FDA Bans Ingredient That Never Belonged in our Food

fast-food Photo Courtesy
Artery-clogging trans fats can be found it a whole slew of foods, from peanut butter, to pot pies. The levels of trans fats in foods have been lowered over the last two decades, but the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday they are eliminating all of them.

 Trans fats are no longer “generally recognized as safe” and any use of them will require permission from the FDA. Of course, it will take some time before all trans fats are eliminated from the products that line our grocery store aisles.

Trans fats have been found to cause many health problems. These fats raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower your “good” HDL cholesterol. This combination increases your risk for heart disease, which is the top killer of men and women in America. Trans fats clog arteries, and can lead to an elevated risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

There is also some evidence that trans fats can lead to increased risk of other chronic health problems, including, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. However, there is less scientific research on these disorders.

How to Avoid Trans Fats!

Transfat

1. Read Food Labels: Food products are allowed to label foods that contain less than 0.5g Trans fats per serving as having No Trans fats. (This is a HUGE problem when the FDA advices citizens to only ingest 1gram of trans fat PER DAY) Which they then joyfully display all over their colorful packages. Don’t believe what products display on the front, flip it over and read the ingredient list!

         Trans fats can be disguised as: Partially hydrogenated oil (soybean, canola, or others)

It sounds counterintuitive, but “fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oil doesn’t contain trans fat. The artificial process used to make completely hydrogenated oil doesn’t result in trans-fatty acids- like it does when partially hydrogenated oils are created. However, if a food label lists “hydrogenated” vegetable oil, it could mean the oil contains some trans fat. To be safe, it is best to avoid any foods that list any form of hydrogenated oils.

2. Limit intake of processed foods. Foods that have added trans fats are usually processed foods- not whole, real foods, with an easily comprehendible  list of ingredients.

3. Limit intake of fried foods. Some restaurants fry their foods in partially hydrogenated oils. This also means limiting fast food stops!

4. Cook and bake at home! If you are making your own food you know exactly what goes into it! (and what doesn’t!)

5. Support local farmer’s, buy from markets and produce stands, or plant your own garden!
GardenTrans Fat Bans Around the World
Denmark: First country to enforce strict laws limiting the sale of foods containing trans fats, in March 2003.
Switzerland: Banned trans fats in 2008.
Iceland: Total ban on trans fats.

Now that the FDA has announced the ban, the next step is removing it from foods in our grocery stores. AND making sure the replacement isn’t something just as unhealthy for us. Interesterified oil may not be the answer.

How do you feel about this recent ban? Are you happy with the FDA’s decision?

Sources: ABC NEWS
MAYO CLINIC
FDA
New England Journal of Medicine
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Article: Unsafe Food Supply

This is a summary of an article I read, which can be found here. I just thought it was a discouraging, and eye-opening article to read, and wanted to share a semi-shortened version on this blog. Full paragraphs I have taken from the original are placed in quotes, other parts I have paraphrased and summarized.

Our Unsafe Food Supply is Killing Us

The New FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law January 4, 2011, but the rules for this act were just drafted up a couple days ago. This long overdue legislation finally gives the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees about 80 percent of our food supply, authority to help prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness instead of just reacting to them.

However, in the huge effort to create a safe food supply for the U.S. this law barely scratches the surface.

“Every year at least 310,000 Americans go to an early grave and many more are sickened because of largely preventable diet-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes, and some cancers.The big problem with our food supply isn’t pathogens, it is processed food. We’re being killed not by E. coli, salmonella, or campylobacter, but by the nutritionally hollow contents of the bags, boxes, and fast-food clamshells that have managed to pass as nourishment in our society.”

Almost 70 percent of the calories most Americans now consume come from highly processed foods, loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium. 

“The fact is that much of our food supply is not safe, and the FDA, despite its new powers of oversight, doesn’t have anywhere near the authority or the political will it needs to help change this. The agency has done nothing to set controls on the massive quantities of sodium going into processed food, especially restaurant food, and still allows trans fat, an acknowledged poison, into products. And its oversight of the vast number of ingredients going into our food is much less reassuring than we might hope

fast-food

source:globalcitizencorps.org

Of about 5,000 substances that can be added to food, the FDA has no legislation, or even any knowledge of about 1,000 of them. Also, fewer than half of them have been subject to safety tests, such as toxicology tests in labs.

“Some of this lax oversight is due to agency officials who don’t have the stomach for protracted fights against well-funded food-industry interests. Certainly it’s harder to banish substances that don’t sicken or kill us immediately the way E. coli and salmonella can. But a lot of the blame—and the potential to change things—is in the hands of Congress, which has not given the FDA the authority or funding resources it really needs for the monumental task of overseeing our $1 trillion food supply.”

While we wait for the slow enforcement from government to place stricter regulations on the ingredients and processes associated with processed foods, what can we do to eat safer and healthier foods?

Despite the easy access and convenience of processed foods, we have the availability to eat healthy. “If we care about people dying before their lives are really over or having to endure preventable suffering, and our neighbors racking up huge medical costs that we all share, then that space on our plates for processed food shouldn’t be anywhere near 70 percent. Perhaps closer to 20 or 30 percent. It’s only then that we can call our food supply truly safe.”

healthy-eating-300Source: thedailygreen.com

There are easy ways to replace processed foods with healthy alternatives.
Here are a couple of hints if you are just transferring into a more unprocessed life style.

1. Eat whole foods, the kind that are still the way they grow in nature, not fooled around with by industry

2. Read nutrition labels on the back of products, try to avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce or have never heard of

3. Look up ingredients on the internet, find credible researched articles for a reliable source about the ingredient

4. Avoid fast food restaurants

5. Avoid frozen and prepared meals

6. Look up the dirty dozen produce and try to purchase those items organically

7. Know where your beef, pork, and poultry is coming from, look for truly grass fed and free-range options

8. Eat whole grains, make sure the ingredients list says 100% whole wheat, don’t believe what the front of the box says. Make sure there are no refined grains added.

9. Avoid hydrogenated oils, and partially hydrogenated oils, these are synonymous with trans fats

10. Make it homemade! Then you know exactly what is going into your foods, and I’m sure most people don’t have Red no. 40, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, or high fructose corn syrup in their cupboard.

Also see the 100 days of real food list of defined rules of eating “real” foods, for a more in depth description of ways to go real!

What do you practice to eat healthier, safer foods?