Dietary guidelines for Americans. An ongoing food industry joke.

It was thirty years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. Despite an allergy to petrochemicals that was so bad I couldn’t tolerate reading a newspaper, on that particular Thursday I picked up Jack’s Chicago Tribune, turned to an inside section and read the announcement that the FDA was holding hearings and asking for input on nutritional labeling that would soon be appearing on food labels.

Over the weekend I worked nonstop to convince Jack he had no choice but to attend. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. He had to give testimony to the fact that monosodium glutamate used in food causes adverse reactions. And on Monday he called the FDA Chicago office requesting permission to testify.

Dr. George Schwartz flew in from Santa Fe to take part in the hearings. We had read his book, In Bad Taste: the MSG Syndrome, but had not yet met him. We also met Barbara Mullarkey, who introduced us to the horrors of vaccines as well as various toxic foods. But it was Big Food that stole the show. They were there, all of them, representatives of major food companies each pretending to suggest labeling that would benefit consumers, while actually pushing ways to hide the salt, sugar, trans fats and any of the other undesirables that permeated their products.

I hadn’t thought about those days for years. Then a press release issued by the Nutrition Coalition titled “Member(s) of USDA committee blow whistle on serious flaws in dietary guidelines process,” arrived in my inbox. The first sentence summed it up, saying: “One or more Members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Suggest Process Lacks Scientific Integrity and Rigor.” (The Dietary Guidelines are promoted by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services as “information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.”)

Could it be? Isn’t Big Food still in charge of safeguarding the many secrets of those harmful ingredients used in food, typically well hidden from consumers? Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

The whistle-blowing letter was dated June 2, 2020, addressed to Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The critic(s) provided details of reviews that were unreliable and scientific evidence that was excluded. “Ensuring that all the best and most current science is properly reviewed for the purposes of establishing the 2020 DGA (Dietary Guidelines for Americans) is fundamental, and any action to rely upon unreliable reviews or exclude scientific evidence must be considered flawed. The thought that many dozens, if not hundreds of scientific studies are being excluded by the DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) is unconscionable.”

Who are these people, the 20 nationally recognized experts chosen to serve on the independent 2020 DGAC? Their charge is to review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services and provide a report on their findings to the Secretaries.

The DGAC chairperson and one other are at the University of California, Davis, home of one of our finest programs for food technology, serving the interests of Big Food. One is at the Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor being on record as hosting research initiated by glutamate-industry interests. One is at the University of Iowa, seat of the original industry-sponsored deceptive and misleading studies of the safety of MSG and aspartame. Possibly all belong to the Institute for Food Technologists, professional designers of chemical-laced foods.

Why would some of these people provide reviews that are unreliable and/or omit relevant studies from consideration? Do some or all of these people serve the interests of Big Food just as Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., toxicologist, respected member of the Institute for Food Technologists, and unacknowledged chairman of Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee served the glutamate industry until he was exposed for supplying placebo material containing excitotoxic aspartic acid to researchers doing industry’s double-blind studies of the safety of MSG?

The question remains unanswered. Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

Adrienne Samuels

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Big Food has some big plans for you. Here’s how to fight back!

At a time when gathering provisions to feed your family has become an unprecedented challenge, the matter of what is in that food seems to have taken a back seat. And don’t think Big Food isn’t well aware of that.

That’s why a book like A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives (Skyhorse Publishing, March, 2020) by longtime health and environmental journalists Linda and Bill Bonvie couldn’t be timelier.

This well-researched and fully updated book makes clear the kinds of processed foods we’ve gotten into the habit of consuming – and which are now being labeled as indispensable “comfort foods” – are just the kinds that can be lowering our ability to resist illness, be it COVID-19, the flu or any number of other opportunist infections. And that’s in addition to many of the devastating diseases we’ve grown to accept as “normal” such as diabetes and dementia, along with a variety of auto-immune illnesses.

First, however, let’s take a brief look at how industry is using this deadly pandemic to make sure we keep buying its products. There is no crisis, big or small, that Big Food isn’t ready, willing and able to take advantage of.

Gotcha!

What could tug at your heartstrings more than a little girl quarantined with her loving dad who misses her mom and grandma? That’s the “spin” the Uncle Ben’s brand (owned by Mars) is now using in its commercials. Yes, the spot is endearing, and it will keep plenty of consumers focused on “grandma’s recipe” and the difficulties of isolation instead of the many chemical additives in Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice mixes – including some you’ll find covered in A Consumer’s Guide.

Kraft/Heinz, another mega-multinational that makes billions churning out ultra-processed foods such as Lunchables, Ore-Ida, Kool-Aid and Velveeta, has adopted a rallying cry incorporated in its new commercials for this pandemic of “We Got You America.” Yes, they certainly do.

Post Cereal, makers of Fruity Pebbles (which comes with five artificial colors and the preservative BHA – more additives covered in the book), has started providing kids with daily videos to help “ignite” their “creativity, imagination, happiness and sense of exploration in every bowl of Pebbles.”

And Impossible Foods, makers of the impossibly additive filled, ultra-processed fake meat products such as the “Impossible Burger,” has been able to use this crisis to maneuver its goods into a trifecta of 777 additional grocery stores around the U.S.

All of these brands, and many, many more, are running creative spots produced by some of the best and brightest advertising minds in the land, all hoping to craftily convince you that ingredients don’t matter. Unfortunately, most of these processed foods contain additives that make them basically unfit for human consumption.

While A Consumer’s Guide only covers 13 of the many toxic food additives in use, they are, in fact, a baker’s dozen of what you’re most likely to find in today’s processed products. It tells you not just why you need to avoid them, but how to as well.

Along with aspartame, artificial colors, fluoride (yes, it’s an additive), and genetically modified ingredients (also additives), the book covers some lesser known issues such as what commercial fats will be taking the place of partially hydrogenated oils, what preservative is linked to impaired immune function and how the media is easily manipulated to sell products under the guise of “news.”

It’s certainly a cliché, but still true: Knowledge is power. And when you’re up against Big Food and all of its resources you need all the power you can get.

A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives can be purchased here:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/consumers-guide-to-toxic-food-additives-linda-bonvie/113273321
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The FDA’s plan to ‘ban’ a dangerous fat appears to open the door for yet another one

Guest blog by Linda Bonvie

If you’ve been following the saga of trans fats – the artery-clogging substances created by partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which were once a staple in cookies, crackers, pastries and shortenings — you no doubt know that the FDA several years ago finally got around to developing a slow-motion plan to remove them from the food supply. But despite the fact that doctors, regulators, nutritionists and everyone else is in agreement that the trans fats created by PHOs are killers, the FDA has shockingly given the food industry until 2021 to stop shipping foods that contain them to stores.

Of course, many products have already been reformulated, including the one that launched the trans-fat ship back in 1911, Crisco, which changed its ingredients from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to soybean oil and “fully hydrogenated palm oil” – a process that produces no trans fats. But is that any healthier?

The excerpt below from “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives: How to Avoid Synthetic Sweeteners, Artificial Colors, MSG, and More,” by Linda and Bill Bonvie (release date March, 2020, Skyhorse Publishing), should give you an idea of how this PHO “ban” is playing out and what fats are taking its place. Hopefully this will inspire you to avoid processed foods in your diet as much as you possibly can.

The interesting case of interesterified fats

What appears to be taking the place of PHOs are oils that have been altered, either chemically or enzymatically, known as interesterified (IE) fats. Interesterification basically transforms an oil into a solid. And interestingly, fats that are changed in this manner behave a lot like partially hydrogenated oils do in terms of texture and allowing products to have a longer shelf life.

If you’re thinking that sounds suspiciously unhealthy, so are a lot of scientists and researchers. In fact, the conclusion that most experts reach on this ingredient is that we know way too little about the effects it may have on our health – especially heart health. To quote Yogi Berra, it sounds like “déjà vu all over again.”

The studies that have been published on IE fats range from conclusions that the “impact on cardiovascular health is unknown,” to “consumption of interesterified fats may be the cause of the continuous increase in cardiovascular deaths in the United States,” to findings that IE fats raise total cholesterol and even fasting blood glucose by nearly 20 percent.

And while many consumers may have become savvy in looking for partially hydrogenated oils on food labels, as far as IE fats are concerned, there appear to be no specific rules on how they are to be listed. Such fats can appear on ingredient labels as “vegetable oils,” “fully hydrogenated oils,” “Palm oil,” “palm kernel oil,” “high stearate” or “stearic rich” fat. As a group of independent researchers commented, those who “rely on and trust regulatory bodies to protect public health are ultimately the ones who may suffer potential health risks from this lack of transparency.”

But there are those who have another idea for you where fats are concerned, an up-and-coming product that also brings back memories, this time of a fat replacement that was the stuff of bathroom humor back in the 1990s.

‘Have your cake and eat it,’ but do you really want to?

The many foods that Epogee is trying to convince Big Food to use its esterified propoxylated glyerol fat in.

The search for a “fat” with zero calories is the stuff that Big Food’s dreams are made of. And industry thought it had that nailed decades ago when olestra debuted in fat-free WOW and Pringles chips.

But it didn’t take long for adverse reaction reports to start coming in, many collected by the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, with people blaming olestra for horrible cramps, terrible diarrhea, and unspeakable smells.

Now comes EPG, a.k.a. esterified propoxylated glycerol, “the revolutionary new” fat replacement that, just like olestra, passes through the body virtually unabsorbed, and voila, results in over 90 percent fewer calories being metabolized than if a real fat were used!

Of course the company behind this brainchild of caloric reduction, Epogee, claims that they have “better chemistry,” and learned from Procter & Gamble and its olestra experience. With EPG we’re told you can “have your cake and eat it” without the fear of anal leakage.

While that is a comforting thought, both the history of no-cal fat replacements and the origins of EPG aren’t quite as reassuring.

Beginning its journey to your plate back in 1989 when Arco Chemical obtained a patent for a process to make further use of its “workhorse chemical” propylene oxide (which is also a player in the manufacture of such diverse things as furniture foams, car seats, waterproof clothing and even the fumigation of nuts), EPG is now poised to be incorporated into foods ranging from baked goods to ice cream to sauces, nut butters and pasta.

Of course, the FDA would have to approve the use of this chemically altered fat ingredient, right? Well, not exactly.

By taking advantage of what’s been called the “fast track” to GRAS, and using the exact same loophole as for olestra, all that the applicant needed was to have a company official sign off on a “GRAS exemption claim” that it has determined EPG is “generally recognized as safe based on scientific procedures” – with no filed petition or FDA analysis of those scientific procedures required.

The unfinalized proposed rule that allows this has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit first filed by the Center for Food Safety back in 2014.

So despite all the headway made in the removal of PHOs from the food supply, it seems to perfectly illustrate the proverbial one-step-forward and two-steps-backwards principal that is so often characteristic of hard-fought reforms to eliminate harmful additives from processed foods.