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Tag: FDA

On Wednesday, consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the FDA for their failure to address the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed. Factory farms  include antibiotics and antimicrobial drugs in animal feed to fight against the myriad of illnesses that cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys suffer from as a result of their CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) lifestyle (horrendous living conditions, restriction of natural behaviors, use of  unnatural feed and growth hormones). The antibiotics can also help increase production in food-producing animals which is an obvious plus for farmers. The major concern with this practice is that humans and animals will eventually become resistant to these drugs and then they will no longer be effective when they are really needed. The FDA itself has acknowledged that non-therapeutic use of antibiotics contributes to antimicrobial resistance in humans and has urged the meat industry to phase out antibiotics in feed. The FDA issued a draft guidance for the industry and recommends “judicious use” be applied. Specifically, the “FDA recommends that all antimicrobial drugs for animals and people be used only when necessary and appropriate.”
Continue reading…

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)
    Continue reading…

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

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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

In a disappointing (but perhaps not surprising) decision, the FDA panel that met earlier this week to discuss whether there is a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse effects on behavior, has determined there is not enough evidence to justify a warning label. It was a close vote (8 to 6 vote in favor of rejecting the warnings), but as they say ‘almost doesn’t count’. The panel did acknowledge that some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be vulnerable to food colorings as well as a host of other food additives. To keep the food producers happy, though, they were quick to point out that those children have a unique intolerance to those additives, meaning there’s nothing ‘wrong’ per se with the additives, it’s simply the kids with the problem. Right. With the European Union already requiring warning labels on artificial food colorings, it makes us wonder what type of study would the FDA need to finally add a warning, and is such a study going to take place? I mean if they ruled based on lack of evidence, shouldn’t they do some more studies to get the evidence?

Sources:
Harvard Health Publications
Image: Jonas Dalidd

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

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on raw milk.

Eric Brody, WAPF Chapter Leader

When the local chapter of The Weston A. Foundation (WAPF) announced their March topic, All About Raw Milk…Samples Will be Provided, I have to admit that I got a wee bit squeamish. I’m not really sure why since I like almost everything else raw. Maybe it stems from the fact that drinking a tall glass of milk with dinner was never part of my childhood. Mom breastfed all her kids until we self-weaned and did not “graduate” us to cow’s milk like most American parents. We consumed cow’s milk with cold cereal and in cooking (my mom makes a mean cream of cauliflower soup), but never to drink. I suppose it could have something to do with childhood, or maybe it’s all the fear surrounding raw milk. I receive virtually all food-related updates from the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) and “the dangers of raw milk” seems to be a very frequent topic. If you believe the hype, people must be sick and dying all the time because of this dangerous stuff. I pushed aside my squeamishness and I vowed to attend the meeting anyway (I figured I’d skip the plastic sample cup of raw milk and just go for the presentation).

I arrived at the Goleta Library a few minutes late and pasted my name tag onto my cardigan. The meeting room was packed with about 50 local people and I was directed to sit in the front row (don’t you love showing up late?). After a brief introduction to the WAPF by chapter leaders, Eric Brody and Katie Falbo, the CEO of Organic Pastures approached the podium. Mark McAfee is a big guy, both in stature and personality. The minute he started talking, I knew I wouldn’t be bored. The passion Mark has for raw milk seeps from his every pore.

Mark’s presentation was filled with powerfully memorable slides and you know he’s spoken these words a hundred times over.  There were three main intertwined themes:

(1) the differences between the two raw milks in America

(2) the ever-important bacteria in the human body

(3) the negative sides of dairy pasteurization.

Two Raw Milks

We started with the two raw milks; what do they have in common and what are the differences?
Continue reading…

Image: Vinni/Flickr

Yesterday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) formally petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to change legislation on a very popular additive, caramel coloring. Specifically, CSPI requested that the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for caramel coloring produced with ammonia be revoked:

“…request the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to revoke sections 21 CFR 73.85 and 21 CFR 182.1235 (generally recognized as safe or ‘GRAS’ regulation),… which authorize the use in foods of caramel colorings that are produced by means of an ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process and contain 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, both of which are carcinogenic in animal studies.”

This includes Caramel Coloring III (used in soy sauce, gravy, beer) and Caramel Coloring IV (used in beverages and colas), both of which are produced with ammonia. In the petition, CSPI indicates that reactions occur when carbohydrates and ammonia are used to produce caramel coloring and form by-products including 2- and 4-methylimidazole (“2-MI” and “4-MI” or “4-MEI”).  This chemical pair have been shown carcinogenic in animal studies. One interesting point that CSPI makes is that caramel coloring in soft drinks are typically used to make the soda its customary brown color. This is purely cosmetic and could be substituted with something else or omitted from drinks such as Coke and Pepsi without sacrificing much taste.

The CSPI petition also requested that the FDA change the names which are permitted for these types of caramel coloring and not allow caramel coloring in products which are labeled “natural,” due to the highly processed and chemical nature of these additives.

“… the FDA immediately should change the name ‘caramel coloring’ to ‘chemically modified caramel coloring’ or ‘ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring’ …and should not allow products to be labeled ‘natural’ if they contained any type of caramel coloring.”

To read the full petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest which includes references, click here.

This information is very relevant to today’s shopper since caramel coloring is found in thousands of foods INCLUDING so called health food.  Start paying attention to this additive as you study your ingredient labels. To read a full report on the different types of caramel coloring, other possible health effects and allergy information, click here.

Sources:
Center for Science in the Public Interest

Image: Vinni via Flickr