Archive for January, 2009

BPA Bottle Safety Update

Bristol-Myers Squibb, maker of Enfamil infant formula lobbied US lawmakers to support the safety of BPA, which is used to line infant formula cans.

BPA is used to coat the interior of most food and beverage cans, including baby formula containers and plastic water bottles. A recent study by a team of UK researchers found that higher concentrations of the chemical in urine were linked with heart disease, type two diabetes and liver enzyme abnormalities. Scientists from the US National Toxicology Program said that effects on reproductive development from BPA in packaging cannot be ruled out.

The issue is of particular concerns for infants and children for whom exposure to any chemcial substance poses a higher risk. As such, it is prudent to avoid any foods and beverage packaging that presents a possibility of cross contamination. The data suggust that bottles and cans that contain BPA in the coating may leech into the foods and beverages and should be avoided and contact minimized.

What to do?  Buy a reusable water bottle for each family member.  You can choose between BPA-free hardplastics, stainless steel and or glass. One of the most cost effective options in the light weight safe plastic, Camelbak Better  Bottle that comes in a variety of versions (biter value, straw, wide mouth) and colors.  While more expensive, the stainless bottles have a great lunchbox size, and even come in a “sippy cup” version so even your toddler can be part of the eco-friendly, BPA-free drinking crowd.  

If you want to read more about this topic, check out Amy Gates blog post  “Fill ‘er up: Reusable water bottles” at Blogher.

January 7, 2009 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Food Safety Goes Beyond Plastics

Become More Food Safety Savvy…. there’s one way you can  protect your family’s health and that’s by staying  informed about incidences of food contamination that might have a direct impact on you.  Given the world market, avoiding contaminated foods like:

  • Melamine, a compound found in baby formula and others foods imported from China
  • Bisphenol, a chemical found in plastic bottles that leeches into the beverage

makes staying healthy a bigger challenge for every conscious consumer. Just in the past 2 years alone, the US government has issued nearly 500 food safety alerts, which were not shared with consumer media outlets, so we would have no way of knowing what to steer clear of.

Luckily, there are 2 ways to stay informed.

  • Become a member of USFoodSafety.com. You will receive up-to-date email messages on food safety alerts and food related recalls, with balanced information and scientifically based advise on food handling and food contamination issues.

  • Check the FDA website regularly for current food safety alerts.

As for melamine, you can avoid any foods imported from China for a while, and you can buy Bispenol-free containers that are reusable, providing an eco-friendly solution. Two easy options:  Nalgene-based bottles and Stainless Steel.

January 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

Fruit Snacks are Not What they Seem

If you’ve been feeding Gerber’s Gummi-bear Fruit Juice snacks to your children as a healthy fruit substitute, you probably didn’t notice the ingredient list:

Ingredients: CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, WHITE GRAPE JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: CARRAGEENAN, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), CORN STARCH, NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID, HYDROGENATED COCONUT OIL, CARNAUBA WAX, RED CABBAGE EXTRACT COLOR, PAPRIKA COLOR, BEESWAX, ANNATTO COLOR AND ELDERBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE COLOR

Luckily one parent did and took Gerber to court. A court ruling sets the record straight on this product– it is a candy that contains trans fats, plenty of sugar and only 20% of recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Gerber suggests that consumers may avoid being misled by reading the list of ingredients, but the Court declared that consumers should not be “expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth…in small print on the side of the box.”In effect, there’s nothing healthy about the product, so it shouldn’t be mistaken as a reasonable replacement for fruit.

Parents whose goal is to encourage fruit eating should make a beeline for a box of Clementines or crisp tart apples (preferably organic) that are seasonably available, and encourage the joy of sweet, fresh fruit. While fresh is best, canned fruit packed in natural juices is OK, too. And going forward, be an informed consumer:  read the ingredient panel before making a purchase.

By the way, the product has been renamed, Juice Treats, but it will never come close to the real thing. Fruit is fruit even when it’s been juiced, but there’s no substitute for eating it in a form that resembles its naturally grown state, rather than a processed product that contains enough juice concentrate to sound better than its nutritional profile.

Gerber’s not alone in promoting candy as fruit to parents looking for an easy way out. “Mouth watering taste of real fruit,”  is the tagline for RealFruit Gummies, a fruit snack by Dare Foods, which contains 19 grams of sugar, no fiber and no fruit content.

Even organic food maker, Annie’s, has a fruit juice snack, Organic Tropical Treat Bunny Fruit Snacks that are not close to a nutritionally acceptable fruit, given that the first 3 ingredients are a form of sugar, and there’s no sign of any fiber. While this product provides 100% of a child’s daily vitamin C in a serving, but little else.

All these products no better than juice drinks. Stick to the real thing!

January 6, 2009 at 11:44 am 1 comment


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