FDA Bans Trans Fats 10 Years Too Late

Jenny Thompson of www.hsionline.com demonstrated what I think is an appropriate amount of disgust at the FDA’s Johnny Come Lately announcement banning trans fats. The mainstream media practically turned it into a Disney tale. Here we are…the poor public…trapped in a trans fat tower…and the FDA mounted its noble steed to scale the wall and come rescue us. Ridiculous!

Trans Fat on Food LabelBecause the FDA is exactly the evil monster that put us up in that tower to begin with. So any health risks they are tying to trans fats now — diabetes, heart attacks, all of ’em — those fall squarely on the shoulders of the FDA.

And it’s easy to see why…

A Tale Of Two Zeros

Zero. That’s the amount of trans fats the National Academy of Sciences determined was safe to eat. Zero. No gray areas there!

They arrived at that number based on evidence that even a small intake of this killer fat sharply increased risk of heart disease, sudden cardiac death, and type 2 diabetes. And this isn’t a new revelation. This was back in 2002!

 

But when the agency finally came around to a labeling requirement, they let food producers using trans fats lie. And basically put a gag order on companies smart enough to leave them out.

Here’s how…

As a gift to its cronies addicted to using these dangerous fats, the FDA made a single labeling requirement: You could not say “Trans fat free.” You could only say “No Trans Fats” or “Zero Trans Fats.”

Now to the untrained eye of the trusting consumer, those would seem like the same thing.

But you’re not giving the FDA enough credit. You see, whenever you see the phrase “Zero trans fats” on product packaging, check the small print. Turns out, this almost always means “Zero trans fats PER SERVING.”

And that lead to this very convenient lie: The FDA said half a gram or less of trans fat per serving could be called “zero.”

That’s right — in the FDA’s Rock-Paper-Scissors-like World, marketing beats math. So you can use decimal points to trick people into eating something they’re trying to avoid.

But it turns out, even for the FDA, death beats (bad) math.

So in a less-than-stunning reversal, the agency charged with defending the health of Americans decided to stop helping food companies kill us…11 years too late.

Last week, the agency said that partially hydrogenated oils (the primary trans fat source) should be removed from the GRAS list.

GRAS is “generally recognized as safe.” That means it’s considered safe to eat unregulated amounts of it. And taking an ingredient off the list is a very big deal. If an ingredient isn’t GRAS, it is not supposed to be in the food supply. Period.

And that’s exactly where trans fat should have been in 2002 — OUT of our food supply.

Last year, the CDC determined that trans fat consumption had dropped by nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2009. So let’s hold off on patting the FDA on the back. You’re no hero if you charge into the tower a decade after we climbed out ourselves.

Apparently Canada wants to pile on the ban trans fat bandwagon.

According to documents obtained by CSPI under freedom-of-information laws, Health Canada’s own experts estimate 3,000 heart attack deaths could be prevented annually with tougher restrictions on artificial trans fats.

They also estimate that up to $450 million could be saved annually in related health-care costs and workforce productivity losses. Plus, they’re worried they’re going to get all our banned trans fat products dumped on Canadian consumers.

Maybe we’re seeing the shift in doing business as usual. Smart consumers make smart choices. If we’re smart about what we eat and what we buy, we can change the world.

An important message from HSI Director Jenny Thompson:

We recently released the most valuable gift in our history to HSI members who renewed their membership. The response was so overwhelming, we had to let you in on the chance to get it FREE by becoming an HSI member today. For instructions to receive your free gift, click here.

Is the FDA Trying to Destroy the Pastured Egg Industry?

chickensRecent guidance from the FDA will place an impossible burden on farmers who raise true free-range chickens. Action Alert!

 

The guidance, released last month for farms that have more than 3,000 egg-laying chickens, purportedly aims to prevent salmonella and other foodborne illnesses by isolating chickens from cats, rats, flies, and wild birds—even though no evidence exists showing them to be of significant risk at spreading salmonella. A 2010 article in the Atlantic Monthly stated that all but one outbreak of foodborne illness in the US since 1995 originated at industrial factory farms.

 

The FDA guidance suggests that farmers must cover their outdoor pastures with either roofing or netting, or use noise cannons to scare away wild birds. Perhaps it has escaped FDA that noise cannons would also scare the chickens? Or that putting a roof over a multi-acre pasture is not only cost-prohibitive, but would prevent rain and sun from reaching the living things in the pasture? FDA also advocates walls around the pasture, to prevent mice, rats, and cats from entering, and then put a roof over it. That’s right—walls and roofing. In other words, they want the chickens to be kept in a building! This completely contradicts what “free-range” is supposed to be about: they can be cage-free, but not outdoors.

 

 All but one outbreak of foodborne illness in

the US since 1995 originated

at industrial factory farms.

 

factory chicken farmThe problem, of course, is that FDA is describing the commonplace practice where farmers house their birds inside, giving them access to tiny porches that only 1% to 3% of the chickens can use at a time—if there are any porches. Although eggs labeled “organic” must allow birds outdoor access, these small porches qualify as outdoor access, according to the USDA. Sadly, this is the industry standard free-range hens; the standards for “cage-free” are even less demanding.

 

“Free-range” in USDA-speak certainly does not mean “pastured.” There is a world of difference between an indoor hen that eats feed and never sees the sun, and an outdoor hen that finds part of its own dinner by scratching in the dirt for bugs and worms.

 

 

Pastured chicken farmPastured eggs are more nutritious. In addition, the Pew Commission has concluded that industrial-scale animal production poses “unacceptable” risks to public health and the environment, while subjecting billions of animals to “severe distress.” Their report states:

 

Food safety is linked to the health of the animals that produce the meat, dairy and egg products that we eat. In fact, scientists have found modern intensive confinement production systems can be stressful for food animals, and that stress can increase pathogen shedding in animals.

 

In addition, researchers reported that workers at Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are more likely to harbor multi-drug-resistant MRSA in their noses than workers at antibiotic-free, free-range farms.

 

An example of the public health risk posed by industrial scale farms is the recent outbreak of the rare foodborne illness cyclospora. Since late June, 466 people in fifteen states have taken ill. The FDA announced on August 2 that the illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska were linked to bagged salads from a Mexican subsidiary of Taylor Farms, which were sold to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants. Many experts believe that the infections in the other thirteen states must also come from Taylor Farms, since cyclospora is rare in the US. Most of the 1,100 annual cases of cyclospora in the US afflict US residents returning from overseas.

 

Not only are industrial scale farms less healthy for workers, consumers, and the local environment, but the mass production of food that is widely distributed makes it very difficult to trace the cause of foodborne illnesses, as food may change hands many times between the farm and the dinner table. In the case of the cyclospora epidemic, investigators still don’t know the cause of the illness in thirteen states, and the investigation may “take months.”

 

The New Zealand dollar dropped after the world’s largest dairy exporter, New Zealand-based Fonterra, reported on August 3 that it had shipped products contaminated with botulism. The dairy products were exported to Australia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia in sport drinks and infant formula. If left untreated, 60% of botulism cases are fatal.

 

The organic, locally grown model that ANH-USA advocates does not pose these problems.

 

Despite the evidence that CAFO farms make outbreaks of foodborne illnesses inevitable, there is no move to limit or reform them. Instead, as we recently reported, the USDA is proposing an “overhaul” that would reduce the number of inspectors by 40%, process more chickens in less time, and use more and stronger chemicals to wash filthy chickens who lived in too-crowded conditions with thousands of other birds.

 

The USDA is now reviewing research that indicates that these new and stronger chemicals are actually masking the presence of salmonella, essentially outwitting the testing process. Although USDA records show that salmonella rates in tested chickens have dropped by half, the number of consumers sickened by salmonella has remained the same. And poultry inspectors have reported suffering from asthma, severe respiratory problems, burns, rashes, irritated eyes, and sinus problems, in reaction to the new chemicals.

 

star wars death starThe new guidance from FDA about “free-range” chickens and the new regulations proposed by the USDA, however absurd, come as no great surprise. It fits the pattern we told you about last week—that the government is waging war on small farmers, in direct violation of the intent of the Tester-Hagan amendment that Congress passed just three years ago.

Action Alert! The FDA is accepting comments on its proposed guidance on the prevention of salmonella in eggs. Write to the agency today and explain that their proposed food safety measures are making unwarranted assumptions about the way egg-producing chickens should be kept, and for organic farmers to follow these guidelines would mean reversing all the benefits their methods provide. Show them that the threat is not from small organic chicken farms, but from filthy industrial CAFOs. Please write to the FDA today!

 

Take-Action1

Health At Gunpoint

 Steve uploaded an interview with James Gormley, author of Health at Gunpoint.

James_GormleyWe, in America, enjoy unprecedented access to nutritional products. We are in a golden age of nutritional science where we have effective, safe and scientifically validated nutritional products. What many people don’t realize is that access to these nutritional products is not assured and is even at risk. I have been in the natural products industry for nearly 40 years. During that time there have been at least two major attempts by the FDA to remove natural vitamins and supplements from the market place. First in 1976 and then again in the early 1990s, Congress had to intervene with legislation to protect supplements from unnecessary and over zealous regulation.

The FDA has full regulatory authority over dietary supplements since the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994. (DSHEA). Since then, the FDA has become more active in it’s oversight of foods and supplements. The FDA seems to have a certain antagonism towards supplements and have made it very difficult for supplement manufacturers for decades. There are also international pressures to limit access to supplements and to restrict potencies. Many countries have limited access to supplements and some want to see those same restrictions in the American marketplace.

Health_At_Gunpoint

Most consumers are not aware that manufacturers are prohibited from discussing the science of their products.  Even when companies have credible scientific and clinical studies, companies cannot discuss the results of those studies or benefits of those products on health problems. The effect is that nutritional information is suppressed and consumers have a much more difficult challenge in getting credible information and choosing products. The FDA is of no help when it comes to promoting natural health.

In this book James Gormley traces the history of the natural health movement. He explores how big business, industry globalization and politics have affected the quality and production of food and nutritional supplements. Health at Gunpoint sheds light on the not so subtle attack on your nutritional freedoms.

About James Gormley

James Gormley is an award-winning editor and journalist with over twenty years of experience in the area of nutrition. He is the author of five other books including The User’s Guide to Brain-Boosting Supplements.

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