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Archive for 'Food For Babies & Children'

Arsenic. When I hear that word I immediately think of a TV mystery where someone’s lover is poisoned to death via the toxin. Today, arsenic is not the star in some made-for-tv drama but rather a news-maker for a completely different reason. Arsenic is in our food and you could be eating it every day. Have you read the recent reports of elevated arsenic levels in apple juice? Just weeks later, and now, it’s showing up in many organic food products.

Environmental chemist, Brian P. Jackson, and his team at Dartmouth, discovered that organic foods containing the popular alternative sweetener, brown rice syrup, tested high for arsenic. Among the foods tested were infant formula, cereal bars, energy bars, and energy “shots.”
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Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.

Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
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Here are a few recent headlines that caught my eye:

‘Organic Water’ is a Thing Now

In rather comical news, a German bottled water company, BioKristall, has gotten the official approval to market itself as organic water. Yes, you read that correctly, organic water. Read Grist’s comical take on this news.

Twinkies for Breakfast? Kids’ Cereals Fail Industry’s own Lame Nutrition Guidelines

The Environmental Working Group, most known for their sunscreen reports and the Dirty Dozen list, just put out a report on the amount of sugar in many popular breakfast cereals. In this blog post, Michele Simon writes, “Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, won the top prize,  packing more sugar (20 grams per cup) than a Hostess Twinkie.” Is it really any wonder our kids have a weight problem? Parents, please read this article and realize that MOST breakfast cereals should be treated like dessert. Read the full story on Appetite for Profit.

The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide

There has been a bit of a brouhaha over olive oil as of late. Put this one down on the if it is good for me, food producers will come in and create a crappy version of it to make more money and confuse consumers page. Olive oil has consistently been touted as the ultimate healthy oil and the demand for the oil has created a slew of sub-par products. Governments in the US and Europe are trying to create/reform olive oil standards, but with mixed success. Nutritionist and food activist, Andy Bellatti, tries to set the record straight and educates consumers so we can all shop EVOO smart. Read the full story on Small Bites. 


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A School Lunch Solution

From Pure Facts, the newsletter of the Feingold Association

 

Seven-year-old Emma attends a private school that provides healthy snacks but has recently discontinued its hot lunch program. After initial fears that each day would mean a PB&J sandwich,her mom, Karen, got creative and established a system where Emma would be in charge of her own lunches. With the help of friends and input from Emma, Karen compiled a list of favorite foods that fall under the headings of Protein, Grain, Vegetable, and Fruit. Additional categories are Soup, Combos (such as sandwiches), and Dips. There are many options; for example, the protein category includes hummus, nuts, Greek yogurt, turkey, sunflower butter, cottage cheese, ham, natural hot dogs, shrimp, trail mix, and chicken sausage.
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Have you ever sat down and watched a half hour of children’s programming? How many ads do you see marketed specifically towards children? Between Ronald McDonald, the Keebler Elves, Captain Crunch and Tony the Tiger, there is no shortage of cartoon mascots tantalizing our children with visions of sugary and colorful delights.

According to a newly formed inter-agency Working Group (FTC, FDA, CDC, USDA), the food industry spends more than $1.6 BILLION each year to promote junk foods to our kids (foods high in calories, low in nutrition). They find every possible way to reach your kids using TV, the internet, video games, social media, movies, and even marketing in schools. Here is a shocking statistic:

Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

Since when are french fries and chips vegetables? It’s no wonder that one in three children will be overweight or obese putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases.

Yesterday, this Working Group released a set of proposed principles for the food industry to use when marketing food to children. The proposal is designed to “encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and contain limited amounts of nutrients that have a negative impact on health or weight…”

Overview of the Proposal:

The basic premise is our government is trying to get the food industry to market healthy foods to kids instead of junk food.

  • Applies to children ages 2-11 and adolescents 12-17
  • Defines what  “food marketing targeted to children” means
  • Sets separate guidelines for individual foods, main dishes and meals.
  • Gives the food industry 5 years to be in compliance with guidelines (by 2016)
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The FDA’s Food Advisory Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday (March 30-31, 2011) in Silver Spring, MD, to discuss whether there is a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse effects on behavior. This meeting is in part a response to a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on June 3, 2008.

The CSPI petitioned the FDA to:

  • Ban the use of Yellow 5 and other food dyes.
  • In the interim, require a warning on foods containing these dyes
  • Correct the information the FDA gives consumers on their website and other publications on the impact of these dyes on behavior of some children
  • Require neurotoxicity testing of new food additives and food colors

For years, the Feingold Association, CSPI, consumer groups, activists, and parents have been trying to prove the link between artificial food colorings and wide array of adverse effects including hyperactivity, ADHD, skin rashes, sleep disorders and exacerbated asthma. In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children.  In response to the study, the European Union now requires warning labels on foods containing specific dyes. To avoid the dreaded label, many European manufactures reformulated products with natural food colorings or removed dyes all together. In the US, artificial food dyes are found in hundreds and thousands of processed foods and it is extremely difficult for people to avoid. It will be very interesting to see what the Food Advisory Committee’s conclusion is and whether they will make any revised statements on food dyes or new requirements of food manufactures.

Sources:
FDA
CSPI
Lancet
Image: Jonas Dalidd

A link between food colorings and hyperactivity highlights the importance of educational website, Be Food Smart.

Easter is the second top-selling candy holiday and according to the National Confectioners Association, almost 90% of parents will create Easter baskets for their children. Filling those baskets will be Marshmallow Peeps, Cadbury Crème Eggs, jelly beans, and M&M’s, all of which contain artificial food colorings. So what’s the concern with artificial colorings? In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children. The European Union took action and now requires warning labels on foods containing specific dyes. To avoid the dreaded label, many European manufactures reformulated products with natural food colorings or removed dyes all together.
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