Daily Archives: October 13, 2017

All I can say is – SERIously?

What’s consumer healthish about the picture below? It came in an email ad mentioning something about always having a “backup drink” handy….

Do you want to wear a stylish bangle on your wrist filled with wine, just in case? Honestly.

Without even talking about substance abuse issues, I’m thinking this simply parallels something I wonder about lately – creating an environment where we’re eating (and now, maybe, drinking) all the time…. Stop and think, people! Don’t buy everything that’s sold to you.

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CP & R: Prompt 1

After reading and studying 3 resources that are either trying to help public health or help public safety, I decided to write about frozen foods and how they effect us as the consumers. As a college student on a budget I can’t always have the luxury of buy fresh produce like meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Obviously there is a lot more to fresh produce than what I have named but thats mainly what I would buy as fresh produce. If you’re like me, wanting to eat either on the go to class or quick meals because you have homework to do and practicals to study for, frozen foods are an easy option. But are they the right option? Let’s find out.

According to a four minute read on curejoy.com, frozen fruits and vegetables are ok because they are picked and froze while they are still ripe and so all of the nutrients is still locked inside the fruit or vegetable. Since all the the nutrients is still able to be salvaged, frozen fruits and vegetables are a good alternative especially when your favorite fruit or vegetable is out of season. Frozen foods and meals (such as tv dinners and frozen meats) on the other hand are not a great substitute. Not only are they pack with sodium but they are also at higher risk for food pathogens that can be extremely deadly. Not all frozen foods are spoiled with pathogens but if they are and you do not take the time and care to reheat properly or even have the right watt microwave, you could be effected by the invisible pathogens with out even knowing it.

My advice to you, do your research. If you are like me and after reading the article (I have provided it for you at the bottom) you still are convinced that you don’t have the time to cook a homemade meal every night, read up on your favorite frozen foods and find out what you should and shouldn’t be consuming. While you are at it, you might find a few new ones you would like to try too.

https://www.curejoy.com/content/are-frozen-foods-bad-for-you/

 

CP & R Promt 1: What’s in the package?

Food labels are supposed to tell you what is in a product, but instead labels always seem to mention what it does not contain. This seems counterintuitive, as the main goal of a label is to tell you what is inside.

The FDA has a list of approved natural (things like wood chips count as a natural ingredient) and artificial chemicals. Frequently these are undertested, based on outdated research and/or have been exposed as harmful. For example:

Artificial Sweeteners: are tied to weight gain; the opposite of what they are marked for. Aspartame is particularly controversial. Though there are mixed opinions on its safety, some evidence suggests that aspartame is a neurotoxin and leads to negative neurobehavior effects (Lindseth, 2014). It is also the most common artificial sweetener.

Trans Fats: the evidence that trans-fat caused to increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Higher levels of these contribute to heart disease and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also linked to cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction and reproductive problems.

Those are approved substances by the FDA. The regulation is worse when looking at food additives, which do not even need to be labeled. GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) essentially lets food companies set their own standards for “safe” without outside regulation or influence. There has been a recent trend demanding for more transparency in the food industry. People have slowly started to pay more attention to certain ingredients (which is great!) This has caused the food industry to be more creative with “clean labeling” practices. This basically means removing known bad additives and replacing them with substitutes which sound better. For example, antioxidants (E300-21) such as butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) which are used to improve shelf life have been relabeled by some brands as “rosemary extract” (Blythman, 2015)

The FDA needs to conduct its own testing on these chemicals and additives; it should do this for everything it regulates. Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 77% of respondents believed that GRAS were evaluated by the FDA and thought to be safe. 66% believed that the FDA monitors GRAS safety and use (Butler & Kelber, 2016). Neither is the case. I can’t get past the fact that additives are not required to be labeled, let alone untested by the FDA.  I can’t believe ingredients which are known to cause disease are still allowed in our food. I believe everything added to a food item, should be required to be labeled. A consumer cannot make an informed choice with only part of the information available.

 

Works Cited

Blythman, J. (2015). Inside the food industry: the surprising truth about what you eat. Retrieved from m https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/21/a-feast-of-engineering-whats-really-in-your-food

Lindseth, G., N. Coolahan, S., E. Petros, T., V. Lindseth, P., D. (2014). Neurobehavior effects of aspartame consumption. Research in Nursing & Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24700203

Butler, D., Kelber, K. (2016). Consumers Union: New FDA Rule on GRAS Unacceptable, Fails Consumers. Retrieved from http://consumersunion.org/news/consumers-union-new-fda-rule-on-gras-unacceptable-fails-consumers/

Challenge – Two options. Learn about an FDA decision that could hugely impact consumers!

Ok, so you’ve read about consumer protection and regulation. What? You HAVEN’T? Why don’t you visit the CP&R Matters page right now?!

Ok, so NOW you know a little bit about how regulation of industries can help protect people as consumers, AND can even help industries be safer and more viable.

Take a look at this piece by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) about what’s happening right now in the world of food labels – spoiler alert: It’s not good. The American public was supposed to have access starting in 2018 to better information about serving sizes, sugar, and other aspects of packaged products that are tasty, cheap, and fun but not all that great for our health. In fact, some food product manufacturers had already changed their labels to meet the new regulation’s requirements earlier. Now the Food and Drug Administration (the agency whose job it is to protect people by providing information about ingredients, allergens, and other things you want to know about packaged food choices) is planning to delay the new rules until at least 2020.

Here’s an example of a product with the new food label. Note the differences between it and an old/current label (meaning MOST package labels right now). Get a sense of WHY it’s more helpful for you as a consumer.

consumerhealthnewfoodlabelpic

Food labels CHALLENGE One: Try talking with someone you care about about what they know and understand about packaged food and beverage products. Ask them to look at an “old” label and this new one, for example, and have them tell you what they really want when it comes to food packaging info. Write a post discussing how the conversation went and what you learned by exploring food labels and information both on your own and with someone else. As always, use your username and Challenge as tags, and choose the Challenge category. (Oh, and UNchoose the uncategorized category!)

Food labels CHALLENGE Two: If you’re interested ENOUGH, and want to take action as a consumer to raise your voice, take a look at this “model letter” to the FDA Commissioner, provided by CSPI. Then visit the Federal Register Comment space for the labeling regulation delay, and add a comment of your own. Write a post that shares your comment, and discuss how it felt to be an active, informed, and aware citizen around this consumer health issue. As always, use your username and Challenge as tags, and choose the Challenge category. (Oh, and UNchoose the uncategorized category!)

 

CP & R Prompt 1 (Cosmetics)

I chose to focus on hazardous chemicals in cosmetics. The article about Walmart making the decision to phase out hazardous chemicals is great because many customers, including my myself do not know about the dangerous chemicals that I put on my face.

Honestly, I do not believe that I am well protected as a consumer in this area because there are a lot of harmful chemicals that I put on my face and not aware of it so that makes me feel unprotected in this area of cosmetics.  What I do know is that most things that you put on your face, cosmetics, is not very safe. All the chemicals in it may cause problems on your skin. What I do not know is how badly all these harmful chemicals can affect my skin.

A law that would probably be most relevant to learn something about is the Bureau of Consumer Protection because this can protect consumers from, “unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices…” (Federal Trade Commission: Protecting America’s Consumers). Another law that is good to know is FDCA. It stands for Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act and this looks at the safety of the products. This make sure that harmful chemicals in a product are reduced. What’s most important to share with other consumers about this issue area is that if you aren’t sure whether something is safe then don’t use it. Or if you have no idea about what’s in the products that you’re using then it is a good idea not to use it. What’s most important to share with the consumer protection is that everything harmful should be eliminated and that people’s safety should be very important and should be put first.