Thursday, November 30, 2006

Selenium, B6 and B12

We'd like to follow up our "Folic Acid story" with the following - to balance things out a bit...

Yet another study has been released implicating B12 deficiencies -- or more accurately, linking low selenium, B6 and B12 to increased age-related difficulties:
Researchers from Cornell University have linked low serum concentrations of selenium and vitamins B6 and B12 to age-related difficulties in conducting in daily activities, leading them to conclude that nutritional status is a key factor in helping people live an active life for longer.

...The study, entitled “Low micronutrient levels as a predictor of incident disability in older women”, defined disability in activities of daily living as self-reported difficulty in performing two or more activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and eating. Read full story here.
And as I mentioned in my previous post, the fortification of grains with folic acid could mask a B12 deficiency. Not good news for the large group of aging baby boomers.
Currently, approximately seven million people over the age of 65 in the US are disabled. But, with baby boomers accounting for nearly 30 percent of the American population and inching closer to 65, this looks set to rise dramatically. Catering to this age group is a major focus for the nutritional products industry.

Folic Acid - the Evidence?

When the news first came out in 1998 about the US' and Canada's plans for the mandatory fortification of grain products with folic in a bid to reduce incidences of neural tube defects in babies, I admit -- we stood among the skeptics.

Why? Because of the B12 deficiency problem that comes with it which, if unaddressed, can lead to dementia. Particularly prevalent in older people, it has identical symptoms to anaemia caused by folate deficiency – but while folic acid will remove these symptoms, it won't address the lack of B12.

"If folic acid impedes diagnosis, it could result in neurological damage."

Jess Halliday, editor of and, has stepped up to weigh in on the other side of the issue ...with new evidence on the pro-fortification side.

Although we here at BLV remain cautious on the subject, since baby boomers are entering their "golden years," and more care needs to be taken regarding the health of this extremely large part of the world's population... still, it's worth checking into news from the other side of the fence on the issue. Visit through this link to read what Jess has to say on the positive side of the subject.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Benzene Update - further evidence of a cover-up?

"As I see it, every day you do one of two things: build health or produce disease in yourself." -- Adelle Davis (1904 - 1974), American pioneer in the field of nutrition

The quote above brings to mind how important it is for all of us to develop healthy habits. But, there are many challenges facing us today that go beyond what we are in control over when it comes to building our own health.

The recent salmonella in spinach disaster that happened here in the USA is one example. We eat spinach because we believe it is good for us... we have no control over whether or not it is coming to us in a contaminated form.

And as much as we'd like to trust (in fact, NEED to trust) the FDA and the USDA for our safety as it pertains to the food supply chain, it gets to be very difficult when incidents like the benzene situation are uncovered.

We've written about it on a few occasions at BLV Health watch: like here, and here and now yet another article comes out about a benzene cover-up. In the article, published by BeverageDaily, they write:

Cadbury Beverages, now Cadbury Schweppes, privately withdrew its Diet Orange Crush drink in five regions in the US in 1990 because tests found some products with benzene several times above the acceptable limit. Benzene is a cancerous chemical. ...The revelation, confirmed by newly released official documents passed to, raises new questions about the seriousness of the benzene in soft drinks problem.

The article even provides info given by the FDA on the subject:

“Levels of benzene formed are highly variable with treatment, but ranged from four ppb to several hundred ppb,” an FDA memo dated January 1991 says. “Even sitting at room temperature in the dark yield [sic] low benzene levels after one or more days.” Heat and light exposure rapidly increased benzene formation.

And a final comment in the article:

“It's outrageous that when a known carcinogen such as benzene was found in popular USA soft drinks, neither the beverage industry or FDA notified consumers,” said an ex-Cadbury scientist, who approached alongside lawyer Ross Getman about the benzene in soft drinks problem.

Fast forward to the recent samonella-spinach scare...

It's been known for quite some time that bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can be absorbed by plants -- particularly radish, lettuce, spinach, and root vegetables such as carrots.

Some clinical studies believe manure from large factory farms are the cause of these microbes getting into our fresh produce (owing to the higher likelihood of microbes being present in the manure from factory farms). A few older studies, some of which were ordered by the USDA, Dept. of Ag and other related government bodies responsible in whole or in part for our food safety, cleary show a direct connection to factory farming methods and increase in spread of E. coli and salmonella -- particularly at slaughterhouses/packing plants -- and in our meats.

The recent recall of hams and turkeys right before Thanksgiving dinner here in the USA (and which may have been contaminated with Listeria) might give us a few uneasy moments to pause and think: is our food really safe?

Now, for the most part, meats are generally cooked.

But fresh produce, such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, etc. are often used raw in salads. When the bacteria is "absorbed" by produce, (in one rumored report, it occurred due to spread of manure received from a factory farm -- used to fertilize their produce in order to apply the "organic" label to their products) I daresay no matter how hard you wash it, I doubt you can guarantee the removal of all the microbes. The worst part? Not knowing if those microbes are present or not.

We'll be bringing you some very important articles and news on this subject in the New Year ahead. More updates on other subjects coming soon.

Until then, be safe, be well, and be careful out there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Changing the health and wellbeing of all Americans

Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources, is a board-certified clinical nutritionist and nationally renowned health expert, radio personality, educator and author. And according to a recent article, he's not too happy with the changes ahead for the health and wellbeing of Americans:
"Looking back in ten, twenty, or fifty years there will be a new congressional inquiry. This one will be centered on the massive numbers of deaths of Americans at the hands of Big Pharma and the FDA. It will make the Vioxx scandal look like a Sunday afternoon picnic. The congressional leaders, under pressure from millions of adversely affected patients and families of the injured, will be forced to examine the sordid monopoly of healthcare in America."

The article is worth a quick read.

Preventing another Vioxx mess?

The Associated Press reported today:
The Food and Drug Administration and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have agreed to develop an automated system to detect unanticipated problems with prescription drugs and medical devices.

The current system relies on the largely manual assessment of reports voluntarily submitted to the FDA, sometimes months or years after an event has occurred (reference the Vioxx recall). The new automated system is intended to recognize patterns and alert problems much quicker.

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Research Underway on Tick-Borne Illnesses

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the USA have received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to investigate if increased intake of antioxidants can protect against tick-borne illnesses.

-- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (potentially life threatening) caused by the parasitic bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii.

-- Mediterranean Spotted Fever (also called Boutonneuse fever), caused by Rickettsia connorii (usually transmitted by dog ticks)

The science team, led by Sanjeev Sahni, are investigating the role that antioxidants, like alpha-lipoic acid, vitamins C and E, and antioxidants found in green tea, might play in preventing the rickettsia bacteria.

Visit through this link to read the full details of this story.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Government WIC Nutritional program to be revised

The US government has proposed that its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional program should be revised for the first time in over 25 years in order to better reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans... which would add fruit, vegetables and whole grains to the WIC packages for the fist time.

What is WIC?

Being pregnant or beastfeeding a baby is a big job. And the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) was designed to help. If you have a low income, or no income, and: you are pregnant or have recently given birth, and you have a nutrition or health problem ...then you might qualify for this no cost service available in most USA States.

WIC provides at no cost:
- nutritious foods to supplement your diet
- information on healthy eating
- and referrals for health care

The current proposed rule would implement the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Inventions: sucking the caffeine out of coffee

US-based Decaf Company is ready to licence newly developed polymers that can be used to control or remove caffeine content in all beverages as they are served, according to an article posted 27/07/2006 on
The polymers, known officially as molecularly-imprinted polymers or MIPs, can be attached to either a stirrer or cup. When used in a beverage the MIPs then bind caffeine molecules to them, removing them from the drink itself. DeCaf said a few stirs could cut caffeine by up to 70 per cent.
Most coffee beans are decaffeinated using chemicals that soak up the caffeine molecules, which can also dampen flavour and aroma. According to DeCaf Company, its new polymers could decaffeinate coffee without altering the coffee beans or tea leaves and without the use of chemicals.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nutrition and eye health

Ever wonder about your vision "Eye-Q"? The American Optometric Association (AOA) website has an excellent quiz to help you determine how much you know about eye health and what you can do through diet/nutrition to keep your eyes healthy.
"Research has shown that nutrition can impact the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which are the two leading causes of blindness and visual impairment among millions of aging Americans. Nutrition may be particularly important given that currently, treatment options after diagnosis for these eye diseases are limited." AOA Website
Visit this link to take the quiz.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Volatile organic compound discovered...

Watch out for a volatile organic compound called 1,4 dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB)'s a common ingredient found in many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs and other deodorizing products, and new research indicates it may cause modest reductions in lung function.

Even a modest reduction in lung function can be extremely dangerous, especially for children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

1,4 DCB, is a white solid compound with a distinctive aroma, similar to mothballs. It is typically used primarily as a space deodorant in products such as room deodorizers, urinal and toilet bowl blocks, and as an insecticide fumigant for moth control.

The USA Dept. of Health and Human Services issued the News Release regarding new research confirming 1,4 DCB dangers through NIEHS on July 27, 2006. Click through this link to read the full news release.

Monday, July 24, 2006

ABC News, TIME Magazine, TODAY Show all have goji in common

At 7/24/06 - 8:45 AM (edt) "Today Show" style consultant, Bobbie Thomas on WHAT's HOT in America this summer showcased goji berries. Sitting on the table in front of her was a bottle of our own preferred best source of goji, Himalayan Goji Juice.

This month alone, the news about goji berries has appeared:

- in bookstores nationwide featured on the cover of "Breakthroughs In Health"

- in a recent press release featuring the "Running the Sahara" ultra long distance runners

- in a Time Magazine article

- in an ABC News story

- and now, the Today Show...

But here's the thing I'd like to point out. Goji juice's benefits are cumulative... meaning that the longer you drink it, the more likely you are to see results.

In nutrition fact, in health in general... consistency is the key.

If you think one bottle (or one bag of dried berries) is going to change the cumulative effects of everything you've done over the years to your b^ody, think again. Nothing is truly a "magic" cure-all.

That being said, goji juice definitely is one powerful punch to put you on the right path to positive well being!

Oh... you haven't tried it yet? Why not?


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

FDA Warning - Impotence Dietary Supplements

The FDA has warned consumers not to buy/use 7 dietary supplements sold online to treat impotence and enhance sexual performance, stating they are unapproved, illegal and risky.

The list includes products, which FDA testing show contain active drug ingredients which in the USA, are available only by prescription.

The 7 products are: Zimaxx, Libidus, Neophase, Nasutra, Vigor-25, Actra-Rx and 4Everon.

Chemical analyses showed the products contain either chemical ingredients that are similar to sildenafil or a second drug called vardenafil, the FDA said. The FDA has sent warning letters to the product marketers banning their products as illegal drugs.

The MayoClinic reports:
They contain potentially harmful drugs, the FDA says, which aren't included on the product labels. The drug-containing supplements aren't regulated or approved by the FDA, and because the source of the ingredients is unknown there's no guarantee that the ingredients are 'safe, effective or pure.'

The FDA says that products such as the ones on its warning list claim that they are 'all natural,' but they contain the active ingredients in FDA-approved medications for ED. An FDA chemical analysis showed that Zimaxx contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in the FDA-approved ED drug Viagra. The other products on the warning list contained either a version of sildenafil or vardenafil, which is the active ingredient in another FDA-approved ED drug, Levitra.

Berry Good Clinical Study

According to a new clinical study, published on-line ahead of print in the journal "Neurobiology and Aging" (doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2006.05.031), berry extracts have been found to produce "stellar brain protection" against aging and provide protection from dangerous galactic radiation.

The new study was partly supported by NASA and conducted by scientists from Tufts University and the University of Maryland.

“It appeared that the antioxidant diets and the different polyphenols in these fruits might be acting in different brain regions to produce their beneficial effects,” said the researchers.

“Perhaps, the polyphenolic compounds in blueberries are working mainly in the striatum, while those in strawberries are primarily affecting the hippocampus. While these results are interesting, more testing needs to be done to confirm this suggestion,” they said.

“These findings suggest that multiple mechanisms may be involved in the beneficial effects of high antioxidant fruits on ageing as well as radiation,” concluded the researchers.

And this latter point could well see these super fruits going inter-planetary at some point in the future.

“It may be important to include berryfruit or berryfruit extract supplementation as countermeasures to mitigate the effects of radiation during long-term missions in space and also to reduce or reverse the deleterious effects of aging.”

Further details can be found in this news article at

Monday, July 17, 2006

Special Report - Is Goji Right For You?

As goji hits the headlines once again -- See this abc News Story -- and the 3-man expedition team of ultra distance runners prepare to face their death-defying trek across the Sahara Desert with the belief that Himalayan Goji Juice will help them do what no one has been able to do before... we felt it was time to publish our Special F^REE Goji Report:

Is Goji Right For You?

Get your copy at:

Learn what we discovered in our own personal journey drinking goji juice. It's not what you might think.

If you've been wondering at all if you should try it, this is one report you NEED to READ!

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Salmonella in Cadbury chocolate (Europe)

I'm not sure if you heard about Cadbury (in Europe) having found traces of the Salmonella montevideo strain in its products last month. Seven of its most popular brands were subsequently recalled by the company after the FSA discovered the problem. Here's an update:
Cadbury claims it did not disclose to officials that its products could be contaminated with the Salmonella montevideo strain as only "minute" traces of the bacteria were found and the company deemed the risk too low.

But the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) released a damning report yesterday in which it stated that: “The presence of salmonella in ready-to-eat foods such as chocolate is unacceptable at any level.” (full story here)

Coca-Cola trade secrets stolen?

Apparently 3 people have been arrested in the USA for stealing top secret documents from Coca-Cola and attempting to sell them to its arch-rival, PepsiCo.
PepsiCo said it alerted Coca-Cola after it received an e-mail from a man calling himself ‘Dirk', offering “very detailed and confidential information” that only a few top Coca-Cola executives had seen. (see full story here)
An FBI "sting operation" was set up using video surveilance cameras, and sure enough... there was an actual theft attempt. An undercover agent concluded the transaction for some files and a sample of what Coca-Cola confirmed was a new product under development. After the "sale" the 3 people involved were rounded up and put under lock and key.

As if the soda pop industry doesn't have enough trouble on their hands, what with the benzene thing, and the "no pop in schools" push on, now they have to watch out for industrial espionage, too?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New soy health benefits discovered

When Dr. Earl Mindell first came out with the health benefits related to soy, the medical establishment gave no credence to his findings. In fact, when he first published "The Vitamin Bible" 25 years ago, and a later book "The Soy Miracle," he was frequently criticized by mainstream physicians and health practitioners for championing the use of nutritional supplements.

Since that time, in study after study after study, soy has been proving to be the miracle that Dr. Mindell first claimed.

However, a recent scientific statement by the American Heart Association (AHA) in one journal "Circulation" concluded that soy had little effect on cholesterol levels, and raised doubts about health claims associated with soy.

Dr. Frank Sacks, a member of the AHA panel, reportedly said in January: "It's really clear that isoflavones don't contribute anything to cardiovascular benefits."

But a new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (Vol. 91, pp. 2209-2213), reports that high blood levels of daidzein were associated with favourable lipoprotein profiles. (In other words, "increasing levels of daidzein, an isoflavone found in soy, have been linked to significant improvements in cholesterol levels and could boost heart health.")

If its findings are reproduced in future studies, they might lead to a re-evaluation of the science that led AHA to its conclusion.

What is truly interesting is that much of the health supporting evidence for soy comes from independent research that is not even remotely connected to Dr. Mindell or any of his products.

Sometimes it's tough to be a trail-blazer leading the way on issues relating to health and wellness.

Thankfully, Dr. Mindell didn't quit.

About Dr. Earl Mindell: Dr. Earl Mindell is a registered Pharmacist, Master Herbalist, with a Ph.D. in Nutrition, and the author of over 30 books dealing specifically with nutrition. He's often referred throughout the world as the "Father of the Nutrition Movement" and appears on more than 300 shows per year, such as CNN Live, Oprah, and more. He is also an highly sought after public speaker for several organizations, including the United Nations, as an authority on anti-aging, nutrition and wellness.

Anti-cancer activity of xanthohumol hops not really great news for beer drinkers

The anti-cancer activity of xanthohumol (which is found in hops) was first discovered around 10 years ago by a team at Oregon State University in the US according to this article.

However, there's no reason for beer drinkers to get excited yet.

"Beer is the major dietary source of xanthohumol, but the average content of xanthohumol in beer may not be high enough to produce a significant inhibitory effect on benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) in humans," writes lead author Emily Colgate.

She also stated that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to consume the same amount found effective in the study.

"Nevertheless, xanthohumol can be isolated from hops in large quantities and be examined further for its use as a dietary supplement for the prevention of BPH or prostate cancer in humans," said Colgate.

The Oregon State researchers also conclude, "Animal toxicity studies provide evidence that xanthohumol may not be harmful to humans but further safety and efficacy studies in vivo are needed before xanthohumol can be recommended as a human dietary supplement for BPH or prostate cancer."

Reducing exercise-induced pain and damage in muscles

If drinking cherry juice could reduce the pain and damage in muscles
induced by exercise (according to one recent study) then one really has to wonder how powerful drinking a little goji juice can be.

You see, the goji berry of true Himalayan origin now has 72 independent clinical studies -- not company sponsored -- all supporting its health-giving benefits (a surprisingly wide range of health benefits) and independent study of this remarkable berry is ongoing... whereas the recent cherry juice study from the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Vermont was "sponsored by US-based company Cherrypharm" -- a company that makes a tart form of cherry juice which is target-marketed at athletes.

Personally, I prefer independent studies. How about you?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dangers of Chlorine in Pools

It's summertime here in the USA -- which for many families also means time in the pool. Pool safety may take on a new meaning for most after reading this brief article regarding the dangers of chlorine in USA pools.

Think about this a moment: chlorine provides the "C" in deadly PCB, and it is the source of the "chloro" in ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons. And chlorine is a key ingredient in many of the world's nastiest poisons, including Agent Orange and DDT.

We've found some excellent advice on one Doctor's site that may help this pool season. Click to read "Dangers of Chlorine in USA Pools"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

FDA Releases Benzene Data

On May 19, 2006 the official FDA release was published regarding Data on Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages in which they name actual brands that were found above the drinking water standard of 5 ppb.

It's a slight change of tone when compared with the March 21, 2006 FDA "Letter Regarding Benzene Levels in Soft Drinks" ...for instance, no mention of public health risk was made in the May release, whereas the March letter indicates "...that low ppb levels of benzene found in these products did not and do not constitute an imminent health hazard."

The timing of the recent FDA data release comes as one news source reports Kraft is now under fire with lawsuits filed against them in 3 States -- in Massachusetts, Florida and reportedly California.

The Massachusetts and Florida lawsuits against Kraft also targeted several other soft drinks makers: PepsiCo, In Zone Brands, Polar Beverages, Talking Rain Beverage Company and John Doe.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New cGMPs for dietary supplements set for Dec. 2006

The FDA publication of "current Good Manufacturing Practice" for dietary supplements has been set for the end of 2006, however they have stated these guidelines would be released before and have missed previous deadlines.

The cGMPs form part of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which was signed into law more than decade ago in 1994.

The hold-up over the guidelines has laid DSHEA open to criticism from those, particularly in the medical community, who would have dietary supplements subjected to the same rigorous approvals process as pharmaceutical drugs.

In an interview with early last year John Hathcock, VP for scientific and international affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said that the most of the council's members already adhere to manufacturing practices that are as good or better than what the FDA will require.

FreeLife is an excellent example of a dietary supplements firm that goes above and beyond required Good Manufacturing Processes, utilizing a 30-Step process before bringing any supplement to market which includes; scientific and background research, compatibility studies, pharmaceutical grade ingredients, pilot-scale blend and dosage studies, intense screening of raw materials, potency and content uniformity analysis, dissolution testing (for esnuring proper absorbancy by the body) and much more.

Hathcock believes that the FDA has "massively misjudged the economic cost for a company going through the process, especially in record-keeping". It estimates that a company will need to spend around $47,000 on compliance, depending on its size.

Nonetheless, Hathcock sees the cost as entirely necessary. "If you can't afford to make good products, you shouldn't be making products at all," he said, adding that one company that fails to comply gives the entire industry a bad name.

We agree!

NIH Conference on Multi Vitamins

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be hosting a "State-of-the-Science Conference on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements for Chronic Disease Prevention," May 15 – 17, 2006 in Bethesda, Maryland.

According to their news release:
"It is estimated that more than one-third of American adults take multivitamin/mineral supplements regularly. Recommendations regarding supplement use from expert groups vary widely, as does the strength of the evidence supporting such guidelines.

In observational studies, MVM use has been associated with better health outcomes but there are few data available from randomized trials to provide more definitive evidence.

As more and more Americans seek strategies for maintaining good health and preventing disease, and as the marketplace offers an increasing number of products to fill that desire, it is important that consumers have the best possible information to inform their choices. Toward that end, this conference is expected to delineate gaps in current knowledge and to provide guidance about how NIH can help to fill those gaps."

Keep in mind that the NIH is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is also considered to be the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research.

Panel chair nominations are made by an organizational committee, which is
made up of OMAR staff, representatives of the NIH Institute or Center proposing the topic, and other interested government agencies (U.S. Food and Drug
Administration [FDA], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], etc.).

This conference is open to the public.

If you are unable to attend the event, a live Webcast of the conference will be available at

Benzene lawsuit hits Pepsi-Co

We've been following the benzene trail ever since the news hit:

5/03/2006 - Bad Luck for Soft Drinks Firms

4/17/2006 - Law Suits Filed Over Benzene in Soft Drinks

4/13/2006 - Soft Drinks - Benzene Risks Heat Up

2/17/2006 - Benzene Contamination In Some USA Soft Drinks

It was a matter of time before lawyers would file a lawsuit against one of America's "Big 3" ...namely PepsiCo in California, alleging one of its drinks may contain the cancer-causing chemical benzene. It's happened, according to BeverageDaily
The class action suit, launched against the Pepsi Twist drink, marks the first time one of America's 'big three' soft drinks firms has been drawn into a legal battle over recent concern about benzene in drinks.

"Pepsi Twist has been falsely promoted as a safe consumer product, when in fact, it contains the ingredients ascorbic acid and potassium benzoate, which can and do produce the carcinogenic chemical benzene when exposed to heat and light," the lawsuit, filed by lawyers Howard Hewell and Howard Rubinstein, alleges.

If the lawsuit filed against Pepsi does end up in court, then I have a feeling many more details on what took place 15 years ago will emerge -- specifically regarding research that was completed back then, and even more specifically regarding the agreement reached between the FDA and the soft drinks Industry.

In a way, it isn't just the soft drinks industry on trial here. There's also the "public court of opinion" ...and the "trust" they place in their government to protect them.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Organic Milk - Why You Should Care

Now estimated in excess of $15 billion in annual sales, the organic dairy industry is said to be at risk by those who are willing to twist, manipulate, and even ignore federal organic regulations in their rush to cash in on this growing lucrative market.

A new report/survey published by the Cornucopia Institute titled -- "Maintaining The Integrity Of Organic Milk" (.pdf document) -- allows consumers to easily identify those organic dairy products that have been produced with the best organic practices. It also reveals some of the "FRAUDS" in the marketplace ...and indepth coverage of apparent government carelessness (for lack of a better term) regarding the organic industry.

The survey rates 68 different "organic" dairy brands and private-label products found across the country. Nearly 20% of the name-brands now available on grocery shelves scored a substandard rating.

"By purchasing organic products, consumers have demonstrated that they are interested in healthy, whole foods, grown without the potential for contamination by toxic agrichemicals or drugs, including antibiotics and growth hormones. And for some, the added bonus of supporting environmental protection and sustainability is a strong inducement. ...We intend this organic dairy brand scorecard to empower organic consumers and wholesale buyers in the marketplace, equipping them with the knowledge to make good and discerning purchasing decisions."
In response to the results of the report, The Organic Consumers Association is calling for an allout boycott of bogus organic milk brands.

Some of the brands named that rated a BAD SCORE include:

Stremicks (Heritage-Foods), Santa Ana, CA: Supplied by factory farm under investigation. Farm paid $300,000 settlement for abusing workers.

Organic Cow (Dean Foods), Dallas, TX (Northeast): Purchased by Horizon, then Dean Foods. Organic Cow is a brand managed by Dean.

Horizon (Dean Foods), Dallas, TX: $11 billion--the nation's largest conventional & organic milk marketer. Owns 4000 cow "farm".

Back to Nature (Kraft): Glenview, IL Produces Cheese products distributed nationwide but landed on the "Ethically Challenged" list.

Visit here for the full report/scorecard.

Organic vs. Non-Organic -- Why Should You Care?

Let's start with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) -- manufactured and marketed by Monsanto. It was one of the first genetically engineered agricultural production products to be sold in the USA.

Designed to boost a dairy cow's milk output and approved for use by the FDA on November 5, 1994, rBGH has played a significant role in the industrialization of dairy production. It has serious implications for animal welfare and poses a potentially serious health threat to dairy cows. The synthetic hormone's impact on human health is still being vigorously debated. It's banned for use in Canada and the UK.

Some of the larger "so-called organic" dairy farms sell off all of their calves at birth and buy conventional replacement heifers at approximately one year of age. This saves them the expense of feeding the calves organic feed for the full two years of their lives prior to their entering the milking line which could result in dairy cows that have been raised using organic-rating prohibited materials (ie. milk replacer/cow's blood, antibiotics, conventional feed containing potential pesticide contamination, genetically engineered feed, poultry manure, etc.).

Consumers should also be aware that milk from factory-farm operations may be less nutritious than that from pastured dairy cows. What cows eat affects their milk's nutrition.

The Danish Institute of Agricultural Research recently reported that organic milk -- defined as produced by pastured cows -- is 50% higher in vitamin E, 75% higher in omega-3 fatty acids, and 200%–300% higher in antioxidants than conventional milk.

And The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released the first comprehensive study that confirms that beef and milk from animals raised entirely on pasture have higher levels of beneficial fats that may prevent heart disease and strengthen the immune system.

Additionally, many consumers believe that their patronage of organic brands connects them more directly to family farmers, who they respect and want to financially support. They feel good about the fact that farming organically allows these farmers and their children to avoid occupational exposure to toxins, which has resulted in conventional farmers having the highest rates of cancer of any occupation.

A Final Note...

"Knowledge is power. And that is evidently what many of the largest corporate players in organic food are afraid of: empowering consumers." Quoted from the "Maintaining The Integrity Of Organic Milk" Report

As you might guess, the Cornucopia Institute is facing a great deal of adversity for their organic dairy survey results from industry heavy-weights, including the Organic Trade Association (OTA) themselves ...a once highly respected, now sadly tarnished organic industry group.

I refer you back to our "USA Food Fight" article. If you are relying on Federal governing bodies (such as the FDA, USDA, etc.) to protect your health and oversee food quality -- and safety -- in the USA, think again.

Perhaps a new label is required on ALL our food products:

"This product, in whole or in part, contains genetically altered ingredients and/or ingredients produced by factory farming and/or genetic-engineering methods."

But then we'd have to inform the public about factory farming, and that could stir up a whole bunch of trouble for the heavy-hitters, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bad Luck for Soft Drinks Firms

New benzene lawsuits, in addition to those we mentioned in our previous benzene article, have been filed against soft drinks firms alleging their drinks were contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene above America's legal limit for drinking water.

And now... a new report comes out of Japan.

Coca-Cola began recalling more than 500,000 bottles of soft drinks in Japan on Monday, after drinks were found contaminated with iron powder.

Add to this the recent push to get junk food out of schools, and you might agree that soft drinks firms are facing a LOT of bad luck lately.

BUT, is it luck? ...or is it an example of Industry Giants' close relationships with Government bodies and lawmakers that has bred a certain lack of attention and/or concern towards the affects their products may have on public health?

Has it given Manufacturers (and their related lobby groups) a false sense of security in that they may not be taken to task for their manufacturing processes and/or products?

When you consider that 15 years ago the benzene situation was discovered and discussed by the FDA ...and an agreement made with Industry to deal with the problem/s instead of the FDA making the situation public and/or putting safety precautions and legislation in place to prevent the problem in future makes me nervous to even think of the National Uniformity for Food Act being placed under their care.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

USA Food Fight

Just over a month after the National Uniformity for Food Act was approved by the House of Representatives, introduced on October 27th by Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Congressman Ed Towns (D-NY), opposition is flying in on all fronts ...creating one of the biggest food fights over USA food safety labelling requirements in recent years.

Supporters of the Act claim the legislation would establish a uniform national system of food safety. Opponents say the bill will dissolve State food safety protections.

Meet some of the opposition:
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Senator Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif (see news quote)
National Conference of State Legislatures
Consumer's Union - the non-profit publishers of Consumer Reports magazine
And MANY more!

Meet some of the supporters:
ConAgra Foods
General Mills
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
National Uniformity for Food Coalition (comprised mostly of food industry GIANTS)
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
And 283 Members of Congress, representing 44 states, including Califonia

One of the state laws that would be particularly affected by the National Uniformity for Food Act is California's Proposition 65, which requires that food manufacturers alert customers about the existence of cancer-causing compounds in food.

Other state laws that could be affected by the proposed bill include laws in Illinois and Pennsylvania regulating the safety of eggs; laws in California, Florida, and Louisiana requiring warning labels on shellfish; regulation for smoked fish in Wisconsin and Michigan; and laws in Maryland requiring that labels disclose if "fresh" food was previously frozen and thus should not be refrozen.

“...The legislation passed by the House would do away not only with Prop. 65, but with more than 200 food safety laws and regulations on the books in all 50 states. Overriding these stringent consumer protections gambles with the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans. I will do everything in my power to stop this legislation from passing the Senate,” said Senator Feinstein. “Any weakening of Proposition 65, or any other state or local food safety measure, could undermine the health and safety of all Americans."

So watch out, folks... we have a major food fight on our hands ...and our health and safety is at the heart of it!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Obesity Diabetes Link

A 41 percent increase in diabetes in American adults from 1997 to 2003 indicates -- yes, there is a serious growing problem here.

"US researchers examining the dramatic rise in people suffering form diabetes have confirmed that obesity is a major factor in the disease. They warn that measures must be taken to prevent obesity in order to halt the growing diabetes epidemic." Source: FoodNavigator

"Among US adults aged 18–79 years, the incidence of diagnosed diabetes increased 41% from 1997 to 2003. During this period of rapid change, incidence increased at a greater rate among obese people, resulting in obesity being more prevalent among incident cases at the end of the time period than at the beginning,” said the researchers.

“Altogether, these data suggest that obesity is a large factor - although not the sole factor - in the increasing incidence of diagnosed diabetes."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Microwave Ovens and your health

Can using a microwave oven to heat or cook your food have a negative affect on your health?

It can have a tremendous negative affect on the food you heat/cook with it. Here's an excerpt from ETR...

"For openers, microwaves destroy and deplete vital nutrients. In one study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, broccoli microwaved with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its antioxidants, while steamed broccoli lost only 11 percent.

Microwave energy also rearranges the molecules of anything exposed to it. Swiss food scientist Dr. Hans Hertel concluded that this could alter a food's nutrients to such a degree that it could cause changes in the blood. And in his studies, he showed that eating microwaved food resulted in increased cholesterol levels, increased white blood cells (suggesting your body is fighting something it does not recognize), decreased red blood cells, and decreased hemoglobin."

Want further evidence? Take a look at what microwaved water does to plants.

One more thing: Lots of mothers put breast milk or baby formula in the microwave to warm it up. Bad idea. Warm it under tap water.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Nutrition, Cell Communicators and Longevity

"Nutrients have two key functions. They feed the body, and they also engage energies that flow through cells and keep those cells in a state of aliveness and optimism. Body cells want that positive outlook, that forward-looking anticipation. Without it, they go into a slow decline." Quote ~ Dr. Laura Thompson

But what happens when your cells can't absorb nutrients effectively?

About Malabsorption & Aging: Some of the physiological changes that occur with aging affect the way the body absorbs and uses nutrients. In many older adults, the production of certain digestive enzymes and acids diminishes, interfering with protein breakdown and with the absorption of vitamin B12, folate, and possibly calcium and iron. Lack of vitamin B12 can have a devastating effect on the nervous system, leading to an unsteady gait, muscle weakness, slurred speech and psychosis — signs and symptoms similar to those of such age-related diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Other illnesses — cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, inflammatory bowel disease and even diarrhea — can interfere with absorption. (Source: MayoClinic)

Perhaps this is one of the biggest reasons why some experts are so excited about the discovery of four completely unique polysaccharides found and produced naturally in a certain family of goji berry from Himalayan decent -- the botanical family known as Solanaceae, of the genus Lycium Barbarum.

The active polysaccharides to which I refer were named after the berry -- Lycium Barbarum Polysacharides 1, 2, 3 and 4. (LBP1, LBP2, LBP3 and LBP4)

You may have heard the term "cell communicators" used when describing these unique molecules found ONLY in the goji berry. (That's right. You won't find them in any other food on the planet!)

To understand what is meant by the term, you need to learn more about bioactive polysaccharides, also called proteoglycans -- complex carbohydrates that are bound to proteins.

"They [proteoglycans] are produced by some plants as an extremely effective defense mechanism against attack by viruses, bacteria, fungi, soil-borne parasites, cell mutations, toxic pollutants and environmental f-ree redacals. Fortunately for humans, many of these protective effects are conferred upon us when we eat plants that are rich in polysaccharides." (Source: Himalayan Health Secret)

LBP polysaccharides have proven to be glycoconjugates, meaning that they are exceptional sources of the essential cell sugars -- rhamnose, xylose, glucose, mannose, arabinose and glactose -- which are necessary for proper immune function and intercellular communication. (In fact, goji may be the richest source of glyconutrients yet found by scientists!)

So, how does intercellular communication work?

Let's take a look at electricity, which is basically a continuing handoff of electrons from one atom to a neighboring one that doesn't have enough. In essence, electric current moving through a copper wire is very much like a bucket brigade, or, better still, a game of hot potato. Each copper atom receives an electron from its neighbor, and just can't wait to dump it off onto the next atom down the line -- until someone turns off the switch and the circuit goes dead.

Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi asserts that energy exchange, life's most important form of cellular communication, can only occur when there is a natural flow of electrons, a biological form of electricity, coursing throughout the body. All of the body's functions are directed, controlled and regulated by this flow of electricity.

"Health exists when there is smooth flow of electrons, illness encroaches when the flow is significantly restricted, and death occurs when the energy transfer from this electron flow stops."

Now, picture glycoconjugates as cell enablers that attach to your cells allowing them to receive/absorb the nutrients your system is constantly using up in the "biological electricity flow" -- and you just begin to see how important cellular communication is for health and longevity.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cyanide Alert - Bitter Apricot Kernels and More

Cyanogenic glycosides are present in a number of food plants and seeds. Hydrogen cyanide is released from the cyanogenic glycosides when fresh plant material is macerated as in chewing, which allows enzymes and cyanogenic glycosides to come together, releasing hydrogen cyanide.

Bitter apricot kernels (which have recently become available as a health food on the UK market) when ingested, can produce cyanide. Apparently the dosage sheet accompanying the product indicates that consumers could take a maximum of 10 kernels a day -- this is five times the limit recommended by the Food Standard Agency's (FSA) scientific committee on toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment (COT). COT considers a safe intake is equivalent to one to two kernels a day.

As well as bitter apricot kernels, low levels of cyanide are also present in almonds, sweet apricot kernels and in the stones of other fruits such as cherries.

A number of other cyanogenic glycosides are present in foods including linamarin (cassava, lima beans), prunasin (ferns) and sambunigrin (elderberries).

Cyanide is one of the most potent, rapidly acting, poisons known. Cyanides inhibit the oxidative processes of cells causing them to die very quickly.

Because the human body rapidly detoxifies cyanide, an adult human can withstand 50 -60 ppm for an hour without serious consequences. However, exposure to concentrations of 200-500 ppm for 30 minutes is usually fatal. Aside from death, acute cyanide toxicity at small doses can cause headache, tightness in throat and chest, and muscle weakness. The effects of chronic (long-term) exposure to cyanide are less well known. (Source -

In closing, I'd like to leave you with a comment from the website:

"While we usually think of toxic substances as coming from man-made sources, many occur naturally. For example, toxic mussel outbreaks in the ocean have claimed lives and caused illness because the mussels consumed contained an algal toxin. Fresh water is not without toxic substances, either. For example, a group of fairly common organisms called cyanobacteria produce toxins called microcystins. Deaths of cattle, wildlife, and family pets have been traced to drinking water containing microcystins, as have several liver-related illnesses in humans. Although naturally occurring toxins are all around us, if one is educated to where and how they occur, steps can be taken to avoid them."

Apricot kernels withdrawn over cyanide concern - Europe
Cyanogenic glycosides -

Los Angeles County Bubonic Plague Case

By now you've probably heard about the confirmed case of bubonic plague reported in Los Angeles County, USA. It's the first human case of plague in a L.A. County resident since 1984. The affected individual resides in the Country Club Park area of the city of Los Angeles.

Although the investigation is continuing, it's believed the woman affected may have been exposed to fleas in the area around her home.

A few facts about bubonic plague:

"Bubonic plague is not usually transmissible from person to person," says Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H, Director of Public Health and Health Officer, Los Angeles County. "Fortunately, human plague infection is rare in urban environments, and this single case should not be a cause for alarm in the area where it occurred."

Plague is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis.

People usually get plague from being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an infected animal. Both male and female fleas can transmit the infection.

Bubonic plague is endemic among ground squirrels around Tehachapi, Lake Isabella, Frazier Park, and in the Angeles National Forest between Los Angeles and Antelope Valley. Los Angeles County health officials annually send out warnings for campers, hikers and residents in those areas to take precautions against the disease mainly by avoiding ground squirrels and their fleas.

Bubonic plague symptoms:

"Plague is characterized by fever, muscle aches, nausea, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and swollen, tender lymph nodes associated with the arm or leg that has flea bites and is treatable with antibiotics," states Dr. Roshan Reporter of the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program. "The disease often causes illness serious enough to warrant hospitalization, but if treated is rarely fatal."

Millions of people in Europe died from plague in the Middle Ages, when human homes and places of work were inhabited by flea-infested rats. Today, modern antibiotics are effective against plague, but if an infected person is not treated promptly, the disease is likely to cause illness or death. (Source: Center For Disease Control)

For further info regarding bubonic plague, here are a few helpful resources:

1. CDC Plague Home Page
2. LA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES - Official News Release on the Plague Case
3. California Department of Health Services Plague Brochure (.pdf format)

LA area emergency responders and professional health care providers might also be interested in joining the Los Angeles County's Health Alert Network (HAN) Partner Registry which launched on March 10, 2006. Here's the link for further details.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Law Suits Filed Over Benzene in Soft Drinks

Law firm McRoberts, Roberts & Rainer LLP have joined forces with a former state prosecutor to file class action lawsuits against In Zone Brands, who make Bellywashers drinks, and Polar Beverages.

The lawyers, who have filed lawsuits in Boston and Tallahassee, released independent lab tests that reported one BellyWashers 2/3 Less Sugar drink with benzene several times higher than the World Health Organisation's (WHO) 10 parts per billion water limit.

The same lab found a Polar Diet Orange Dry drink containing benzene below this limit, but above the FDA's water limit.

The lawyers have called for the affected products to pulled from shop shelves.

Visit this link for the full story:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Soft Drinks - Benzene Risks Heat Up

How do you dramatically increase the benzene content in certain soft drinks?

Just add increased heat and light for a short period of time, says former industry scientist, and benzene levels "could dramatically increase to beyond the WHO 10 parts per billion water standard."

Both the FDA and the UK's Food Standards Agency, said they suspected benzene was being formed by two common ingredients "sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid" reacting together in the drinks, a fact known for 15 years by the FDA and US soft drinks association, revealed by internal FDA memos.

Glen Lawrence, a scientist who helped the FDA with testing back in 1990, also published a journal article in 1993 detailing how sodium benzoate could break down to form benzene in drinks also containing ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

Both the FSA and the FDA say the levels found in drinks to date should not pose an immediate health risk, although 4 drinks were recently recalled in the UK owing to the discovery of high levels of benzene contamination.

However one scientist said testing drinks after exposure to heat and light is now crucial.

"When those 38 drinks that [the UK Food Standards Agency] tested positive for benzene are subjected to even short periods of heat and light, they could dramatically increase to beyond the WHO 10 parts per billion water standard."

"Heat is a major factor," according to Mike Redman, an American Beverage Association scientist who also represented the industry in meetings with the FDA on benzene back in 1990/1991.

Britain's Food Standards Agency has not tested soft drinks for benzene after heat exposure; although a European Commission spokesperson said new guidelines on benzene testing, now being drawn up by the soft drinks industry, were likely to include "predictive testing to simulate storage".

Industry testing on soft drinks 15 years ago is thought to have found that temperatures of 30°C and exposure to UV light for several hours were enough to more than triple benzene residues in some drinks.

The tests were designed to simulate the worst case scenario, and "were not necessarily representative of what the consumer was receiving", according to Greg Diachenko, a scientist with the US Food and Drug Administration, who also took part in negotiations with soft drinks makers over benzene in 1990 and 1991.

Benzene, a cancer-causing chemical linked to leukemia, can form naturally and is found in forest fires, gasoline and cigarette smoke. It's widely used in industrial production to make plastics, rubber, detergents, drugs and pesticides.

Benzene can also form in soft drinks made with Vitamin C and sodium or potassium benzoate. Heat, light and shelf life can affect whether benzene will form, according to FDA.

While scientists and doctors disagree on how hazardous benzene is to human health, the Environmental Protection Agency requires public notification and alternative water supply for drinking water contaminated with levels of 5 ppb. Even "relatively short periods" of exposure at that level can "potentially cause … temporary nervous system disorders, immune system depression [and] anemia," according to the agency. A lifetime of exposure, says the EPA, can cause "chromosome aberrations [and] cancer."

Even the latest round of tests would not have been conducted if it weren't for documents posted on the internet late last year by an industry whistleblower named Larry Alibrandi, according to one article on AlertNet. Those papers concern an undisclosed study at Cadbury-Schweppes in 1990 called Project Denver, which found that certain soft drinks, particularly diet orange-flavored sodas, had the tendency to form benzene when exposed to heat and light.

According to AlertNet, judging from their ingredients, dozens of products now on the shelves could potentially have the same problem, including such popular brands as Sunny Delight, flavored Diet Pepsi and Fanta Orange. (The Environmental Working Group has posted a partial list of possibly risky products -- particularly risky for children. Chances are high you will recognize some of the brands indicated.)

The question is, how many soft drink consumers have occassionally left their soft drink sitting in the sun on a hot summer day -- before eventually drinking it? How many people have left their case of pop sitting in the sun at camp? Are any of the public health/food saftey authorities even considering what happens to those soft drinks AFTER they leave the store shelves?

And the BIG QUESTION: Is there a need for further public education on benzene risks relating to soft drinks?

Heat tests key for benzene in soft drinks
UK benzene in soft drinks recall
The benzene trail
Hard Times for Soft Drinks
Benzene Levels in Soft Drinks Above Limit
Environmental Working Group - avoid any amount of benzene in drinks intended for children

What USA Doctors Don't Know

In 1985 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reported that 21 hours of education in nutrition was required but found that many medical schools did not offer nutrition courses. Almost 60 per cent of US medical schools do not meet recommendations for nutrition education for med students, according to a new survey published recently.

The new survey, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 83, pp. 941S-944S), took a serious look at the state of nutrition education in 106 medical schools in the USA -- and the results were far from satisfactory.

“Remarkably, less than one half (41 per cent) of the responding schools provided the minimum 25 hours or more recommended by the NAS in 1985,” said lead author Kelly Adams from the University of North Carolina at Chapel ill.

“Also surprising was the finding that 17 schools (18 per cent) required only [less than or equal to] 10 hours of nutrition instruction,” she said.

The researchers also found that during the clinical years (third to fourth year) 36 per cent of schools offered less than five hours of teaching nutrition.

Eighty-eight per cent of the instructors questioned also indicated that the students needed more tuition.

“Thus, it appears that we are producing a pool of physicians who feel largely unprepared to counsel their patients about nutrition,” concluded Adams.

Other surveys in the literature have reported that physicians feel unprepared to deal with the growing problem of obesity, with 32 per cent of US adults clinically obese. Shockingly, the number of overweight children is reported to have tripled since 1980.

“With the rising epidemic of obesity in the US population and the knowledge that prevention is more likely to be successful than treatment, it is clearly imperative to ensure that medical students are adequately prepared,” wrote the researchers.

Dr Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific affairs for the industry association, the National Nutritional Foods Association, applauded the authors of the study, but said that it seemed to confirm what many in the research community have long believed to be true.

There is an ever increasing amount of good science that demonstrates how very important nutritive factors, like the use of dietary supplements, are for not only maintaining health, but in preventing disease.

Based on the study, information on nutrition, diet and supplementation cannot be accurately provided to the public by their physicians, which means that the public, who works longer hours and has more demands on their time than ever, making it harder to find good information, suffers the most.”

Fabricant said that the NNFA hoped that such studies would be the “impetus for major wholesale changes in medical education to implement curriculum and instructors that provide the tools to best serve the public with.

Additionally, if the majority of physicians are not properly educated on these topics is it really surprising that many stories appearing in journals/publications geared towards physicians are misinterpreted and sometimes misleading?”

The American Medical Association refused to comment on the study since it was published in a non-AMA journal.

Source: FoodNavigator

Thursday, April 06, 2006

World's Largest Food Companies Not Serious About Our Health?

25 of the world's largest food companies are not taking health seriously enough, according to a new report titled "The Food Industry, Diet, Physical Activity and Health: a Review of Reported Commitments and Practice of 25 of the world’s Largest Food Companies" published by the Centre for Food Policy, City University in the UK is available on their website.

"The research is the first attempt to monitor whether and how these powerful companies are reporting on their impact on diet and health. We set out to shine a light on what these mostly publicly quoted companies are doing, or report they are doing. Our findings are worrying. There is a pretty poor overall picture, with too many companies appearing not to care a jot," conclude the City team. "The smallest company we investigated had a turnover five times that of the World Health Organization's entire annual budget, so they cannot use lack of resources as an excuse."

Retailers, who often present themselves as the consumer’s friend, in fact came out worst performing sector, according to the report.

The 80 page report from The City University also praises outside "unpaid watchdogs" for their efforts, indicating their efforts appear to be the most effective in facilitating positive changes in the food industry, particularly with regard to some changes made by giants in the industry.

Read the press release and find a link to the report at the London City University website here:

Mass Medication of the Population

Mandatory folic acid fortification of bread in the UK will be recommended by the UK's Food Standard Agency, according to FoodNavigator/Europe... but the "Consumers for Health Choice" (CHC) are not happy about it.

The fortification is being recommended in an effort to reduce the incidence of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida and anencephaly which are the most common NTDs. "Both conditions occur in the very early stages of pregnancy, often before women are aware that they are expecting."

Dietary folate occurs naturally in foods such as grains, lentils, chick peas and green leafy vegetables, and is known to reduce the risk of these conditions.

Folic acid, on the other hand, is a synthetic form of the nutrient which, according to the National Council on Folic Acid in the US, is actually better absorbed by the human body.

In a document published in advance of the meeting to recommend folic acid fortification, the FSA indicated: "Bread would be an appropriate vehicle because it has a relatively uniform consumption across subgroups of the population."

According to the FSA, this would mean that folate consumption would increase in a predictable way across the population.

"The preferred point of fortification would be at the milling stage (with the exception of wholemeal flour), rather than at the bread-making stage. This is because there is already a requirement in place to fortify milled flour with iron, calcium, thiamine and niacine, so the new requirement would build on existing technology and regulation." -- FoodNavigator

According to the document, mandatory fortification would not replace the advice that women supplement their diet with folic acid, but rather complement this advice.

"This is not the first time that the FSA has considered mandatory fortification. In 2002 SACN opted not to adopt it because of concerns that folate consumption in excess of 1000 micrograms per day could delay the detection of vitamin B12 deficiency in older people, which can have severe neurological consequences." -- FoodNavigator

However some of the latest research indicates that B12 deficiency would be masked only with folate consumption of more than 5000 micrograms per day. I haven't seen the source of this research yet, so I'm unable to provide the full details of who completed it and/or where you can find it.

CHC believes the B12 deficiency issue in older people has still not been fully addressed. They contend that better education for women of childbearing age, particularly those who become pregnant and/or are likely to become pregnant, is a better way to go than mass medication of an entire population.

"We feel what is needed is better education of women of childbearing age about the consequences of not consuming enough folate. We should still have the choice if we are not in that group."

Mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid is already in place in several countries, including the US, Canada, and Chile.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Salmonella Spike Prompts USDA Crackdown

Referring back to our "Tainted Meat" article, new information just came out late last February...

Samples in broilers, ground chicken and ground turkey testing positive for salmonella at US slaughter and processing plants have surged since 2002, according to statistics compiled by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Broilers had the highest rates of salmonella, with 16.3 per cent of samples testing positive in 2005, up from 11.5 per cent in 2002. The highest level was reached in 1998, when salmonella was found in 20 per cent of the broilers sampled.

The results have spurred the US Department of Agriculture to propose a more aggressive testing program to bring down the spike in Salmonella cases at processing plants.

"Our goal is to work proactively to reduce the presence of salmonella on raw products before plants develop a pattern of poor performance," USDA under secretary for food safety Richard Raymond stated. "FSIS will more quickly report testing results and target establishments needing improvement, providing timely information to both consumers and industry."

Sugar Prices On The Rise!

Sugar prices in China have soared since November last year after a drought in one of the main producing regions, Guangxi province, halved the sugar cane crop.

The current price for standard grade sugar in the southern regions is RMB4960 (€515) per ton compared to about RMB2000 per ton during the same period last year.

In our home, we've been experimenting with sugar substitutes and have finally found one that is both healthy -- and delicious -- called Blue Agave, an organic nectar from a plant called agave tequilana.

The good news is, it's sweeter than sugar, so when used in baking, cooking and/or beverages, I only need to use half the amount. For example, in most baking recipes 1 cup of sugar can be replaced by 1/2 a cup of Blue Agave.

The bad news is the price. But with the draught, and the soil erosion problems happening in China and elsewhere around the world, the playing field in this market may be levelling out.

Want more info on Blue Agave? Contact us at Best Liquid Vitamins.

New Study Confirms Food Quality Going Down

"Why is it that you have to eat four carrots to get the same amount of magnesium as you would have done in 1940?" asks Dr. David Thomas, a primary healthcare practitioner and independent researcher, who recently made a comparison of government tables published in 1940, and again in 2002. (See our Alarming Comparisons of the Food We Eat article for details.)

A new study headed by David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University believes it's soil erosion -- and it's a crisis that the world is facing.

"Soil erosion is second only to population growth as the biggest environmental problem the world faces," said Pimentel. "Yet, the problem, which is growing ever more critical, is being ignored because who gets excited about dirt?"

Also, pioneering Scottish research into the demineralisation of earth has strengthened the case that unless vital nutrients and elements are placed back into the soil, the quality of food will deteriorate, according to a recent article at FoodNavigator.

"Erosion is one of those problems that nickels and dimes you to death: One rainstorm can wash away 1 mm of dirt," said Pimentel. "It doesn't sound like much, but when you consider a hectare (2.5 acres), it would take 13 tons of topsoil - or 20 years if left to natural processes - to replace that loss."

The study, which pulled together statistics on soil erosion from more than 125 sources, also reports that the US is losing soil 10 times faster - and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster - than the natural replenishment rate.

Pimentel's study on the food and environmental threat of soil erosion is published in a recent issue of the Journal of the Environment, Development and Sustainability (Vol. 8, 2006).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alarming Comparisons In The Food We Eat

If you typically eat well-balanced meals and yet for some reason you haven't been feeling quite as healthy as you once did, it's possible the source of the problem could stem from the actual produce itself.

Some researchers are concerned about the dilution effect, which they claim is becoming a "significant problem" in our nations today.


Fruits and Vegetables: "Recent studies of vegetables, fruits and wheat have revealed a 5 to 35 percent decline in concentrations of some vitamins, minerals and protein over the last half-century, according to scientist Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas."

Meats And Dairy: "The iron content in 15 different varieties of meat has decreased on average by 47 percent, with some products showing a fall as high as 80 per cent, while the iron content of milk has dropped by over 60 per cent. Additionally, magnesium levels have typically fallen by 10 per cent while copper levels have fallen by 60 per cent. Both magnesium and copper are essential for enzyme functioning. This information is according to a comparison of government nutritional tables published in the UK in 1940, and again in 2002 ...research completed by independent rsearcher and primary healthcare practitioner, Dr. David Thomas."

It's no secret that food production has changed dramatically over the past century. But at what cost to our food supply and the nutrients we derive from it that are essential for life?

BLV Health Watch is currently working on a Special Report regarding the dilution effect. In the course of our own research into the topic, we've uncovered some astonishing facts. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Random Facts - Nutrition, Health and Wellness

1. CVD causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion ($202 billion) per year. According to the American Heart Association, 34.2 percent of Americans (70.1 million people) suffered from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2002. (Source)

2. A report from the European Union showed that global fruit and vegetable production was over 1 230 million tonnes in 2001-2002, worth over $50 billion (€ 41 000 million). Asia produced 61 per cent, while Europe and North/Central America both producing nine per cent. (Source)

3. Approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis. Around 206 million working days were lost in the UK in 1999-2000, equal to £18 billion (€26 billion) of lost productivity. (Source)

4. The global tea market is worth about €790(£540, $941) million. Green tea accounts for about 20 per cent of total global production, while black tea (green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation) accounts for about 78 per cent. (Source)

5. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an organization with the mandate "to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the conditions of rural populations of its member countries," is having increasing difficulty in convincing the people who control the purse strings that its annual budget is worth increasing to offset inflation. The FAO's budget for 2004-05 was $749m.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

BLV Health Watch Update

Don't forget to check out our latest online articles:

Understanding Pathogens - An Intro -- March 9, 3:42 PM

GM Farming vs Organic Farming -- March 9, 3:20 PM

Pomegranite Peel Better Than The Fruit? -- March 9, 2:57 PM

The Benzene Cover Up -- March 9, 2:49 PM

Visit through this link to view them now.

Pathogens - Public Education Needed

Some experts believe the public is seriously underestimating the various risks posed by food borne diseases and hazards.

"Experts thought that while the public has a fairly accurate idea of the risks associated with the well-known hazards, Salmonella and E. coli, they believe that they are considerably underestimating the risk associated with the lesser-known microbiological hazards, Listeria and Campylobacter."

In our BLV Health Watch special article titled "Tainted Meat" we touched on the dangers present. Think these microbiological hazards don't exist in USA meat products? Think again. Here are just a few facts to consider:

1. A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00

2. US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%

3. Primary source of Campylobacter bacteria: Contaminated chicken flesh

4. People in the US who become ill with Campylobacter poisoning every day: estimated at more than 5,000

5. American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90%

6. Americans sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: More than 650,000

7. Americans killed from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: 600

8. Increase in Salmonella poisoning from raw or undercooked eggs between 1976 and 1986: 600%

9. 90% of US chickens are infected with leukosis -- chicken cancer -- at the time of slaughter.

Perhaps one of the toughest areas for safety are related to our water supply. One particularly difficult pathogen to detect in our waters (and believed by some experts to be related to Chrons disease) is M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis which according to one study can also be carried to our waters by air.

When you read reports about cooking your meat thoroughly, and about safe handling of meat in your home, take it seriously. The new factory farming methods for producing our meat (and related products) bring with them a host of food safety issues that we all need further education on, in my humble opinion.

Bird Flu Not Over Yet

Bird flu may not be in the headlines as much in recent months, but it's far from over and still spreading.

Two recent reports indicate it's hitting both Southern France and Sweden recently:

Bird flu spreads to France's southern region, By Ahmed ElAmin
06/03/2006 - Avian influenza continues to spread in the EU's largest poultry producer, with the country's agriculture ministry reporting over the weekend that the highly pathogenic type H5N1 had been detected in a dead wild swan in the Camargue wetlands. Source FoodProductionDaily

Sweden detects BSE for the first time, along with bird flu, By Ahmed ElAmin
07/03/2006 - Sweden has been hit with a double blow, becoming the first in the Scandinavian region to detect avian influenza in wild birds, and also finding its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow. ...On 28 February Sweden reported its first cases of bird flu or avian influenza in wild ducks, the same day the country also reported the BSE incident. Since then, more cases of avian influenza have been found in the wild bird population. Source FoodProductionDaily

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Britain and Germany checking soft drinks for benzene

Since I first found out about the FDA/soft drink manufacturers private agreement regarding benzene in soft drinks, I've been following the story. More new hits the headlines, this time in the UK. Food safety authorities where unaware of the potential problems that mixing ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate together in a soft drink could lead to benzene formation through the degradation of the benzoate. This news comes to us from BeverageDaily:
Food safety authorities in Britain and Germany are checking soft drinks for benzene after tests suggest a private deal with soft drinks firms in the US, 15 years ago, failed to fix the problem.

Germany's food watchdog, BfR, confirmed it was examining soft drinks containing the common ingredients ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and sodium benzoate (E211).

The UK's Food Standards Agency has followed suit, saying it was looking into the issue and would sort out any problem found. An FSA spokesperson said the body was not aware the two ingredients could react together to form benzene, a known carcinogen.

...The FDA was re-alerted to the issue by independent laboratory tests in New York.

The same lab also found a drink sold in Latin America by a well-known, international soft drinks group that contained benzene at more than six times the 10 parts per billion legal limit for water set by the World Health Organisation.

Soft drinks containing less benzene were recalled across Europe and US in the 1990s.

The New York lab, meanwhile, found two well-known drinks brands available in the UK with benzene at least three times above the country's strict one part per billion limit for drinking water. There is no specific limit for soft drinks.

Soft drinks sold outside the US are considered more at risk due to scant knowledge of the problem.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Benzene Contamination In Some USA Soft Drinks

I read a disturbing news release today regarding a problem that apparently the FDA had been fully aware of 15 years ago -- but never made their findings public.
The FDA was originally alerted in 1990 to the problem of benzene in soft drinks triggered by the preservative sodium benzoate. It never made the findings public, but came to an arrangement with the US soft drinks association that the industry would “get the word out”. - NutraIngredients
Benzene is listed as a poisonous chemical shown to increase the risk of leukaemia and other cancers -- and can be caused by two common ingredients – sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) – which can react together to cause benzene formation.

The FDA knew about the problem as far back as 1990 (from what I can tell by some isolated reports) but they never made their findings public. Instead, according to the news item referenced above, they came to an arrangement with the US soft drinks association that the industry would “get the word out”.
But in recent months, internal documents and private tests have begun to surface, supported by claims from a former chemist for Cadbury Schweppes, who is now keen to blow the whistle on the health risk involved. He and a US lawyer commissioned new tests that have now prompted the FDA to re-open the case.

These independent tests, performed by a laboratory in New York, found benzene levels in a couple of soft drinks two-and-a-half-times and five times above the World Health Organisation limit for drinking water (10 parts per billion).

The FDA now confirms it has found a similar problem in its own follow-up testing. “There were a few isolated products that have elevated levels. We certainly want to make sure there is some reformulation,” said an FDA chemist.
All food additives are regulated by federal authorities and various international organizations to ensure that foods are safe to eat and are accurately labeled. Here in the USA, the FDA has the primary legal responsibility for determining a food additive's safe use.

The FDA must determine - based on the best science available - if there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to consumers when an additive is used as proposed.

If new evidence suggests that a product already in use may be unsafe, or if consumption levels have changed enough to require another look, federal authorities may prohibit its use or conduct further studies to determine if the use can still be considered safe.

How is sodium benzoate used?

According to IPCS, a major market for sodium benzoate is as a preservative in the soft drink industry, as a result of the demand for high-fructose corn syrup in carbonated beverages. Sodium benzoate is also widely used as a preservative in pickles, sauces, and fruit juices. Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are used as antimicrobial agents in edible coatings.

Sodium benzoate is also used in pharmaceuticals for preservation purposes (up to 1.0% in liquid medicines) and for therapeutic regimens in the treatment of patients with urea cycle enzymopathies.

Possibly the largest use of sodium benzoate, accounting for 30-35% of the total demand (about 15 000 tonnes of benzoic acid), is as an anticorrosive, particularly as an additive to automotive engine antifreeze coolants and in other waterborne systems. In recent years, it has also been used in the formulation of sodium benzoate into plastics such as polypropylene, to improve strength and clarity. Sodium benzoate is also used as a stabilizer in photographic baths/processing.

NutraIngredients - FDA re-opens probe into benzene contamination of soft drinks
FDA - Food Ingredients & Colors

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New Research Initiatives - Common Disease Causes

Press Release - NIEHS News

WASHINGTON - Wed. Feb. 8, 2006 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the creation of two new, closely related initiatives to speed up research on the causes of common diseases such as asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

One initiative boosts funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a multi-institute effort to identify the genetic and environmental underpinnings of common illnesses. The other initiative launches a public-private partnership between NIH, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, especially Pfizer Global Research & Development of New London, Conn.; and Affymetrix Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., to accelerate genome association studies to find the genetic roots of widespread sicknesses.

The genetic analysis component of the two initiatives is highly complementary.

To read the entire release, please see:

To read the Factsheet "New Technology For Detecting Biological Responses to Environmental Factors", please see:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

UK Alert - High Aflatoxin Levels Found in Spice

In the 1960 more than 100,000 young turkeys on poultry farms in England died in the course of a few months from an apparently new disease that was termed "Turkey X disease". It was soon found that the difficulty was not limited to turkeys. Ducklings and young pheasants were also affected and heavy mortality was experienced.

The "mysterious" disease outbreaks were eventually traced to toxin contaminated animal feed. Speculations made during 1960 regarding the nature of the toxin suggested that it might be of fungal origin. Eventually, the toxin-producing fungus was identified as Aspergillus flavus (1961) and the toxin was given the name Aflatoxin by virtue of its origin (A.flavis--> Afla).

A spice powder in the UK -- Suya Pepper Spiced Khebab Powder -- has been discovered to contain excessive levels of aflatoxins.

It is distributed in the United Kingdom and is manufactured in Ghana. The UK's Food Standards Authority (FSA) has now issued a food alert.

Suya Pepper Spiced Khebab Powder is believed to be sold in large and small plastic containers with a yellow lid and a red/yellow label. The wording 'Active SUYA PEPPER Spiced Khebab Powder' is boldly written on the label but there is no date marking or batch code.

Despite enquiries by local authorities in London, distributor Marduro has not provided full distribution details, although distribution is believed to be restricted to the London area. This product appears to be distributed through direct van sales, where retailers who sell African or African-Caribbean food products are the main clients.

Local authority enforcement officers have been told that if any of these products are found during routine inspections, they should ensure that they are withdrawn from sale and destroyed.

Sources and Resources:
FoodQualityNews - Excessive aflatoxin levels found in UK spice
Cornell University - AFLATOXINS : Occurrence and Health Risks
FDA Bad Bug Book - Aflatoxins
FAO Corporate Document Repositroy - The significance of mycotoxins
Environmental Health Perspectives - Case-Control Study of an Acute Aflatoxicosis Outbreak, Kenya, 2004
Aspergillus flavus genomics (pdf): gateway to human and animal health, food safety, and crop resistance to diseases