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.
One of our followers on Facebook sent us this infographic, How Corn Syrup Made America Fat. It contained a few tidbits I hadn’t heard before. Anyone realize that your envelopes and stamps might be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup? This stuff is seriously everywhere! The huge missing fact on this pretty infographic? Corn is one of the major agricultural crops grown from genetically modified (GMO) seeds. And while we’re on the topic of GMOs, I have to give a quick shout out to my California peeps and remind you to Vote YES on Prop 37 in November.
Full infographic below. Take a look and tell us; did you learn anything new about corn syrup or HFCS?
How Corn Syrup Made America Fat: xFirstAidKits.com
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.
Updated 4/19/12: Starbucks has announced that due to the controversy surrounding the use of cochineal extract, that they will use lycopene to color their Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Starbucks is also dropping cochineal extract in their Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
Virtually every news outlet is reporting that Starbucks is using cochineal extract in their popular strawberry beverages. When I read this, my first thought was, how did people find out? Starbucks doesn’t post or provide any of their ingredients to consumers (only allergy information and the required nutritional information). Apparently, a vegan Starbucks barista notified the site, www.thisdishisvegetarian.com, that Starbucks had changed the formula of their Strawberries & Cream Frappucinos and Strawberry Smoothies to contain cochineal extract. The barista also included a few cell phone pics of the packages to show the ingredient lists.
So what’s all the fuss about cochineal extract? It’s made from…bugs. It’s used as an alternative to artificial dyes and can be found in many foods including yogurt, candy, applesauce, baked goods, and other red processed foods. Here is an excerpt from our Cochineal Extract Ingredient Report on exactly what this dye is and how it’s made:
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.”
When I saw the advertisement for Jack in the Box’s Bacon Shake, I had to know what was really inside. Do they actually blend up bacon and ice cream? As with the 21 ingredients in McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, I’m finding a trend with fast food menus. They give you a simple description of what’s in the product, but don’t actually tell you the ingredient list without some serious digging. Case in point. When you look up the Bacon Shake, here is what you see:
Made with real vanilla ice cream, bacon flavored syrup, whipped topping and a maraschino cherry.
While the descriptions sounds fairly simple and straight forward, there are some early warning signs. First, is the “bacon flavored” bit. If it really contained bacon, it would tell you so. Second is the “whipped topping.” This is not to be confused with whipped cream as they are entirely two different things. Third, we’re all aware that no cherry is that candy-red in nature, so be assured you’re about to consume some red dye.
Here is the full ingredient list for the Jack in the Box Bacon Shake…all 48 of them:
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.