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Tag: warning label

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.

Starbucks Stawberry Frappuccino

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:
Continue reading…

New legislation is being considered in Europe with regards to the popular chemical sweetener, aspartame. The proposal would require warning labels on products containing aspartame stating that they may not be suitable for pregnant women. Specifically, the label would read: “Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine; might be unsuitable for pregnant women).”

The push to enact this labeling stems from two new aspartame studies. The first is a Danish study (Halldorsson et al., 2010) which examined the association between consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery. The study concluded that, “Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery…” The second, was an Italian study (Soffritti et al., 2010) which confirmed that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent in both male mice and rats (the same group conducted other rodent/aspartame studies in 2006 and 2007 both of which concluded that aspartame is a carcinogen). Despite the outcomes of these two new studies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and France’s Agency for Food Safety maintain aspartame is safe and that warning labels are not needed.

Why is it that most government policies basically say, prove to us that the additive is harmful, when it should instead be, prove to us that this additive is safe? Even if research is conducted proving an ingredient safe, new studies should be viewed as equally important in determining if an ingredient continues to be safe. Technology changes, new advances are made, larger and more extensive studies are conducted. I suppose I should be impressed that any arm of a government is supporting adding warning labels since we, here in the US, are nowhere near the European levels of consumer food protection. Instead, I find myself wondering how many more studies it will take before aspartame is treated like a harmful chemical not suited for human consumption.

Sources:

Food Navigator
European Food Safety Authority
BFS Aspartame Ingredient Report

Image: David Salafia via Flickr

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