bvoMost people have never heard of BVO-brominated vegetable oil-yet it’s highly toxic and found in many products we consume in large quantities. Used as an emulsifier and clouding agent in soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, some Gatorade, Pineapple and Orange Fanta, Orange Crush, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca, BVO can also be found in some bakery products and brands of pasta.

BVO has been banned in over 100 countries. In the U.S. it’s use is regulated by the FDA to the extent that it is “PERMITTED IN FOOD OR IN CONTACT WITH FOOD ON AN INTERIM BASIS PENDING ADDITIONAL STUDY.” (

Brominated Vegetable Oil, is composed mainly of bromine, a poisonous chemical whose vapors are considered both corrosive and toxic. The chemical bromine is used for a number of products, from light-sensitive photographic printing papers, as an additive for gasoline, to agricultural fumigants.

Consumption of bromine containing products increases bromine content in our system that ultimately competes with iodine and causes iodine deficiency thereby creating a condition called “Brominated Thyroid.” Bromine is a potential carcinogen and causes a number of disorders starting from simple headache, fatigue, weight-gain to cancer, heart and kidney diseases.

The FDA says products that include brominated vegetable oil must declare it in the list of ingredients. Check labels! Cast your vote by not buying products that contain BVO.

On August 22, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule that allows the use of irradiation to fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach.

It is the first time the FDA has allowed any produce to be irradiated at levels needed to protect against illness.

The announcement is a partial response to a food additive petition that was filed by the National Food Processors Association (now Grocery Manufacturers’ Association or GMA) in 2000. That petition also covered the irradiation of pre-processed meat and poultry, raw and pre-processed vegetables and fruits, and other multi-ingredient products containing cooked or uncooked meat or poultry.  In 2007, GMA asked FDA for a partial response on the question of the irradiation of fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach.

Although this announcement only applies to fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach, other fresh produce, such as tomatoes or peppers, are included in the Grocery Manufacturers Association petition. The FDA says it is continuing to evaluate the use of irradiation in additional foods.

In the US, the Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) of 1958 places food irradiation under the food additive regulations.  Read the rest of this entry »

Canada confirmed a case of mad cow disease in a six-year-old beef cow on Friday, marking the 14th instance of the disease since the country’s first case in 2003.

Ruminant-to-ruminant feeding (meaning cows being fed leftover cow meat, something they would never choose to eat) has been blamed for the arrival of BSE in Canada, assuming a BSE-infected and rendered animal entered the cattle feed supply before the feed ban took effect.

In June, a five year old dairy cow was confirmed as Canada’s 13th BSE case and was very likely exposed to “a very low amount of infective material, probably during its first year of life.”

There was no risk to public health because no part of the animal entered the human food systems, the Canadian Food inspection agency said.

The agency said it is tracing other cattle in the herd and trying to determine how the cow became infected. The new case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef, the agency said.

Mad cow disease, medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, causes spongy holes in the brain. Among humans, a rare but fatal form of the disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been linked to eating infected tissue from cows.

The agency has said a ban on using animal materials in feed products has virtually eliminated the spread of BSE in Canada, but it said a small number of cases are still expected to surface.,

August 12, 2008

There’s a new way to decipher the complex list of additives and ingredients found on every food label in the grocery store. is the first and only informational website that allows consumers to go beyond the fancy package, and actually understand what’s really inside. With a growing database of over 25,000 brand-name products, allows users to compare their favorite foods by providing information and determinations about the additives, ingredients, and nutritional facts contained in each product.

On the site, ingredients are linked to the proprietary ingredient glossary, which is uniquely color-coded for easy understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

Stevia, a South American plant used to create natural sugar substitutes, is set to be the next major battleground for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, with both brands launching their own natural sweeteners using the non-calorific herb.

Coca-Cola last year announced a partnership with US conglomerate Cargill to create a stevia-based product called Truvia, but PepsiCo has beaten its rival to market with its version, PureVia.

Both are hoping to capitalise on growing concern over food additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners often found in diet drinks, such as aspartame.

Here’s something to think about the next time you decide to include “organic” chicken in your meal. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule in the July 14 Federal Register to amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National List of Allowed & Prohibited Substances (National List) to extend the use of synthetic methionine in organic poultry production until Oct. 1, 2010. The National Organic Standards Board made the recommendation on May 22, 2008.

DL-methionine, DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog and DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog calcium were originally included on the National List in 2003, and was scheduled for expiration on Oct. 1, 2008. AMS said methionine was petitioned by organic livestock producers as a part of the NOSB’s 1995 initial review of synthetic amino acids considered for use in organic livestock production.

The petitioners asserted that methionine was a necessary dietary supplement for organic poultry, due to an inadequate supply of organic feeds containing sufficient concentrations of naturally occurring methionine (ie stuff chickens normally like to eat – organic whole wheat, organic whole oats, alfalfa meal, sunflower meal, fish meal and limestone). Petitioners suggested synthetic methionine would be fed as a dietary supplement to organic poultry at levels ranging from 0.3 to 0.5% of the animal’s total diet. The petitioners also asserted that a prohibition on the use of synthetic methionine would contribute to nutritional deficiencies in organic poultry thereby jeopardizing the animal’s health.

Read more at: There’s a synthetic in my organic chicken

Coca-Cola is phasing out the use of the controversial additive sodium benzoate in Diet Coke because of consumer demand for more natural products. The company said it began removing the preservative (E211) from production lines in January, and so it should be out of circulation by the end of the year. However, the additive removal is only currently planned for products sold in Britain. The Coca-Cola Company could not confirm if any other countries would follow suit.

A spokesperson also said that there are no current plans to remove sodium benzoate from any other of its brands, such as Fanta, Sprite, Oasis and regular Coca-Cola.

“The product is very important technically, especially in fruit-based drinks,” said a spokesperson. “We are currently able to remove it from Diet Coke and we will look at removing it from products where technically possible.”

Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative in soft drinks, jams, fruit juices, pickles, shrimp, pharmaceuticals (especially cough syrups), and soy sauces. It primarily prevents them from going moldy. Recent studies have highlighted health concerns from its use.

However, Coca-Cola insisted the move was not a result of the studies and its removal from Diet Coke is simply a response to consumer preferences for natural. Read the rest of this entry »

In 2007, an estimated 194 million Americans (2/3 of the total population) consumed products sweetened with sugar substitutes, according to the Calorie Control Council, an industry group. That’s 14 million more than in 2004. The council reports that the most popular are sugar-free or reduced-sugar beverages, ice cream and desserts, chewing gum and sugar substitutes spooned into coffee or tea.

Five artificial sweeteners – acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose – are approved for use in the U.S. All are chemically manufactured molecules – molecules that do not exist in nature.

More info at

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, over one million people are allergic to substances commonly added to beer, wine, and liquor. Because the law does not require that ingredients be printed on alcoholic-beverage labels, most consumers don’t know, for example, which wines contain such additives as sulfur dioxide and which liqueurs contain coffee whiteners.

So what exactly is in your beer?

Some typical beer additives:

Ammonia caramel
Rhoiso-alpha acids
Sulphur dioxide
Propylene glycol alginate
Sodium benzoate

According to Felicity Lawrence, author of the book, Not On The Label, bread making changed in the Sixties when scientists discovered how to make a loaf quickly and bulk it up with water.

“Instead of allowing two to three days fermentation they found that air and water could be incorporated into dough if it was mixed at high speeds,” she says.

“Double the quantity of yeast was needed to make it rise, chemical oxidants were essential to get the gas in and hardened fat had to be added to provide structure. The process gave a much higher yield of bread from each sack of flour because the dough absorbed so much water.” The added fat, often in the form of unhealthy hydrogenated fat, helps today’s bread look firm and spongy. It is often included as a part of the ambiguous-sounding “flour treatment agent” usually found listed in the ingredients.