Posted by Linda Bonvie
January 1, 2015
In the second part of our Food Identity Theft “year in review,” revisit some of the most noteworthy revelations we’ve made in our twice-weekly blogs during the last six months of 2014. (The first half of the year is covered in our previous blog.)
Corn conspires with Cornell
In July, we revealed how a supposed “study” by the head of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab – one that was aired by various media — about the reasons for ingredient-based “food fears” had involved no real scientific research into whether such concerns were justified, but rather a survey of mothers who were provided with selected information – and had actually been financed by a grant from the Corn Refiners Association. We also talked about how the appeal of familiar products, coupled with health claims on the label, can divert us from examining the actual ingredients, which are often far from healthy.
‘Adulteration’ complaint added to petition
We began the month of August by reporting on how our sponsoring organization, Citizens for Health, had expanded its petition to the Food and Drug Administration seeking the labeling of specific amounts of fructose in products containing HFCS to include a request that “any product containing HFCS sweetener with more than 55% fructose is considered to be adulterated” under federal regulations and “cannot be sold in interstate commerce.”
Other blogs that month revealed what some renowned authorities on food science were saying about the health effects of HFCS and how studies using so-called placebos with their own “side effects” can’t really be trusted to give reliable results.
September’s FIT blogs included the results of more new research into the health effects of some of the ingredient we’ve consistently warned readers about. These included partially hydrogenated oils, the proposed FDA ban on which, as we discovered, was being stalled (possibly as a result of industry pressure); HFCS, which when consumed in soda for just two weeks, was found to bring about “a significant increase in blood concentrations of dangerous very-low-density lipoproteins and a 116-percent increase in markers of bodily inflammation.” And artificial sweeteners, which an Israeli study showed actually contributed to weight gain and “obesity-related metabolic conditions,” such as type 2 diabetes.
A ‘food fears’ follow-up
We wound up the month by exposing how a second academic “study” of “food fears” was also being funded by the corn refiners and discussing what might be the real motivation behind the widely heralded plan to reduce by a fifth the “beverage calories” that Americans consume over a ten-year period.
In October, we revealed how “beer coolers” were actually engaging in an “adult version of the fruit fraud con” in which various unhealthy ingredients (especially HFCS) were being substituted for the “fruits” implied in their names. And how a new Harvard Medical School study had identified a mechanism by which high fructose consumption helped to cause obesity, diabetes and other health problems.
Why industry gets it way with the FDA?
We also disclosed the support the FDA was getting from industry via a little-known organization and what it was about a comparative study of cooking oils that probably caused it not even to mention coconut oil, which should have been the top one on the list.
We started off the following month with a disclosure of how the Federal Trade Commission fell short of the mark in its lawsuit over Gerber’s claims about its “Good Start” infant formulas by failing to acknowledge the risk of the ingredient involved, which we followed up with a blog on two other worrisome ingredients in commercial formulas.
Other blogs in November talked about how TV advertising flew in the face of the Corn Refiners Association’s dismissal of consumer concerns; the implications of a proposal to classify people who worry too much about food ingredients as suffering from an “official” form of mental illness, and the discovery of a link between trans fat consumption and memory impairment that should be jump-starting the FDA’s year-old proposal to phase out partially hydrogenated oil.
High-octane HFCS where the label says none
This past month’s revelations included the fact that HFCS-90, a form of high fructose corn syrup that is 90 percent fructose and therefore outside the official criteria for HFCS, was now being described simply as ‘fructose” – and how one General Mills product that claimed to have “no HFCS” actually listed fructose among its ingredients.
We also talked about a purportedly “natural” seasoning (and popular salt substitute) that could end up sending a Christmas dinner guest to the ER. And also how consuming a little too much soy could pose hidden health hazards.
Of course, the above-mentioned blogs were only the highlights of the coverage provided by Food Identity Theft in 2014. Other blogs published here during the year offered highly useful information as well – for instance, comparative analyses of the contents of various food products that helped guide our readers in making smarter and healthier shopping choices. So whether you’re a long-time FIT fan or new to this site, any and all of these blogs – along with those from previous years – can be viewed in their entirety at our archives, free of charge.
Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy new year from all of us at Food Identity Theft!