BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: FDA

The Real Scoop on Artificial Food Coloring

Although artificial colors and dyes have been used in foods since the early 1900’s, the FDA has banned many of them due to health concerns. Thirty-seven artificial colors still remain approved for general food use in the USA, many of which are now prohibited in some European countries. Many of these chemicals have been researched and found to have harmful side effects, but they are still used in popular candies, soft drinks, cereals, and other processed foods.

Americans are now consuming more processed foods and drinks than ever before, and therefore more artificial colors and dyes. Many scientists have researched these common chemicals and found shocking results. The most common blue 1 & 2, citrus red 2, green 3, red 3 & 40, and yellow 5 & 6, have been found to cause a wide degree of side effects. Some have been found to cause cancer, ADHD, neurochemical and behavioral effects, allergies and more. Because of link between artificial dyes and the frequently seen side effects of cancer and ADHD, many European countries such as Norway, France, Finland, The U.K., and Sweden have banned a number of these chemicals from their foods.

It is no secret that these additives have harmful side effects, so why do companies still choose to use them? It is a very simple marketing tactic. “You eat with your eyes”, therefore companies will try to make their food look visually appealing to convince you to buy their products. Using artificial dyes and colors is just one method companies use to attract buyers. Artificial dyes like Yellow 5 have more vibrant and concentrated color than natural ones like saffron or turmeric. They are also much cheaper than natural dyes because companies do not need to use much in order to get the color they want. Artificial colors are also easier to use and their results are more reliable because they are much less sensitive to heat than naturally-derived food dyes are.

Silly Rabbit

(A bowl of Trix cereal made with artificial colors and flavors. The new Trix will go on sale later this year, without its blue and green puffs.)

This news may seem very alarming and upsetting to the average consumer, but there is hope. The FDA requires that companies put their ingredients on the food labels, so you know which foods are organic and which ones have artificial coloring. Research on artificial food dyes has led many consumers to cut out harmful processed foods and sodas from their diet and led to more awareness among buyers. And although there are companies such as Coca-Cola that use harmful cancer causing dyes such like 4-MEI, there are brands like General Mills that are promising to soon cut out all artificial dyes from their cereals by 2017. The new direction American consumers are taking now towards organic and health foods is slowly leading the food industry to change their foods in a healthy way. No longer are some food companies looking for the most vibrant look with their presentation, but rather the healthiest.

 

 

Your Potato Chips Could be Killing You

800px-Potato-Chips

Last year the FDA found a very dangerous chemical that forms in many common foods during cooking.  The chemical is called acrylamide and research suggests that it makes people more susceptible to certain cancers.  Acrylamide forms during frying, grilling, baking, roasting, or toasting when the amino acid asparagine reacts with sugars in the food.  It is what gives food like potato chips their crunchy-ness and taste.

French Fries, potato chips and other potato products have the most acrylamide in them.  Scientists have also found acrylamide in products such as coffee (especially dark roast), roasted nuts, and breakfast cereals. It is estimated that 38% of calories come from food that contains acrylamide.  Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.

Acrylamide has also been found to affect pregnant women and infants.  One study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that high acrylamide intake may be connected to slower and less fetal growth.

There are a couple of things that you can do to limit the effects of acrylamide.  The first is cooking/frying/roasting potatoes for a shorter time and toasting bread for a shorter time.  Do not let the potatoes become dark brown and do not char/burn your toast.  Another thing you can do is cook at a lower heat and use more organic ingredients.  You can also eat less potato products, cookies, and pastries and switch to a light roast coffee.  

Research on this chemical isn’t totally conclusive so I wouldn’t be too worried about it.  However, I will be more careful about the potato products that I eat and the way I cook my food.

Article:

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food-safety/article/acrylamide-food-chip-tips

Other Articles:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/11/15/the-fda-calls-out-yet-another-food-chemical-to-avoid-acrylamide/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/19/246188051/remember-death-by-french-fries-here-s-the-story

http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/ChemicalContaminants/ucm053569.htm

The Danger and Abundance of Counterfeit Medications

When a person makes the decision to buy medicine online, he needs to be aware of whether or not the website is Legitimate. With a large quantity of Americans buying their drugs on the internet, “estimated worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines topped $75 billion last year, up 90 percent since 2005.”  These illegal pharmacies not only take away income that would go to genuine pharmacies, but the ones that sell fake drugs (which are plenty of them), can also be putting you in real danger.

Toxins or any kinds of substances could be inside these drugs. They are not being made by people with careers in medicine, they are being made by criminals. Most of these drugs do not even contain the medicine they are labeled for, and, needless to say, the conditions these counterfeit drugs are produced in are unsanitary.  John Clark, Vice President and Chief security officer of Pfizer drug company said, “counterfeit Pfizer drugs – many from disgusting conditions like the primitive courtyard in Lima – have made their way to pharmacies and hospitals in at least 46 different countries, including England, Canada, and the United States.”

Pfitzer, an extremely large drug company with the highest income in the world, is among one of the biggest targets of drug counterfeits. In a more recently updated article, Pfizer said that Fake medicines with its name actually inscribed in the drugs have been sold in “atleast 101 countries” with numerous different types of drugs for different diseases being falsified. Similar to the pocket books sold on the streets of NYC, these drugs look good but are not real.

Even if a price looks more reasonable on the internet, it clearly may not be worth it. Make sure that the site is valid, and that it is FDA approved.Be aware if the site you order from does not require a physician’s prescription for a prescription medication, it is more than likely fake. If there is a drug you take regularly, that looks or tastes different a certain time you buy it, do not let that go unnoticed. It is important to protect yourself  from these predators and stay safe in the face of this devious danger.

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