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Allergic to flossing? It can happen, small study finds

A Winnipeg researcher says that some people actually have a flossing allergy that affects the gums, but it’s very rare.

Many Canadians like to joke that they are “allergic to flossing,” which is why they never do it.

A report earlier this month seemed to let them off the hook, revealing there wasn’t a lot of evidence to support the practice.

Many dentists immediately scrambled to insist that flossing is as important as ever for preventing gum disease. But a new study finds that in a small group of patients, an allergy to flossing could actually be real.

Winnipeg periodontist Dr. Anastasia Cholakis recently published a study about four of these patients, all of whom found that flossing made their gum problems worse.

Cholakis, who is also a professor at the University of Manitoba, says one of her patients had a stubborn case of periodontal disease that persisted for years. The patient had been a meticulous tooth brusher and flosser, but still had terrible gums that were always red, swollen and bleeding.

“We had been trying to treat her for five to six years with no success. I could see the bone melting away from the teeth,” Cholakis tells CTV News.

A second patient came in who also had gum disease that could not be controlled, no matter how much she brushed and flossed. Then a third patient, and a fourth. Cholakis was at her wit’s end, trying to think what to recommend.

So she took a tiny sample of one of the patient’s gums to examine it under a microscope. She discovered a high number of plasma cells, which often emerge in certain allergic reactions.

flossing

Cholakis suspected that the patients had developed a hypersensitivity to something in their oral hygiene routine, wondering if they had grown allergic to flossing.

“Very flippantly, we said, ‘Stop flossing,” she says.

The patients did, and within a few months, the redness and bleeding were gone.

Cholakis suspects there is something in the wax coating or flavouring that triggers an allergic reaction to dental floss in some patients. She has recently published a paper in the Journal of the American Dental Association detailing what she noticed in her four patients.

Study co-author and oral pathologist Dr. John Perry says he and Cholakis were stunned that floss was the problem.

“We have never thought about dental floss…and dental floss changes over time in terms of components manufacturers use,” he said

It’s not clear what ingredient might be behind the reactions. Dental floss manufacturers are not obligated to list their ingredients, so they can change. Cholakis says she and her team were not able to get floss manufacturers to reveal the chemicals they use in their floss coatings.

CTV News contacted a number of floss manufacturers but didn’t hear back

Dr. Larry Levin, the president-elect of the Canadian Dental Association, says an allergy to dental floss is likely rare, but he still thinks manufacturers should start listing the ingredients in dental floss.

“I would want my patients to know specifically what it is they are using and as a practitioner, I would like to know what it is I am recommending,” he said.

In a statement to CTV News, a Health Canada spokesperson said that dental floss is listed as a Class I medical device, “representing the lowest risk out of 4 classes.”

Floss manufacturers must follow labelling rules, but those requirements “do not state that the composition of a medical device must appear on the device labelling,” the statement said.

“Consumers who have questions or concerns about the ingredients in dental floss can contact the manufacturer for more information.”

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip
Angela Mulholland, Staff writer     @AngeMulholland     Monday, August 15, 2016
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Best before dates and expiry dates: 5 things you may not know

People often confuse best before dates and expiry dates

Steak, eggs, canned soup — all kinds of fridge and pantry staples have a best before date on the packaging. People often confuse best before dates with expiration dates, but the two labels tell consumers very different things.

“It’s confusing,” says Ellie Topp, a professional home economist. “[The best before] date has nothing to do with the safety of the food. It has everything to do with the taste of the food.”

Here are five things you may not know about expiration and best before dates.

1. Only 5 types of products have expiration dates

Expiration dates tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume. A food should never be consumed after the expiry date.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandates that only five types of products need to be labelled with an expiration date:

  • Baby formula and other human milk substitutes.
  • Nutritional supplements.
  • Meal replacements.
  • Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets.
  • Formulated liquid diets.

Best before dates are found on foods that will only stay fresh for 90 days or less. Some foods may be consumed even if their best before date has passed, unlike an expiry date.

2. Best before dates guarantee freshness

An unopened, properly stored product’s best before date tells a consumer how long that food will keep its flavour and nutritional value. It doesn’t have anything to do with a food’s safety, says Topp.

“[With some products]
the taste may have greatly deteriorated, but it’s still safe to eat,” she says.

If someone fries or poaches a fresh egg, she says, it will stay together in “a nice, little package.” If they use an egg beyond its best before date, it will spread out more and the yolk may be more likely to break.

“But, there’s nothing wrong with the egg,” she says, “as long as it’s not cracked.”

The manufacturer’s nutritional claims may no longer apply after a best before date or if the product isn’t properly stored, says Cathy Paroschy Harris, a dietitian and spokeswoman for Dietitians of Canada. Orange juice may not provide as much Vitamin C and milk less riboflavin past the best before date.

Other items may have compromised taste, but still be safe to eat. Ketchups and salsas may be more acidic, dry pasta may break when cooked, and cookies at the back of the pantry may just taste bad. It’s generally the taste, not safety that suffers.

However, foods must be properly stored according to package instructions to avoid turning mouldy or sour before their best before date.

food.label-reading

3. Opened packages negate best before date

The best before date no longer applies if a package is opened or if the food is frozen, according to Health Canada.

Once a sealed product is exposed to air it can be cross-contaminated, says Brenda Watson, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education’s executive director.

The organization has a chart for how long different foods can be kept in a refrigerator or freezer. Watson recommends people purchase food with a short fridge life, like opened milk or cottage cheese, in quantities they’re likely to consume quickly.

If a food is properly frozen two days before its best before date, says Paroschy Harris, it should be edible for another two days at the start of the thawing process.

4. Some foods to keep an eye out for

Even though some food remains edible — just less tasty and nutritionally dense — after its best before date, that doesn’t mean all food is safe to eat when that date passes. Health Canada does not recommend eating anything after the best before date. The Canada Food Inspection Agency is more lenient.

‘When in doubt throw it out.’
— Ellie Topp, professional home economist

Generally, if the food changes colour or appearance, or develops a bad smell, it is no longer safe to eat. Dented, leaking or bulging cans should be discarded.

She’s most cautious about cured meats, saying she would only keep deli meats, like baloney, a few days after purchase.

Hungry snackers should throw away mouldy cheese, breads, yogurts and other foods. Topp says people used to feel comfortable scraping mould off the top of food and continuing to eat it. Nowadays, that’s not considered acceptable, as mould is believed to contaminate food beyond what’s visible to the human eye, she says.

Healthy people are unlikely to suffer any consequences if they fry up a steak one day past its best before date. But people shouldn’t toy with the best before date on foods that contain lots of pathogens, says Paroschy Harris. That includes whole, fresh meats — like chicken, steak or ground beef — and dairy.

“It’s like playing roulette,” she says. “You’re putting yourself at risk.”

A best before date and proper food handling go hand-in-hand, she says, and even lower-risk foods can become problematic if not handled properly.

Chips past their best before date won’t be as crunchy, but they also may become contaminated if people sharing them have dirty hands or double dip in the salsa bowl.

“There’s always a risk for something in food to go awry,” she says.

5. Frozen veggies may be fresher in winter

Fresh doesn’t always mean better.

Topp points out that fresh produce found in Canadian grocery stores during the winter may have less nutritional value than frozen vegetables.

It takes several weeks for produce to be picked and transported from warmer climates. As soon as someone picks a vegetable, its nutrients start to decline, she says.

Frozen vegetables, however, are usually frozen within hours of being picked. It’s not a significant nutritional difference, she says, but frozen veggies may be more nutritious in the winter.

By Aleksandra Sagan, CBC News     Mar 25, 2015 

3 foods you can eat after the best before date, but might not want to
5 things you should know about food expiry dates
Best before dates not based in food science, expert says

source: www.cbc.ca


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The Dirty Secrets of ‘Clean’ Labels

By Brenda Goodman, MA     WebMD Health News    Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD    July 23, 2015 

Consumers have become deeply distrustful of their food.

There’s Samantha Adams, who had her “aha moment” when she happened to read the label of the barbecue sauce she was feeding her 1-year-old.

“I couldn’t believe the No. 1 ingredient was high-fructose corn syrup,” says Adams, 30, who lives in Jackson, N.J. “I had no idea that things were like that. That food was made up of not-real ingredients.”

Adams started scrutinizing food labels. She deeply researched each food ingredient she’d never heard of, began shopping more carefully, and started cooking more meals at home. She even started writing articles about food for her local paper, the Asbury Park Press.

“My new motto is count chemicals, not calories,” she says.

More consumers like Adams are steering clear of unfamiliar or worrisome ingredients on food labels. A survey last year by the Nutrition Business Journal found that high-fructose corn syrup tops consumers’ least-wanted list. No. 2 was partially hydrogenated oils or “trans fats.”

“It boils down to one thing: Consumers don’t trust companies anymore,” says Lynn Dornblaser, director of Innovation and Insight for the market research firm Mintel.

Mintel recently surveyed grocery shoppers. Only 38% said they trust what companies say about their products on food labels. “That’s 62% who don’t,” she says.

Food companies have noticed. The latest strategy to win back wary shoppers can be summed up in one word: simple. Pillsbury has a new line of Purely Simple baking mixes. Kroger has a Simple Truth line of store brand foods. Keebler has Simply Made cookies.

Names of things that sound like they’d be used by chemists, rather than home cooks, are being whisked off the ingredient labels of processed foods — which now account for 70% of the American diet. Ingredient lists are being made as short, easy to pronounce, and understand as possible.

In the food industry, this is called “clean labeling.” And big companies are racing to do it. In recent weeks, Kraft said it would take artificial colors and preservatives out of its iconic mac & cheese. Nestle is chucking artificial colors and flavors out of its chocolates. General Mills will purge artificial colors and flavors from its cereals.

In some cases, industry experts say companies are genuinely trying to make more wholesome products. But in others, they say these clean-label ingredient swaps are more about marketing food than really making it healthier. And there are some signs that the rush to make highly processed foods seem pure and basic may be causing problems for vulnerable consumers, like people with food allergies.

“The ingredients listed become a marketing tool, which I don’t think they are intended to be,” says Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Companies Decide What Is Safe, Not FDA

How did we get here? It starts with four letters: GRAS.

The FDA has long used the designation “generally recognized as safe” as a way to quickly exempt common and widely used food additives, like vinegar, from rigorous and sometimes lengthy formal safety reviews, which were required of new ingredients or old ingredients that were used in new ways.

And until the late 1990s, the GRAS designation was mostly used for tried-and-true ingredients like vinegar that had long been in the food supply.

But in 1997, amidst budget cuts and industry grumbling that the FDA was taking too long to approve new ingredients, the agency proposed a new system.

It now allows food companies to review their own new ingredients and decide what’s safe. They can submit those reviews to the FDA for acceptance, but it’s not required by law.

Food manufacturers embraced the changes, speeding new ingredients into food with little oversight.

How big is the problem? In February 2013, the Pew Charitable Trusts published an in-depth report about gaps in food safety.

They estimated that out of 10,000 ingredients in processed foods, the FDA has not reviewed the safety of about 3,000.

Roughly 2,000 of those are flavors that were deemed safe by an industry association. The FDA monitors those decisions, but does not extensively review them. Another 1,000 additives have been called safe by food companies and used without any notice to the FDA at all.

“It’s become a very loose system where companies can put kind of anything they want, practically, into the food supply,” says Michael Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

That’s what happened with an ingredient called high-fructose corn syrup-90.

No High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

Dave Busken is a technical baker for a company called Oak State Products in Wenona, IL. They make baked goods like cookies for big food manufacturers.

Companies come to him when they want to clean up their food labels.

He says there’s one switch that’s become pretty common in processed cereals and baked goods.

“You take out high-fructose corn syrup,” he says, “and replace it with fructose.”

High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that is combination of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose, and it has those sugars in about the same ratio that’s found in ordinary table sugar.

Fructose is also found in fruit, but not in such a concentrated and simplified form as found in high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener ran into trouble when researchers began to question whether it was a good idea to be eating so much of it in processed foods and drinks. Experts disagree, though, on whether high-fructose corn syrup is any unhealthier than regular sugar.

Some scientific evidence suggests that calories from fructose are more easily stored as fat than glucose. And fructose may also raise levels of harmful blood fats more than glucose does. The fear is that eating too much fructose may set the body on a path to obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

Read-Nutrition-Labels

 

The “cleaner” sounding ingredient “fructose” actually has far more of that sugar than the unpopular sweetener it’s replacing: It’s 90% fructose compared to the 43% to 55% that’s legally allowed in high-fructose corn syrup, according to the Corn Refiners Association.

“Boy, is that misleading,” says Kimber Stanhope, PhD, who has done some of the studies on fructose. She’s an associate researcher of molecular bioscience as the University of California at Davis.

And it’s in foods today even though the FDA in 1996 specifically declined to recognize the higher formulation, HCFS-90, as safe. That was in part because it contains so much more cthan glucose.

“Additional data on the effects of fructose consumption that is not balanced with glucose consumption would be needed to ensure that this product is safe,” says the FDA action, which is signed by William K. Hubbard, who was then the associate commissioner for policy coordination.

Despite this action, food manufacturers are able to use HFCS-90 in their products. According to the FDA, a food manufacturer has on its own declared the ingredient as safe, without providing its research to the agency. That’s legal.

“The law does not require that the FDA review independent GRAS determinations,” says Lauren Sucher, an FDA spokesperson, in an email to WebMD.

In these cases, it’s also up to the food company to decide how to list the ingredient on labels.

Melissa Grzybowski, a U.S. regulatory and nutrition specialist for the Food Consulting Company, says this gives companies “wiggle room” on the wording of their food labels.

“It’s always about marketing with food companies,” Grzybowski says.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association did not address whether clean labeling is often more about marketing than making better food.

“We don’t have much to offer on this point,” says Brian Kennedy, a GMA spokesman.

Kennedy says that, in general, “GMA agrees with and supports federal laws requiring food labels to be truthful and non-misleading.”

In February, CSPI and three other consumer advocacy organizations called on the FDA to overhaul the GRAS system, saying it violates the 1958 law that requires the FDA to determine ingredients are safe before they are added to the food we eat.

We asked the FDA if they believe the GRAS process is working as well as it should. “The agency is concerned that some companies may be making independent GRAS determinations for substances that are not in fact GRAS,” says Megan McSeveney, an FDA press officer, in an email to WebMD.

“We continue to encourage companies to notify us about food ingredients they have independently determined as GRAS so that we have the opportunity to discuss with them any questions we may have about the basis for these determinations,” she says.

She also says the agency was working to finalize a regulation on the voluntary GRAS program by August 31, 2016.

But consumer groups say that keeping the safety process voluntary doesn’t adequately protect the public.

Jacobson points out that the FDA just took action on partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, formally revoking their GRAS status a full 10 years after they were required to be listed on food labels.

“There we were talking about tens of thousands of deaths per year,” he says. “That’s major.”

From Trans Fats Back to ‘Tropical Oils’

Now that partially hydrogenated oils are on their way out of foods, companies are scrambling to find clean-label replacements. Some experts believe the kinds of fats food makers are switching to may not be any better for us.

The problem with trans fats is that they raise levels of bad cholesterol in the blood more than other kinds of fats. They also seem to lower levels of good cholesterol.

Take palm oil. It’s become one of the leading replacements for partially hydrogenated fats. The latest numbers from the USDA show Americans ate roughly five times more palm oil in 2014 than we did in 2001 – some 2.6 billion pounds.

But at 51% saturated fat, palm oil has more of these heart-clogging fats than lard, which is 43% saturated fat.

While some studies, mostly sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, show that the saturated fat in palm oils isn’t as harmful as saturated fats from other sources, other carefully controlled studies have raised red flags.

A 2006 study sponsored by the USDA found that partially hydrogenated oil and palm oil raised both total cholesterol and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, to about the same degree, leading the study authors to conclude that swapping palm for partially hydrogenated oils wouldn’t be a safe switch.

Another type of fat making its way into processed food is interesterified fat, which, like partially hydrogenated fat, isn’t found in nature.

K.C. Hayes, PhD, a researcher at Brandeis University, studies interesterified fats.

Hayes thinks they may prove to be as bad as trans fats.

“I don’t think we know nearly enough about the fats we’re actually consuming,” says Sarah Berry, a researcher who studies interesterified fats at King’s College in London.

What’s more, she says, you couldn’t necessarily avoid them just by looking at food labels. “The label might say something like soybean oil and fully hydrogenated soybean oil. You would not know” that it’s been interesterified, she says.

Uncured Meat – All Bologna?

Another popular clean-label switch is to remove nitrates, or nitrite preservatives, from processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and cold cuts. Several studies have shown that people who eat a lot of processed meats have higher risks for heart disease and cancer.

Some researchers think nitrates, which are used to keep meat pink and fresh-looking, combine with chemicals in the meat to form nitrosamines, which are recognized carcinogens.

Food writer Michael Ruhlman noticed that packages of processed meats labeled uncured or without nitrates still had a pink color.

Ruhlman started poring over the ingredient labels of uncured meats, and they all had something in common: celery extract.

Celery is loaded with nitrates. But as long as a meat doesn’t contain sodium nitrite, the chemical form of the preservative, the USDA allows manufacturers to call their products uncured.

“It’s a marketing ploy, pure and simple,” Ruhlman says.

And it doesn’t mean the meats have less nitrite in them, according to Jimmy Keeton, a researcher at Texas A&M University in College Station.

He tested 470 different meat products. Some were labeled as uncured organic, or natural, while others were conventionally cured. There were no significant differences in the nitrite concentrations between the products.

“I like people to understand and think clearly about food, and here, no one is thinking clearly about food. They’re just buying what the marketers are selling them,” he says.

He says he hopes big food companies will just make better products.

Neltner hopes so, too.

“I don’t believe, when I look back to the history of ingredient list requirements, that the goal was for that to be a marketing tool,” Neltner says. “Everything in food should be safe. I wish I could say that. We’re not there yet.”

SOURCES: Samantha Adams, mother and food activist, Jackson, N.J. Lynn Dornblaser, director of Innovation and Insight, Mintel. Brian Kennedy, Spokesperson, Grocery Manufacturers Association. Michael Jacobson, PhD, executive director, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C. Kimber Stanhope, PhD, associate researcher of molecular bioscience, The University of California at Davis. Lauren Sucher, press officer, FDA, Bethesda, MD. Melissa Grzybowski, U.S. Regulatory & Nutrition Specialist, The Food Consulting Company, Del Mar, CA. K.C. Hayes, PhD, professor emeritus, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. Sarah Berry, Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences, Kings College, London, U.K. Megan McSeveney, press officer, FDA. Michael Ruhlman, author, Cleveland. Tom Neltner, J.D., senior advisor, regulatory affairs, National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD. Jimmy Keeton, Emeritus Professor of Food and Nutrition Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Dave Busken, technical baker, Oak State Products, Wenona, IL. Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Inadequate Oversight of the Safety of Substances Added to Food: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It,” April 2015. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Food Additives Project”, 2013. FDA, “Direct Food Substances Affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe; High Fructose Corn Syrup,” Final Rule, August 23, 1996. Hayes, KC, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2010.


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Flavor-Boosting Ingredient Carries Risks for Some

July 23, 2015 – Lisa Baxter carefully reads food ingredient labels when she buys groceries. She carries around a list of things she can and can’t eat, and she has to be extra cautious of food ingredients using the word “phosphate.”

Phosphates leave a metallic taste in her mouth, and they make her very itchy.

“I feel like I have fleas,” says Baxter, 52, a social worker from Queens, N.Y. She’s been living with kidney disease for about 20 years. “I itch from the bottom of my feet through the middle of my hands.”

Baxter gets dialysis three times a week, and she knows that phosphates could make her even sicker. People with kidney disease have a hard time breaking down these minerals, which get added to many processed foods to boost their flavor. Eating too much can trigger bone loss and lead to life-threatening problems like heart disease.

“I’ve seen how devastating phosphorus can be,” says Geoffrey Block, MD, associate clinical professor in medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He’s referring to the mineral that phosphates are made from, and he’s been researching its impact on the body for 20 years. “I’ve seen many [kidney disease] patients with amputated limbs.”

Even in healthy people, there is some evidence that eating too much phosphorus might cause problems, although the data isn’t definitive. An FDA researcher and a European health safety commission that studied phosphorus have both called for more research on its potential health effects.

“There is accumulating evidence that both the high intakes and the poor balance of intake with other nutrients may place individuals at risk of kidney disease, bone loss, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic health conditions,” concludes a study written in part by Mona Calvo, an expert at the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The study also says that the evidence “remains weak.” [Her study does not reflect FDA policy, and the agency did not make her available for comment.]

Too Much May Be Tied to Trouble

Phosphorus is found naturally in dairy, meat, and plants. It’s needed to help cells work properly. Phosphates enhance flavor and moistness in deli meats, frozen food, cereals, cheese, and baked goods, as well as in sodas and prepared iced tea mixes.

“No life form can exist without phosphorus,” says Block, who specializes in treating kidney disease.

The problem may be that we’re eating more of it than we need.

For the 26 million people in the U.S. with kidney disease, phosphorus can build up in the body, Block says. That results in hormonal changes that can cause calcium to pull out of bones, build up in blood vessels, and trigger heart disease, increasing the risk of death.

Nearly one third of the U.S. population eats twice as much phosphorus as the U.S. recommended daily allowance of about 700 milligrams, says Alex Chang, MD, a clinical investigator and nephrologist with the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.

“There is a lot of ‘extra’ phosphorus in foods that are processed, and Americans eat lots of processed foods,” Chang says.

He co-wrote a 2013 study that evaluated the phosphorus level of thousands of adults without cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease. He found that eating a high amount of phosphorus is linked to more deaths in a healthy U.S. population.

Neither Chang’s study, nor any of the studies published to date, have shown phosphate additives directly cause health issues.

“We don’t know,” Block says. “That’s why we need to do more research.”

 

phosphates

Raising Concerns

Phosphates were first approved by the USDA to use in bacon and ham in 1971. They were added to poultry and other meats in the 1980s, says Lucina Lampila, a registered dietitian and fellow at the Institute of Food Technologists, a food science advocacy group.

Today, many grocery store items — about 45%, according to one report — use 10 different phosphates in food. Determining how much is in food isn’t easy. If phosphorus is naturally in a food, the amount of phosphates added doesn’t have to be detailed. The FDA classifies added phosphates as a “generally recognized as safe” ingredient. It must be included on the ingredients list, but the exact amount isn’t required.

In an April 2015 study, Chang detailed the amount of phosphorus in some popular drinks and found levels differed from what food companies report. Both Calvo’s and Chang’s studies call for more detailed labeling of the ingredient.

“There is a great need to have accurate information about phosphorus in the marketplace to inform patients, especially [those] with kidney disease,” Chang says.
Lampila, who worked in the food industry for more than a decade, says phosphates are safe. She also says food companies use a minimal amount because “phosphates are self-limiting. If you add too much to a product, you get an off taste.”

The National Kidney Foundation last year encouraged the FDA to require food makers to include the amount of phosphorus on nutrition labels. The FDA said in an email that it doesn’t comment on label changes until after they’re made.

Recently, the Environmental Working Group, a consumer safety organization, joined the Kidney Foundation in raising concerns about phosphates. The group listed phosphates on its “Dirty Dozen” guide of food additives linked to health concerns that it published last year.

“We feel phosphates need more attention,” says Dawn Undurraga, a consulting nutritionist at the Environmental Working Group.

Until there is more direct evidence, some nutritionists are counseling their clients to limit phosphates in their diets, whether they have kidney disease or not. They suggest you stay away from soda and look for the word “phosphate” on ingredient labels. The word can be found by itself, or in combination with other words, such as “sodium tripolyphosphate.”

“I counsel people to buy food with as few ingredients in them as they can,” says Lisa Hugh, a registered dietitian in Waldorf, MD.

By Bara Vaida, Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 16, 2015

Article Sources
Calvo, M. Advances in Nutrition, January 2014.
Lisa Baxter, kidney disease patient.
Dawn Undurraga, consulting nutritionist, Environmental Working Group.
Lisa Hugh, registered dietician, Waldorf, MD.
Lucina Lampila, registered dietician, Institute of Food Technologists.
Geoffrey Block, MD, nephrologist, associate clinical professor in medicine,  University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Alex Chang, nephrologist, Geisinger Health System.
European Food Safety Authority, “Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for phosphorus.”
EWG.com, “EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives.”
International Food Additives Council, “Questions and Answers About Phosphates.”
National Kidney Foundation.
USDA, “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
FDA, “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.”
Sullivan, C. “Prevalence of Phosphorus Containing Food Additives in Grocery Stores.”
NIH, “Phosphorus in Diet.”
Chang, A. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2013.
Moser, M. American Journal of Kidney Disease, April 2015.
Phosphate Facts.


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What Does That Grocery Label Mean?

By Leslie Young    Investigative Reporter   Global News

A huge number of labels appear on supermarket foods, but their meaning might be confusing. Here is a look at some of the most common labels.

Organic

Organic foods are certified by an outside body to contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients. However, the “organic” label is only certified when a food is traded over provincial or national borders. While some provinces have certifications for organic products within their borders, not all do.

Organic animals must be raised in conditions that at a minimum allow them enough space to lie down, turn around freely, stretch their limbs and allow access to daylight and fresh air. Organic foods generally cannot contain the following (though some exceptions are made):

  • GMOs
  • Added hormones and prophylactic antibiotics
  • Radiation or irradiated substances
  • Cloned animals or their descendants
  • Intentionally-manufactured nano-technology products
  • Synthetic pesticides
  • Synthetic processing substances

Natural

“Natural” food labels shouldn’t convey the impression that the food is nutritionally superior because of nature, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Natural foods are foods that:

  • Do not contain added vitamins, minerals or artificial flavours
  • Do not have any constituent removed or significantly changed, except for removing water
  • Have not been processed in a way, like hydrogenation, which significantly alters their physical, chemical or biological state (drying, freezing and canning are ok, as are a number of other less-invasive processes)

If the entire food doesn’t qualify as “natural”, manufacturers might label it as containing “natural ingredients”, which means that some ingredients are natural, and some aren’t.

Kosher

Certified in accordance with the requirements of Jewish dietary laws by the Rabbi or Rabbinical organization that is identified on the package.

Halal

As halal requirements can vary, this is more complicated than kosher labelling – there’s no single standard. So while Canadian laws prohibit false or misleading claims, including “Halal,” on packaging, it’s hard for customers to know precisely what halal standard is being applied. New regulations coming into force on April 4, 2016 will require halal products to include the name of the certifying body. That way, customers can look up that body’s standards and choose according to their wishes.

No added hormones

No hormones were administered in any way to the animal that makes up the food product. However, you are not allowed to use any hormones at all on some animals – the CFIA says it’s misleading to label “raised without hormones” on animals where it’s not allowed anyway, like chicken and pork.

cow-in-field

Raised without the use of antibiotics

The animal must not have received antibiotics from its birth to its death, and even the mother can’t have been given antibiotics that would result in residue in the animal being consumed. Other drugs and vaccines may have been administered though.

Free-range or Free-run (chicken or eggs)

Although there is no legal definition of either term, industry groups have set standards which they monitor on farms. Free-range chickens have access to outdoor space, though there are no stipulations on how much time they spend outdoors or what the outdoor environment is like. Free-run chickens are indoor birds who roam freely through the barn. As chickens raised for meat in Canada aren’t kept in cages, this term is somewhat redundant in the case of chicken meat – less so for eggs. However, the free-range chickens have less space than you might think: industry guidelines for meat chickens stipulate a maximum density of 31 kilograms (or about 14 chickens) per square metre, though some provinces have set lower densities.

Also, given Canada’s cold climate, free-range chicken and eggs are really seasonal products since the birds will spend a lot of time indoors anyway.

Homemade or artisan

Homemade means not commercially prepared, even in a small establishment. Homemade foods require no additional preparation. “Tastes like homemade” is fine to say, as it’s left to the customer’s judgement.

Artisan means food manufactured in small batches, with limited use of automated machines operating on mass quantities of food. It would also use additives and preservatives that would be typically purchased from a grocery store and found in a home kitchen. “Artisan-style” is looser.

“Fed no animal byproducts,” “grain-fed” and other feed claims

The CFIA says these claims are fine if they’re true. Generally self-explanatory, as in “grain-fed” means that the animal ate only grains and grain byproducts. However, in the case of “grain-fed,” it does not mean that the animal didn’t also eat medications, vitamins or even animal-derived additives like Vitamin D3 that was derived from lanolin. That additive wouldn’t be allowed under a “no animal byproducts” label.

If it says that the animal was raised on feed that includes grains, keep in mind that it includes other things too.

“Natural” vs. “Artificial” colour or flavour

Natural flavours and colours are derived from animal or vegetable raw materials. Artificial flavours and colours are derived in whole or part from components obtained by chemical synthesis. However, if an ingredients label just says “colour,” it could be either natural or artificial, or a number of different colouring agents. Although all colours added to food must be approved by Health Canada, companies don’t have to identify them specifically on the label.

Made in Canada

Means the food was prepared in Canada, but the ingredients may or may not have come from Canada.

Product of Canada

Means the food was made in Canada and all or nearly all of the ingredients are from Canada. Small amounts of non-Canadian ingredients, like spices, are allowed.

A good general rule to remember is that labels aren’t allowed to lie – but the claims made might be extremely narrow or imply more than they’re actually saying as a marketing ploy. For example, a food advertised as containing “natural” ingredients probably does, but it might contain a lot of unnatural ingredients as well. It’s best to read labels very literally.

And while these are the rules, it’s fair to say that they are not always followed. If you feel that a food might be mislabelled or makes misleading claims, you can contact the CFIA or in Quebec, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation.

source: globalnews.ca


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Orange juice: Is ‘premium’juice actually more natural?

‘Premium’ juice can be highly processed, Marketplace investigation finds

By Megan Griffith-Greene / Marketplace, CBC News Posted: Jan 16, 2015 

The cartons say “100% pure and natural.” But juice-drinkers who believe that premium juice is minimally processed and freshly made may find that their glass is only half full.

A joint investigation by CBC Marketplace and Radio-Canada’s L’épicerie reveals that much of the premium not-from-concentrate orange juice on the market, including juices from Tropicana, Simply Orange, Oasis and others, is highly processed and may be stored for several months before making its way to supermarket shelves.

That processing may keep the juice from spoiling, but it also strips the flavour, which has to be put back into the product to give the juice its orange flavour.

“If you’re paying premium thinking that it’s a fresh-squeezed product, then there is a problem there, because it’s not,” Alissa Hamilton, author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, told Marketplace co-host Tom Harrington.

“All I think is necessary is that we are informed about what we’re buying.”

According to a survey commissioned by Marketplace, 95 per cent of Canadians who drink juice say they want to know what’s been added to their juice, and they think the label should tell them.

But many leading juice companies do not disclose, either in marketing or on the packaging, that they add natural flavour to juice.

Marketplace tested popular brands of premium orange juice for evidence that flavour has been added. The results of that investigation aired Friday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Television and online. Episode

Premium price tag

Canadians spend almost $500 million a year on orange juice, including premium juice, which is often marketed as “fresh,” “pure,” “natural” and “not from concentrate.”

And that premium comes at, well, a premium.

“’Not from concentrate’ costs quite a bit more than ‘from concentrate,'” says Hamilton. “They’re trying to convince you that that’s because of the fresher product, that you should pay that much more.”

The Marketplace survey, conducted online by the polling firm EKOS in November 2014, also found that 62 per cent of Canadian orange juice drinkers said they believed that premium juice is fresher than juice made from concentrate, and 58 per cent say they believe it’s more natural.

In fact, 46 per cent were willing to pay more for these juices because they believe them to be more natural.

orange

The survey involved English speakers who said they had bought or consumed orange juice in the last six months.

But Hamilton says that “what you’re getting back in these flavour packs is an engineered product.”

Flavour packs are made when fragrance companies take extracts from orange peel to reproduce the aroma and taste of freshly squeezed oranges.

More transparent labelling, she says, would give consumers a better indication of how much processing goes into premium orange juice.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which regulates food labels, told Marketplace that while adding flavour packs is allowed, companies should label products processed this way “orange juice with added flavour.

“If a producer adds orange oil or orange essence to their product, the label must indicate with added flavour and the added levels of the oil,” the agency told Marketplace in an email.

Many consumers have come to prefer the flavour of premium juices to natural juice.

“There’s definitely a disconnect with that trend that we’re seeing, that people actually prefer the taste of a processed product, and yet they still want to believe that what they’re buying and drinking is fresh,” Hamilton says.

Companies say flavour is for consistency

Solange Doré, vice president of Lassonde Beverages Canada, which makes Oasis juices, told L’épicerie “these are flavours that come from the fruit, they are an integral part of the fruit. So, in essence they’ve been lost and we collect them and restore them.

“So we’re not adding synthetic flavours, it’s very important to understand that difference,” she said.

For that reason, juice companies don’t feel that the labelling is misleading and say that the packaging complies with existing regulations.

Coca-Cola, which owns popular brands Simply Orange and Minute Maid, told Marketplace in a statement, “orange oil and orange essence is extracted during juicing to capture the natural orange taste and aroma, which may be later blended back into the juice to ensure a consistent, fresh-squeezed taste.

“The amount of orange oil or orange essence that may be re-added to the juice is within the range that is commonly found in freshly squeezed orange juice,” the statement said.

“All of our beverages are produced to the highest safety and quality standards, and meet all safety and labelling regulations set out by Health Canada and the CFIA.”

PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, told Marketplace in a statement that “our products meet the requirements of the food and drug regulations.”

Juice drinkers in several U.S. states have filed class-action lawsuits, charging the makers of premium orange juice with deceptive practices for marketing their juices as fresh and natural.

Based on a Marketplace investigation by Virginia Smart and Anu Singh.

source: www.cbc.ca


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Baby Steps

By Deanna Schober

Change is best made in baby steps. As you have probably already learned at some point in your life, change that involves a complete overhaul is really tough to stick to and a pretty sure recipe for failure.

Habits are best changed one at a time. Try mastering one new habit every 2-3 weeks, then when it becomes a routine, you can start on the next one. Here are ten suggestions on where to start:

1. Avoid Fast Food

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know -”Fast food is bad for you”. But that’s an abstract concept, “bad for you” – do you know why it is? You may hear all about how high in calories fast food is, but what you may not know is how it is also full of MSG, horrible cancer-causing chemicals, and trans fats.

Many fast food places even use the same chemicals to preserve their food that you can find in your COSMETICS and TOILETRIES, like shampoo and mascara [4]. Just get rid of this stuff, it is killing you slowly. If you need to, you can make a goal to reduce your fast food meals by one per week and work up to eliminating it forever.

Here are 10 dangerous food additives you should avoid.

2. Replace Other Drinks With Water

Sodas and diet sodas are also full of chemicals that are known to cause cancer and increase the risk of lifestyle related illness like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks are just empty calories. You can improve your health greatly by slowly decreasing the amount of these drinks each week and replacing them with water and teas (unsweetened).

Not only will you be lowering your calorie intake, but you’ll be limiting your body’s exposure to toxins and chemicals. Water will flush toxins from your body, decrease your appetite, give you better skin, and aid your body in just about all of its necessary functions.

3. Start Moving

Even if it’s just a walk around the block, find a physical activity that you enjoy and start by making a goal to do it three times a week. The key here is that you enjoy it and can see yourself doing it more often.

If you have trouble coming up with a physical activity that you might like, try thinking back to your childhood – did you love riding your bike? Did you play soccer or baseball? Did you just enjoy roaming the neighborhood?

Give it another shot, chances are that your childhood attachments to the activity will make you feel good while you’re doing it, and you’ll want to do it again. Add more activity until you work up to being active in some form at least 5 day per week.

Find out how to make exercise your playtime.

4. Eat Veggies

Ask my mom – I didn’t eat veggies until I was a grown woman. I still have to force myself to eat a few of them, like broccoli. But nothing is more important to your overall health than the vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables. They help your body function in endless ways, and can even reduce your risk of cancer by activating cancer-fighting enzymes.

With the right cooking method, herbs and spices, or even in a smoothie, you can make veggies taste really delicious. To transition into eating more vegetables, try replacing an unhealthy side dish that you normally eat with veggies at one meal per day, and slowly increase until you’re getting 4-5 servings per day.

Here are 20 magical ways to sneak in more veggies.




5. Start Becoming Accountable

A mental shift needs to happen when you start to take control of your health, and part of that is becoming accountable to yourself. This can be through keeping a food journal, wearing a calorie-tracking armband, using a calorie counting and exercise application on your phone or computer, or even wearing a pedometer to count your steps.

Keeping track of what you eat and how much you move will be a very eye-opening experience. Studies show that most adults overestimate the amount of healthy food they are eating and underestimate the rest of it…not because they are trying to be dishonest necessarily, they just don’t have an accurate idea of what they are eating unless they actually record it and measure it out [7].

6. Cut Out the White Stuff

One of the best and easiest things you can do for your health is to cut out the white stuff – white flours, pastas, cereals, and sugars. These items are highly processed and fill you up with a large amount of calories for almost zero nutritional value. They also cause an insulin surge, which over time can reduce your insulin sensitivity and increase your risk for diabetes. Try replacing these items with whole grain, nutrient dense foods instead.

7. Read Nutrition Labels

Another eye-opener is to start taking a look at the nutrition labels of the foods you are eating. Pay careful attention to serving size, as many labels can get tricky in that area – you might actually be eating two or more servings instead of one.

Read the ingredients list too, and beware of trans fats (also called hydrogenated oils), artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin to name a few), artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, bleached flours, and anything else that you don’t instantly recognize as food.

8. Do a Little Research

You might try watching documentaries about food and nutrition (I recommend Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives). You can also read books, ask a fitness expert or trainer, or just start here at Coach Calorie by downloading the free e-book and read just about everything you need to know.

9. Eat Fruit Instead of Sugar

When the craving for something sweet strikes, try replacing your normal sugary snacks with a piece of fruit instead. Fruit has natural sugars in it, but it also has vitamins and nutrients that are important to our health, and way less calories than a snack. I successfully kicked my own nighttime sugar addiction by replacing it slowly with apples and a tablespoon of peanut butter.

10. Have an Open Mind

Another mental shift that needs to take place is to open your mind to new possibilities. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do this or you won’t try that or you’re not capable of something. When I think back to all the things I thought I couldn’t eat or exercises I would never be able to do, I laugh because I have smashed through all of those self-invented barriers I set up for myself.

Try some new foods. You are bound to find something that is good for you that you enjoy. Try a new exercise, work each week to get better at it, and before you know it you’ll be doing things you never dreamt you could do.

Again, it is important to not rush out and try changing all of these things at once! Remember, long term success is best achieved through small changes, a little at a time.