Posts Tagged ‘ FDA ’

Are M&M’s Petroleum-Based Food Dyes Really “The Finest Ingredients”?

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I want to show you something funny.

For Valentine’s Day, you received a bag of M&M’s. On the bag, Mars makes a point to say they only use “the finest ingredients.”

Um… are petroleum-based artificial food dyes honestly “the finest ingredients” they could find? Because, I’m thinking, what about using plant-based ingredients, like Kroger’s brand, Simple Truth, uses?

I would think plant-based coloring would be better than petroleum-based dyes, but maybe that’s just me.

Or maybe it’s not…

Actually, petroleum-based artificial food dyes are banned in other parts of the world, because people are more aware of the health problems these dyes can cause for children.

I wonder if the petroleum melts in your stomach, not in your hands?

By now, you’ve accepted the fact that you’ve got the male-version of Food Babe for a dad.

By the way, Food Babe is the mom and food blogger who is known for calling out companies for the unnatural ingredients they put in their food- especially when it’s food that is aimed for kids.

She was the one who started the petition to try to get Kraft to stop putting petroleum-based dyes in their macaroni and cheese; pointing out that the European version of Kraft mac-and-cheese does not contain these dyes, which are linked to hyperactivity in children.

Food Babe has also called out General Mills for using GMOs in their cereals, while they claim their product is “natural.” GMOs are not natural.

Another thing she did was highlight the fact that artificial vanilla flavors are made from a certain gross part of a beaver. Back when I first pointed this out two years ago, people questioned it. Of course, now, that post of mine has received over 2600 “likes” on Facebook.

Especially with Food Babe’s credibility on the subject, people are starting to believe it as fact, not urban legend.

Oh, and I can’t forget about Subway with the “yoga mat” chemical (azodicarbonamide) in their “fresh” breads…

So because I follow her blog, she has basically trained me to point out peculiar wording on food products.

She had a pretty cool blog post for Valentine’s Day. She used out the same concept I am showing you here today about M&M’s, but with another candy company that leads people to think that their product is truly worth paying premium price.

Food Babe clearly shows that Godiva’s ingredients are not better, in the areas it should matter.

The point isn’t that you should never eat M&M’s or Godiva chocolate. The point is, I am teaching you to question where your food comes from.

It might keep you from wasting money on “the finest ingredients.”





Food Babe Photo and Chocolate Chart, courtesy of Food Babe.


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3 Ways Kids’ Easter Candy Isn’t Vegetarian (Or Kosher)

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

16 months.

This Easter, enjoy the by-products of pig bones, crushed bugs, and my personal favorite, beaver anal glands. I know I will!

Sorry for the Debbie Downer title and subject matter today, but I think you will appreciate how enlightened you will be by the end of this.

Though I haven’t consumed any meat in a long time now, I will be breaking my vegetarian streak this Sunday.

It’s not because I will be grilling out steaks or chewing on some deer jerky, but simply because I want to join in on all that marshmallowy goodness; as we evidently celebrate the bunnies and baby chicks who were present when our Lord and Savior was resurrected from the grave.

Here is why vegetarians, as well as the kosher abiding, must compromise their principles in order to truly enjoy their children’s Easter candy. And for any of you Doubting Thomas’s or blog snipers out there, I’ve conveniently paired each one with a (or other more-legitimate-than-Wikipedia) link where you can verify these aren’t simply urban legends or Internet hoaxes left over from April Fool’s Day.

1. Marshmallows: They are what makes Easter candy special, as compared to Halloween or Christmas candy. But what makes marshmallows themselves so special? Well, it’s just that they are made with gelatin, which is comprised of cow hide, pig skins, and bones of both. Pudding, anyone?

2. Red food dye: If any of your candy contains the red food dye Crimson Lake, you will be appreciating the splendor of crushed scale insects (parasites of plants). This is why Starbucks is currently taking heat for their Strawberry Frappuccinos.  Could be worse; at least it’s not made from beaver genitals…

3. “Natural” vanilla flavoring: How can you know when a vanilla flavored food is made with actual vanilla or just castoreum, which is the oily secretion, found in two sacs between the anus and the external genitals of beavers? We can’t, thanks to the FDA. But at least we can credit Jamie Oliver for bringing the truth about castoreum to the national limelight for us; just as he did for “pink slime.”

Let’s be honest. Knowing all this is fascinating and equally disgusting, but it’s not going to keep any of us from enjoying some Peeps. Especially not me. Happy Easter everyone!


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My Toddler’s Dependency on Drugs (And Why I’m His Enabler)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

15 months.

I’m not comfortable with the fact my son is quite regularly under the influence of either Children’s Advil or Amoxicillin. But it’s not like I have a choice.

Being at daycare, he  is constantly exposed to germs which often cause him to get a fever, resulting in him being sent home for that day and the next.

Additionally, the fever tends to be the product of an ear infection or pneumonia or something of that nature which requires a prescription for Amoxicillin.

So I’m constantly praying each day while I’m at work that he doesn’t get a fever or I’m wondering if I should have given him fever reducer that morning to prevent him from being sent home.

I feel horrible about keeping my son drugged up on such a reoccurring basis.

Ultimately, I feel like a hypocrite because I’m so adamant on not feeding him foods in which I don’t know what the ingredients are, yet I don’t truly know the long-term effects all these drugs have on my toddler son.

In the ideal world, which is evidently America in the 1950′s, my wife could just stay home with our son all the time and I’d actually make enough money to support the three of us.

That way, we wouldn’t have to put our son in a position to be exposed to so many germs or have to be given fever reducer to avoid being sent home, causing either my wife or me to miss work.

But in reality, my wife actually makes more money than I do and has the more stable job. We both have to work and our son has to go to daycare.

Yet again, what option do I have to allow him to live a more natural, yet healthy, life? How can I possibly avoid this path for him, as his parent?

Should I just assume that going through two bottles of Children’s Advil per month is normal and justified?

Several times now I have written about my distrust of the FDA; how they approve red food dye made from crushed bugs and petroleum, which has shown side effects in children, such as myself in the Eighties.

And how I hate the fact that not even can confirm or deny that “natural” vanilla flavoring in ice cream and cookies is made from the anal glands of beavers.

With all that the FDA says is okay for us to eat, how can I know that these over-the-counter and prescription medicines are truly safe for my son?

I wish we could just say no to drugs, even over-the-counter ones.

Image Credit: Signe Wilkinson, Drug-Free America.

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Is “Natural” Vanilla Flavoring Really From Beavers’ Anal Glands?

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

14 months.

By now, I’ve well established myself as “that dad” who is a health nut vegetarian who won’t allow his son to eat processed foods; that includes fruit juice.

I’ve been very clear that I deem the FDA as illegitimate. Why?

Because if they were doing their job, I wouldn’t have to ask the question I did in the title of this article. Well, now verifies Jamie Oliver’s claim as as accurate; that vanilla and strawberry flavoring is made from castoreum, which is derived from the anal glad of beavers.

Wikipedia confirms this absurd concept:

“In the United States, Castoreum has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive, often referenced simply as a ‘natural flavoring’ in the product’s list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.”

Again, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. We shouldn’t have to guess whether or not our children’s animal crackers really are made from beavers’ anal glands.

It’s reasons like this that I make such a deliberate effort to avoid processed foods as much as possible. But see how tricky it is?

Food companies are able to get away with calling beaver anal glands “natural flavoring” while the FDA gives the thumb up.

Castoreum is just a little too natural for me.

Sorry son, but you’re not old enough to know where vanilla ice cream comes from…


Note: This post was updated on February 16, 2013, after confirmed the truth about vanilla flavoring urban legend.

For more on vegan food info, read more.


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Why This Dad Despises Red 40 And Crimson Lake Food Dyes

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

13 months.

Would you eat petroleum? What if it made your food more physically more appealing?

What about insects? Are you cool with eating ground-up bugs?

The funny thing is, you and your kids already do. And the FDA approves it.

In 5th and 6th grade, I was a pretty sick kid. I had so many stomach issues back then that today I still owe my ability to unclog any toilet back to 20 years ago when I had to carry around TUMS Extra at all times.

What made it worse was that I suffered anxiety attacks, which helped keep a vicious circle going: I was always nervous that my extreme digestion issues would flare up at any moment, especially in public places where I couldn’t escape to a restroom. And when they did, it only fueled my anxieties.

Keeping in mind that this was during a time when there was no such thing as “looking it up on the Internet,” fortunately my mom heard from another mom that I should stay away from any foods with red food dye: namely “Red 40″ and “Crimson Lake.” There was no way for us to know what was in those food dyes, but whatever it was, I stopped consuming it.

No more red Kool-Aid. No more Twizzlers. No more red anything unless it came that way naturally.

As you can imagine because of this article’s title, both my extreme indigestion and my anxiety attacks went away. But it wouldn’t be until the glorious arrival of Wikipedia that I would know exactly what was in those red food dyes:

Red 40: Made mostly from petroleum, this red dye can easily be found in sodas, cotton candy, and children’s medications. It has been linked to cases of ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Red 40 is also known as Allura Red AC.

Crimson Lake: Made from the powdered and boiled bodies of scale insects (parasites of plants) this dye is commonly found in yogurt, juice drinks, ice cream, and candy. Though I am a vegetarian, I still abide by kosher law, which prohibits the consumption of any insect other than the locust. Crimson Lake is also known as Carmine.

Fun fact: The closing scene of the movie The Wedding Planner makes a reference to these dyes as the “added chemicals” in red M&M’s that Jennifer Lopez’s character throws out.

Can you blame me from not trusting the FDA? It should common sense that people shouldn’t eat petroleum or parasites. So you know what? I am my own FDA. I decide what weird stuff my family does and does not eat.

And I’ll tell ya… bugs and oil are not on our menu.

Top image of scale insects, courtesy of Frank Vincentz. 

Bottom image of scale insect nests, courtesy of Oscar Carrizosa.

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