In Good Health
(from Consumer Health Digest newsletter)
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acronyms : FDA: Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov
FTC: Federal Trade Commission http://www.ftc.gov/
AMA: American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org/ama
nutrition

Another raw milk warning issued. (#10-13, April 1st, 2010)
The FDA and several state agencies are alerting consumers to an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking raw milk. that originated from the Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Indiana. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm206311.htm. At least 12 confirmed cases were reported in Michigan. Raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats. Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time and kills harmful bacteria, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA's pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses. From 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from raw milk consumption were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. Proponents often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary. These claims, however, are false. [Barrett S. Why raw milk should be avoided. Quackwatch, Dec 22, 2003] http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/rawmilk.html.

Nestle subsidiary settles FTC charges for children's meal-replacement products. (#10-28, July 15th, 2010)
Nestle HealthCare Nutrition, Inc. a subsidiary of Nestle S.A (the world's largest food and nutrition company), has agreed to settle FTC charges that it marketed a children's drink with unsubstantiated claims. [Nestle subsidiary to settle FTC false advertising charges; will drop deceptive health claims for BOOST Kid Essentials. FTC news release, July 14, 2010] http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/07/nestle.shtm The drink contains 25 vitamins and minerals and comes with a straw embedded with probiotic bacteria. The FTC charged that from fall 2008 to fall 2009, the marketers improperly claimed that the product would prevent upper respiratory tract infections in children, protect against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system, and reduce absences from daycare or school due to illness.

In one video ad (shown to the right), the straw jumped out of the drink box, formed a protective barrier around a girl as she encountered a sneezing boy, and then formed steps allowing her to reach a basketball hoop and shoot a ball into the net. Web sites marketing the product say that it is intended for children ages 2 to 13, is "nutritionally complete," and is suitable for use as a meal replacement.

Green tea claims triggers two FDA warning letters. (#10-36, September 9th, 2010)
The FDA has issued two warning letters related to claims made for green tea products. One ordered Unilever Americas to stop claiming that its Lipton Green Tea 100% Naturally Caffeinated product has a significant cholesterol-lowering effect and is "a naturally rich source of antioxidants." http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm224509.htm The other ordered Cadbury Adams USA to stop claiming that its Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale was "enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C." http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm224571.htm.

Pediatric group discourages use of "sports drinks" and "energy drinks". (#11-20 July 7, 2011)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issues a clinical report intended to discourage consumption of "sports drinks" and "energy drinks" by children and adolescents. Sports drinks, which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring, are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost during exercise.
Energy drinks include caffeine or other stimulant substances. The AAP believes:
**Stimulant substances have no place in the diet of children.
**Frequent drinking of soft drinks may be linked to obesity.
**Sports drinks can be helpful to young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field or in the school lunchroom.
**For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best.
[Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Clinical report-Sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents: Are they appropriate? Pediatrics 127:1182-1189, 2011] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/05/25/peds.2011-0965.full.pdf+html.

Another raw milk disease outbreak noted. (#12-05 February 2, 2012)
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has reported Campylobacter infections associated with consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk produced by The Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. http://www.yourfamilycow.com/ The Maryland DHMH recommends that consumers discard any raw milk product purchased from this farm in 2012. [DHMH confirms presence of Campylobacter in raw milk from Pennsylvania farm. News release, Feb 1, 2012] http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/publicrelations/pr/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=188 So far, 38 cases have been reported in Pennsylvania and three other states. [More Campylobacter cases expected in Family Cow milk outbreak PA MD WV NJ. Food Poisoning Law Blog, Feb 4, 2012] http://foodpoisoning.pritzkerlaw.com/archives/campylobacter-more-campylobacter-cases-expected-in-family-cow-milk-outbreak-pa-md-wv-nj.html
Campylobacter bacteria can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and can progress to more serious illness, such as a bloodstream infection and other complications. The Family Cow dairy sells directly to consumers at its on-farm retail store and at multiple drop-off locations and retail stores in seven counties in Pennsylvania. Raw milk and products made from raw milk (including certain cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt) can pose severe health risks. The implicated milk was labeled "raw milk" and sold under "The Family Cow" label in plastic containers. Pasteurization is performed by briefly heating raw milk to kill any disease-causing germs (e.g., Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Campylobacter) that can be found in raw milk. In 1987, the FDA banned the interstate distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products in final package form for human consumption, but some states still permit it to be produced and sold within their borders. Although many farms that produce raw milk conduct safety tests, this cannot ensure that the milk is safe. [Barrett S. Why raw milk should be avoided. Quackwatch, Dec 22, 2003] http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/rawmilk.html.

EU posts database on nutrition and health claims. (#12-21 June 21, 2012)
The European Union has posted a register of more than 2,000 claims that have been proposed for foods and food substances. http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims  The claims designated "authorised" merely describe biochemical function. Claims designated as nonauthorized involve unproven assertions of effectiveness against health problems. The complete list can also be downloaded as a online table or a 719-page PDF. http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/resources/docs/euregister.pdf.

CAP issues "Do's and Don'ts" for weight loss ads. (#13-2 January 10, 2013)
The United Kingdom's Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes that are implemented by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). CAP's recent advice for diet claims includes:
**Don't claim people can lose a precise amount of weight in a set period of time or that weight can be lost from specific parts of the body. Claiming "Lose up to two pounds a day" could mean your name will be posted for up to five years on the ASA website. 
**Make sure you don't imply the weight loss is permanent or easy. 
**Don't make claims that foods can help you lose a specific amount of weight in a set amount of time. 
**It would be useful if the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued trade regulation rules banning deceptive claims and held advertising media jointly responsible for the financial damage done by misleading ads that violate the rules.

Consumer Reports blasts “gluten-free" hype (#15-02 January 11, 2015)
Consumer Reports magazine has concluded that many people who buy "gluten-free" products are wasting their money. [Will a gluten-free diet really make you healthier? Consumer Reports, Nov 2014] Its analysis states:
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, should be avoided by people with celiac disease and by others who have trouble digesting it. However, only about 7% of Americans have such difficulty.
The magazine's recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that 63% believed that avoiding gluten improves physical or mental health and one third thought that gluten-free foods promote weight loss. Neither of these beliefs is correct.
Gluten-free foods tend to cost more; some are higher in calories, fat, sugars, and/or sodium than the foods they were meant to replace; and those made with rice or rice flour may contain undesirable amounts of arsenic.

FDA reviewing use of "natural" in labeling (#15-45 November 15, 2015)
The FDA is asking for public comments about use of the term "natural" in food labeling. This action was triggered in part by three citizen petitions asking the agency to define the term for food labeling and one calling for a ban. In addition, some federal courts, as a result of litigation between private parties, have asked the FDA to determine whether food products containing high fructose corn syrup or genetically engineered components can be labeled as "natural." Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition, it has a longstanding policy under which the term "natural" means that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in or added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term "natural" should describe any nutritional or other health benefit. The agency will now consider whether it is appropriate to define the term "natural" and, if so, how it should be defined and used on food labels. Until February 10, 2016, comments can be made via docket folder FDA-2014-N-1207 on Regulations.gov.

Food labeling rules revised (#16-21 June 5, 2016)
The FDA has finalized a revised "Nutrition Facts" label for packaged foods to reflect updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public. The changes include: (a) larger type for serving sizes and calories per serving, (b) serving sizes must be in units that are easy to understand, (c) added sugars must be listed, (d) amounts of saturated and trans fat must be specified, but total fat calories will not. Large manufacturers must make the changes by July 26, 2018. Those with less than $10 million in annual food sales have an additional year to do so. The FDA expects the changes to make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices. [Changes to the Nutrition Facts label. FDA Web site, May 16, 2016]

"Gluten-free" fad debunked (#16-22 June 12, 2016)
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by small intestinal inflammation and triggered by gluten exposure in genetically sensitive individuals. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye. The Journal of Pediatrics has published an analysis of fads and fictions associated with the gluten-free diet (GFD). [Reilly NR. The gluten-free diet: Recognizing fact, fiction, and fad. The Journal of Pediatrics, May 10, 2016]. The author noted:
- The true incidence of celiac disease is well below 1%. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity also exists. Its prevalence is unknown but also low. Yet a 2015 survey of 30 000 adults in 60 countries worldwide found that 21% of those surveyed rated gluten-free as a "very important" attribute when making food purchasing decisions.
- Although avoiding gluten is vital for people with celiac disease, there is no evidence that this benefits otherwise-healthy and symptom-free adults and children.
- Market research has found that consumers without celiac disease purchase the vast bulk of gluten-free products.
- There is no evidence that processed gluten-free foods are generally healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts.
- Unnecessary gluten-free dieting can lead to obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome; deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron; increased exposure to arsenic (in rice) and mercury; and greater food costs.
- There is no evidence that delaying gluten introduction to infants prevents celiac disease.

FDA may revoke soy protein/heart disease health claim (#17-42 November 12, 2017)
The FDA is proposing to revoke the currently authorized claim that consuming soy protein reduces the risk of heart disease. FDA-authorized health claims are intended to reflect well-established relationships based on the most robust level of scientific evidence. To date, 12 such claims have been authorized. The soy-protein claim has been permitted on packaged foods since 1999. In 2000, the American Heart Association Nutrition Advisory Committee concluded that is was prudent to include soy protein in a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, subsequent AHA reviews concluded that although very large amounts of soy protein (more than half the daily protein intake) may lower LDL cholesterol, (a) the experimental data were from individuals with very high cholesterol levels, (b) the reduction is small, (c) there was no improvement in other blood lipid levels or blood pressure, and (d) any direct benefit on cardiovascular health is minimal at best. [Jones DW. Letter to FDA Division of Dockets Management, Feb 19, 2008] A statement released with FDA's recent announcement appears to agree with the AHA position. [Statement from Susan Mayne, Ph.D., on proposal to revoke health claim that soy protein reduces risk of heart disease. FDA news release, Oct 30, 2017] This is the first time the FDA has proposed to revoke an authorized claim.

index of "In good health"

Good health to everyone (except for the charlatans that make money on other people's health).

page created: August 24th 2011 and last updated: November 25th 2017