Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chick-Fil-A, Subway, Kraft, Cheerios: Changes Made at Public Demand

More good news that public opinion is working to force mega-corporations to make their highly processed food products healthier. 

Last month, I reported that public sentiment recently pressured manufacturers and retailers to begin taking bold steps to label or halt using GMO ingredients and foods

  • Target quietly introduced its "Simply Balanced" brand of USDA-certified organic products.
  • General Mills altered original Cheerios to include only non-GMO ingredients
  • Whole Foods will no longer sell Chobani yogurt because of "the yogurt maker’s use of milk from cows whose feed is derived from genetically engineered crops."
Now comes terrific news of dozens more changes to highly processed foods... changes to remove ingredients that never belonged in healthy foods.  Among these welcome changes...

Kraft Singles, manufactured since 1949 by Kraft Foods. will shed artificial preservative sorbic acid, to be replaced by natamycin, which Kraft dubs as "natural." The European Union, which has notoriously higher food standards than the USDA, has approved natamycin for use in cheeses.  

"Consumers are looking for those less artificial cues and messages. Those messages are more meaningful to consumers than they have been in the past." observed Gavin Schmidt, manager of cheese research and development at Kraft.

Eliminating artificial preservatives won't make Kraft Singles devoid of chemicals or a real, rather than fake, food. But it's a definite step in the right direction for Americans' health. 

Subway, the world's largest fast food restaurant, is removing a chemical, azodicarbonamide, from its breads, in response to public outcry started by one astute blogger's petition. The chemical is used as a dough conditioner, but is  also found in yoga mats, shoe rubber, and synthetic leathers.  

Azodicarbonamide is banned from foods in Europe and Australia, but classified as "safe" by the USDA. Per the World Health Organization:
"Case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers."    
Center for Science in Public Interest studies show that when the chemical is baked in bread it creates the carcinogen urethane and "leads to slightly increased levels of urethane in bread that pose a small risk to humans."

Removing one chemical from the many dozens hidden in Subway sandwiches doesn't make its fare much healthier.  But removal does make their bread less of a risk for health-sensitive consumers.  (Read Subway's Chemical-Laced Sandwiches: Fooled by the Look, Taste of Freshness.)

Chick-Fil-A announced that within five years, they will serve only chickens raised without antibiotics. This commitment will command extraordinary effort since more than 90% of all chickens destined for U.S. consumption are grown in factory farms heavily dependent on antibiotics. Chick-Fil-A sales topped $5 billion in 2013.  Enthused management:
"When the people who matter most to you ask you to do something important --- you listen. So when our customers started asking us about antibiotics in chicken, we began exploring our options....
"This is why we are collaborating with national and regional poultry suppliers to build a supply chain based on chickens raised with no antibiotics. We are asking suppliers to work with the USDA to verify that antibiotics are never administered from the hatchery to the processing plant...Changes like these take time, but we believe this is the next step in honoring our heritage and our continued commitment to service and quality."
Change Dictated by People, Not Political Leaders

Federal and state political leaders have failed to keep the U.S. food supply clean of chemicals, additives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and artificial flavors and colors deemed unsafe and unfit for eating in much of the world, and certainly in all other developed, democratic countries.

But business market forces, fueled by public buying decisions, are exerting massive pressure on industrial fake-food mega-corporations to change their highly processed ways.    

McDonalds, for instance, rang-up surprisingly sluggish sales for the fourth quarter of 2013, amid reports that it's "losing customers, as the world's largest hamburger chain struggles to attract diners with its higher-priced sandwiches and new offerings like Mighty Wings." 

Cited as the reason for falling sales at McDonald's? "A shift in eating habits toward foods people feel are fresher or healthier," per AP. "We've lost some of our relevance" lamented McDonald's CEO Don Thompson

So far, healthy changes have been minuscule to the U.S. food supply by major corporations. A mere French fry on a mountain of McDonald's finest fried GMO spuds. 

But the trend is good news! And made all the more good and powerful because, we, the people, are in charge. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fake Food Products Endorsed by Doctors: Bogus Claims, Empty Promises?

Be wary of food products endorsed by doctors. Very wary!

"When you see a product that's endorsed by a doctor, keep in mind that the doctor is probably being paid for that endorsement, just as if he were an athlete or an actor, so take it with a grain of salt," warned one local TV station

The medical establishment can be seduced by money to hawk all manner of questionable products, from dangerous prescription drugs to processed breakfast cereals, quasi-useless supplements, and genetically modified foods. Yes, even cigarettes, years ago. 

Not all in the medical establishment can be enticed by all-expenses-paid junkets, pricey speaking engagements, meals and gifts, scads of free samples, and various forms of direct payments.  

But sadly, far too many succumb to financial temptation from vendors with something to sell.

Ensure Drinks, Supplements
For example, take Ensure "nutrition drinks" and "meal supplements," which are manufactured by Abbott Nutrition, part of Big Pharma corporate giant Abbott Laboratories.   Abbott Labs  is the maker of addictive painkiller Vicodin and dozens of other highly profitable drugs.

"#1 doctor recommended brand" blares on the label of every bottle of Ensure's various nutrition drinks.  Yet, Ensure is formulated mainly of sugar and water, spiked with innumerable chemicals, and loaded with preservatives, additives, and artificial flavorings and colors. 

Writes the editor of of Ensure:
".. the top two ingredients in Ensure are almost identical to the top two ingredients in soft drinks! ... the top four ingredients (are): water, sugar, corn syrup and maltodextrin. That's basically three sweeteners and water. So if you were trying to be funny, you could call this product 'sugar-sugar-sugar-water,' because that is primarily what it's made of, according to the ingredients label... So essentially, what you have here with Ensure, is a predominantly sugar-water product that has been fortified with a few vitamins and minerals. 
"The phrase, 'Complete, balanced, nutrition,' in my personal opinion, is an outright lie. This product has nothing resembling complete, balanced nutrition..."

In 2012, sales of Ensure and Glucerna, its diabetic alternative to Ensure, were almost $2 billion.... thanks mainly to credibility lent to the products by many in the medical establishment. 

(Read Ensure Drink: Sugary Fake Food Pseudo-Wonder Tonic by Vicodin Maker for more.)

Wheaties Fuel Cereal
Another example is Wheaties Fuel cereal, introduced by General Mills in 2009, which based its appeal on endorsement by "Dr. John Ivy, a world-renowned expert on the role of nutrition and exercise performance." Commented Dr. Ivy, a professor at University of Texas, Austin who is associated with many consumer products:
"We’ve learned a lot about the bond between nutrition and performance over the years and as today’s athletes continue to get bigger, faster and stronger, it was important to develop a cereal that evolved along with them,”
Five years later, Wheaties Fuel is hard to find, and for good reason: this cereal aimed at athletes is more costly, and yet, is essentially no healthier than run-of-the-mill Wheaties cereal. Maybe less healthy for most people... 

Critiqued in 2010:
"As someone who is big on nutrition and an obsessive label-reader, one thing is obvious: Wheaties Fuel is basically Wheaties with more fat and sugar.
"Regular Wheaties is a pretty simple cereal with only five ingredients: Whole grain wheat, sugar, salt, corn syrup and trisodium phosphate. One serving (3/4 cup) has 100 calories, .5 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar, 15 grams of other carbs, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, along with some added vitamins. Wheaties Fuel, in contrast, loads up on the sugar, with some added fat.... Fourteen grams of sugar per serving is a lot for anyone who cares about their nutrition."
Miracle Foods from Obscure Ingredients
You've heard them hawked on infomercials and the internet, via multi-level marketing orgs... Acai berry, olive leaf extract, raspberry ketones... 

Here's another: Skyfruit, touted as...
"... only largely found in tropical areas in the South Pacific where its cleanest and unspoiled places like Solomon Islands. The people there have consumed Skyfruit internally for over 1000 years. It is known as the queen of plants and knowledge of its healthful properties has been handed down from generation to generation to the present day. Common in the South Pacific, Sky Fruit is also found in small quantity in other tropical areas of the world." promotes  that its "Herb Food Concentrate is made from 100% natural Skyfruit that is being advanced bio-technologically processed and prepared. The quality of XKLCare?products has earned worldwide recognition.? 

Testimonials? Of course, with claims of relief from inflammation, hypertension, backache, skin peeling,  asthma, even diabetes. 

Doctor endorsements? Absolutely. Five, including glowing statements:
  • "We desperately need XKLCare™ product. Instead of waiting for your health care ship to come in, with this product you're already aboard."
  • "It is with joy and pride that I endorseXKLCare™ product, the world's most potent natural food supplement."
  • ""If you think XKLCare™ product is expensive, try disease. Based on the preventive effect and strong antioxidant activity of XKLCare™ product, I would like to say that it is indeed the most incredible dietary supplement I have ever come across."

Be wary of products endorsed by doctors!  Don 't buy into the credibility lent to quasi-healthy fake-food products by doctors and other medical professionals seeking to fill their coffers.  

If tempted, do your homework. Check out both the medical professional and the product via a simple Google searches. And read the labels, friends. Be your own informed advocate.