Food Additive Safety

Food Additive Safety


Many people presume that some federal agency is overseeing the safety of the ingredients in our food supply. That’s reasonable, because that is actually what the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to be doing, and what Congress told it to do in a 1958 law.But since 1997, FDA has punted on that core responsibility, allowing companies to make their own secret determinations of a substance’s safety for use in our food.

The legal standard is supposed to be that an ingredient is “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. That originally applied to things like oil and vinegar-foodstuffs that are widely accepted as safe to consume. Now the loophole is swallowing the law: companies are deciding in secret that almost anything they want to put in food is GRAS, and FDA is letting them.

If companies decide a new ingredient is GRAS, they don’t have to tell FDA what their investigations show about safety or even tell the government what or how much of anything they have decided to add to food. In short, the food industry—not FDA—is in charge of what you eat.

What can you do about this shocking failure by the government to ensure our food is safe?

First, check out and share our great new infographic exposing the spaghetti-tangle of FDA‘s failure to ensure the safety of food additives. Click to Tweet it!

Then, join our campaign to strengthen FDA’s role on food safety.

Advertisements

Home
August 18, 2013

What’s in Those Plastics?
Phthalates levels in teen urine linked to higher insulin resistance
HEALTH_PHTHALATES-NO
(dailyRx News) It can often take a while for researchers to learn more about the effects of different substances in the environment on our bodies. Phthalates are one of those substances we’re learning more about.

A recent study found that teens with high levels of phthalates in their urine were also more likely to be insulin resistant.

Phthalates are compounds added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability. For example, they are often added to PVC to soften it.

Insulin resistance can be a risk factor or a sign of type 2 diabetes.

This study did not show that phthalates cause insulin resistance or similar problems. More work is needed to understand the relationship between phthalates and insulin resistance.
“Look for phthalate-free products.”

This study, led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, of the Department of Pediatrics at New York University’s School of Medicine, looked at whether insulin resistance was linked to teens’ exposure to phthalates.

Insulin resistance means the body’s cells do not properly respond to the hormone insulin, which is used to process sugars in the body. Increased insulin resistance can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A wide range of products may contain phthalates, including household goods, electronics, toys, medical devices, personal care products, textiles and pharmaceuticals.

Concerns about the safety of phthalates have been increasing, but there is still more research needed to understand their possible effects on the body. (Read more)

Flame Retardant in My Gatorade?!

January 30, 2013  Food

There’s Flame Retardant in My Gatorade?!

The beverage giant announces it’s nixing brominated vegetable oil from its sports drinks. By Andri Antoniades 

Still reeling from the news that Vitamin Water does not in fact serve any medicinal purpose, nationwide consumers were recently shocked to discover that Gatorade, a sports drink presumed to promote physical health, contains a chemical that’s also used as a flame retardant—and no, we’re not talking about water.

Amid consumer complaints, including a Change.org petition started by a Mississippi teenager, Gatorade’s parent company, PepsiCo Inc., announced yesterday that it will remove brominated vegetable oil from its Gatorade products.

According to Scientific American, the compound, also known as BVO, is patented as a flame retardant by chemical companies, and its use in food is banned in both the European Union and Japan—for compelling reasons. Studies show that it can build up in the human body. And it’s been linked to some serious health issues, including impaired neurological development and altered thyroid hormones. However, in the U.S., the chemical is still approved for use in commercially packaged drinks; it acts as an emulsifier that keeps artificial flavoring evenly distributed. Critics say that the only reason BVO has retained its FDA approval is because the agency hasn’t adequately tested its effects on human health.

The modern supermarket is full of tough reading material. We see labels of “organic,” “natural,” “farm-raised,” “cage-free,” “hormone-free” and “fair trade.” But, there’s one label we don’t see as often as we should: one that reads “Made with Non-GMO Ingredients.”

Whether or not your state will soon require GMO labeling on food products, you can do your part to by voting with your wallet. Click the button below to pledge only to purchase and eat foods made without GMOs, and go to Non-GMO Project to find out how to tell the difference.

Creative Commons photo by rick, flickr

The modern supermarket is full of tough reading material. We see labels of “organic,” “natural,” “farm-raised,” “cage-free,” “hormone-free” and “fair trade.” But, there’s one label we don’t see as often as we should: one that reads “Made with Non-GMO Ingredients.”

There are debates happening all across the country over whether to require companies to label foods that are made with genetically-modified organisms. After all, recent studies have shown that GMOs cause tumors, organ damage, and premature death in lab rats.

Whether or not your state will soon require GMO labeling on food products, you can do your part to by voting with your wallet. Click the button below to pledge only to purchase and eat foods made without GMOs, and go to Non-GMO Project to find out how to tell the difference.

Creative Commons photo by rick, flickr

61% Complete

Ongoing

2,479 pledges of 4,000 goal

I pledge only to purchase food not made with the use of genetically-modified organisms. I will also encourage my elected representatives to support legislation requiring that foods containing GMOs be labeled.

Thank You for Signing!

Share the pledge and encourage others to act. Together, we can encourage the food industry not to rely on potential dangerous GMOs.

When curious 15-year-old Sarah Kavanagh investigated the list of ingredients in her favorite Gatorade flavor, she discovered that it contained BVO and decided to call out PepsiCo with an online petition asking for its removal. At last count, over 200,000 people signed it.

Despite Kavanagh’s success, a PepsiCo spokesperson reported to the Associated Press that the petition had nothing to do with the removal of BVO from its Gatorade line, and that it’s been investigating an alternate emulsifier for the better part of the last year.

However the change came about, it’s important to note that Gatorade isn’t the only flavored beverage that contains BVO; PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola’s Fanta and the Snapple Group’s Sun Drop and Squirt drinks also list it as an ingredient. So far, there have been no reports about whether these beverages will also remove the chemical from their formulas.

For the manufacturers of soda and flavored drinks, the call to stop using BVO serves as the latest in a list of bad press. As consumers continue to demand healthier alternatives to high fructose corn syrup and other artificial additives, companies are furiously trying to repackage their products as healthy. Vitamin Water serves as one example, but so does Pepsi’s attempt at selling a “fat-blocking” soda in Japan and Coca-Cola’s proposal to manufacture a line of beverages in France that “promote physical beauty.”

Stateside, Coca-Cola even released a commercial aligning itself with the fight to cure America’s obesity epidemic, but in it, still managed to eschew responsibility for the decades it’s spent serving kids sugary sodas.

Perhaps what soda conglomerates should be taking more seriously is their newly savvy consumers, almost all of whom have access to the barrage of nutritional information available online. Case in point is Sarah Kavanagh and the almost quarter of a million people who signed her petition. Even if Pepsi was in the process of changing Gatorade’s formula prior to that petition, the message here is clear: Consumers have power—to identify issues and mobilize and fix them—and they’re not going to accept anything less than responsibility from the companies they patronize.

Link:  http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/01/26/theres-flame-retardant-my-gatorade?cmpid=tpnews-eml-2013-1-28-gatorade


A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer.  In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a webeditor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for TimeOutLA.com. Email Andri | @andritweets | TakePart.com

Sneaky: Coca-Cola Removes Known Carcinogen

Sneaky: Coca-Cola Removes Known Carcinogen to Avoid Cancer Warning Label
By Anthony Gucciardi

In a move to avoid being slapped with a cancer warning label, Coca-Cola is making an emergency recipe alteration that involves removing a known carcinogen from the mix. Showing that the company is more interested in preserving sales than actually ridding its products of known cancer-causing substances, the company chose to remove the toxic ingredient to avoid the warning label — not to actively protect the health of the consumer. The compound (used for the drinks’ caramel coloring), known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MI or 4-MEI), has been ousted by the Center for Sciences in the Public Interest as a powerful carcinogen.

In fact, the Coca-Cola company even denied the cancer link, stating that the findings by CSPI and others were simply untrue. Calling the warning label ‘scientifically unfounded’, Coca-Cola says that there is no public health risk that justifies any change.

“While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning,” Coca-Cola representative Diana Garza-Ciarlante told the Associated Press news agency.  (Read more)