Tag Archives: Free-From

Food Allergies Can Lead To Asthma: Study (And Again on the Anti-Gluten-Free Movement!)

 

This item is a bit outside the course of what this blog normally covers, but it is food-related, and it does provide information about a subject people in the food trade and/or with an interest in children’s health should pay attention to.

A recent study, reported on last month in BMC Pediatrics, noted that, “Childhood food allergy is associated with impaired quality of life, limited social interactions, comorbid allergic conditions, and significant economic cost; Importantly, a severe allergic reaction resulting in anaphylaxis can be life threatening, and food allergens are the most common cause of anaphylaxis and anaphylaxis-related mortality in children and adolescents; Recent estimates have reported food allergy prevalence figures between 4 and 8 %, however, these studies are limited in size and scope or rely on participant reporting rather than healthcare provider-based diagnosis.”

Put another, simpler way, the researchers found evidence that food allergies can contribute significantly to the development of asthma. (Yeah, I know, why didn’t they just say that??)

This may be putting the solution in front of the cure, but it would seem to me – no expert in such things! – that studies such as this one, which represent significant advances in medical science and knowledge, point to a need for [1] greater testing tools to ascertain what, if any, foods very young kids may be allergic to, and [2] approaches to dealing with, and curing, childhood allergies to prevent both life quality and budget busting costs down the road.

And, at the risk of sounding like I’m on an anti-gluten-free bandwagon (which I sort of am!), the food industry needs to stop fostering trends that, truth be told, truly are against the interests of a majority of the audience(s) they serve.

The cut-out-gluten case is a, um, case in point: As we reported recently, only a fairly miniscule portion of the U.S. population (with similar percentages likely elsewhere) has celiac disease – “About 1 in 100 people — about 1 percent — have celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested,” according to The Celiac Disease Foundation; and, from the same source, “About .4 percent of people have a doctor-diagnosed wheat allergy, according to a 2006 study; In those people, a true allergic response to wheat (which contains gluten) can include skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms.”

But as this blog pointed out recently, people without or with little risk of celiac disease could be doing themselves a disservice by going ‘gluten-free’. And, by implication, the ever-increasing number of companies declaring their processed food products to be ‘gluten-free’ are both deceiving and even putting at risk some of their consumer clients.

I find it both disturbing and disheartening that companies either fail to explore or disregard scientific

studies that strongly suggest they should stop wasting money on removing gluten from products and focus, instead, on making their products truly healthier for those who’ll consume them.

They should ignore what the latest ‘pair of dimes’ says, and go with the truth: Gluten-free is not, for most consumers, a solution to anything. And it’s truly detrimental for many of them!

Advertisements

Kent State U. in Ohio Has First-In-U.S. Gluten-Free Dining Hall

prentice-cafe-kent-state

Chefs cook up omelets with bacon and other sides at Kent State University’s Prentice Cafe, the only entirely gluten-free campus dining hall in America, according to the school. Courtesy of Kent State University.

As you’d expect, Kent State University in Ohio is hailing the country’s gluten-free dining hall as “a benefit” – even though as this blog pointed out a couple of days, that, for people who don’t have and are at little risk of celiac disease, is far from true: Gluten-free diets, we noted, quoting experts, can short-change followers of vital vitamins and minerals, thus making such diets more a risk than a benefit.

Kent State says that while many colleges offer gluten-free stations within dining halls, its Prentice Cafe is the first certified all-gluten-free campus dining facility in America. That means, the school says, that there is no risk during food preparation of cross-contamination that could allow traces of gluten into a meal. Even traces of gluten, they say, “can severely impact sufferers of celiac disease” — an autoimmune disorder where the body cannot process the wheat protein.

School officials say a rise in students who can’t — or choose not to — eat gluten prompted them to designate a dining hall specifically for them.

“For the last several years, the increase in food intolerances and celiac disease and those who have even minor gluten intolerances kept increasing,” Kent State Director of Dining Services Richard Roldan told NBC News. “A lot of parents kept coming in and stressing about the well-being of their students and having options that wouldn’t make them sick.”

Gluten, a protein, is found in wheat, rye and barley. About 3 million Americans suffer celiac, a genetic autoimmune disease which leads to damage to the lining of the small intestine, Symptoms include pain, fatigue and diarrhea when foods with gluten, such as bread or pasta, are consumed. A small number of people have an allergy to wheat, which has similar symptoms.

Millions of others avoid gluten for perceived health reasons, although nutritionists question whether going gluten-free actually has benefits. Many gluten-free foods use rice as a substitute and may lack key nutrients found in whole grains. Also, gluten-free products tend to have more fat and sugar than foods with gluten, which can lead to weight gain.

Either way, sales of gluten-free products have surged in recent years as the number of people foregoing it in the U.S. tripled between 2009 and 2014, according to a new study out this week.

But despite the spike in popularity, there’s been no effect on the prevalence of celiac disease. Diagnoses appear to have remained stable in recent years, according to the article published by JAMA Internal Medicine last Tuesday.

One clear benefit in recent years of the gluten-free movement, according to the Kent State dining officials: gluten-free products taste a lot better — and a lot closer to their gluten counterparts than they used to.

“The manager and chef at [Prentice Cafe] have done a lot of sampling of different products out there to find the ones that really taste the best, so students who don’t need to eat gluten-free come in and are enjoying it too,” dining services dietitian Megan Brzuski told NBC News.

Erin Mazzotta, 19, just started her freshman year at Kent State. She was diagnosed with celiac in third grade and knew Prentice had food options for her when she was applying, but didn’t know it was going to be entirely gluten-free as of this year.

The Pittsburgh native was thrilled when she found out, especially after her experiences going out to eat growing up.

“A lot of restaurants do offer gluten-free menus, but it’s a little bit of a risk. You have to trust them when they’re cooking your food and handling it,” she said.

Kent State earned certification from the Gluten-Free Food Services Certification Program, a food safety program offered through the Gluten Intolerance Group, for Prentice Cafe. Traditional gluten products are easily subbed out for things like tortillas made from corn for burritos, and gluten-free hamburger buns that have good taste and texture, Roldan said.

The food at Prentice Café is “really good,” Mazzotta said.

“With gluten-free foods, sometimes you can tell it’s a little bit off, but all the different meals there have been spot-on,” she said, adding that her friends who aren’t gluten-free join her for meals there.

For students who don’t require a gluten-free diet, Prentice Cafe can still meet all their nutritional needs, Brzuski said.

“The cafe still has a wide variety of options,” she said. “There’s still a salad bar with plenty of lean protein, plenty of other options. Eating gluten-free is just a benefit.”

Or not!

 

Critics Slam McD’s Ad, Say They’re NOT Loving It

mcdonald-s-mcnuggets-commercial-ad

 

It’s one thing – a nice thing, in fact – for McDonald’s to have eliminated artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets, but it’s quite something else, critics say, for the company to imply, as a current TV campaign does, that Mickey D focuses on serving, what “we all want – what’s best for our kids!”

Adding that line to a commercial selling McNuggets has some health advocates crying foul.

“That’s the defining line that sets up the whole ad,” says Emily Mardell, a registered dietitian in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. That and the whole concept of the ad, she says, “is incredibly misleading.”

Using even stronger language, the executive director of Ottawa (Canada)’s Centre for Health Science and Law calls that marketing approach “grossly misleading. Bill Jeffery argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets “simply aren’t a healthy choice for children,” according to a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) report. “What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable,” Jeffery declared.

Still, McDonald’s, says the company is very serious about its campaign to promote its preservative-free McNuggets, which already have no artificial flavors or colors.

The chain started offering its reformed finger food at U.S. and Canadian locations in August.

The move is part of a bigger mission to offer menu items that better “reflect the cares and concerns of the modern day guest,” McDonald’s Canada spokesman Adam Grachnik said in an email to CBC News.

“We are on a journey to be better.”

The journey includes dropping some reportedly questionable ingredients from McNuggets like TBHQ — a preservative used for vegetable oils.

Besides the line, “We all want what’s best for our kids,” the company also promotes the menu item online with the phrase, “Because your family matters.”

But health advocates say eliminating a preservative or two doesn’t change the overall health concerns with fast food.

“It’s not a categorical shift,” says Mardell.

“These are still foods that are high in fat, high in sodium. They’re not the types of foods that you want in the everyday or even in routine intake for children.”

According to McDonald’s own numbers, just four McNuggets contain nine grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium — one-quarter of the recommended daily sodium requirement for kids ages four to eight.

McDonald’s serves up its Chicken McNuggets with its own dipping sauces that contain preservatives. And the above-cited sodium numbers don’t include the accompanying dipping sauce, one of which, the barbecue, option has the highest sodium count at 300 milligrams — as much as four McNuggets.

And the fact the company’s commercials don’t mention that the dipping sauces still contain preservatives prompted the CEO of a major U.S. restaurant chain, Panera Bread, to also suggest McDonald’s is misleading customers.

“I was offended watching this commercial,” CEO Ron Shaich told Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!”

McDonald’s Grachnik also listed an improvement the company made last spring: adding leafy green vegetables like kale to its salads. But in February, CBC News revealed McDonald’s crispy chicken caesar kale salad entree with dressing has more calories, fat and sodium than a Double Big Mac. At 1,400 milligrams, the sodium amount nearly meets an adult’s daily recommended intake.

“Putting kale into the menu doesn’t mean you’re getting a healthy choice,” Toronto registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon told CBC News at the time.

When you add the accompanying dressing to the crispy chicken caesar salad with kale, it has more calories, salt and fat than a Double Big Mac.

mcdonald-s-burger-kale-salad

When you add the accompanying dressing to the crispy chicken caesar salad with kale, it has more calories, salt and fat than a Double Big Mac.

Bill Jeffery of the Centre for Health Science and Law says it’s nice to see a big company moving towards antibiotic-free chicken. But he still finds himself underwhelmed by McDonald’s changes.

“This isn’t about improving the health of their customers,” he concludes. “They’re just going to try to appeal to people’s emotions about health.”

Despite all the criticisms, McDonald’s is standing by its message of making positive changes to its menu. “We are proud of these big changes, even as we seek to do more and make the food people truly love to eat at McDonald’s even better,” said Grachnik.

Putin Bans All GMO Production, Imports

The following news article, reprinted in its entirety, was posted recently on the web site Natural News. This site bills itself as “The world’s top news source on natural health.” It seems to be produced by one man, Mike Adams, who couldn’t have a lot of time for sleeping: He produces a prodigious amount of information, all with a strong bias toward health (of course!) and ‘green’ products to enhance health. Make your own (advised) decisions on whether things he’s ‘pitching’ are things you want to ‘catch’.

Russia has adopted a new law that prohibits all GMO crop cultivation and GMO animal breeding in the Russian Federation, to prevent the release of GMOs into the environment. Furthermore, the new law allows the Russian government to restrict the import of GMO products that may pose a threat to human health or the environment.
In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Russian Parliament that the country should become the world’s largest supplier of organic foods. Later that year, Russia enforced a law that required strict labeling of products that contain GMOs, while the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced that Russia would not use genetically modified organisms to increase productivity in agriculture.
“Russia has chosen a different path. We will not use these [GMO] technologies,” he said.
As a result, a bill for a full ban on the cultivation of GMO crops was sent to the State Duma, which has now been fully approved.

Cleanest agricultural products in the world

The new law is a big win for anti-GMO advocates, including the Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, and President Putin himself. Putin and Tkachev believe that the new law will aid Russia in becoming the world’s largest supplier of healthy, environmentally friendly and high-quality clean food – especially since the global demand for organic products is rising quickly.
Opponents of the new law are blaming the current Russian agricultural lobbyists of being afraid of competition and the development of new technologies.
As reported by We Are Anonymous, the first draft of the GMO legislation was a topic of heated debate. In an attempt to stop the law, pro-GMO lobbyists published a report claiming GMOs to be healthy and safe.
The study was written by ill-qualified scientists who used articles influenced by Monsanto and other GMO companies for their analysis. The researchers included Alexander Y. Panchin, of the Institute for Information Transmission Problems (IITP) of the Russian Academy of Science, and Alexander Tuzhikov, a research associate at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami specializing in Computer Science, Bioinformatics.
“We performed a statistical re-analysis and review of experimental data presented in some of these studies and found that quite often in contradiction with the authors’ conclusions the data actually provides weak evidence of harm that cannot be differentiated from chance,” Panchin and Tuzhikov wrote in their abstract.
Scientists from the All-National Association for Genetic Safety (OAGB) noted that the methods used for their report did not allow scientists to identify the toxic effects of GMOs; on the contrary, it disguised the toxic effects. Given the flawed nature of their results, Panchin and Tuzhikov’s report didn’t have the effect they were hoping for, which was to halt the non-GMO law.
In a last attempt to block the ban, GMO opponent and president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Fortov, requested a meeting with President Putin to try and convince him of all the benefits GMOs might have. It would seem, however, that the report and the meeting didn’t have much of an effect on Putin’s choice for organic, non-GMO food.

The ultimate GMO-ban

After almost half of the European Union countries opted-out of the decision to start cultivating GMO crops last year, Putin’s ban takes it a step further.
According to some experts, Russia’s ban on the cultivation, breeding and import of GMO crops may have long-term consequences for the global GMO industry. According toCapital Press, the new law could give Russian farmers a leg up with exports to the U.S. and Europe.
As the demand for clean, organic products continues to rise, Russia will be in a prime position to export its products to the world, while the GMO-orientated U.S. market will struggle to get rid of its ‘Frankenfoods.’
To avoid any of these altered foods ending up on your plate, make sure your produce comes from a reliable organic source, or start growing your own. Even if you don’t have a garden, your windowsill or balcony will do just fine.

Sources for this article include:
AnonHQ.com
SustainablePulse.com
NewScientist.com

GMO Bill Passes in US; ‘Free-From’ Advances in Europe

Should you voluntarily follow a 'free-from' diet?

While the U.S. struggles with issues related to GMO labeling, gluten- dairy- and wheat-free issues, the U.K. and at least a couple of continental European countries are merrily moving along with a movement called, simply, ‘free-from’. It encompasses all of the above, and might extend to other ‘freedoms’ currently relevant or potentially relevant to food growing and onward up the food chain.

FreeFrom

Meanwhile, the U.S. congress passes, and sends to the president for his signature – ordinarily done with a handful of pens as ‘give-aways’ to selected recipients – a bill that, for all intents and purposes, does next to nothing to ensure products offered to the public are free of genetically modified ingredients.

I know, I touched on the GMO issue a few days ago. But this comparative issue, ‘free-from’, which we will be be looking at in more detail soon, is, oddly, a view few American organizations or individual companies have addressed – and it’s one that’s taking off, elsewhere.

Among the observations about the about-to-be-signed GMO bill is the fact that, as one legislator put it, “the devil is in the details,” and speculation is that it will take “years” for those details to be worked out.

In other words, no one should have high hope that this bill will move the ball very far soon – maybe not even before the next – hopefully one-term – president is replaced.

(While this blog tends to avoid issues of a political nature, it is worth noting, about now, with one the two major political parties having just wrapped up its election year convention and the other’s conclave just getting underway, that whichever of the hardly-lesser ‘evils’ is elected is more than likely to have serious impacts on food-related policies.

Trump has promised to disrupt treaties that affect how, and from where, food enters this country.

A Clinton campaign pledge has her increasing funding “to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems”; And she’ll create “a focused safety net to help family farms get through challenging times.”

But campaign statements and promises too often give way to different concepts once a politician [at whatever level] is in office. Time will tell how these two’s promises bear up.

But you can be sure that, one way or another, either would in one, two or another way, disrupt ‘business’ as usual as its being done in the food trade these days.

 

‘Free-From’ Beats GMO, Labeling Changers With A MUCH Clearer Message

free_from_event

A ‘Free-From’ event exhibitor

While the U.S. struggles with issues related to GMO labeling, gluten- dairy- and wheat-free issues, the U.K. and at least a couple of continental European countries are merrily moving along with a movement called, simply, ‘free-from’. It encompasses all of the above, and might extend to other ‘freedoms’ currently relevant or potentially relevant to food growing and onward up the food chain.

Meanwhile, the U.S. congress passes, and sends to the president for his signature – ordinarily done with a handful of pens as ‘give-aways’ to selected recipients – a bill that, for all intents and purposes, does next to nothing to ensure products offered to the public are free of genetically modified ingredients.

I know, I touched on the GMO issue a couple of days ago. But this is, oddly, a view few American organizations or individual companies have addressed – and it’s one that’s taking off, elsewhere.

What has been said about the about-to-be-signed GMO bill is the fact that, as one observer said, “the devil is in the details,” and speculation is that it will take “years” for those details to be worked out. In other words, no one should have high hope that this bill will move the ball very far soon – maybe not even before the next – hopefully one-term – president is replaced.

(While this blog tends to avoid issues of a political nature, it is worth noting, about now, with one of the two major political parties having its election year convention as we speak, with the other’s conclave due within a couple of weeks, that whichever of the hardly-lesser ‘evils’ is elected is more than likely to have serious impacts on food-related policies.

(Trump has promised to disrupt treaties that affect how, and from where, food enters this country.

(A Clinton campaign pledge has her “increase[ing] funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems; And she’ll create a focused safety net to help family farms get through challenging times.”

(But campaign statements and promises too often give way to different concepts once a politician [at whatever level] is in office. Time will tell how these two’s promises bear up.

(But you can be sure that, one way or another, either would in one, two or another way, disrupt ‘business’ as usual as its being done in the food trade these days.