The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires animal feed, like human foods, to:
- · Be pure and wholesome
- · Contain no harmful substances
This was sent to me in a recent newsletter update from the FDA in regards to the safety of pet food. I was immediately tickled by the idea of the FDA saying food sold for animals is required to be pure and wholesome, just as they dictate that food for humans also be pure and wholesome. Webster defines the word pure as- "being unmixed with any other matter—free from what pollutes". If that made you laugh, then you will love how Webster defines the word wholesome- "providing health of mind and body". So, the FDA states that they require food to be unmixed with any other matter and provide health to the mind and the body. Despite these regulations the FDA is said to require, we are becoming more and more aware of the dangers in our foods today. In fact hydrogenated oils defy the first demand of the FDA. Hydrogenating an oil does nothing to promote well being of the body—perhaps the trans fat laden products provide a drug-like peace of mind but so would opium-laced baked goods, right?
Trans fat is the buzz word among the European nutritionally elite. The danger in trans fat was brought forward and made public, and thus trans fat was removed from their food products. Hydrogenated fats are neither pure nor wholesome, and have been found to be a harmful substance in our diets. Well, our FDA, not being as alarmist as our European neighbors are, just tells the food manufacturers to add a label to the foods. Just tell the kids there is trans fat in their frozen pizza — no warning about what trans fat is. The informative FDA website notice about trans fat and “what you need to know” simply explains that this fat is created from taking a liquid fat to a solid fat, hydrogen is added and thus appears “trans fat”.They soothe the reader by explaining that many of the foods we eat now contain this fat already, foods like baked goods, crackers and candies. They further soothe our nervous arteries by informing us that this trans fat also comes in foods naturally, foods like milk. They do explain that it lowers good cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol and then go on to help us, the readers, understand the food label and how to avoid this fat. However, these warnings and tips, this health-promoting advice, is never added to a food label. In fact, from what I can gather, nutrition labels are nothing more than a marketing technique.
Take for example, oatmeal. Instant oatmeal with added flavors and sugars can use the FDA-approved claim that this is a food product which helps fight heart disease. So we would see that seal of FDA approval and think, "this is a healthy choice." However, take the same amount of instant oatmeal and decrease the added sugar content and the claim cannot be made that it is a hearth-healthy food product. Even though the food product that makes this a healthier choice is the oatmeal. The reality is that the ratio of fat becomes greater than the sugar content when we remove the added sugar, which offsets the amount of fat in the serving, thus making it less healthy — according to FDA's standards of health. What fat, you may be asking? Why, the fat found naturally in oats, of course. So, when we add in sugar, which we know is not a heart-healthy food choice, then the ratios of fat is altered and in this bright little gray area is the marketing ability to approve sugar-laden instant oatmeal as a healthier choice than the no sugar added alternative — err, original. Of course, after Quaker pointed this out to the FDA and food companies, health officials and other secret agencies were contacted to ask “Are we OK with this being the rule,” millions of tax dollars were spent in researching this gray area and now both food products can carry the claim they are good for your heart, sugar sweetened marshmallow delight instant oatmeal is now just as healthy for you as old fashioned oatmeal you were chocking down before school as a child.
Food labels also have no age requirement to ensure you are old enough to know you are about to ingest a toxic substance. After all, that is why cigarettes and alcohol have age requirements on them, isn’t it? The FDA feels it is adequate in doing their job on protecting us by allowing their necessities to be slightly modified to labels instead of removal. In fact, to alter a label or health claim they need to go through litigation procedures to enforce or state anything positive, health wise.
It is not that I feel the human race should be restricted the freedom to eat the chemically altered birthday cakes, but that we need a more trustworthy source to tell us what the label means—and what it means exactly. Otherwise, we are being lied to simply by omission. These omissions are costing billions of dollars in our health care as well as killing millions of people worldwide!
Are we currently made aware of the value of the unwholesome harmful substances the FDA does allow in our food products? Do you even know how many calories a day you should be eating in order to prevent weight gain? Do you even know what the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat are in a healthy diet? Well, not when you read food labels, but you do know that Marshmallow delight instant oatmeal will set you up to help you fight heart disease, though I am sure the American Diabetes Association would take issue with that claim.
Maybe Americans don't want to know what is good for them and what is not good for them. Ignorance is bliss, but bypass surgery leaves one wishing the classic "If I only knew then what I know now!"