Tag Archives | Processed Food
Marion Nestle, NYU’s food guru, explains at her blog, Food Politics:
FoodNavigator.com has issued a collection of its recent articles on “natural” and processing. At issue is the meaning of “natural,” which many people perceive as equivalent to organic or healthy. As I’ve said before, it isn’t.
Natural has no regulatory meaning. The FDA merely says (note obfuscating double negatives):
From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.
That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
One thing is clear: “natural” sells food products.
The New York Times‘ Mark Bittman proposes a tax on junk food. What do you think – is he right?
What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)
Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.
And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.
Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem.
From Environment News Service:
Chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food, being ingested by people and showing up as contaminants in blood, according to new research at the University of Toronto.
The contaminants are perfluoroalkyls, stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease, and water. They are used in surface protection products such as carpet and clothing treatments and coating for paper and cardboard packaging.
Earlier research by University of Toronto environmental chemists Scott Mabury and Jessica D’eon, established in 2007 that the wrappers are a source of these chemicals in human blood. Their new study shows that perfluorinated chemicals can migrate from wrappers into food.
The specific chemicals studied are polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters, or PAPs, breakdown products of the perfluorinated carboxylic acids, or PFCAs, which are used in coating the food wrappers.
I recently crossed Häagen-Dazs off my list of favorite ice creams due to its use of rBGH milk. In this disinfo story we quoted author John Robbins:
Ben & Jerry’s gets all their milk from dairies that have pledged not to inject their cows with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Why, then, can’t Haagen Dazs, Breyers and Baskin-Robbins do the same?
OK, so there was still Ben & Jerry’s which is fairly easy to find, at least where I live. But wait, now it turns out that some of their ice cream isn’t natural after all! Story from NPR:
Indie ice cream pioneer Ben & Jerry’s will be dropping the phrase “All Natural” from some of its ice cream and frozen yogurt cartons, it announced today.
The flavors containing alkalized cocoa, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil particularly irked the folks over at the Center for the Science in the Public Interest, who had asked the company to stop using “all natural” claims last month in a letter to parent company Unilever.
Who are they kidding? It’s not sugar and it’s not natural! From Fast Company’s Co.Design:
Cast as an evil, oozing harbinger of obesity and diabetes, sales of high fructose corn syrup have seen a downward spiral as companies swap the over-processed sweetener for healthier-sounding ingredients. So what’s the solution for the industry, according to the Corn Refiners Association? Change the name. To “corn sugar.” And presto! What was once a scary sounding goo becomes more natural-sounding, just as sweet and pure as cane sugar.
A new Web site and campaign rebranding HFCS as the innocuous term was launched today in the hopes that they will get FDA approval to change the name on food labeling. Over at CornSugar.com, ads and imagery of a maze mowed through corn fields symbolizes the path of misdirected customers confused by current labeling systems, as quotes from dietitians float helpfully above. (The Corn Refiners Association also own Corn.org and the icky-sounding SweetSurprise.com.)
“This seems to be a last-ditch attempt to…
For once, some good news in the fight against the poster child for processed food, High Fructose Corn Syrup, in the New York Times:
For much of 2009, Michael Locascio, an executive at ConAgra Foods, watched with concern as the bad news about high-fructose corn syrup kept coming.
In January, there were studies showing that samples of the sweetener contained the toxic metal mercury. Then came a popular Facebook page that was critical of the syrup. By year-end, there were about a dozen spoofs on YouTube mocking efforts by makers of high-fructose corn syrup to show that science is on their side.
But it was pleading comments like this one, from a devoted ConAgra customer, that finally persuaded Mr. Locascio, president of the meal enhancers category at ConAgra, to take action: “Hunt’s is by far the best ketchup ever, but please start making a variety without the high-fructose corn syrup,” wrote Jennifer from New Hampshire.
Now here’s corporate thinking to believe in, gotta please those shareholders. As the author of the article says, eating fewer chips potato chips is not an option. Hamilton Nolan writes on Gawker:
Health food manufacturer and exponentially dimensionalized fulcrum of universal gravity PepsiCo is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to make America healthier, with things like “designer” salt crystals for Lay’s potato chips. What else could they do?
Because of inherent concern about the health of you, the consumer, PepsiCo spent more than $400 million in product development costs last year, all with an eye towards developing products that will kill Americans more slowly. “What we want to do with our ‘fun for you’ products is to make them the healthiest ‘fun for you’ products,” said PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi, emphasizing PepsiCo’s dual commitment to health and to providing a nonstop party in your mouth.
From NYC Green Schools:
Regulation A-812 prohibits home-baked foods from being sold at school fundraisers, while permitting Doritos and Pop-Tarts instead! Yes, this regulation mandates that if we want to raise money for our schools, we have to buy and sell junk food to our children!
VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION TO REGULATION A-812!
— Our schools cannot become venues for big food corporations, like Pepsi Cola and Kellogg’s to advertise and sell their processed foods to our children!
— Our children must not receive the message that junk food is healthier for them than foods cooked at home!
— We, as parents, must be allowed to participate in the discussion about our children’s health and nutrition!
To the surprise of, well, hardly anyone, the BBC reports on a link between eating a lot of processed foods and depression. As if we needed any more reasons not to eat junk (for more on that see the disinformation documentary film Killer at Large)…
Eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression, research suggests. What is more, people who ate plenty of vegetables, fruit and fish actually had a lower risk of depression, the University College London team found.
Data on diet among 3,500 middle-aged civil servants was compared with depression five years later, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported. The team said the study was the first to look at the UK diet and depression.
They split the participants into two types of diet – those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.