Tag Archives: food labels

Beware Carrageenan, a Food Additive Common in Organic Products

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

If you are into reading labels then you have most likely seen an ingredient called carrageenan. It specifically appears on the label of many organic processed food products.

What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a polysaccharide derived from red seaweed and it has molecular qualities similar to plastic. Seaweed sounds innocent enough; it’s natural right? Absolutely, as a matter of fact, many types of seaweed are commonly used as a medicinal food to support many conditions like thyroid disorder and even cancer. However, not all seaweed is created equal and the process in which carrageenan is extracted from the red seaweed has become the cornerstone of a debate about allowed ingredients in organic products. (more…)

Coca-Cola CEO Reacts to Mayor Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, recently spoke out on allegations of his company being responsible for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Kent’s responses come weeks after New York City Mayor Bloomberg proposed to limit the consumption of sugary drinks over 16 ounces. Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to help lower obesity rates is making headlines across the country. Bloomberg’s proposal will change the sugary drink game for any restaurant, fast-food chain, and any place of business that offers beverages.

Kent says Coca-Cola is not responsible in any way for the rising obesity rates and that obesity is a societal issue. “It is, I believe, incorrect and unjust to put the blame on any single ingredient, any single product, any single category of food,” was Kent’s response to Bloomberg’s proposal. (more…)

True Food Shopper’s Guide: Your Guide to Non-GMO Foods

The term genetically modified organism or GMO is sneaking into many news stories as of late. Consumers are becoming more vocal about their rights to know what is in the food they’re purchasing. Currently, the U.S. has no laws requiring companies to label their foods as a GMO. Thankfully, The Center for Food Safety has created a food guide to aid shoppers the next time they head to the store.

The True Food Shopper’s Guide is a perfect tool for those looking to navigate any grocery store and avoid purchasing the unlabeled GMOs on the shelf. GMOs are foods that have been created in a lab. In these GMO labs, genes are artificially inserted into the DNA of foods crops or animals. The resulting GMO can be engineered with genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or even humans.

When polled, the majority of Americans said they would not choose a GMO food, if it were labeled. Since we do not have the luxury of labels, unlike most other industrialized countries, knowing what our foods contain is a mystery. However, the shopper’s guide takes away the wonder and puts the right to know back in the consumer’s hands. (more…)

Servings Size Scams Don’t Effect the Well Informed

I get a lot of emails from people that know I’m a health writer that stumble upon interesting articles. They shoot me the link, usually with a subject line of “Can you believe this!?” Today I logged in to find an article sent to me called “Serving Size Scams Can Make You Fat” from MSNBC.com. Excited to share with you all which foods are “marketed as lower in calories than they really are,” I opened the link.

Fail. This is what I found:

Serving Size Rip-Off: Campbell’s Chunky Microwaveable Soup
Listed calories: 200
Servings per container: 2
Total calories: 400

They then go on to claim it is ludicrous that one single microwavable cup is 2 servings because people will only eat it all in one sitting.

They list Pop Tarts (who only eats just one?) packages of ramen noodles, pot pies and more processed foods that anyone interested in eating healthy wouldn’t touch anyway as shady labeling offenders…because they have more than one serving per package.

Wait, wait, wait. So because most people will devour the food in one sitting, companies should change their serving sizes to one entire package? Valid point if you want to make it, but to say they are “scamming” people is making excuses for those who aren’t informed on how to properly read a nutrition label. All the information on the package is correct and legal- it is not the company’s fault you don’t know how to interpret it.


Fate of Organic Food Label Standards to Be Decided

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.


People Don’t Read Food Labels as Much as They Claim

When making an attempt to eat healthy, you may feel bogged down with all the “rules” that are involved in improving the way you eat. This bogged down feeling may get even worse when you are forced to put your knew found nutrition knowledge to the test the next time you go to the grocery store.

Although food labels have been placed on the majority of  foods you may find there, they aren’t necessarily the most helpful. After all, you have to take additional time to flip the package around, scan the label for the information you are looking for, and then compare and contrast each individual nutrient with similar products around to make sure you are making the right food choice for you and your family.

Perhaps that’s why so many people forgo the nutrition facts label all together. According to a recent study by the University of Massachusetts, people don’t really look at the label as much as they say they do. In fact, of the 33% of individuals who stated that they almost always looked at the total calorie content, only 9% actually did based on eye-tracking data pulled from the study. Additionally, only 1% of study participants took the time to look at the rest of the label despite claiming that they did so much more frequently.


Eating Healthy is About More Than Just Calories

Anda T. writes about her weight loss struggles, victories and every day life at www.leavingfatville.com. She also runs www.greatclothingexchange.com in her spare time when not chasing a toddler, cooking, cleaning, working and trying to take over the world.

I had no idea how little I knew about nutrition until I started to count calories. Sure, I had a general concept that 2000 calories was acceptable for a day of food. But, really getting down to the nitty gritty, I had no idea how much of each type of food I should have been eating.

I saw no problem with eating a salad. And I’m sure you won’t either, if you’re thinking of just a small green salad. That was not my salad. My salad was iceberg lettuce (no nutritive value whatsoever), cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers (a few good things), sunflower seeds and gobs and gobs of ranch dressing. That was healthy to me. That was my effort of eating light.

That was not eating light. That was eating a 500 calorie salad with little or no protein, vitamins, or good, healthy fats to show for it. It wasn’t until I started to track my food did I start to see the calories add up, and the weight go right along with it. I had no idea what were healthy fats and what were bad fats. (Luckily, I had stayed away from trans fats as a byproduct of a lack of a gallbladder, but I still couldn’t point one out if you asked me.)


New Nutrition Label Designs Make Information Easier to Understand

The winning food label design

Never again will American grocery shoppers need to take up aisles trying to read a food label only a dietician can understand.

A New York Times article reports that the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism project aims to redesign the confusing nutrition labels on food packages.  Several competitors entered their ideas for an improved and easy-to-understand nutrition label. The project entries are not part of the Food and Drug Administration’s official effort to change the nutrition label, but their ideas will most likely be heavily considered.

“There are a lot of things right with the current label, but at the same time people are confused. The question is whether a new nutrition facts label could help people make more educated decisions,’’ Lily Mihalik, co-creator of the project, said in the article.

The winning entry came from Renee Walker, a San Francisco visual designer, who used color-coordinated bar graphs that depict the proportion of ingredients in the food product. The simple design and visual appeal could make food labels easy to understand at all levels.


Are New Food Laws Crossing the Line?

Do we put a fence around the pool to prevent drowning, or do we teach how to swim? When it comes to the new, pending, and purposed laws regarding food labeling, ingredients, and marketing, several states are at odds as to how best handle these issues.

Many new food related laws are being passed, such as the ban on toys in kid’s fast food meals in several cities or the requirement for nutrition information to be on the menu at any restaurant that has more than twenty chains that will be enforced by 2013. There is also the new federal law that will be setting new standards for the food sold and provided in schools. These and other new requirements are getting lots of attention.

The advocacy groups that are out to fight obesity are in favor of many of these laws, saying they could lead to a healthier country and reduce many of the ailments our children and adults are facing today.

Business owners and some legislators are seeing the other side of the coin, though. All these enforced requirements could make running a profitable business more difficult. The legislators who are supporting these thoughts are saying that it’s an issue of one’s rights and that simply it’s not the government’s job to tell people how to eat.


Multi-Vitamins are not Living Up to Their Claims

If you’re faithfully taking your daily multi-vitamin, you should be proud of yourself. You’re doing a good thing for your body and your overall health, right? Unfortunately, you may not be helping yourself as much as you think.

A recent MSNBC article reported that many of the vitamins and supplements on the shelf are not as nutritious as they claim and, in some cases, they are more potent than they claim.

The FDA has strict guidelines and regulations for prescription drugs, however there is not process for regulating vitamins and supplements. The only testing on these products is done independently. ConsumerLab.com and its researchers conducted a test on 38 multi-vitamins and published their findings this week. The tests concluded that eight products contained too few of the specific nutrients, two contained more nutrients than the label stated, and three simply had improper labeling.