Have you ever sat down with a bag of chips that you not only couldn’t put away, but found yourself nearly possessed, ravaging the bag of Doritos like the Tasmanian Devil? It’s not an accident, but a carefully-formulated strategy to maximize consumption and the bottom line of the companies that manufacture processed foods.
New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss spent four years investigating the food industry and has gone public with a bold statement: there was a “conscious effort taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery store aisles to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.”
The accusation is not a revelation to most health advocates, but is a much-needed wake-up call for the general public, many of whom don’t fully realize how the science and engineering behind packaged foods is making us obese and sick with obesity-related chronic diseases. As you’ll see, it’s not just the Doritos, Cheetos and sodas, but pasta sauces and soups.
Moss, the author of the much discussed New York Times article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, and soon-to-be published book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, compiled a list of small case studies that together make a compelling argument that the processed food industry is not much different from Big Tobacco as a public health menace.
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Nestle is issuing a voluntary recall on more than 200,000 packages of its popular chocolate drink mix Nesquik. The product is believed to be contaminated with salmonella.
The Associated Press reported that the issue involves the ingredient calcium carbonate. Nestle stated that their ingredient supplier, Omya Inc., was the source of the possible contamination. The recall only affects the dry powder, not the ready made drinks.
The containers that have been affected are the 10.9, 21.8, and 40.7 ounce canisters. They all have the “best if sold by” date of October 2014. Consumers are urged to cease use and can return the item to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers may also contact Nestle Consumer Services.
There have been no reports of illness at this time. Salmonella poisoning symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fevers. The elderly, infants, and pregnant women are at higher risk of severe symptoms.
Calcium carbonate, the ingredient that caused the recall, is added to many foods as either a preservative or a source of added calcium. According to their website, Nesquik states that it is fortified with added calcium to help build strong bones. Apparently this is why the ingredient is included in this product.
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Unless you follow a very strict natural diet, chances are, you ingest dozens of food preservatives every day. While the FDA must approve a food additive before it is available to consumers, that does not mean it is beneficial or even harmless to consume. Here’s some of the worst ones that should be avoided as much as possible:
1. Brominated Vegetable Oil
Find it in: Flame Retardants and Citrus Soda Pop
Food Products it’s in: Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Fresca Original Citrus, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, and other citrus-flavored soft drinks and sports drinks
What it is: This ingredient, made from soybeans or corn, is used as a flame retardant by chemical companies, but its purpose in soft drinks is to stabilize the citrus oils from floating to the surface, giving the drink a cloudy appearance.
How it can make you sick: Brominated vegetable oil is banned for use in food in Europe and Japan. The problem is that it builds up in the body and can cause neurological and reproductive problems and skin lesions. Cases of bromine intoxication in humans have caused headaches, fatigue, memory loss, ulcers, and a loss of muscle coordination. These patients ingested much greater than average amounts of soda, but with the popularity of soft drinks like Mountain Dew among many teenagers and video gamers, illnesses are a plausible risk.
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The National Organic Standards Board will be holding their biannual meeting at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto in Savannah, Georgia, November 29 – December 2, 2011. “We think this meeting may well decide the fate of organic food and agriculture in this country,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute. The mission of the Cornucopia Institute states that they are “dedicated to the fight for economic justice for the family-scale farming community. Through research, advocacy and economic development [their] goal is to empower farmers both politically and through marketplace initiatives.”
During this NOSB meeting, the Cornucopia Institute will be presenting formal testimony on several subjects including genetically modified and synthetic additives that have been petitioned for use in organic foods and drinks, including baby foods and formula. Part of their testimony will include findings from a consumer survey done by PCC Natural Markets, the largest member-owned food cooperative in the United States, that shows more than three fourths of consumers are opposed to such synthetic additives in their food.
The Cornucopia Institute is also concerned about a petition to the NOSB to allow the use of the synthetic preservative sulfur dioxide (sulfites) in wine. “Approving sulfites, not only a synthetic preservative but a common allergen, would represent another blow to consumer confidence in the organic label, which has always signified the absence of artificial preservatives,” Kastel noted.
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If you haven’t yet heard of Bisin there is a good chance that you probably will within the next couple of years. Bisin is the latest craze in the world of food-borne illness prevention. It is the first natural preservative found to kill gram-negative bacteria, and it may just be worth all the hype, especially in light of all the recent E.coli outbreaks that have occurred this summer.
Bisin can supposedly prevent harmful bacteria such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella from growing on a wide variety of foods. These types of food include meats, processed cheeses, egg and dairy products, canned foods, seafood, salad dressing, fermented beverages, and many other foods. By using Bisin, these foods may have extended shelf-lives and ultimately reduce food waste. This is a good thing - so is the fact that bisin appears to be allergen free, non-toxic, and doesn’t appear to be one of those substances that germs build up resistance to.
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