Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Kudos to Campbell Soup for GMO Labels, Pushing Big Food to Follow Example

Here's something I rarely embrace:  an international mega-corporation that manufactures canned, packaged, and frozen food products, and generates upward of $8 billion in annual revenues.

But let's give credit where courageous credit is due.  

Kudos to Campbell Soup Company, the 150-year-old American company still headquartered on U.S. shores, in New Jersey. A company with products sold in more than 120 countries. 

Last week, Campbell broke ranks with its Big Food industry corporate competitors by declaring that all its products will clearly disclose the presence of genetically modified ingredients.  Wrote Campbell in its January 7, 2016 press release:
"Campbell Soup Company today announced its support for the enactment of federal legislation to establish a single mandatory labeling standard for foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
"Campbell believes it is necessary for the federal government to provide a national standard for labeling requirements to better inform consumers about this issue...
"As a result... Campbell will withdraw from all efforts by coalitions and groups opposing such measures... Campbell is prepared to label all of its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs...  With 92 percent of Americans supporting the labeling of GMO foods, Campbell believes now is the time for the federal government to act quickly to implement a federal solution."
Finally!  A Big Food company that respects basic consumer rights to know what's in their food. To let consumers decide for themselves whether or not to buy GMO foods to serve at home.

Campbell President Denise Morrison penned:
"We put the consumer at the center of everything we do.  That’s how we’ve built trust for nearly 150 years.  We have always believed that consumers have the right to know what’s in their food...
"In addition, we have declared our intention to set the standard for transparency in the food industry. We have been openly discussing our ingredients, including those derived from GMO crops, through our website... We have announced the removal of artificial colors and flavors from our products."
Big Food Has Fiercely Fought the Right to Know

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What the World Thinks of GMOs

"There’s been a lot of hubbub surrounding our domestic battles to mandate labels for genetically modified organisms, or GMO foods. 

"So much din, in fact, that you might not have noticed other countries out there, wrestling with their own policies on the controversial products. In fact, Scotland just made history by opting out of growing all genetically modified crops. And it might set a precedent...

"Outside the U.S., many governments have followed the “precautionary principle,” a risk management strategy that requires scientific consensus on whether something is harmful. In essence, it puts the burden of proof on GMO proponents to show these foods are safe beyond a reasonable doubt.
"This principle has been employed in a whole range of circumstances around the globe. Take Haiti, for instance. After the brutal earthquakes in 2010, Monsanto announced it would donate tons of its ever-so-controversial Roundup-ready corn seeds. Haitian farmers rejected the donation, even after Monsanto back-pedaled and said they would send non-GM seed. Back in 2002, Zambia similarly rejected food aid that included GM products....

"Here’s a list of countries that currently require some form of labeling for products with GMO ingredients:..."

To read the full article, click here at Rodale's Organic Life

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell Rated Worst by Customers

Three cheers for 2015 fast-food aficionados!  

Selling 20th century-style greasy, salty, cheap fast food is a loser in the 21st century, per a recent nationwide survey of 70,000 customers. Customer preferences in 2015?  
  • Fast and casual food eateries that have eliminated artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from their fare. 
  • Meats produced without antibiotics and synthetic hormones.  
  • Produce grown in a sustainable manner, so pesticides aren't necessary to grow crops.  
  • Food not dripping with grease, and often including freshest produce.  
Think Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Chick-fil-A, the three top vote-getters in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index.  

Think 21st-century corporations that equate healthier fare... for customers and for the environment... with healthier profits.  Corporations with founders or management that act like they give a damn about community and world.  

The losers in the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Survey of fast and casual food corporations?  From the bottom:
  • McDonald's - Rock-bottom last (by a wide margin)
  • Taco Bell - Tied for second-to-last 
  • Burger King - Tied for second-to-last 
  • Jack-in-the-Box - Tied for second-to-last 
  • KFC - One point from tying for second-to-last 
Observed survey authors, "Customers seem to perceive the traditional burger chains as increasingly tired brands — industry competition is fierce, and shifting consumer preferences for healthier food is taking a toll."

Customer satisfaction winners in 2015? The top four are:

#1 - Chick-fil-A, which includes in its Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility website sections, company policies on recycling, water usage, energy efficiency, air quality, and waste, and states that "We know that how food is grown and sourced is of importance to customers. We are working to understand and take the right actions to ensure a sustainable and competitive menu in the future."

#2 - Chipotle Mexican Grill, a company dedicated to Food with Integrity, which means:
  • "...vegetables grown in healthy soil, and pork from pigs allowed to freely root and roam outdoors or in deeply bedded barns."
  • "There's no place for non-therapeutic antibiotics and synthetic hormones on the farms that produce our ingredients."
  • "We serve more local produce than any restaurant company in the U.S. In 2014, we served over 20 million pounds of locally grown produce, and plan to increase our numbers every year."
  • "We set minimum space requirements for the animals producing the meat and dairy products that end up in our restaurants. We work with our suppliers to ensure the highest possible animal welfare standards."
#3 - Panera Bread, which sets forth under Our Beliefs - Food as it Should Be, goals of:
  • Clean Ingredients - " We’re committed to sourcing and serving high-quality ingredients without artificial additives including added MSG, artificial trans fats, and ingredients we don’t believe need to be in your food."
  • Transparent Menu"We’re committed to transparency that empowers guests to choose how they want to eat."
  • Positive Impact - "Panera is on a journey to ensure the highest possible animal welfare standards (including)... our reduction in use of antibiotics and confinement."
#4 - Papa John's Pizza, which promises "Better ingredients. Always had them. Always will." and specifically lists all ingredients on their website. Among company commitments:
  • No trans fats
  • No fillers in our meat toppings
  • No cellulose
  • No partially hydrogenated oils

Eating home-cooked meals made with freshest ingredients is far healthier than a steady diet of fast food, no matter what their corporate promises.  

But we all eat out, and these days, we usually opt for convenience as well as taste.  

Three cheers for 2015 fast-food aficionados, which includes... well, all of us, it seems.  We're making better choices for our health and for our communities and world.  

And finally,,, finally!...  customer choices are sinking the cynical fortunes of those industrial corporate bastions of  cheap 20th century-style greasy, salty, sugary fast food filled with chemicals, additives,preservatives, fillers and artificial flavors, colors and textures.  

Power to the people!  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fast-Food Tainting: Rare but Real, Scary (McDonald's, Chick-fil-a, Burger King, Wendy's?)

Food tampering is a federal offense, punishable by prison... if caught. By all reports, food tampering is rare, but it's also rarely caught.  

It's also another healthy reason to avoid fast food eateries, and instead, enjoy home-cooking with known ingredients made by trusted home cooks.  

Food tainting, intentional and unintentional, is mainly a corporate-owned fast-food industry problem, which employs a largely low-wage workforce of young, inexperienced workers to flip burgers, make and pour coffee, and the like. 

(Below, see Tips to Avoid Food Tainting)

Among recent public examples of food tampering crimes are...

In 2012, 19-year-old "...Marvin Washington, Jr., an employee at a Simpsonville, South Carolina McDonald’s, was arrested for allegedly spitting phlegm and 'bodily fluid' into a mother and daughter’s unsweetened tea."  (Source - WebProNews, Huffington Post)

In 2008, "Two men were arrested last week for spitting in a police officer's chicken sandwich at the McDonald's on Route 481 in Fulton, police said today..."  One worker informed the other "he was making food 'for a cop' and told him to 'make it special,' Fulton police said." (Source -

In 2009, "In what became a YouTube sensation, a Domino’s Pizza worker in North Carolina was filmed by a female accomplice doing things such as sticking shredded mozzarella up his nose, spitting on sandwiches, and rubbing a sponge on his naked ass before using it to clean dishes. Since it was never proved that the food was served, he only received two years of probation for the felony charge."  (Source - Thought Catalog)

Food-Tainting Claims by Anonymous Employees

Hundreds of food-tainting examples posted by anonymous fast-food employees range from careless to repulsive to dangerous, and are mostly believable.  A small sampling of credible-seeming comments posted at one site,, includes... 

"Once when I worked at a Boston Market, I saw someone drop a meatloaf on the floor and then cut it up and serve it."

"I worked at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant for about five years in high school and through college... the worst I ever saw was that while filleting the chicken breasts and one would fall on the floor, the owner would say wash it off and it would be ok...."

" girlfriend...worked at an ice cream parlor. She was cutting up a banana split, and sliced her finger open. Blood ended up, among other places, in the banana split... her boss inquired about what happened. When she told him, and specifically mentioned that she'd make a new one since she bled in the first one, he told her to serve it anyway."

"I was night manager at a pretty busy freestanding Chick-fil-a for almost 3 years and I never saw anything deliberate to mess with someone...There were plenty of times where we would use 2-3 day old salad ingredients because they still looked ok and we had to get rid of them, or use hour old nuggets because some idiot cooked a whole damn bag of them when we didn't need anymore, and you can't throw out $300 of food, right? The most consistant shady thing was serving old/cold food after 8:30 or 9 when everyone is just trying to shut down and go home."

"I've worked at both McDonald's and Wendy's, and never saw anyone intentionally messing with food... I also have to say that I will never, ever consume Wendy's chili. At the store I worked at, at least, it was made by taking any overcooked, dropped, or expired sandwich patties and tossing them into the pot. I once watched the store manager cutting mold off of uncooked burgers and then putting the rest of the burger in the chili vat."

"Our local Burger King had an incident where a cop did tests on a burger that he ordered and found saliva in it. The BK was either shut down because of this or just went out of business because no one wanted to eat there afterwards."

"I worked for a very short time at a McDonald's when I was in high school. I never at any time noticed any deliberate tampering with the food, but it was VERY common for employees to be coughing & sneezing without covering their mouths / noses and without washing their hands... So, I agree with those who say that a general lack of hygeine is probably a much more common issue than deliberate food tampering. That said, I would never deliberately piss off someone who can spend some private time with something you are about to eat, fast food or not."

"4 ½ years at a Burger King... there are strict rules for how long you can keep food around in the various staging areas (steamers, heat lamps, heat drawers) and they were almost NEVER followed. Most of the time food sat around until it was served, even if those half-cooked fish patties were sitting in the drawer half the night."

"Wendy's and Godfather's here, over 20 years ago now. No deliberate tampering that I knew of... The only thing at Godfather's was that it was hellishly hot next to the open, 600 degree ovens, so there was a lot of sweat dripping on the pizzas... I'll echo the point about Wendy's chili, to a point--I never saw anything truly nasty go in the chili, but that is, indeed, what happens to burgers that have sat on the grill too long."

And from a movie theater complex...
"I worked for a summer at a movie theater concession stand in Houston... as everyone has said, cutting corners and hygiene were issues, no doubt (old hot dogs/buns, stale nachos and cheese that had been sitting around for longer than it should have, workers probably not washing their hands).

"The two somewhat gross practices were actually mandated by the management. In the evening, one of the jobs of the people closing was to clean out the popcorn machine. You'd put the popcorn in a big trash bag and tie it up. Next morning, the opening crew dumped that back in the machine, and voila, that's your first batch of popcorn (mixed in, of course, with a fresh batch or two, to disguise it). 

"The really sick thing, though, bugged the hell out of me. We had those big bulk candy containers, where customers would scoop out whoppers and gummi bears and what-have-you and buy it by the pound... customers were always spilling out lots of candy on the ground. Well, the managers made us sweep it up and put it in the 'Super Mix' container.  I remember once when one of the managers gave me a big bag of candy that had been sitting in the stock room for months told me to clean it off and put it in the super mix."

Tips to Avoid Food Tainting
  • Be a pleasant, courteous customer. "Worst customer gets the worst food" is a universal rule. 
  • Don't order at restaurants that are not busy, or near closing time.
  • Order at restaurants where food-preparers and servers are in plain view.
  • If employees seem disgruntled, the food will be affected.
  • If the restaurant appears dirty or shabby, food preparation is more likely be shoddy. 
  • Do your research at Yelp, county health inspection records, and similar. 
"Idle hands are the devil's playground, order your food when the restaurant is busy and your food won't be intentionally tainted," advised one poster.  

The best advice, though?  Protect your health by instead, enjoying food made at home with known, healthier ingredients lovingly prepared by you or trusted cooks, not by corporate-hired, greatly underpaid, inexperienced, hourly workers. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kale Chips, Styrofoam and Michael Pollan: The Problem with Processed Health Foods

I thought I'd hit a healthy-food bonanza in a Big Lots store... crunchy, salty, yummy kale chips, Low in calories and guilt, yet still chips. Luscious chips.

After all, every aspiring foodie knows that unique, good-quality gourmet treats are found in nooks and small corners of certain bargain stores... Ross, Big Lots, Marshall's. (Oh, the Italian-made artisan pastas in Big Lots!) 

The chips were a steal at $2. Goldbaum's multigrain Kale Chips with a Touch of Salt sell for $5 a 3-oz pack on Amazon, and you're forced to buy a case of 12 for $60.  

I snatched up a bag of these guilt-free chips, and rushed home to savor a snack that's:
  • Certified gluten-free
  • GMO free
  • Preservative free
  • Trans-fat free
  • MSG free 
  • Additive free
  • Kosher certified
  • Baked
  • All natural
  • Low in sugar
At last! The perfect snack for those who won't sacrifice noshing while trodding the road to better health. 

Problem is... these chips are tasteless. Beyond bland. They have the texture and taste of cheap styrofoam. Or a much-used cardboard box. (These chips are salted? Really?)  

I suppose slathered with heaps of guacamole or a high-calorie dip, the unfortunate mouth-feel of these processed kale chips would disappear.  But that misses the whole point of buying guilt-free chips for snacking. 

Which brings me back to the two premises of author Michael Pollan's seminal "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual."  
  • Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.
  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
Whether intended as "healthy" or who-gives-a-damn delicious, processed food are processed, and not Real Food. Not produce nor meat nor dairy.  Fake foods. 

I was the fool, taken in by the "health halo" effect of pretty, window-free packaging with promises of guilt-free eating pleasure.  And like most supposedly super-healthy processed foods, it tasted horrible. 

"Kale powder" is listed as the 7th of 8 ingredients in these sallow-yellow chips.  No actual kale is shown as used. 

Homemade kale chips are green, made from kale leaves sprinkled with olive oil and salt, then baked until crunchy.  

At least I only paid $2, a small price to relearn Michael Pollan's smart lessons for eating.

As for the chips, I threw them into our rose planters to mix with the aging redwood bark cover. Might do some good there. And I have a hunch the bugs won't eat them, either.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Twinkies and Skittles for Breakfast? The Cereals that Damage Kids, Adults

Eating most U.S. cereals for breakfast is akin to eating a heaping bowl of pure sugar. Or a pile of candy bars and Twinkies. 

Just as Big Food corporations planned, U.S. breakfast cereals are designed to hook you as customer-for-life via addiction to a super-sweet, sugary surge to start your day...

Americans now consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, on average, added to processed foods. Breakfast cereals are among the highest sources of added sugar in our daily diet.  

Sugar-saturated, carb-heavy, chemical-drenched breakfast cereals take a poisonous toll on personal health, especially that of children. 

Physical health and fitness, dental health, even mental health and focus in both children and adults are proven conclusively to be damaged by high daily doses of sugar.

Yet Big Food corporations aggressively market breakfast cereals, especially to to young children, in greedy hopes of hooking them, too.  Consider these facts: 

  • 181 cereals are directly marketed in the U.S. to kids.
  • Kids' cereals with cartoon characters are among the most highly sweetened of all
  • On average, sugar is 34% of calories in cereals marketed to U.S. children
  • Sugar is more than 50% of calories in many cereals aimed at kids. 
  • More than 60 percent of children’s cereals contain a spoonful or more of sugar in every three spoonfuls of cereal. 
  • (Source - "Children's Cereals: Sugar by the Pound," a research project by the Environmental Working Group) 
Anyone eating a typical serving of kids' cereals would consume more than 10 pounds of sugar just from their breakfast bowls each year.  Cereals marketed to kids have 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber and 60 percent more sodium than those aimed at adults. 

A box of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks is more than 56% sugar, by weight. Incredibly, a box of one store brand, Lieber's Cocoa Frosted Flakes, tested as 88% sugar.  

Don't depend on the FDA  to protect Americans with warning labels that ultra-sugary breakfast cereals are dangerous to your health.  In the 21st century, federal agencies fiercely protect Big Food corporations over public interest.  

Here's my question:  If you wouldn't eat a heap of Hostess snacks... Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Sno Balls, Zingers and Honeybuns... for breakfast, why would you eat a brimming bowl of sugary breakfast cereal?

If you wouldn't serve to your kids a mound of Butter Fingers, Skittles, Milky Ways, Hot Tamales and Sour Patch Kids for breakfast, why would you give them a generous helping of cereal loaded with sugar, carbs, fillers, chemicals, and artificial colors and flavors?

Can't your kids depend on you to guard their health and welfare by feeding them nutritiously, rather than carelessly? 

Stop eating and serving sugar for breakfast.  You'll feel better and likely live longer, and so will your kids.  

And as a bonus, you'll thwart Big Food corporations from targeting and harming you, your loved ones and all Americans for the sake of profits. 

Related Reading

Lucky Charms: Poster Child for Industrial Junk Food? Fat Profits, Fat Kids

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Target, Walmart Selling Fake Ginkgo, Garlic, Ginseng Thanks to Political Loophole

This week, the New York State Attorney General charged Walmart, Target, Walgreens and GNC with selling "mislabeled" and "adulterated" dietary supplements.  

No surprise, at least to Fake Food Watch readers.  (See below for my list of other dietary supplements that should also be investigated by authorities... ) 

Many health supplements are fakes. Most, actually. Frauds. Bogus, pricey bait for consumers.  Neither effective, nor worth the billions Americans waste annually in vain hopes of improving their health. 

That's because "These drugs are not subject to the F.D.A.’s approval because of a loophole in a 1994 federal law (spearheaded by Utah Sen Orrin G. Hatch who received funding from supplement makers), fraudulent products can easily reach consumers without accountability or oversight," per    

Republican Sen. Hatch berated 2012 proposed legislation created to force greater accountability in the lucrative dietary supplement industry. 

Sen. Hatch bitterly railed against an amendment that would ..."require facilities engaged in the manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of dietary supplements to register with the FDA, provide a description with a list of all ingredients, as well as a copy of the labeling for each dietary supplement product.  Additionally, the facilities must also register with respect to new, reformulated, and discontinued dietary supplement products. 
While I appreciate my colleague’s commitment, his amendment is based on the misguided presumption that the current regulatory framework for dietary supplements is flawed..."  (Source - U.S. Senate website of Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah)
Findings of the New York State Attorney General?  Of 390 DNA barcoding tests performed on 78 samples of 24 generic products sold at the four retailers: 
  • At Walmart, "4 percent actually contained the ingredients listed on the label."
  • At Walgreens, 18 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • At GNC, 22 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • At Target, 44 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • (Source - Food Safety News)
Each sample was tested five times; samples were selected from all regions of New York state. The dietary supplements tested were garlic, ginseng, gingko biloba, St. John's wort, echinacea, valerian root, and saw palmetto.

Even I'm amazed at the incredible array of fake fillers found in these supplements in lieu of ingredients listed on the labels. "In many cases, the authorities said, the supplements contained little more than cheap fillers like rice and house plants, or substances that could be hazardous to people with food allergies," per the New York Times.

Specific ingredients found in supplements tested often included:

  • Dracaena, a houseplant (right photo)
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Palm
  • Wild carrot
  • Grass
  • Allium, from the garlic family
  • Radish
  • Daisy
  • Mung bean
Friends, don't waste your hard-earned money on dietary supplements. The industry is barely regulated. And profiteers, of course, prey on this regulatory loophole to line their rich pockets at your expense and the expense of your health hopes.

Among other products I urge state and federal regulators to also investigate for misleading consumers about the health benefits and/or ingredients are:

Raspberry ketones - See "Raspberry Ketones: Another Industrial Food Quasi-Scam?"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Detecting Fake Food: Take this App to the Market

I'm not an app person. Most make life busier and more complicated, not easier.  And like all of us, my smart-phone romance is already too intense.  

But I found one, free of charge, that fits the bill:  super easy  and fast for anyone to use and understand, and with a database of 80,000 grocery products found in U.S.stores.

I strongly recommend that you take this app to the market, and use it.  (Yes, that includes tech-befuddled baby boomers!) 

Food Scores by The Environmental Working Group, released in late 2014, assigns to each product an overall score from 1.0 ("best score") to 10.0 "worst score"), and below, shows the Score Breakdown by:
  • Nutrition Concern
  • Ingredient Concern
  • Processing Concern.
Below that is a third, succinct section that lists Top Findings, both positive and negative, for that product.  A fourth, more detailed section follows with Other Information.

One feature I especially like: products can be quickly either  scanned or keyed into the app. No holding up aisle traffic or restless kids.  

Food Scores by The Environmental Working Group can be downloaded for free at the iTunes and Google stores.  All information about this app, including score formulations, can be found at The Environmental Working Group website.  

Use this handy tool to easily detect and rank fake food in the grocery store.  

Use it to sort through the marketing BS, the pretty packaging, and the intentionally misleading lures of industrial corporations.  

Use it to improve the your health and that of your loved ones. Today. 

Related Reading

Top 12 Worst Food Additives in American Meals

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 12 Worst Food Additives in American Meals

The first "Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives" was released last month by the Environmental Working Group. 

The new guide-list of  chemical-based food additives is based on extensive scientific studies and on  EWG's massive new database, Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, which catalogs "more than 80,000 foods and 5,000 ingredients from about 1,500 brands."  

"The guide covers food additives associated with serious health concerns, ingredients banned or restricted in other countries, and other substances that shouldn't be in food. It turns the spotlight on some of the worst failures of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process for additives...
" 'With thousands of ingredients lurking in food, EWG wanted to bring attention to additives that may have implications for human health, and we wanted to expose how the food regulatory system has failed us,' Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist, said."
Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives

"Food should be good for you. But some is not. More than 10,000 additives are allowed in food.  Some are direct additives that are deliberately formulated into processed food. Others are indirect additives that get into food during processing, storage and packaging... 

"The guide covers ingredients associated with serious health concerns, additives banned or restricted in other countries and other substances that shouldn’t be in food."

1. Nitrites and nitrates -  "Used as a color fixative in cured meats, bacon, bologna, frankfurters, deviled ham, meat spread, spiced ham, Vienna sausages, smoked-cured tuna fish products, and in smoke-cured shad and salmon."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives", 2009) 

"In 2010, scientists at the World Health Organization... declared that ingested nitrites and nitrates are probable human carcinogens...  Studies have linked nitrites to stomach cancer. Some data also suggest an association with cancer of the esophagus; one study showed an increased risk in people who eat cured meats more often. There is also evidence that nitrites may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers... (Source - Environmental Working Group)

2. Potassium bromate - "This dough conditioner and bleaching agent, which was once widely used in bread baking, is considered... possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  In 1993, the World Health Organization recommended its removal from all food, and though it's banned in many countries, it's still permitted in the United States and Japan, where it continues to be used in buns at Burger King, Arby's, and Wendy's, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest...

"Very toxic when taken internally. Burns and skin irritation have been reported from its industrial use.  In toothpaste, it has been reported to have caused inflammation and bleeding of the gums.  

"The JECFA said in 1993 that new data about potassium bromate showed long-term toxicity and carcenogenicity including kidney tumors, tumors of the lining of the stomach, and thyroid tumors in rats..."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives", 2009) 

3. Propyl paraben - "Parabens are... widely used as preservatives in foods, cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals... In a previous study, it was demonstrated... that exposure of post-weaning mammals to butyl paraben adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system. In the present study, it is shown that propyl paraben also adversely affects the hormonal secretion and the male reproductive functions." (Source - National Institutes of Health, 2002 study

"Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity... Parabens are also linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation." (Source - The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics)

4. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) - "Here's a question for you: What food additive does the Food and Drug Administration deem 'generally recognized as safe,' while the National Institutes of Health, says it's 'reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen?'

"Here's a hint: It's a preservative, and you can find it in (drum roll, please): potato chips, lard, butter, cereal, instant mashed potatoes, preserved meat, beer, baked goods, dry beverage and dessert mixes, chewing gum, and other foods. Oh, also: rubber, petroleum products, and, of course, wax food packaging.  
The molecule in question is butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)... "  (Source -

"BHA is a petroleum-derived food additive that reduces the rate at which food spoils. It... is now used in a wide range of foods to prevent fat from going rancid. BHA is used in beverages, ice cream, snack foods, breakfast cereals, dehydrated foods and mixes, beer, chewing gum, candy, baked goods, instant mashed potatoes, and sausage.

"California’s Proposition 65 recognizes BHA as a carcinogen. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances lists BHA as a suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant. The Japanese National Institute of Health Sciences’ World Wildlife Fund lists BHA as a suspected endocrine toxicant. The Relational Database of Hazardous Chemicals and Occupational Diseases lists BHA as a suspected immunotoxicant and skin or sense organ toxicant."  (Source -, "Where Health Care Professionals Go for Information"

5. Butylated Hydroxtoluene (BHT)"BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a lab-made chemical that is added to foods as a preservative. People also use it as medicine. BHT is used to treat genital herpes and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Some people apply BHT directly to the skin for cold sores."  (Source -

"Extensive research has shown high doses of this ingredient to cause significant damage to the lungs, liver and kidneys. Oral consumption of this ingredient has also been shown to have toxic effects on the body's blood coagulation system...

"Because there lies a significant amount of conflicting research regarding the carcinogenic effects of BHT, it remains a controversial ingredient around the world. The US has banned it from being used in baby food because of its potential association with hyperactivity in children. It's also banned from food in Japan." (Source -

"The FDA says that the possibility that BHT may convert other ingested substances into toxic or cancer-causing additives should be investigated. BHT is prohibited as a food additives in the United Kingdom."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" by Ruth Winter, 2009)

6. Propyl Gallate - Propyl Gallate is "a preservative that is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It is used as a food preservative in foods that contain oils and fats, to stop food from spoiling. Some foods that commonly contain Propyl Gallate include... vegetable oil, meat products, soup bases, cereals, chewing gum...

"Propyl Gallate can cause allergic reactions in the form of an asthma attack in some people. It can also cause stomach and skin irritation, liver damage, kidney damage and has the potential to increase your chances of having cancer." (Source -

"New research suggests the dog food preservative, propyl gallate, may be responsible for causing a potentially dangerous health issue for dogs. That’s because of the chemical’s unique ability to mimic the negative effects of the female hormone, estrogen.

"... recent studies have linked propyl gallate with a special group of hormone-like compounds known as xenoestrogens (which) have the potential to adversely affect reproductive health.3 In humans, they have the ability to transform a normal breast cell into a cancer cell. Propyl gallate can also affect a developing fetus as well as decrease the sperm count in males." (Source -
7. Theobromine - "A study conducted in Utah between 1983 and 1986, and published in 1993, showed a possible association between theobromine and an increased risk of prostate cancer in older men.... Prenatal and infant exposure to theobromine appeared possibly associated with hypospadias and testicular cancer in one population study.

As with caffeine, theobromine can cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, as well as contribute to increased production of urine. Additional side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and withdrawal headaches."  (Source - Wikipedia)
"...closely related to caffeine.  It (theobromine) is used as a diuretic, smooth muscle relaxant, heart stimulant, and blood vessel dilator. "   (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" by Ruth Winter, 2009)
Hundreds of American foods, most containing processed cocoa or chocolate, include theobromine. Click here for a list of the 189 Foods Highest in Theobromine. (Source - Nutrition Data at Know What You Eat) 
Other Top 12 Worst Food Additives
8.  Secret flavor ingredients
9.  Artificial colors
10. DiacetylDiacetyl is a butter flavoring used in some food products like butter, butterscotch, butter flavored popcorn and some alcoholic beverages, especially beer and chardonnay wines.  
"The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has suggested diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring, may be hazardous when heated and inhaled over a long period. Workers in several factories that manufacture artificial butter flavoring have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs. The cases found have been mainly in young, healthy, nonsmoking males.
"Two bills in the California Legislature seek to ban the use of diacetyl. A 2010 U.S. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin and companion Worker Alert recommend employers use safety measures to avoid exposing employees to the potentially deadly effects of butter flavorings and other flavoring substances containing diacetyl or its substitutes."  (Source - Wikipedia)
11. Phosphate-based food additives - "Recently, a high-normal serum phosphate concentration has also been found to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in the general population. Therefore, phosphate additives in food are a matter of concern, and their potential impact on health may well have been underappreciated."  (Source - National Institutes of Health, 2012)
12. Aluminum-based food additives - "There are six aluminum salts that have been approved as food additives in the United States. The salts most commonly used are sodium aluminum phosphates. They are added to cake mixes, frozen dough, pancake mixes, self-rising flours, processed cheese and cheese foods and beer (in aluminum cans). Just one slice of individually wrapped processed cheese can contain up to 50 mg of aluminum. It is thought that the cheeseburger may contain one of the highest aluminum contents of any food...
"Dangers of Aluminum Toxicity -
  • It is particularly poisonous to the nervous system with a range of symptoms that can include disturbed sleep, nervousness, emotional instability, memory loss, headaches, and impaired intellect.
  • It can stop the body's ability to digest and make use of calcium, phosphorus and fluoride. This prevents bone growth and reduces bone density...
  • Toxicity can also result in aching muscles, speech problems, anemia, digestive problems, lowered liver function, colic and impaired kidney function."                  (Source - Dr. Anita Pepi)
"Many... question the safety of these (aluminum-based) food additives, however. The group known as the Department of the Planet Earth petitioned the FDA in September 2005 to rescind the GRAS (acceptable) rating for these additives, citing studies linking aluminum food additive ingestion to Alzheimer’s disease." (Source -
What Should You Do?
Study up!  Start by reading the Environmental Working Group's  "Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives."  

Lose processed and packaged foods from your food choices, and from that of your loved ones.  Now. Today. If not fully feasible, become an avid label reader. Make informed food choices.

Do it for your health. Please!

More from the Environmental Working Group

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