Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

See an unfamiliar ingredient

Soup Can Ingredients

Search the Be Food Smart database

Keyboard

Enter food additive or ingredient name

Select and eat smarter food

Plate

Tag: natural labeling

 

Is your breakfast cereal “natural” or “organic?” Think there is not much difference between the two? You’re not alone. Fancy marketing campaigns specifically designed to trick consumers into believing that these two terms essentially mean the same thing are in play every time you see a cereal box. But the true difference between “natural” and “organic” is huge and one organization took up the challenge of exposing this practice.

A just-released report from The Cornucopia Institute found many breakfast cereals bearing the label “natural” to be loaded with pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and ingredients processed with unnatural chemicals.  To be clear, the report was not looking at cereals such as Lucky Charms or Pops, but rather brands like Kashi, Barbara’s and Annie’s Homegrown; cereals and granola which are specifically marketed as health-conscious and “natural.” In Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label—A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle, the analysis looked at over 45 “natural” cereal brands to determine how natural they really were. They also tested the products for the presence of GMOs. The results of the GMO tests were especially surprising. Even several brands enrolled in the Non-GMO Project contained genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Continue reading…

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
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