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Tag: ingredient label

 

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.
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Remember Real Housewives of New York City’s, Bethenny Frankel? Apparently, this reality TV star now has her own line of cocktail drinks called Skinnygirl. AccessHollywood reported last week that Whole Foods was pulling Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margaritas from their stores after learning that the cocktail contained a preservative. In a statement to AccessHollywood, Whole Foods said:

“After discovering that [Skinnygirl Margarita] contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it.”

The Skinnygirl website does not include the ingredients in their products, but I was able to find a picture of the ingredient label on FitSugar:

WATER, BLUE AGAVE TEQUILA, AGAVE NECTAR, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOUR, SUGAR, SODIUM BENZOATE

At first, it looks okay. 7 ingredients is a pretty low number and it is thankfully free of artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners. But….and that is a big but (no pun intended), like virtually every pre-mixed cocktail,  it does contain a preservative.  So, what’s the big deal? Here are the possible health effects from consuming sodium benzoate:

“May exacerbate asthma, hyperactive behavior (when consumed in products with certain food colorings), and cause skin rash upon contact. A study in 2007 indicated that it may cause serious cell damage associated with cirrhosis of the liver, ageing, and Parkinson’s disease. In animal studies, there are reports of possible weight gain, liver and kidney issues, and birth defects.”

Be Food Smart Sodium Benzoate Report

Sodium benzoate is found in thousands of foods and beverages and is very difficult to
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As I walked from my car towards the school grounds, it was like a scene out of a movie. Over a hundred girls in varying heights and coordinated t-shirts,  stood in a semi-circle around a Troop Leader with a bull horn. She was standing next to the American flag spelling out the rules of the Costa de OroInvestigate Your World Day Camp. This was the Santa Barbara Girl Scouts Summer Camp and I was there to present a session on reading food labels.
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When I hear the term Sweet Bread, my mind wanders to a warm bakery on a morning where you can see your breath as you walk. The racks are partially empty as the bakers continually bring steaming-hot baked goods and elaborately decorated petits fours to the front display. There are gooey pastries, sticky buns, crumbly scones, and golden croissants. The smells of baked goods wafting from an oven are enough to make you forget about being “good” and word nutrition kind of goes out the window, doesn’t it?
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We at Be Food Smart, are constantly telling and teaching people to read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists. It is, by all accounts, the only way to know what’s in packaged food.  Many argue, however, that the current labeling system is confusing and doesn’t allow Americans to quickly tell if the food they are about to buy or consume is good for them.  Ingredient lists are a pain too. Have you ever noticed the the smallest possible font size is used in combination with leaving Caps Locks on? This is not by accident. They’d rather you not read the 45 ingredients on that box of crackers. The good news is that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of updating the required nutritional facts. It will be interesting to see how consumer friendly the new labels turns out. Yes, I am a bit cynical when it comes to the FDA siding with the consumer and not the food industry.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Rethink the Food Label project which is put on by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 program and Good Magazine. Here is how they describe the project:

We asked the public, food thinkers, nutritionists, and designers to redesign the Nutrition Facts Label to make it easier to read and more useful to people who want to consume healthier, more nutritious and wholesome food. Designs could incorporate the nutrition label’s existing break down of fats, sugars, vitamins, calorie counts and percent daily values. Or, they could re-imagine the label to include geography, food quality, food justice, carbon footprint, or lesser-known chemosensory characteristics. Above all, we asked for designs that were informative, instructive and memorable.
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Be Food Smart Launches Website Today

Official Be Food Smart Launch!

We created Be Food Smart to help people understand what is really in the foods they buy and eat everyday. After 6 months of hard work, we are so excited to finally be launching our website to the world. Don’t forget to check out these links:

Take a look at that loaf of bread, soda can, or the ice cream carton in the freezer (yes, that one).  Do you know what every ingredient is? Chances are, there will be at least a few ingredients that you can barely pronounce and have no idea what they really are.  Here is where Be Food Smart comes in: test out our site by searching for those weird additives in our ingredient database. You’ll get easy to understand information with a quick visual (Report Card Score) on every ingredient.  Warning: once you start reading labels, it becomes addictive and you’ll find yourself a full-fledged “package flipper” (constantly flipping over food packages to find the ingredient label).

We are still in beta mode and would really like to hear your feedback. Leave your comments on this blog post or contact us. We hope you find our website a valuable resource and appreciate your help in spreading the word!

Dina & Jonas