Category Archives: Center for Science in the Public Interest

Athletes and Film Stars to Push Veggies

Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Jessica Alba, among others,  have signed on to help promote fruit and vegetable consumption in a new program.

The push is being called FNV – which stands for Fruits and Vegetables.

The campaign will start on social media like Twitter where short videos will be posted. The first will be posted online today.

Jessica Alba star of one of my favorite shows, Dark Angel, is on the FNV team.

Jessica Alba star of one of my favorite shows, Dark Angel, is on the FNV team.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) loves it. “What a breath of fresh air to see entertainers and athletes getting behind this innovative campaign to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. It would be nice to see more celebrities following the example of Jessica Alba, Colin Kaepernick, and Stephen Curry and the others involved with this project. For too long, entertainers and athletes have used their clout to promote soda and other junk foods, so perhaps the FNV campaign heralds a new trend.

“For this campaign to succeed, it will need a huge and sustained investment behind it, which I hope the industry provides. Ideally government agencies would invest in similar media campaigns aimed at reducing junk food consumption and promoting healthy diets,” according to a statement by CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

I would just like to add my own two cents here that I love this accentuating the positive as opposed to governments and municipalities coming in and banning junk foods. It pays to think positive.
Tony

 

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Tips on Controlling Calories When Dining out on Italian Food – CSPI

I’m sure it is no surprise that a blogger named Tony is of Italian descent. I grew up eating and loving Italian food. There wasn’t the level of affluence in those days as there is now, so we didn’t eat out a lot, but pizza was one of the dinners of choice when we did. Often going out for pizza was a reward for good grades or to celebrate a birthday. So, besides tasting delicious, pizza packed an emotional bang, too. I am a senior citizen now and have buried both my parents, but I still feel a residual thrill when I bite into a juicy slice of pizza. Of course, pasta was a close second in our culinary hierarchy.

Pizza and Pasta

Pizza and Pasta

So, I was interested in the latest release on dining out on Italian food put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“Few of us would sit down to a meal of three Big Macs. Most of us would assume we’d be better off with a dinner of sautéed shrimp with vegetables and pasta. Yet the Shrimp Scampi at Maggiano’s Little Italy has about as many calories (1,680) and about as much saturated fat (28 grams) as those big burgers. That’s just one of the surprises revealed in Nutrition Action Healthletter’s latest look at what’s cooking in Italian chains like Olive Garden, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and Maggiano’s.

Some of the appetizers, meals, and desserts highlighted in the May issue of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest’s flagship publication include: Continue reading

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U.K. Salt Reduction Drives Down Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths

The British government has successfully educated individuals about reducing their sodium consumption and has aggressively encouraged companies to market less-salty foods, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported.

And according to the findings published in BMJ Open, those efforts are likely partly responsible for plummeting rates of heart attack and stroke deaths in the United Kingdom.

Salt-

It’s a shame that while the British government has actively prompted progress on the part of industry and consumers, our Food and Drug Administration dithers, waiting in vain for more than 40 years for companies to voluntarily cut salt.  It’s a strategy that has plainly failed, as Americans are still getting more than twice as much sodium as they should, mostly from processed and restaurant foods.

Almost four years ago the Institute of Medicine called on the FDA to set mandatory limits on the levels of sodium allowed in various categories of food.  Doing that would have been the single most effective (and inexpensive) thing the FDA could have done to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of health care dollars.  Halving Americans’ sodium intake could save 100,000 lives annually.  Because the Obama Administration hasn’t done anything, America is unnecessarily digging about 100,000 early graves every year, each to be filled with a heart attack or stroke victim.

I want to clarify that I am against government telling us we can’t have diet sodas over 16 ounces like in New York, but it seems the government can make some rules on healthy amounts of certain ingredients like salt and sugar which have proven harmful to us humans. As the CSPI release said, we are digging 100,000 early graves a year. Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burns. We have the FDA fiddling while citizens who don’t pay attention to their health are dying at a terrible rate.

Salt consumption has been a subject of numerous posts in this blog. Here are a few:

How Much is Too Much Salt?

Some Sneaky Salt Statistics

Why is Walmart Cutting Sugar, Fat and Salt in its Foods?

Where Does All the Salt in our Diets Come From?

Tony

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Filed under aging, Center for Science in the Public Interest, heart, heart disease, heart problems, salt, sodium, stroke, Weight, weight control, weight loss

What about Coca-Cola’s Anti-Obesity Ad?

Having written some strong words of warning on sugary soft drinks as well as chemical-laden diet soft drinks, not to mention the scourge of obesity, what to make of Coca-Cola’s Anti-Obesity ads?

Some facts first, 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent of us are outright obese. We have teenagers coming down with adult onset diabetes. We are the first generation of people starving ourselves to death in obese bodies.

We gain weight when we take in more calories than we burn off. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that soda contributes six percent of the total calories in our diets. That is more than anything we eat or drink.

So soda is a major player in the obesity crisis.

I was not able to get a copy of the Coke ad to run with this post, but I did find this “Honest” version which carries the original video but has a fresh new voiceover. The source is listed as John Pemberton which by no small coincidence happens to be the name of the pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola.

Back to the headline. What about Coke having an anti-obesity ad?

Why not? Anything that raises people’s awareness of the problem seems to be a step in the right direction. I don’t think the coke ad will encourage people to drink more of it. I certainly hope not.

Here is a nice CNN discussion on it.

To read more on the nature of empty calories and junk food check out my posts A Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s and Twinkies – NOT also What are The Dangers of a Big Waistline?

Tony

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Filed under Center for Science in the Public Interest, Coca-Cola, fat, fat kids, healthy living, junk food, obesity, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Mc Donald’s Mc Rib Chemical Additives Rated by CSPI

“Few fast-food items have achieved the cultural prominence of the McRib. Object of satire, conspiracy theory, and fevered online speculation, the McRib typically appears on McDonald’s menus with great fanfare only to vanish, fleetingly, some time later,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“As Ian Bogost wrote in The Atlantic, we experience the McRib as (quasi-)foodstuff, as marketing campaign, as cult object, as Internet meme, but those experiences don’t sufficiently explain it.

“Indeed.

After-a-20-year-love-affair-the-McRib-McReturns1

“To better explain the McRib, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has taken a closer look at a few of its chemical ingredients. There’s more to the McRib, it turns out, than bun, pork, sauce, pickles and onions.

“McRib Pork Patty: BHA, propyl gallate, and citric acid are used as preservatives in the patty. While citric acid is safe, CSPI recommends that consumers avoid BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and propyl gallate. The Food and Drug Administration permits the use of BHA in food, even though its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, says that BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It is often used with propyl gallate to prevent fats and oils from spoiling. CSPI says that propyl gallate may be an endocrine disruptor and needs to be better studied.

“McRib Sauce: After water, the main ingredient in the sauce is high-fructose corn syrup. It’s not true that HFCS is worse than regular sugar, but CSPI recommends everyone cut back on both. Xanthan gum, which is secreted by bacteria, is safe, at least in this application. (Used in a product called SimplyThick, it has caused problems in infants.) Sodium benzoate appears to be safe, though it causes allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. It is unclear exactly which of several caramel color varieties is used in McRib Sauce, but when it is produced with ammonia, carcinogenic contaminants form. That’s been a problem in caramel-colored soft drinks, but regardless of how the caramel coloring in McRib Sauce was produced, the amount one would consume is small and not a problem. Good for McDonald’s for using beet powder to color the sauce instead of Red 3 (a carcinogen) or Red 40 (one of several dyes which in Europe must be labeled as having “an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”). Continue reading

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Filed under Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating out, fast food, Mc Donald's McRib Sandwich, McDonald's, McRib, Weight

Chicken, Ground Beef Top List of Riskiest Meats – CSPI

WASHINGTON–Ground beef and chicken are by far the riskiest meat and poultry products in the American food supply and pose the greatest likelihood of hospitalization, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Furthermore, according to the nonprofit group’s analysis of more than 33,000 cases of food borne illness connected to products regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, chicken nuggets, ham, and sausage pose the lowest risk of food borne illness.

The report, Risky Meat: A Field Guide to Meat & Poultry Safety, ranks 12 categories of meat and poultry based on outbreak reports and the likelihood of hospitalizations associated with the pathogens most commonly reported in those foods.  Ground beef and chicken are not only responsible for the largest numbers of outbreaks and cases of illnesses, but those illnesses tend to be more severe.  The deadly bacterium E. coli O157:H7, for instance, was responsible for 100 outbreaks associated with ground beef in the 12-year study period.  Because that pathogen is estimated to result in hospitalization in nearly half of those infected, ground beef had the highest severity index of the 12 meat and poultry categories.  Ground beef is also connected to illnesses caused by Clostridium perfringens and Salmonella.

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“Outbreaks from ground beef and chicken are reported frequently, and all too often cause debilitating illnesses—illnesses that lead to hospitalization,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal.  “For example, approximately a quarter of those who are sickened by Salmonella will go to the hospital.  The hospitalization rate for E. coli infections is nearly 50 percent and for Listeria infections it is more than 90 percent. ”

Hospitalizations caused by Salmonella put chicken in the “highest risk” category alongside ground beef.  Clostridium perfringens and Norovirus also cause outbreaks associated with chicken.  Campylobacter bacteria are also believed to cause a large number of individual illnesses associated with chicken but rarely cause outbreaks.

“Meat and poultry producers must bear primary responsibility for keeping pathogens out of their products, but when it comes to beef, chicken, and other raw meats, restaurateurs and home cooks must treat them like hazardous materials and  take steps to minimize risk,” said CSPI senior food safety attorney Sarah Klein.  “Care should be taken to avoid spreading germs from the meat around the kitchen, and meat thermometers should be used to ensure that ground beef, chicken, and other meats are fully cooked.”
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