Monday, December 17, 2012

Shari quoted on Fox News online and Academy of Nutrition

Diet Trends Worth Skipping and Trying
(Sharon Richtor, RD; Tricia Thompson, RD; Bob Seebohar, RD; Shari Portnoy, RD & Amanda Berhaupt-Glickstein, RD all quoted)

Shari quoted on Fox News online

Monday, November 5, 2012

More confusing labels.

If you think food labels are hard to understand now, look at these. Some of these are used in other countries and some may come out in the future.

Just some of the food labels a Danish government group is evaluating.

Importance of Food Labels--life or death

A serious problem with labeling brought to light by a very sad story

When learns of a story like this we feel compelled to bring it in front of our community. We are committed to educating our audience about what is actually in the food products we consume every day and alert everyone we can about possible dangers in our food supply. Sometimes, though, that mission becomes disturbing and sad.
Earlier this month, Wendy Crossland filed suit against Monster Beverage, the company that produces Monster Energy Drinks. Her 14 year old daughter died last year from cardiac arrest after she had consumed two 24 –ounce cans of the drink over a 24-hour period. Her lawsuit states that Monster Energy did not warn about the risks of consuming its drinks. According to the results of her daughter’s autopsy, the teenager passed due to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that exacerbated an underlying heart problem.
First let’s touch on how much caffeine is in an average-sized cup of coffee. It’s about 100 milligrams. In one 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, there are 240 milligrams. An average grown, healthy adult who has no adverse reactions to caffeine can safely consume between 200 and 300 milligrams per day. The teenage girl who passed away consumed 480 milligrams in a 24-hour period … well over the amount that’s safe for grown human beings. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that adolescents consume no more than 100 milligrams per day.
While understands that the teenager willingly consumed the beverages and the company did not force her to purchase them, we feel that it is important to point out that she had no way of knowing how much caffeine she was consuming. While the FDA does regulate the amount of caffeine in soft drinks and has set the limit in 12 ounces of soda at about 71 milligrams, energy drinks are not held to these same standards. Since energy drink manufacturers choose to classify their products as dietary supplements, they are not required to adhere to the same regulations or to label the actual amount of caffeine their beverages contain.
In addition to that very important piece of information, energy drinks most often contain guarana seeds. This botanical product breaks down to caffeine – in a potent way. Three to five grams of guarana seed breaks down to 250 milligrams of caffeine. This is in ADDITION to the actual caffeine the manufacturers are adding to the drinks.
Last spring, the FDA was asked to investigate the caffeine levels and the safety of other ingredients.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Food expiration date, food label

Shari quoted News$

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shari quoted News 4--Sept 20

Shari quoted CNN Eatocracy Sept 20 2012

Somebody give me a six dollar bill to start. A six in the hand."
Auctioneer Doug Allen rapidly runs off numbers into a microphone trying to find the highest bidder in the crowd. Over 100 people have shown up in this volunteer fire department's banquet hall in Severna, Maryland, where there are hundreds of items to be sold off.
Unlike auctions held by Christie's or Sotheby's, Allen is not auctioning off a Picasso or a Monet. The item up for bid is a cardboard box full of Rold Gold pretzel snack bags. Doug Allen and his wife Kathy are holding a grocery auction.

Grocery auctions sell off items that food distributors and grocery stores are trying to unload. The items may be seasonal, discontinued, or in excess. Food items may also be nearing or have passed its "sell-by" date.
These auctions aren't a new occurrence but auctioneers say these types of auctions became more popular and frequent as the recession hit.
"We realized this was probably the largest money maker. Of course you want to stick with it anyway, but it didn't mean it was going to be the one to thrive. But it did because it was the necessity," says Kathy Allen, owner of Wishing Rock Auctions.
Allen, who has been in the auction business for almost 20 years, says she rarely does antique or collectible auctions any more and focuses on grocery auctions.
A big draw for attendees to these auctions - food prices.
According to the U.S. government's Consumer Price Index, food prices in August rose 2% from the same time last year. For consumers that has resulted in higher prices at the grocery store and in turn higher grocery bills. With the severe drought that hit the United States this year, the USDA is predicting even higher than average food prices in 2013.
Eileen Carter has been coming to food auctions for over a year and says she keeps coming back because it’s cheaper than going to the grocery store.
"I can fill up my whole pickup truck for $120 and have to give my neighbors half the food," says Carter.
grocery auctioneer
While most auctions only have one winner, grocery auctions become a team sport. Each product is usually sold individually but there are normally multiples of items. Once the price is set for one of the items, anyone can purchase the additional ones at that price. Regular attendees will work together and try not to overbid for items so that they all can get it at a good price.
While a bidder can score great deals at the auctions, the idea of buying food that may be past its "sell-by" or "best if used by" date can worry some buyers. But food experts say that people get too hung up on the labeled date.
"It’s your perception when you see that date. It’s hard to get over it. It’s even hard for me and I know it. It’s in your mind," says food safety expert Shari Portnoy. "If you didn't see that date you might think totally different."
Portnoy says that many people are misinformed about what those labels mean.
"The 'sell-by' is for the store to know how long the store should display it. 'Best if used by' is for flavor or quality. It is not a purchaser's safety date. It is recommended for peak quality," says Portnoy
Portnoy also adds that the food dating labels are not regulated by the government and are usually at the discretion of the manufacturer. The only exception is for infant formula.
At the grocery auction in Severna, Maryland, the food distributor puts out sample bags of chips and snack bags for attendees to try.
"We have tried some 90% of the food our distributor has sold," says Kathy Allen. "I don't normally have people returning things at all."
Quite the opposite, in fact. Numerous hopeful bidders planned ahead and came with coolers to haul away their delicious winnings.
Would you participate in a grocery auction?
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Filed under: NewsShoppingT1

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Organic Food--Save the money

Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Conventional strawberries in Watsonville, California. Researchers say organic foods are no more nutritious and no less likely to be contaminated.
Does an organic strawberry contain more vitamin C than a conventional one?

Organic Food vs. Conventional Food

A new study by Stanford researchers has added fuel to a debate about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. Kenneth Chang, New York Times reporter, is responding to your questions about organic eating.


Kathy Kmonicek for The New York Times
Organic apples on display in a market in Glen Cove, New York.
Maybe — or maybe not.
Stanford University scientists have weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods.
They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli.
The researchers also found no obvious health advantages to organic meats.
Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but the levels were almost always under the allowed safety limits, the scientists said. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the limits at levels that it says do not harm humans.
“When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Health Policy and the senior author of the paper, which appears in Tuesday’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. “I think we were definitely surprised.”
The conclusions will almost certainly fuel the debate over whether organic foods are a smart choice for healthier living or a marketing tool that gulls people into overpaying. The production of organic food is governed by a raft of regulations that generally prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, hormones and additives.
The organic produce market in the United States has grown quickly, up 12 percent last year, to $12.4 billion, compared with 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic meat has a smaller share of the American market, at $538 million last year, the trade group said.
The findings seem unlikely to sway many fans of organic food. Advocates for organic farming said the Stanford researchers failed to appreciate the differences they did find between the two types of food — differences that validated the reasons people usually cite for buying organic. Organic produce, as expected, was much less likely to retain traces of pesticides.
Organic chicken and pork were less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Those are the big motivators for the organic consumer,” said Christine Bushway, the executive director of the trade association.
The study also found that organic milk contained more omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered beneficial for the heart.
“We feel organic food is living up to its promise,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, which publishes lists highlighting the fruits and vegetables with the lowest and highest amounts of pesticide residues.
The Stanford researchers said that by providing an objective review of the current science of organic foods, their goal was to allow people to make informed choices.
In the study — known as a meta-analysis, in which previous findings are aggregated but no new laboratory work is conducted — researchers combined data from 237 studies, examining a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and meats. For four years, they performed statistical analyses looking for signs of health benefits from adding organic foods to the diet.
The researchers did not use any outside financing for their research. “I really wanted us to have no perception of bias,” Dr. Bravata said.
One finding of the study was that organic produce, over all, contained higher levels of phosphorus than conventional produce. But because almost everyone gets adequate phosphorus from a wide variety of foods, they said, the higher levels in the organic produce are unlikely to confer any health benefit.
The organic produce also contained more compounds known as phenols, believed to help prevent cancer, than conventional produce. While the difference was statistically significant, the size of the difference varied widely from study to study, and the data was based on the testing of small numbers of samples. “I interpret that result with caution,” Dr. Bravata said.
Other variables, like ripeness, had a greater influence on nutrient content. Thus, a lush peach grown with the use of pesticides could easily contain more vitamins than an unripe organic one.
The study’s conclusions about pesticides did seem likely to please organic food customers. Over all, the Stanford researchers concluded that 38 percent of conventional produce tested in the studies contained detectable residues, compared with 7 percent for the organic produce. (Even produce grown organically can be tainted by pesticides wafting over from a neighboring field or during processing and transport.) They also noted a couple of studies that showed that children who ate organic produce had fewer pesticide traces in their urine.
The scientists sidestepped the debate over whether the current limits are too high. “Some of my patients take solace in knowing that the pesticide levels are below safety thresholds,” Dr. Bravata said. “Others have questioned whether these standards are sufficiently rigorous.”
Similarly, organic meat contained considerably lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventionally raised animals did, but bacteria, antibiotic-resistant or otherwise, would be killed during cooking.
Dr. Bravata agreed that people bought organic food for a variety of reasons — concerns about the effects of pesticides on young children, the environmental impact of large-scale conventional farming and the potential public health threat if antibiotic-resistant bacterial genes jumped to human pathogens. “Those are perfectly valid,” she said.
The analysis also did not take factors like taste into account.
But if the choice were based mainly on the hope that organic foods would provide more nutrients, “I would say there is not robust evidence to choose one or the other,” Dr. Bravata said.
The argument that organic produce is more nutritious “has never been major driver” in why people choose to pay more, said Ms. Lunder, the Environmental Working Group analyst.
Rather, the motivation is to reduce exposure to pesticides, especially for pregnant women and their young children. Organic food advocates point to, for example, three studies published last year, by scientists at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The studies identified pregnant women exposed to higher amounts of pesticides known as organophosphates and then followed their children for years. In elementary school, those children had, on average, I.Q.’s several points lower than those of their peers.
Critics of the Stanford study also argue that lumping all organic foods into one analysis misses the greater benefits of certain foods. For example, a 2010 study by scientists at Washington State University did find that organic strawberries contained more vitamin C than conventional ones.
Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, another member of the Stanford team, said that the strawberry study was erroneously left out but that she doubted it would have changed the conclusions when combined with 31 other studies that also measured vitamin C.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Bananas instead of Sports Drinks

Fruit versus Gatorade for Athletes

Bananas are as effective as Gatorade in providing nutritional support and hydration to athletes during prolonged and intensive exercise, according to a study in the journal PLoS ONE.

Coca-Cola's Powerade is the official Olympic sports drink. The bottles are everywhere, even in the hands of America's biggest stars, from Michael Phelps to Chris Paul.

Besides the stars, another essential part to marketing in the $7-billion worldwide sports drink game is science. In the industry, Gatorade, made by Pepsi, is the market leader by far.

But just as the Olympics games began in London a group of researchers at England's Oxford University published a study of the marketing claims and the science behind them in BMJ, the British medical journal.

"We [found] that much of the science has not been well done," Dr. Matthew Thompson, senior clinical scientist at Oxford, told ABC News. "[It] could have easily been done much more rigorously so we'd actually know whether or not these products work."

The Oxford researchers, independent M.D.'s and clinical scientists, looked at more than 400 advertising claims for sports drinks and could not find scientific backing for more than half of them. They characterized many of the rest as flawed science.

"They've used a lot of industry sponsored scientists to do the research, which makes us suspicious," said Thompson. "There's nothing wrong with having a scientific study funded by a company, and this happens all the time with pharmaceuticals and many products. I think what's key is that the science that is done is of high quality."

NYC cuts Trans Fat

New York trans fat ban has cut consumption, study finds

Since the city banned trans fats in restaurant food in 2008, diners have consumed 2.4 fewer grams of trans fats per lunch, which should mean better health, researchers say.

Trans fats
A New York regulation that took effect in 2008 prohibits all restaurants from serving food prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or dishes that contain more than 0.5 gram of trans fat per serving. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press / July 16, 2012)
New York City's pioneering ban on all but the smallest amounts of trans fats in restaurant food has led to a significant reduction in consumption, a change that should translate into better cardiovascular health in the nation's largest city, according to a new report. It also demonstrates that coffee shops, fast-food joints and other eateries can play a major role in improving the health of the public, the study authors said.

Officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted the study to assess whether the regulation that took effect in 2008 — which prohibits all restaurants from serving food prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or dishes that contain more than 0.5 gram of trans fat per serving — was making a difference for diners.

Public health officials had zeroed in on trans fats because they pose a uniquely potent health risk. Adding fewer than 4.5 grams of them to a 2,000-calorie daily diet can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 23%, studies have found.

Researchers fanned out across Manhattan in 2007 and examined the receipts of 6,969 diners as they left fast-food restaurants at lunchtime. (The researchers went to fast-food chains because the nutrition information on the items sold there was readily available.) In 2009, they repeated the exercise with 7,885 receipts. They found that diners consumed 2.4 fewer grams of trans fat per lunch after the ban went into effect, according to their study published in Tuesday's edition of Annals of Internal Medicine.

That decline was offset by only a slight 0.55-gram increase in consumption of saturated fats, which are also associated with elevated cholesterol levels.

"Given that one-third of calories in the United States comes from food prepared away from home, this suggests a remarkable achievement in potential cardiovascular risk reduction through food policy," the authors reported.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tour De France Champ a Vegan WSJ June 29, 2011

GO Vegetable Eaters!!


Riding the Tour De Vegetable

American David Zabriskie Aims to Compete in the World's Most Grueling Bike Race—As a Vegan*


To climb the Tour de France's steep mountain passes and cross its scorching plains, cyclists have tried stuffing themselves full of steak and pasta, gulping down wine and cognac, smoking cigarettes, taking amphetamines and, of course, using other drugs during the race's 107-year history. On Saturday, American David Zabriskie plans to try something entirely new: Riding the Tour on a vegan diet.
Associated Press (Zabriskie); Reuters (tomato); Getty Images (Artichoke, Carrot)
David Zabriskie

Zabriskie's Vegan Menu

Here's what the cyclist plans to eat on race days during the Tour.
Oatmeal with black strap molasses; whole food optimizer; cacao nibs; nuts; cinnamon; two tablespoons of coconut butter; an apple; hemp seeds and flax seeds
On-the-Bike Snacks:
Six Clif Bar Z bars (vegan); two Clif Bar shot blocks (vegan); two Clif Bar gels (vegan); dates; six to eight bottles of special team race drink
On the Bus, Post-Race:
White rice with maple syrup and cinnamon; vegan protein shake;
two bottles of special team recovery protein drink; goji berries
Before Dinner:
Vegan protein shake
White rice or pasta; salad with leafy greens; vegetables —including broccoli, spinach, carrots and beets.
Fresh fruit and a vegan protein shake before bed
Experts say he is the first cyclist to attempt the most difficult bike race in the world sans meat, dairy or eggs. (He will cheat slightly, he says, because he plans to eat small amounts of salmon two days per week to increase iron absorption).
Cyclists in the Tour de France can burn 8,000 calories a day—so many that some riders, already lean from their training, are unable to eat enough food to keep up with calorie loss.
The conventional wisdom is that eating plenty of meat and dairy provides protein to help cyclists' muscles recover, and that the iron in red meat keeps the body producing ample amounts of hemoglobin, part of the all-important red blood cells that transport oxygen to the muscles. Iñigo San Millán, a sports-medicine professor at the University of Colorado and a former physiologist on Zabriskie's team, calls the cyclist's desire to go vegan "a strange concept." To many cyclists, he says, a vegan diet "doesn't make much sense."
Before last season, Zabriskie, who rides for the U.S.-based Garmin-Cervélo team, was a typical meat-eating athlete, scarfing down whatever he wanted so long as it didn't make him fat. But at the beginning of last season, his team's chiropractor gave him a blood test that screened his sensitivity to certain types of foods. The chiropractor, Matt Rabin, told Zabriskie he had the highest sensitivity to food on the team. Another blood test showed Zabriskie had the highest inflammation of his muscles.
During last year's Tour de France, Zabriskie turned down the red meat being passed around the dinner table because he thought it required too much energy to digest. In the late summer of last year, he began phasing out all meat from his diet and by October, he had also cut out dairy.
Getty Images
Dave Zabriskie in May.
After nine months on the diet, Zabriskie says he's feeling better than ever. He has had some of the best results of his career and says he feels more focused. "I think a lot of people see food in terms of whether it's going to make them fat or make them skinny," he says. "I'm seeing food in terms of how it's going to make me think and will it give me clarity." Zabriskie says he's noticed that even small ailments, like canker sores and a persistent rash he used to get, have all gone away. Even his vision has improved, he says.
This winter, Zabriskie's team director, Jonathan Vaughters, caught wind of his new diet and gave him a call. Vaughters was concerned the diet would lower Zabriskie's iron intake, which is crucial for endurance athletes. He told Zabriskie that he could try the diet, so long as he took regular blood tests to monitor his level of ferritin, the protein that stores iron. He said Zabriskie should eat more dark, leafy greens and other sources of iron. Vaughters says he's fine with the diet, so long as the results are good. "At the end of the day, I just want him to go fast."
Vaughters says he was surprised when blood tests early this season showed Zabriskie's ferritin levels had remained stable on the vegan diet—which means his hemoglobin and red blood cell counts also remained normal. He says he's been pleasantly surprised by his performance. "He's won more time trials this year than he has in his career," Vaughters says. "The proof is in the pudding."
To get guidance on the diet, Zabriskie consulted with Brendan Brazier, a triathlete and author of "The Thrive Diet," a guide to vegan diets in sports that has become something of a bible for the cyclist. Brazier lives near Zabriskie in the outskirts of Los Angeles and began joining him on rides.
Earlier this season, Zabriskie said his energy levels were down and he felt weak. He wasn't sure if it was a result of the diet or a recent bug he was getting over. He got in touch with Brazier, who advised him to take vegan protein shakes made from hemp seeds, flax seeds and brown rice protein, among other ingredients. (Brazier invented the shake and markets them under the "Vega" brand). Zabriskie says he now drinks three or four of the shakes throughout the day.
Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a vegan, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of fish a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. "He told me, don't get too hung up on the word 'vegan'," says Zabriskie. The fish, Zabriskie says, helps his body absorb certain vitamins and iron.
During the Tour of California in May, Zabriskie won the time trial. Last month, he blew away the competition at the U.S. national time trial championships in Greenville, S.C. That victory, he says, reinforced his decision to change his diet. "I knew I had done everything right," he says.
Zabriskie is not a contender for the yellow jersey. He has raced in the Tour de France five times and finished it three times. He became the third American to wear the race's coveted yellow jersey in 2005 when he beat Lance Armstrong in the race's opening prologue. This year, if he just finishes, he could become a hero for advocates of the Vegan diet—at least those who don't mind the fish.
Vaughters says it might change the way professional athletes view veganism. "This is definitely the ultimate test of the vegan diet," he says. "If it works here, no one can ever say you can't do X,Y,Z as a vegan."
* With a little fish thrown in
Write to Reed Albergotti at reed.albergotti