Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

See an unfamiliar ingredient

Soup Can Ingredients

Search the Be Food Smart database

Keyboard

Enter food additive or ingredient name

Select and eat smarter food

Plate

Archive for April, 2011

New legislation is being considered in Europe with regards to the popular chemical sweetener, aspartame. The proposal would require warning labels on products containing aspartame stating that they may not be suitable for pregnant women. Specifically, the label would read: “Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine; might be unsuitable for pregnant women).”

The push to enact this labeling stems from two new aspartame studies. The first is a Danish study (Halldorsson et al., 2010) which examined the association between consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery. The study concluded that, “Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery…” The second, was an Italian study (Soffritti et al., 2010) which confirmed that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent in both male mice and rats (the same group conducted other rodent/aspartame studies in 2006 and 2007 both of which concluded that aspartame is a carcinogen). Despite the outcomes of these two new studies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and France’s Agency for Food Safety maintain aspartame is safe and that warning labels are not needed.

Why is it that most government policies basically say, prove to us that the additive is harmful, when it should instead be, prove to us that this additive is safe? Even if research is conducted proving an ingredient safe, new studies should be viewed as equally important in determining if an ingredient continues to be safe. Technology changes, new advances are made, larger and more extensive studies are conducted. I suppose I should be impressed that any arm of a government is supporting adding warning labels since we, here in the US, are nowhere near the European levels of consumer food protection. Instead, I find myself wondering how many more studies it will take before aspartame is treated like a harmful chemical not suited for human consumption.

Sources:

Food Navigator
European Food Safety Authority
BFS Aspartame Ingredient Report

Image: David Salafia via Flickr

I was always more of a ketchup gal when it came the condiment of choice. I don’t think I ever had ranch dressing until middle school when one of my friends insisted I dip my In N’ Out fries in the white goop. For some reason, it was the thing to do amongst my friends and this trend kept up through high school. Green onion and cheddar potato skins, cream-cheese filled jalapeno poppers, piles of crispy Walla Walla onion rings, crusty mushroom and black olive pizza; they just kind of call out for this creamy concoction, don’t they? I had my suspicions, but after visiting numerous websites, I’ve confirmed that ranch dressing is now and has been the most popular salad dressing in the United States for almost 20 years.

When you think of ranch dressing, what it the first picture that comes to mind? For many it is probably this extremely popular bottle pictured left: Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing.  According to the Hidden Valley website, here is how they describe their premier product:

Our Original Ranch® recipes are made with wholesome ingredients and the perfect blend of herbs and spices. Enjoy the farm fresh taste of Hidden Valley® in our ranch dressing mixes, dips and salad toppings.

Okay, now, let’s compare that lovely description with the actual ingredient list:
Continue reading…

This is the flowchart everyone needs to see.

Check out our new flowchart and in your comment, tell us what sweetener you ended up on. Click on the image below to see the full flowchart and to get the embed code to add it to your site.

Click above to see the full flowchart

.

Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution television series starts next week. Program your DVRs so you don’t miss it! If you watched his last series, you know how powerful his TV show can be and how it reaches millions of American homes. In this series he will be in Los Angeles, California. We are huge fans of Jamie and can’t wait to see his new show.

Series Premier – Tuesday, April 12 at 8pm (check your local listings) on ABC

Watch the sneak peek here:

Castoreum (that’s short for beaver anal gland by the way) makes an appearance on the David Letterman show when guest, Jamie Oliver, discusses food additives. We have a detailed ingredient report on Castoreum that you can read here. If you want to avoid this ingredient, it may be difficult. Castoreum doesn’t have to show on an ingredient list, it can simply say ‘Natural Flavor.’ Enjoy the video below.

Wondering which food products have been recalled lately? Do you have a serious food allergy and need allergy alerts? Do you want to see a picture of the item recalled along with UPC numbers? Need to check on a particular food? Check out this announcement from the FDA regarding their new (and much needed) food recall web page.

From the FDA:

On April 4, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new consumer-friendly Web search for use during recalls. Consumers will now be able to search for food and other product recalls easier and quicker on the FDA’s website. To provide greater ease of use for consumers, the search results will now provide data from news releases and other recall announcements in the form of a table. That table organizes information from news releases on recalls since 2009 by date, product brand name, product description, reason for the recall and the recalling firm. The table also provides a link to the news release on each recall for more detailed information. The news releases were chosen as the source of information for the table because they provide the most up-to-date and user friendly information about any recall.

Screenshot of the FDA Recall Website

.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in January by President Obama, called for a more consumer-friendly recall search engine within 90 days after the law went into effect. Per the requirements of the FSMA, for certain recalls the search results will also provide status information on whether the recall is completed or on-going. The status information will be provided for those recalls that FDA either ordered a mandatory recall or provided the opportunity for a voluntary recall under FDA’s FSMA authority.

Source:

US Food & Drug Administration Recall Website

This is an amazing video of Robyn O’Brien at the 2011 TEDxAustin. Everyone needs to watch this.

Robyn shares her personal story and how it inspired her current path as a “Real Food” evangelist. Grounded in a successful Wall Street career that was more interested in food as good business than good-for-you, this mother of four was shaken awake by the dangerous allergic reaction of one of her children to a “typical” breakfast. Her mission to unearth the cause revealed more about the food industry than she could stomach, and impelled her to share her findings with others. Informative and inspiring.

About Robyn:
Robyn authored “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.” A former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn brings insight, compassion and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on the health of our children. She founded allergykidsfoundation.org and was named by Forbes as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.” The New York Times has passionately described her as “Food’s Erin Brockovich.”

Visit Robyn’s website at: http://www.robynobrien.com/

Your purchase of Robyn O’Brien’s book, the Unhealthy Truth, will help support Be Food Smart.