Category Archives: FDA

The Duchess of Cambridge Grocery Shopping

I just adore Kate Middleton. I don’t enjoy following celebrities, at all, except Kate. She is just such a classy young lady. Of course, you can never tell what a celebrity is like in real life, based solely on what the press reports. But, since I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Kate, the press is all I can go on. And she certainly does seem like a very graceful, confident yet humble, and gracious princess.

So yes, I do occasionally pick up a magazine when I see her on the cover….oh who am I kidding, I always pick it up if I see her on the cover.

But what does this have to do with food law and more importantly, your grocery store shopping experience, oh I am so glad you asked.

In honor of Kate Middleton and her sightings at Tesco’s (the local British grocery store), here are some interesting tidbits about what you will find in American grocery stores, that you will not find in any British ones.

(but first some pictures of the newly married Princess Catherine, doing groceries for her and her hubby)

Catherine does the grocery shopping

 Kate+Middleton+Kate+Middleton+Buys+Groceries+5iXhsk7pmILl

Now, back to the food and law business.

Kate reportedly purchased a lot of fruits and veggies on this particular outing, and also, some ice cream. Now ice cream may seem pretty universal to the average consumer, but you are no average consumer, and now you will understand why we in America have certain options when it comes to our ice cream selections that Kate did not have on that April day when she went to the local Tesco’s in Anglesey Wales.

This side of the pond, many of our grocery stores carry ice cream varieties that include artificial food colors (or, as the Brits say, “colours”). There are currently seven different artificial food colors that are approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The three most popular are Red #40, Yellow #5, and Blue #1

Many popular ice cream brands in the US use artificial colors. Take for example Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip – one of my boyfriend’s favorite ice cream flavors (but he doesn’t buy Edy’s, he scopes out the organic section at our local grocery store for specials and avoids all these less than desirable ingredients, which is why we get along). This particular product has the following ingredients: non-fat milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, chocolaty chips (sugar, coconut oil, cocoa processed with alkali, fractionated palm kernel oil, cocoa, soy lecithin, salt, natural flavor), whey protein, buttermilk, molasses, acacia gum, carob bean gum, guar gum, yellow 5, blue 1, carrageenan, natural flavor. There are two artificial colors found in this flavor that Kate probably would not find in any of the ice cream flavors available to her at Tesco’s.

That is because in the UK, several major companies have voluntarily chosen not to use artificial colors in their products, even though they continue to manufacture the same product for the US market with the inclusion of the artificial color.

A little background first.

Lately, there has been quite a bit of talk about the science of artificial food colors (both lakes and dyes). Do artificial colors contribute to hyperactivity in children? This is the question that has dominated much of the conversation. The answers are not clear-cut. In analyzing the conflicting answers, it is important to always keep another question in mind – “who funded the research?”

Many of the studies relied upon by FDA to assess the safety of artificial food colors were funded by food companies that manufacture artificial colors. FDA has concluded there is not enough evidence to demonstrate a link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity in children, and has further concluded they should remain permitted in the American food supply. Of course, this position does not preclude parents and other consumers from avoiding them, it just means the parent or consumer needs to be intentional about avoiding them.

Interestingly, many companies, such as Kraft, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart, and even Mars (makers of M&Ms candy) have already removed these artificial food colors from products they distribute in some other countries, such as England – and they did so voluntarily. They have reformulated their product lines in other countries to no longer include these artificial food colors, a move they made, again, voluntarily, in response to consumer demand and an important study called the Southampton Study.

The Southampton Study was unique in that it tested the synergistic effect of multiple food colors, because children are seldom exposed to only one artificial color – usually they are exposed to a combination (for example, Yellow #5 and Blue #1 in Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream). The Study was also unique in that it was funded, not by industry, but by the British national food safety agency. It was this Study and the consumer reaction to its findings that prompted even American companies to remove artificial colors (and sodium benzonate, a preservative) from their U.K. products. For example, the strawberry variety of the Kellog’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars have two formulations,

I am particularly impressed by the fact that these companies removed these artificial colors voluntarily. For example, Asda, the U.K. branch of Wal-Mart, acted one week after details were leaked to the UK press about the results of the Southampton Study. They did not even wait for the study to be published before making their move.

In an article published by the Food and Drink Federation, a Web site that monitors food issues in Europe, Jess Halliday reported that “Asda [U.K. Wal-Mart] has pledged to remove any artificial colours or flavours from its 9,000 own label products, as well as aspartame, hydrogenated fat, and flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate.” And the Study did not even mention those last three items.

According to Asda/U.K. Wal-Mart food trading director Darren Blackhurt, “We know that our customers, particularly those that are mums and dads, are becoming more and more concerned about what’s in the food they buy.” And in 2008, Coca-Cola announced it would remove sodium benzonate from its products, but only in the U.K.

“We know that artificial colours are of concern to consumers, which is why, in 2006, Mars began a programme to remove them from our products. . . in November 2007, Starburst Chews became free from all artificial colours. . . . in December 2007, Skittles were made free from all the artificial colours highlighted in a landmark study by Southampton University. . . We have already removed four colours mentioned in the Southampton study from Peanut and Choco M&M’s, and are in the process of removing the final one so they too will be free from these artificials during 2008.”—Mars UK

“From September 2007, the UK’s favourite kids’ chocolate brand—Milky Bar—is to be made with all natural ingredients.”—Nestlé UK

“We are committed to replacing all artificial colours in our sweets. We note the Southampton University findings, but we had begun this process already because we are continually listening to our customers.” —UK Cadbury Chocolate division

A BBC report quotes Asda/U.K. Wal-Mart as saying that in “its decision to halt the use of artificial colours and flavours, [it] was acting because ‘mums and dads are becoming more and more concerned about what’s in the food they buy.’” An Asda/U.K. Wal-Mart press release elaborates: “Reformulation was hard work, but it was a labour of love.”

Mums and Dads in the UK are certainly affecting the nature of the foods their children will grow up eating and what foods are even available in the grocery stores – I wonder what kind of food Kate and William will feed the new prince or princess! Well, according at least to the press, an insider of the soon-to-be first time mom told Us Weekly, “Kate promised herself she would only eat healthy until the birth,” the insider said, adding, “As soon as she can eat normally again, she’ll be avoiding processed foods.”

And here is one last picture of Kate, this time expecting her first baby 🙂

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

 
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Genetically Engineered Salmon

Salmon is one of my favorite types of fish, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is so healthy. And many of my friends and family consume a lot of salmon as well, for the same reason. But what many people perhaps do not know, is that not all salmon is the same, and not all types of salmon are as healthful as others, either for those of us who consume it or for the environment.

Salmon consumed in the United States varies by species, product, origin (domestic and imported) and type (wild and farmed). There are significant differences between Pacific and Atlantic salmon consumption in products, origin and

Species: Americans consume five species of Pacific salmon (chinook, sockeye, coho, pink and chum) as well as Atlantic salmon. These species vary considerably in size, taste and suitability for different kinds of products.

Origin: Americans consume both domestic and imported salmon.

Product: Americans consume salmon that is initially processed or imported in three major product forms: canned, frozen and fresh.

Type: Americans consume both farmed and wild salmon.

But there could soon be another classification of salmon on the market, genetically engineered.

The following is from an article published by Reuters on December 21, 2012, which states that a controversial genetically engineered salmon has moved a step closer to your grocery store and restaurant table after the US. Food and Drug Administration said Friday the fish didn’t appear likely to pose a threat to the environment or to humans who eat it.

AquAdvantage salmon eggs would produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. If it gets final approval, it would be the first food from a transgenic animal – one whose genome has been altered – to be approved by the FDA.

The AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon egg was developed by AquaBounty Technology to speed up production to meet global seafood demand.

“With respect to food safety, FDA has concluded that food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption,” the FDA assessment states.

AquaBounty officials said they were caught by surprise by the news that its product was a step closer to approval as years of controversy had followed the company’s application for a go-ahead from the regulator.

“We are encouraged that the environmental assessment is being released and hope the government continues the science-based regulatory process,” said AquaBounty Chief Executive Ronald Stotish.

Critics say the new salmon is a “dangerous experiment” and have pressured the FDA to reject it. They say the FDA has relied on outdated science and substandard methods for assessing the new fish.

“We are deeply concerned that the potential of these fish to cause allergic reactions has not been adequately researched,” said Michael Hansen, a scientist at the Consumers Union. “FDA has allowed this fish to move forward based on tests of allergenicity of only six engineered fish, tests that actually did show an increase in allergy-causing potential.”

There were also concerns the FDA would not require the genetically modified salmon to be labeled as such, and some critics said they may file a lawsuit to prevent what they fear could be the imminent approval of the engineered fish.

“Congress can still keep FDA from unleashing this dangerous experiment,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group. “Although this latest FDA decision is a blow to consumer confidence, we encourage everyone to contact their members of Congress and demand this reckless decision be overturned.”

The Center for Food Safety, another non-profit consumer protection group, was highly critical of the FDA report, and officials said they might sue the regulator over the issue.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value. It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment.”

FDA spokeswoman Morgan Liscinsky said no final decisions have been made on labeling or on the application for approval.

“The release of these materials is not a decision on whether food from AquAdvantage Salmon requires additional labeling; nor is it a decision on the new animal drug application currently under review. It also does not provide a final food safety determination,” Liscinsky said.

The AquAdvantage salmon would be an all-female population with eggs produced in a facility on Prince Edward Island in Canada and shipped to a “grow-out facility” in Panama, where they would be reared to market size and harvested for processing.

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I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of the pending FDA approval

in the meantime, here is one of my favorite recipes for salmon, my friend Dani and I discovered it on Allrecipes.com a few winters ago when I was staying with her and her mom in Connecticut.

Untitled

Ingredients:

4 cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 table spoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

2 (6 ounce each) fillets of salmon

Directions:

In a medium glass bowl, prepare the marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish, and cover with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

Place filets in a baking dish, cover with marinade and aluminum foil.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

We like serving it with homemade sweet potato fries.