If you had trouble pronouncing the last word in the title of this article, you are not alone. It’s quite the tongue twister. In fact, it sounds like the name of an industrial chemical used in the plastics and rubber industry. Oh wait, it is. So why do I care about it? Because the same chemical is also used in the baking industry for things like hamburger buns and bread.
Commercial bakeries use azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour, making it whiter. In addition, this additive changes the structure of the dough, strengthening it and adding elasticity. Apparently, these are desired traits for Big Food companies like Subway, Sara Lee, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Starbucks. This issue with this chemical is whether or not it’s actually safe to consume. The US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) classifies this additive as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and allows it in baked goods and flour up to the limit of 45 part per million. Sounds like a miniscule amount; but then again, if this additive might cause respiratory issues and possibly even be a carcinogen, should there really be ANY of it in my food? The European Union, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand all think this food additive is not worth the risk and have banned it’s use as a bleaching agent.
Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe, did a little investigation and found that Subway uses the additive in at least eight of their popular sandwich breads including: 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian White, Italian Herbs & Cheese, Parmesan/Oregano, Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and Monterrey Cheddar. It is interesting to note that Subway does NOT use this additive in their restaurants overseas because they can’t (because they’re banned!). This really got under the Food Babe’s skin, but what really pushed her over the edge was when the First Lady, the American Heart Association and several Olympic athletes began touting Subway as “fresh” and “nutritious” meals. After repeated requests for a response, she decided to launch a full-scale petition to get Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
We give kudos to the Food Babe for launching this campaign and for pointing out the hypocrisy of Subway having two versions of the same breads (the crappy one from all us Americans and the “clean” version for those abroad). Click here to sign the petition and ask Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
The dairy industry is in the process of making an attempt that may or may not surprise you: asking that the “artificially sweetened” label be dropped from dairy products when they contain sweeteners such as aspartame. In this day and age, it seems as though companies and industries are becoming sneakier and sneakier with the ingredients placed in their products. However, if this specific measure is approved by the FDA, serious implications could occur.
Today, I will walk into an auditorium. I’ll be greeted by several senior-aged volunteers who proudly manage my polling place. They’ll hand me my ballot and direct me to that plastic booth where I’ll fill in the bubbles and cast my vote. As an American and a Californian, I consider voting my right and my duty. When I make my mark for Senator, School Board Member and the President of the United States I am sending a message and making a choice. Yes, the system is flawed. Yes, I wish politics wasn’t so slimy and smeary. But at least I can be part of the process.
I am extremely nervous for tomorrow. As a proud Californian, I will be waiting with fingers and toes crossed to see what happens with Prop 37. Will California once again be the progressive leader for the nation? Will we be the first state to require mandatory labeling of GMOs? I hope we’ve done enough to pass this historical law.
If you haven’t already done so, vote. Unless you’re in a swing state, I understand the “my vote doesn’t count” mantra that many of us deal with when talking about the presidential race. But when it comes to the propositions and local leadership, my vote and your vote absolutely does count.
Join me today. Let’s make history and hopefully, I’ll be celebrating Prop 37′s victory with a glass of local Syrah this evening.
PS. In the off chance you are still undecided about Prop 37, please visit www.CARightToKnow.org.
Newsflash: Corn sugar will not be the new name for high fructose corn syrup.
Back in 2010, the Corn Refiners Association (“CRA”) filed a petition with the FDA asking them for permission to use the term “corn sugar” as an alternate common name for high fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”). After 20 months of waiting, the FDA finally responded and surprisingly, they gave the CRA a big fat no.
Today is a historic day. The Just Label It (JLI) Campaign announced this morning that a record-breaking one million Americans of all political persuasions have called on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.
The campaign also announced a new national survey revealing that Americans across the political spectrum stand united in support of labeling food that has been genetically engineered. “Pink slime, deadly melons, tainted turkeys, and BPA in our soup have put us all on notice that what we eat and feed our families is critically important,” said Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, a JLI partner. “Americans overwhelmingly demand safety, transparency and labeling of genetically engineered foods. It’s time for the FDA to come clean and restore public confidence in our food system.”
Since October, JLI, (www.justlabelit.org), the national campaign to require GE-food labeling and its more than 500 partner organizations have spearheaded an historic number of public comments for a GE-foods labeling petition (Docket #FDA 2011-P-0723-001/CP). Be Food Smart is proud to be one of these 500 partner organizations. March 27 is the date when the FDA is required to respond to the petition. It took less than 180 days to accumulate the record number of comments.
I like condiments. Sauces, dips, drizzles and sprinkles. Having the right agent for the right dish. Mushroom risotto is just that much more superb with a sprinkling of freshly grated Aged Parmesan. Toasted sourdough bread practically begs for a luscious and moisturizing spread of mayo. Given my affection for accoutrements (one of my favorite words as long as it’s pronounced with a French accent and optional grandiose hand gesture), it shouldn’t really come as surprise that I might have tempura sauce for, you guessed it, tempura. What sucks, though, is when you look at that Kikkoman bottle that’s been in your fridge (for, dare I say…years?) and take a glance at the ingredient label:
Ingredients: naturally brewed soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt), sugar, water, salt, vinegar, bonito extract (fish), natural flavoring, monosodium glutamate, caramel color, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, succinic acid, sodium benzoate.
I’m not even going to start a dialogue about the possible issues of soy at this juncture, but rather stick with the other goodness that blesses this dipping agent.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – This oldie but goodie just won’t go away. If you are wondering why your asthma is suddenly flaring up or what the deal is with your headache and heart palpitations, this flavor enhancer could be to blame.
Caramel Color – The type of caramel color generally used for soy sauce type products is prepared with heat and ammonium compounds (Caramel III). In February 2011 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to bar the use of caramel colorings produced with ammonia due to the formation of two known carcinogens (2-Methylimidazole & 4-Methylimidazole). Great, now my “sauce” is going to give me cancer. At a minimum, caramel coloring produced with ammonia needs to be labeled differently so consumers will know which type of caramel coloring was used.
Sodium Benzoate – This extremely popular preservative may also exacerbate asthma and in animal studies there are reports of liver and kidney issues. It has also been linked to hyperactivity.
Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate – On their own, these two additives are somewhat benign. They are not doing you any favors, but probably not going to kill you. However, I bring them up because they are virtually exclusively used in conjunction with MSG. If you see these two culprits, put the object back on the shelf and walk away.
Clearly this tempura dipping sauce is not something any self-respecting, co-founder of a food additive database website should have anywhere near her fridge. Yet, it was. I consider myself on notice. Check your refrigerators, especially those condiment containers that seem to last forever) and pantries for gems like these. Then, take great pride in chucking them. This is 2012 my friends and it is time to make the commitment to ditching the pseudo food.
In rather surprising news today, Food Safety News is reporting that most honey sold in US grocery stores is not really honey. What?? Apparently, our honey is undergoing a process called ultra-filtration to remove the pollen. The problem with no pollen is that there is no way to tell where the honey came from since the honey’s “footprint” is gone. In fact, according to the report, even the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says that any product that has been ultra filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. Food Safety News explains the process of ultra-filtering and why it is being done:
Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.
Food Safety News purchased more than 60 types of honey sold in 10 US states. The honey was analyzed for pollen. The results are rather shocking: