of these new studies – we strongly believe and advocate for the preparation of fresh, whole foods at home in our own kitchens. The less we rely on processed products, the easier it will be for all of us to achieve a perfect balance of sodium in our daily diets.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1416601/salt-debate-too-little-salt-is-bad-too/#rQYF8IxstfDLzbU4.99

Misleading trans fat claims make news as Quaker settles labeling law suit

iStock_000041289832SmallWhen it comes to trans fat, FoodFacts.com has always been amazed that manufacturers are able to label foods containing less than .5 grams per serving as “trans fat free.” The labeling is false, it’s purposely misleading and it relies on the idea that consumers don’t understand ingredients. What manufacturers forget, though, is that there actually are educated consumers out there who understand that partially hydrogenated oils in an ingredient list indicate the presence of trans fat in a product. And some of them are willing to do something about misleading product claims.

The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.

Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.

Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.

Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.

So even though Quaker is still standing by its product statements, they’ve agreed to remove trans fat from the products named in the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with the products, seemingly, just that pesky lawsuit.

We don’t really think that’s it. Instead, we think that it makes more sense for Quaker to settle out of court so that the company can stand by its claims and its products while making some quiet changes than to let this go to court where millions of other consumers may develop a clear understanding of what’s really in their products.

This is a victory for consumers, undoubtedly. At the same time, we’d really rather that the strange rule about claiming 0 grams of trans fat when products really do contain it would disappear.

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/08/Quaker_settles_trans_fat_label.aspx?ID=%7B84BC2EC0-2C7E-45A4-9A3A-F87392B80CBB%7D

Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Under Federal Consideration

Three Soda BottlesWe followed the fate of the proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban in New York City and watched as it was defeated. Former Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to curtail the sweet tooth of millions of New Yorkers was met with everything from applause to extreme criticism. A pizzeria in Manhattan actually refused to serve the former mayor a second slice of pizza, telling him that if he wanted to force New Yorkers to count their calories and reduce their sugar intake, the pizzeria could also control his. While that made for some memorable headlines, there are many who still believe that the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban (which applied only to drinks over 16 ounces) was a healthy move for New Yorkers. In that spirit, the federal government is moving towards its own version of health-oriented legislation.

For the first time since 2009, legislation proposing a national tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is under consideration in the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act — or SWEET Act — last week.

The bill would levy an excise tax on sugar content in beverages. Under the SWEET Act, manufacturers would pay a tax of one cent per teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener added to most beverages. For point of reference, a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tax works out to just under a penny-per-ounce of beverage. Drinks such as milk, infant formula, alcoholic beverages and many juices are excluded.

But because the tax is based on amount of sugar and not on ounces of beverage, the federal approach is “a built-in incentive for manufacturers to diminish the concentration of sugar,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with Oakland’s Public Health Institute. Silver and other PHI staff gave input to DeLauro’s staff in formulating the bill and also has been part of the Berkeley coalition that helped draft the measure there.

She said the national approach is different from local efforts, because a graduated tax is “more complicated” to implement at the local level. “It makes more sense at the federal level which has the resources to track down all the beverages and figure out how much they should be taxed,” Silver said. “But for smaller communities, that would be challenging.”
One of the first questions that reasonably pops into people’s minds when they hear about such a bill is what is the possibility of it passing? Silver countered that question with a question: “How many times did health care reform get introduced? Lots. Almost a hundred years before it actually passed — and it passed in pieces, with Medicare and Medicaid each being created separately.”

Silver said she expected “many attempts and incremental efforts to really make change.”

Mexico passed a similar soda tax to the one proposed — a peso per ounce, or about 10 percent — which took effect in January. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promptly dropped 5 to 7 percent. At the same time, consumption of diet sodas and bottled water are up.

“I think the first lesson of the Mexican soda tax,” said Silver, “is that it’s working as expected.” People are cutting back on sugary beverages and increasing consumption of more healthy alternatives.

If the SWEET Act passes, the money would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to any public health programs the money might fund, a tax is estimated to have modest effects on health, because of reduced consumption of sugar.

A U.C. San Francisco study found that a national penny-per-ounce tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. Researchers said that reduction would lead to modest weight loss and reductions in diabetes. Over 10 years, researchers estimated there would be 26,000 fewer premature deaths, 95,000 fewer instances of heart disease and 8,000 fewer strokes.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax. A statement on its website is titled, “Taxes Do Not Make People Healthy.”

FoodFacts.com can agree with that general statement. But we’d follow it up with “Taxes can motivate people to consume healthier beverages.”

We all know that as soon as manufacturers are being charged for sugar by the teaspoon in their sodas, iced teas, and some of their juice drinks, they will immediately pass those costs off to their consumers with higher prices. We feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that once prices go up, consumption will go down. Seems like a pretty good reason for those same manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their beverages.

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/07/30/national-soda-tax-bill-introduced-in-washington/