Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Cheerios’ Cholesterol Claims Under Fire by FDA

May 19, 2009

Think Cheerios lowers your cholesterol? You’ve had good reason to think so. You’ve seen it on the Cheerios boxes, the commercials, the website (if you’ve looked), and apparently, you could have heard it blasted to you over your “supermarket public address systems.

Well, according to CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), the FDA has demanded “that General Mills halt its grossly exaggerated and misleading health claims for Cheerios cereal.

What are the claims?

  • Cheerios can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels by 4 percent in just 6 weeks
  • Cheerios can ward off heart disease and cancers of the colon and stomach

These are pretty serious claims and General Mills doesn’t provide any evidence to back them up (the actor on the commercial definitely doesn’t count).

According to CSPI, the FDA does support a general claim that “eating diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber-containing fruit, vegetable, and grain products may reduce the risk of heart disease. But the claims for Cheerios portrayed the mentioned diseases not included in the FDA-authorized claim and failed to mention the importance of eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” So General Mills ran with this just because Cheerios has some processed wheat in it.

This is a very strong move by the FDA, and if General Mills does not comply, Cheerios will be taken off the shelf and possibly taken to court. What products could be next? The CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade explains, “the FDA is signaling the entire food industry that the Bush era policy of lax enforcement has come to an end. The FDA should also stop misleading claims for so-called ‘whole grain’ products that are mostly made with white flour and foods claimed to be made with fruit when they only contain trivial amounts of juice.” That is probably half of most grocery stores!

If you were looking to lower your cholesterol with Cheerios, don’t fret. There are several alternative treatments that have been proven to do the trick, including garlic, artichoke, and good ole vitamin B3. Check About.com: Alternative Medicine for more.

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Gerber Sued for Misleading Marketing

January 4, 2009

This could be a big win for consumer rights and safety. A private citizen brought a lawsuit against The Gerber Products Company which was initially dismissed, but has now been reinstated by the US Court of Appeals. A product of Gerber, formerly called “Fruit Juice Snacks” depicts real fruit on the packaging when its key ingredients are corn syrup and refined sugar. Gerber has now changed the name to “Juice Treats”, which hasn’t really changed much since juice is still not a major ingredient.

The Court of Appeals sided with the private citizen and decided consumers should not be “expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box.”

The lawsuit will continue with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as counsel. Unfortunately in the meanwhile, the product will remain with baby and toddler food at the supermarket, instead of in the candy isle.

Gerber is definitely not the only offender of deceptive food product marketing, and hopefully a ruling against the company will help shape future marketing of unhealthy foods. If all is handled correctly, the candy isle will soon become half of the grocery store.

Pesticides Make Farmers Depressed. Literally.

October 18, 2008

Pesticides are poison. They are used to kill living creatures. In order to kill those living creatures, humans apply the pesticides. We also eat what’s left of them.

We’ve seen handlers of banana pesticide sterilized, a young couple who worked with pesticides give birth to a limbless child, and a pesticide singled out as a cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

The latest research found among a group of farmers that long term application coincided with a 50% higher chance of clinical depression. And these men were “80% more likely [to have depression] if they had applied a class of insecticide called organophosphates.”

What about for those of us who eat small doses of them everyday? Direct contact to the targeted lifeform causes death. Direct contact with humans who administer them causes major reproductive issues, birth defects, and depression. So what happens when you come in contact with a lower amount of pesticides daily by eating them?

Because of the widespread medical conditions that have resulted from high exposure to pesticides, one can only assume they must hurt consumers in varied and unpredictable ways as well. What about those nagging symptoms that won’t go away or a diagnosis that you can’t explain? Could pesticides and chemicals be contributing to or causing your problem? Even law firms are ready to back you up if your doctor won’t. Steigerwalt & Associates know “that as science developed more sophisticated pesticides they did not take in to account the long term affects of these chemicals on the environment and surrounding human populations. Some common side effects of pesticide poisoning include cancer, birth defects, and fertility problems.”

Choosing organic is the best option when it comes to avoiding chemicals in your food; this ensures the food has not been grown with chemical pesticides. The Environmental Working Group tested produce to see just how much was found on the food at the store and compiled a list for consumers to use when buying produce. This list can be used to choose which fruits and vegetables to choose when organic is not available, or which are safest and may not require the organic alternative.

It’s a tough time to live in when the price of a Happy Meal from McDonald’s is about the same price as one organic apple. It can seem like a hard choice to make when choosing between these options. It’s not as hard if you realize that you’re choosing between either saving money now or investing in your family’s health and future (and probably lowering your cost of future medical bills).

Bee Killing Pesticide Banned in 2 Countries, Still US Approved

September 12, 2008

For over 2 years, the science community and the general public have been baffled at the disappearance of honeybees. Several theories have been pondered; About.com: Insects suspects 10. Maybe they are all true, but one has been nailed down.

Germany and France have both been compelled to ban the pesticide clothianidin (commonly called Poncho). It is used deliberately to deter and kill insects that would interfere with food production, but it is now so strongly associated with the Colony Collapse Disorder, France and Germany have banned its use. Just as poisons are not programmed to act against specific lifeforms, but instead work on most (arsenic, anyone?), pesticides kill. Although used for specific purposes, their effects are far reaching.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that this pesticide is harmful to bees, it has not banned the pesticide. It also has not released results of studies it supposedly required the manufacturer of the chemical to submit when it approved the chemical for use by Bayer (yes, the makers of Aspirin) in the US in 2003. And for this violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing.

In a time when humans are supposedly experiencing a major food shortage (although it is more currently a food distribution problem), how are we to react when a government agency made to protect us is seemingly more interested in protecting a corporation’s profits?

In Germany, not only has the pesticide been banned, but an organization called Coalition Against Bayer Dangers actually gets to sue Bayer for marketing the dangerous pesticide. Looks like our EPA might not only get sued for not disclosing its information on the pesticide, but could also get sued for approving it.

Let’s hope this all leads to bringing some bees back. But pesticides have a history of sticking around long after their use..

Urgent Action Needed: FDA Might Pull B6

June 26, 2008

Please follow this link and urge the FDA not to pull vitamin B6. Add your comment. If you do not currently take the vitamin, consider this research to understand how beneficial this vitamin is, and how it should continue to be available over the counter to the countless Americans already supplementing with it :

It has been proven to help protect heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce contraceptive pill side effects, help correct anemia, control blood pressure, and many others. See this research and more here.

It is not just an important vitamin to increase health, but having a B6 deficiency can actually reverse health and cause nerve damage.

The pharmaceutical company medicure is petitioning the FDA to ban the vitamin so it can release its own drug made from it. The same thing happened with red yeast rice. According to NaturalNews.com:

Drug companies ripped off the lovastatin molecules from red yeast rice, then patented them. Once they achieved FDA approval for their “statin drugs,” it was easy to file a petition requesting the outlawing of red yeast rice, claiming the supplement was “adulterated” with drugs! Which drugs? Statin drugs, of course — the very same drugs that were isolated from red yeast rice in the first place!

What the FDA has done and might do in this case seems inherently flawed. They are trying to make a natural component of some foods only available by a prescription. They could still make their own higher potency vitamin B6 drug WITHOUT pulling lower potency products from the shelves, and because of the benefits, many Americans would choose to go to their doctors. But not all. That’s competition, and unfortunately because modern medicine has been slow to catch on to the benefits of natural health products, this is the consequence it must face.

Pharmaceuticals do still have a monopoly, and as a result, we pay the highest amounts for drugs in the world! And unfortunately it seems that the FDA would like to ensure the future of pharmaceutical companies more than the American citizens, many of which pay outrageous amounts for health care, and may rely on vitamins and minerals they can buy at their local stores. The FDA, who receives major funding from pharmaceutical companies, and the pharmaceutical companies themselves, need to suck it up and face this loss.

If this goes through, we might soon have to get all of our vitamins from doctors, as it will continue to carve out the precedent that any vitamin can be pulled if a pharmaceutical company wants to market it. And why wouldn’t they? Americans spend $7.5 billion a year on vitamins.

Add your comment to the FDA:
http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=090000648051908f

The Organic Advantage

February 21, 2008

A recent UK government report found that chickens raised in the widespread, non-organic fashion, have a 23.4% chance of being contaminated with salmonella, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning. The chance of an organic flock having salmonella? Only 4.4%.

What’s the difference between how the chickens are raised?

Organic chickens must have “access to outdoor ranges and pasture, with an emphasis on enabling the animals to express their natural behaviour.” Sounds pretty reasonable.

The non-organic chickens are mostly housed in cages which allow each individual bird the space of a standard sheet of paper. Yes, the 8 1/2 X 11 kind. These birds are also given antibiotics, which not only help to create superbugs and weaken the birds’ immune systems, but they potentially have the same effect on you when you eat the chicken or its eggs.

So, non-organic animals are likely to be raised under harsh conditions and administered antibiotics and hormones (the run-off of which create mutated fish), but what about non-organic fruits and vegetables?

Non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. So what? Well, studies are showing that more than 90% of children in the US “have detectable residues of at least one neurotoxic pesticide in their urine.” Something is called neurotoxic when it is poisonous to your brain and nervous system.

According to Dr. Mercola, pesticides also contribute to “disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.”

How can we avoid them? According to a study outlined in a 2003 Environmental Health Perspectives article, children “eating organic fruits and vegetables had six times lower levels of pesticide byproducts in their blood versus children eating conventional produce.

Anytime that pesticide is found on organic produce, it is either because pesticides have drifted from a nearby non-organic farm or the produce has been contaminated by “long-ago banned pesticides that linger in the environment.” So the effects of pesticide use are extremely long term!

Besides helping you to avoid dangerous pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, choosing organics also supplies you with more nutrients. Those organically raised chickens we just discussed lay eggs which, according to a Mother Earth News, contain:

1⁄3 less cholesterol
1⁄4 less saturated fat
2⁄3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

That’s a huge difference! And the non-organic produce has roughly 17% less nutrients than as its organic counterpart.

If organics are not in your area, you can use this list, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which shows how much pesticide is likely to be on a given fruit or vegetable, so you can choose those with the least contamination.

While it is better to eat fruits and vegetables with pesticides instead of processed foods, those who eat organically will have a healthy advantage.

Report Cards: McDonald’s New Marketing Platform

December 30, 2007

McDonald’s paid the $1,700 tab for Seminole County, Florida’s report card jackets “in exchange for a coupon, featuring Ronald McDonald, on the card’s cover.” With good grades and attendance, the coupon can be redeemed for a free Happy Meal.

This appears to violate the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which McDonald’s joined last year. Created by the Better Business Bureau, the initiative “provide(s) companies that advertise foods and beverages to children with a transparent and accountable advertising self-regulation mechanism.” Members are not allowed to advertise at schools and cannot place materials in editorial or entertainment content.

Did McDonald’s find a loophole? The report cards are sent straight to the home and may not be easily classifiable as editorial or entertainment. The first compliance review will be in three years. We might have to wait until then for the verdict.

The coupons put parents in a tough spot; a mother in the Seminole school district resented “‘being the bad guy’ that had to deny her daughter the meal.” The mother made the right decision; pairing rewards from doing well at school with unhealthy food is a dangerous combination. The child may only want to do well at school if this same reward is granted, a reward that probably jeopardizes her wellbeing in the long run. It is a safe assumption to believe that the unhealthier a child is, the worse he or she will do in school.

The type of food eaten makes a difference in school performance. A study shows that eating a breakfast with whole grains, like oatmeal, beats eating cold cereal or no breakfast at all. This is probably due to its high protein and fiber, and its gradual raise of glucose levels.

McDonald’s still bleaches all of its grains used, eliminating any nutrition present in its breads. Bleaching most bread creates a poison called alloxon, which has produced diabetes in lab animals, a pretty good sign it is not safe for humans.

McDonald’s has added “healthy” choices to its menu, but these choices are only deceptively healthy, and contain colors and preservatives that have been determined to be detrimental to a human’s health.

McDonald’s defended it’s happy meals, citing that a child could choose a low calorie Happy Meal of Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers, and low fat milk. The combination may be low calorie, but it contains MSG, food coloring, and sodium benzoate. Check McDonald’s ingredients. Most children would probably want the even unhealthier choices, anyway.

McDonald’s is not the only party to blame in this recent event. According to the OrlandoSentinel.com, school board officials call the report card promotions a “business partnership” rather than advertisements.

For schools to find these kinds of “partnerships” beneficial, there must be a lack of funds. If schools were properly paid for and funded, they would not be turning to corporations to print report card jackets.

For more information on the effect of marketing & advertising to children:
Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood
Common Sense Media: Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Preferences
ChildrenNow.org: Media & Obesity

Farm Workers Sterilized by Banana Pesticide

November 7, 2007

Farm workers in Nicaragua were poisoned and sterilized by dibromo chloropropane, a pesticide made by Dow Chemical for use on Dole banana plantations. On November 5th, a jury awarded them $3.3 million dollars.

This particular pesticide has been banned in both the U.S. and Nicaragua, but has had long term effects on those who were in daily contact with the poison. Dole was using the pesticide on its plantations in Nicaragua until 1993, so many people still have this pesticide in their bodies and may be experiencing health problems due to its consumption.

Other pesticides are in wide use in non-organic food, and bans on their use seem to only occur once the damage is widespread. Legal pesticides have been linked with Parkinson’s and premature birth.

The Environmental Working Group conducted a study to find out just how many pesticides were used on individual types of produce and ranked them according to their average number of pesticides. They found up to 11 pesticides on an individual piece of produce. Peaches and apples were found out to be the worst. View the report here.

It is not always possible to purchase organic fruit and vegetables, but this list makes it easier to choose produce based on which types are most likely to be the least harmful.