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Archive for January, 2011

Image: Andres Rueda via Flickr

Don’t think you need buy organic meat? Think again. The US FDA released an estimate on the amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States. The grand total is over 29 MILLION pounds in 2009!

2009 was the first year the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine required sales and distribution data of antimicrobial drugs approved for food-producing animals (cattle, poultry, swine) including:

“…(1) the amount of each antimicrobial active ingredient by container size, strength, and dosage form; (2) quantities distributed domestically and quantities exported; and (3) a listing of the target animals, indications, and production classes that are specified on the approved label of the product…”

- 2009 Summary Report, Food & Drug Adminstration

If we take cattle as an example, we know that they are meant to forage grass and digest it through their multi-chamber stomachs. Today’s commercially raised cows are fed a diet of corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, and likely never see a fresh blade of grass in their lifetime. They are eating a diet that they were not meant to eat and this has led to a situation
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Image: slave2thetea via Flickr

Remember the old Popeye cartoons? Popeye always ate his spinach when he needed super strength. The benefits of spinach are no cartoon story. This leafy star is often referred to as a “superfood” and has more demonstrated health benefits than almost any other food. It is amazingly high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making it a food you should be consuming regularly.

Spinach contains lutein, beta-carotene, glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, polyphenols, betaine, calcium and vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, & K to name a few.  Aside from all the individual nutrients, it is the combination and the way the nutrients work together that makes spinach so powerful. In studies, high spinach consumption has been shown to lower almost every type of cancer. Spinach is highly beneficial for eye health and prevention of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.  This heart-friendly vegetable is packed with carotenoids which help protect the artery walls.

Markets generally carry spinach year-round making it a perfect daily staple. There are three different varieties of spinach: Savoy (curly leaves), Semi-Savoy (slightly curly leaves), and Flat or Smooth Leaf (smooth leaves). One can purchase spinach fresh,
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will require nutritional labeling of raw meats and poultry beginning January 1, 2012. Here is an overview of the types of meats covered and exemptions:

Major cuts: This final rule requires nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products that are not ground or chopped, except for certain exemptions (see below). For these products, the final rule requires that nutrition information be provided on the label or at point-of-purchase, unless an exemption applies.

Ground or Chopped Products: This final rule requires that nutrition labels be provided for all ground or chopped products (livestock or poultry) and hamburger, with or without added seasonings, unless an exemption applies
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Late this evening, President Obama signed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (S.510 included in HR 2751 bill). This extremely controversial bill has been debated for almost a year. The new legislation focuses giving the FDA authority to prevent foodborne illnesses instead of just reacting to them. Opponents of the bill worry that the FDA already has too much power and has not demonstrated actions in the best interest of consumers. The bill comes with a sizeable price tag: $1.4 billion over 5 years. The cost alone was enough to cause an uproar, especially amongst conservatives.  Supporters of the bill point to the many recent foodborne illness attacks in recent years and the fact that the FDA’s food safety system has not seen major changes in over 70 years. Here is an overview of what we can expect:

Standards
The FDA will be required to develop new scientific standards for fruit and vegetable producers to use in their growing/harvesting and production. Meat and poultry are not covered under this legislation since it is regulated by the USDA.

Recalls
The bill gives the FDA authority to issue a mandatory recall. Currently, they can only recommend a recall and must
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This video from PBS features an interview with Erik Olson of the Pew Charitable Trust. Mr. Olson worked with Congress to shape the Food Safety legislation and answers many frequently asked questions about the bill. This is a great video to understand the basics of how the bill will change things and when changes will be implemented.

Source:
PBS.org

This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back regularly to see new ingredients.

Happy New Year! Today’s ingredient is an artificial coloring which has been linked to headaches, skin rashes, hives and hyperactivity in children. Skip the mint chip ice cream and go for vanilla next time!

Tartrazine

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Names: FD&C Yellow No.5, Y4, E102

Uses: Coloring

Found In: candy, soft drinks, cereal, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream, pudding, snack foods, energy drinks, flavored chips, jam, yogurt, pickles, dessert powders, custard

Description: This lemon yellow dye is derived from coal tar. It’s used for yellow, but can be mixed with other colors such as Brilliant Blue to create shades of green. The FDA requires that Yellow No. 5 be specifically identified on the ingredient line because some people are very sensitive to it. Due to several studies on children and hyperactivity, the European Union requires food containing this colorant to have a label which states: “may have an adverse effect on activity in children” (see full report for link). Also see Food, Drug & Cosmetic Colors (FD&C).

Possible Health Effects: Serious allergic reactions can occur in those with sensitivities to aspirin. Other effects include: asthma, hives, headache, skin…read more on Tartrazine.

Related Ingredient: FD&C Blue #1

Copyright August 8, 2010 Be Food Smart

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Be Food Smart was created to educate and inform the public about what’s really in the foods we eat every day. The site has a huge database of food additives, chemicals, food colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives and allows one to search for over 400 ingredient names. Our unique ingredient reports contain simple and easy to understand descriptions, alternate names, possible health effects, and allergy information. The site is completely free and is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and concerned consumers.