You are what you eat – but, do you really know what that even is?
According to research from the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a nonprofit that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality and purity of medicines, food, and other ingredients consumed worldwide, released the Food Fraud Database last year and found that food fraud has surged to 60% since their last study. There were around 800 new records added to the database from 2011-2012.
Last year, the study found that olive oil, milk, and honey had the highest number of fraud instances, but there is much more than that on its list. Liquids, pomegranate juice, spices, seafood, lemon juice, tea…and, no, don’t say it – coffee. I am a big fan of coffee and you might be surprised to see one of your favorites on this list too.
USP’s Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that “Food products are not always what they purport to be.”
He told ABC News in the exclusive interview that “Pomegranate Juice is a high-value ingredient and a high-priced ingredient, and adulteration appears to be widespread. It can be adulterated with other food juices…additional sugar, or just water and sugar.” He also added that some that claim to be pomegranate juice didn’t contain any traces of the real juice at all.
Liquids and ground foods seem to be the easiest to manipulate because they can easily hide ingredients by either diluting the liquid or adding inconspicuous ingredients without notice. While behind the scenes they drive profits up by not using the real thing.
There are some indications that you might not be choosing the real stuff. If it’s “too good to be true”, it probably is not the real thing. Choosing products that seem under-priced products is a huge red flag. Purchasing from trusted suppliers, retailers, and brands is more important to your health.
“How does this get by the F.D.A.?” one might ask. The answer might surprise you. Not only are there many of things that evade the F.D.A. regulations, but there are some that the F.D.A. completely approves of in the U.S. that is illegal or banned in many countries.
Jayson and Mira Calton’s new book Rich Food, Poor Food due out this February outlines lists of controversial ingredients that could be hazardous to your health and reasons why the U.S. and the Food and Drug Administration keep these products on the shelves. Jayson Calton, ph.D and Mira Calton, Licensed Certified Nutritionist, spent time on a six-year expedition that took them to 100 countries on 7 continents. The Caltons studied more than 150 ingredients and put together a comprehensive list of the top 13 problematic products that are forbidden by governments outside the U.S. due to their detrimental effects on human health.
Check out some of these ingredients that are still on shelves in the U.S. (thanks to Shape’s article for information on the subject):
Ingredients: Coloring agents (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6)
Found In: Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese
Why the U.S. Allows It: We eat with our eyes. “Recent studies have shown that when food manufacturers left foods in their natural, often beige-like color instead of coloring them with these chemical agents, individuals thought they tasted bland and ate less, even when the recipe wasn’t altered,” Calton says. This may explain why the use of artificial dyes—the most popular being red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6—have increased five-fold since 1955.
Health Hazards: Back in the day, food coloring came from natural sources, such as saffron and turmeric. “Today most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat products to preserve and protect the shine of industrial floors,” Carlton says. “It also appears in head lice shampoos to kill off the small bugs.”
Ingredient: Olestra (aka Olean)
Found In: Fat-free potato chips
Why the U.S. Allows It: Procter & Gamble Co. took a quarter century and spent a half a billion dollars to create “light” chips that are supposedly better for you, Calton says. They may need another half a billion bucks to figure out how to deal with the embarrassing bathroom side effects (including oily anal leakage) that comes with consuming these products.
Health Hazards: “This fat substitute appears to cause a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, robbing us of the vital micro-nutrients,” Calton says, adding that many countries, including the U.K. and Canada, have banned it.
Ingredient: Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO)
Found In: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas
Why the U.S. Allows It: BVO acts as an emulsifier, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages, Calton says.
Health Hazards: “Because it competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, elevated levels of the stuff may lead to thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer,” Calton says. That’s not all. BVO’s main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical that is considered both corrosive and toxic. It’s been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been nixed in more than 100 countries.
Ingredient: Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour)
Found In: Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips
Why the U.S. Allows It: This flour-bulking agent helps strengthen dough, reducing the amount of time needed for baking, which results in lowered costs, Calton explains.
Health Hazards: Made with the same toxic chemical found in BVO (bromine), this additive has been associated with kidney and nervous system disorders as well as gastrointestinal discomfort. “While the FDA has not banned the use of bromated flour, they do urge bakers to voluntarily leave it out,” Calton says.
Found In: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods
Why the U.S. Allows It: While most countries wait a week for flour to naturally whiten, the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour ASAP.
Health Hazards: It’s not enough to just ban this product in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical that’s been linked to asthma and is primarily used in foamed plastics, like yoga mats and sneaker soles.
Ingredients: BHA and BHT
Found In: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer
Why the U.S. Allows It: “Made from petroleum [yummy!], these waxy solids act as preservatives to prevent food from becoming rancid and developing objectionable odors,” Calton says. A better solution may be natural rosemary and sage. In a 2006 study, some organic herbs and spices proved to be efficient at preventing oxidative decay in meat, which ultimately could improve the shelf-life of these products.
Health Hazards: California is the only state that recognizes the U.S. National Institute of Health’s report that BHA is may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.
Ingredients: Synthetic hormones (rBGH and rBST)
Found In: Milk and dairy products
Why the U.S. Allows It: Gotta keep moo-ving things along. Dairy farmers inject cows with genetically-engineered cow growth hormones to boost milk production by about 10 percent, according to Calton.
Health Hazards: “Cows treated with these synthetic hormones often become lame, infertile, and suffer from inflamed and infected udders,” Calton says. Humans, who consume these cows byproducts, are in no better shape, she adds: “The milk is supercharged with IGF-1 (insulin growth factor -1), which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”
Found In: Poultry
Why the U.S. Allows It: Big brother FDA permits arsenic in chicken feed to promote growth, improve efficiency in feeding the birds, and boost pigmentation. “The arsenic affects the blood vessels in chickens and turkeys, causing them to appear pinker and, therefore, fresher,” Calton says.
Health Hazards: The European Union has outlawed the use of arsenic since 1999, Calton says, and the Environmental Protection Agency classifies inorganic arsenic as a “human carcinogen.” Take matters into your own hands by sticking to organic birds only.
Surprised? Many of us are. Functional Independence Home Care wants you to be aware of the potential risks to your health and how much you can affect your life with the foods you eat. This is especially important for those with low immune deficiencies, gastrointestinal disorders, other various eating disorders and diseases like diabetes. We have registered and certified dieticians and nutritionists that can help enhance your lifestyle and assist you with all your nutrition. Whether you are a diabetic or just need general nutritional education, we can improve your health through sensible eating, regular exercise and a positive outlook. We will make a treatment plan customized for your unique nutritional needs. Getting healthy is just a phone call away – just call 901.363.6046 or email us and a Functional Independence representative will help you get the care you need…because Caring IS our Business!