FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Ingredients: What Consumers Want?

Food additives are listed on the ingredient lists of packaged food products. There are many that have been used for decades. If they were used before 1958 when the Food Additives Amendment was passed, they are considered prior-sanctioned substances since they were already in common use. Another group of substances were described as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) . Both these categories were excluded from the food additive regulation process.  Just because an additive is on either of these lists doesn’t mean it’s safe. if new evidence emerges that suggests it is unsafe, the FDA may take action to remove the substance from food products. Some ingredients are not welcomed by consumers recently. To see the most common ones:

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Food Additives-Are Emulsifiers Safe?

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Emulsifiers are food additives commonly used to keep processed foods stable on the shelf. They are added to blend oily and water-based ingredients in processing of foods to keep them consistently mixed so they do not separate. Scan the ingredients on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums. On the label they are also listed as soy lecithin, mono-and-diglycerides,  sorbitan monostearate and found in salad dressings, peanut butter, chocolate, margarine, frozen desserts. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, and even veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.

Food additives are supposed to be thoroughly tested before they enter the food supply but recently the FDA has been letting down the regulations for some reason. A 2013 study found that almost 80 percent of the chemicals the agency allows in foods lack testing information. In the case of emulsifiers, the FDA should reconsider its testing for safety since it is now in so many different foods and many people may be consuming far more than original estimates. Originally emulsifiers were among the food additives placed on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. These additives are not subject to FDA review unless there is some reason to do so. However, recent research suggests that there is reason to do so.

An earlier study from Georgia State University showed that emulsifiers changed the good bacteria in the guts of mice and may play a role in the development of colon cancer. In a follow-up study mice were fed two emulsifiers in their water and the results showed high levels of inflammation in the gut microbes that favored tumor growth.

Another study published in the journal Nature suggests that these ingredients may contribute to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease possibly due to gut microbe activity. This study also fed mice emulsifiers in water in levels approved for use in food and/or levels that emulated the amount that would be consumed if a lot of processed foods are used. The emulsifiers tested were polysorbate 80 (common in ice cream) and carboxymethylcellulose. Many of these emulsifiers are used in gluten-free products and some reduced-fat dairy products. In this study, mice with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal symptoms, ate more and became obese, hyperglycemic and insulin resistant. Mice with abnormal immune systems developed chronic colitis.

These studies offer some doubt about the safety of some food additives exemplified by the ubiquitous use of artificial emulsifiers in processed foods.   Maybe it is time the GRAS list is reviewed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Additive Problems?

English: Template for Template:Food safety

English: Template for Template:Food safety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It appears that some food additives are being added to processed foods without the proper testing methods  and are added under a new definition of the Generally Recognized  As Safe (GRAS) rules.  Watch out for Quorn (vegans beware) and carrageenan, in particular on the ingredient lists.  It makes one wonder what else is being added?  Do you have a food allergy?  Check out my previous post here.

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GRAS?

Fda

Fda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

HAVE YOU EVER READ THE WHOLE INGREDIENT LIST ON A FOOD PRODUCT? Not a fun thing to do, is it? What are all these ingredients and what do they do for us? Why are they used?

 

  • Many are used to impart or maintain a desired consistency, for example, alginates, carrageenen, mono-and diglycerides, methyl cellulose, pectin
  • Some improve/maintain nutritive value such as vitamin C, calcium carbonate, folic acid, B vitamins, iron, vitamins A and D, and zinc oxide.
  • Others maintain palatability and wholesomeness. Examples include BHA, BHT, citric acid, propionic acid, sodium nitrite and vitamin E to help
    prevent rancidity.
  • Some produce light textures and control acidity/alkalinity such as citric acid, fumaric acid, lactic acid, phosphoric acid, sodium bicarbonate, tartrates and yeast.
  • Others enhance flavor or provide desired color such as aspartame, caramel, cloves, FD&C red No 40, FD&C blue No. 1, fructose, ginger, limonene, MSG, tumeric.

 

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 gave the FDA authority to regulate food and food ingredients. The 1958 Food Additives Amendment further mandated that manufacturers provide documentation that the food additive is safe and to obtain prior approval for its use in a food.

 

In 1958, all food additives used in the U.S. and considered safe at that time were put on a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) list. These additives either had a long history of being safe to consume or had documented research verifying its safety, These additives included salt, sugar, spices, vitamins among others. Since that time, some substances have been reviewed and removed from the list such as cyclamate and red dye #3 due to their link to cancer. Many of the GRAS chemicals have not yet been rigorously tested primarily due to cost.

 

Most nutrition sources proclaim the use of food additives is strictly regulated by the FDA. This does not seem to be the case.   Safety requires testing on at least two animal species and scientists determine the highest dose of the additive that produces no observable effects in the animals. Many of the GRAS chemicals have not yet been rigorously tested primarily due to cost. Recently a new paper discussed how lax this regulation is and that some companies are using additive quietly on a “self-determined” GRAS list with any testing or approval from the FDA

CLICK HERE.

 

 

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