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Entries in Center for Science in the Public Interest (2)

Wednesday
Feb082012

Watchdog Group to Ask FDA to Define 'Whole Grains' Label

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Center for Science in the Public Interest will petition the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to stop letting manufacturers label their foods “Whole Grain” when they really aren’t and to start putting the percentage of whole grain on the packaging.

The government has encouraged Americans to eat more whole grains because they help prevent heart disease, but the FDA has never established a legal definition of what constitutes a whole grain.

“Multigrain,” “Whole Grain,” and “Whole Wheat” -- It turns out none of these terms have legal meaning.  By law, only whole wheat bread must be made with 100 percent whole wheat, but any other wheat product can have as much or as little wheat as the manufacturer decides.

The same thing is true for whole grain. According to Michael Jacobson, executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition watchdog group, there is twice as much white flour as whole wheat flour in Old London Melba Toast. The story is true for Eggo Nutrigrain Whole Wheat Waffles, too.  According to CSPI, the waffles contain more white flour than whole wheat.

Sometimes companies even add coloring to give their products that beige whole wheat look, if they don’t contain much whole wheat.  Lance Whole Grain Crackers are one example.

“They add caramel coloring,” Jacobson told ABC News.

Multigrain is another undefined term.

“The only thing it means is that it has more than one grain,” Jacobson said.  “It doesn’t mean that any of them are healthful.”  In other words, the multiple types of grain could all be refined flour, not whole grains.

So how can you choose wisely? Nutritionists say if the front of the package boasts “Whole Grain” make sure the first and most prevalent item in the ingredient list on the back really is whole grain.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

CSPI: Caramel Coloring in Cola Can Cause Cancer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A major consumer group called for a government ban Wednesday on two types of caramel coloring used in colas, warning that the ingredients could cause cancer.  The soft drink industry came out swinging, strongly objecting to the claim.

"We're asking the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of caramel coloring that's used in colas and certain other soft drinks and a variety of other foods," said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  "The reason is that several years ago a government agency, the National Toxicology Program, tested a contaminant in the coloring and found that it caused cancer in mice and possibly rats."

According to the CSPI, pure caramel is made by heating sugar, while the coloring found in cola like Pepsi and Coca-Cola is made by reacting sugars with ammonia.  Jacobson said the chemicals the reaction produces have been proven by federal government tests to be carcinogens, a finding that the Coca-Cola Company vehemently disputes.

"CSPI's statement irresponsibly insinuates that the caramel used in our beverages is unsafe and maliciously raises cancer concerns among consumers," the company said in a statement.  "This does a disservice to the very public for which CSPI purports to serve.  In fact, studies show that the caramel we use does not cause cancer."

For now, the FDA tells ABC News that it, along with the World Health Organization, has been studying these chemicals and their potential effects on humans.  The FDA says it will respond to CSPI's petition in accordance with required timelines. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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