Category Archives: The Biosphere Weekly

Eating Whole Grains Is Great For Your Health

I’ve long been a fan of whole grains.  Eating whole grains helps you stay fuller longer making you significantly less likely to constantly eat.  Your body takes longer to digest the whole grains.  Look for the whole grain seal on bread, cereal, oats, etc. and make sure you are eating your whole grains!

Whole Grains Each Day Linked to Longer Life

Eating a diet rich in whole grains may reduce your risk of dying early, a new meta-analysis finds.

No Copyright Infringement Intended

People who reported eating at least three servings of whole grains daily were 20 percent less likely to die early from any cause compared with people who reported eating less than one serving a day, the researchers found. The analysis included 14 previous studies; all of the studies were at least six years long, and many were more than 10 years long.

The researchers also looked at specific causes of death. They found that eating three servings of whole grains a day was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, and a 14 percent lower risk of death from cancer, compared with eating one serving or less of whole grains daily. 

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating three or more servings of whole grains each day.  However, Americans eat, on average, less than one serving a day, according to the study, published today (June 13) in the journal Circulation.

No Copyright Infringement Intended

Indeed, “these findings lend further support to the U.S. government’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which suggest high consumption of whole grains to facilitate disease prevention,” Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and the senior author on the study, said in a statement.

The studies in the meta-analysis included a total of more than 786,000 people. There were nearly 98,000 deaths in all of the studies, including more than 23,000 from heart disease and more than 37,000 from cancer.

“Multiple individual studies consistently revealed a reduced risk of death among people who consumed more whole grains,” Sun told Live Science.

Moreover, each serving, or 0.5 ounces (16 grams), of whole grains a day was associated with a 7 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from any cause, a 9 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from heart disease and a 5 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from cancer, the meta-analysis found.

The researchers noted that the types of whole grains people ate varied from study to study. However, in the U.S., more than 70 percent of whole grains that people eat come from breads and cereal grains, which include oatmeal, rice and barley, according to the study. 

This is not the first study to suggest whole grains have health benefits, nor is it the first meta-analysis to do so.

Two previous meta-analyses, for example, found that whole grains were associated with lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and lower amounts of body fat, the researchers wrote.

A number of compounds found in whole grains could contribute to the foods’ effects on health, the researchers wrote. Fiber, for example, may lower cholesterol and help people feel fuller so they eat fewer calories. Magnesium may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure. And other minerals and antioxidants may help fight oxidative stress, they said.

Based on the new findings, “health care providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population, as well as patients with certain diseases, to help achieve better health and perhaps reduce death,” Sun said.

In addition, whole grains should replace refined carbohydrates in a person’s diet, because these carbohydrates have been shown to have negative health effects, the researchers wrote.

(via Live Science via Yahoo! News)

Major Brand Must Pay $72 Million for Cancer Death Linked to Talcum Powder

This sad case is an example of a chronic exposure (exposed to something over a long span of time) and how it can be detrimental to health.  Many ingredients are not harmful in small doses (acute exposure) but if they accumulate in the body they can cause harm.  The claims against Johnson & Johnson are worrisome and bring to the forefront (again) deceptive practices companies use to benefit their sales–something that has been seen in other consumer product industries. 

Copyright Reuters

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay $72 million of damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.

In a verdict announced late Monday night, jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages, according to the family’s lawyers and court records.

The verdict is the first by a U.S. jury to award damages over the claims, the lawyers said.

Johnson & Johnson faces claims that it, in an effort to boost sales, failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer. About 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey.

Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, claimed she used Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years before being diagnosed three years ago with ovarian cancer. She died in October at age 62.

Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy, the family’s lawyers said. Deliberations lasted four hours, following a three-week trial.

Jere Beasley, a lawyer for Fox’s family, said Johnson & Johnson “knew as far back as the 1980s of the risk,” and yet resorted to “lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies.” He spoke on a conference call with journalists.

Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, said: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.

Trials in several other talc lawsuits have been set for later this year, according to Danielle Mason, who also represented Fox’s family at trial.

In October 2013, a federal jury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota found that plaintiff Deane Berg’s use of Johnson & Johnson’s body powder products was a factor in her developing ovarian cancer. Nevertheless, it awarded no damages, court records show.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc now owns the Shower to Shower brand but was not a defendant in the Fox case.

The case is Hogans et al v. Johnson & Johnson et al, Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, No. 1422-CC09012.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Additional reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alan Crosby)

via Reuters http://news.yahoo.com/j-j-must-pay-72-million-cancer-death-154301727–finance.html;_ylt=AwrC0CZlGdZWpgkAzmzQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByaWg0YW05BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM4BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–

 

 

E-Commerce: Convenience Built on a Mountain of Cardboard

Have you ever thought of the environmental impacts of your online shopping?  You may (or may not) be buying all natural and organic products online to decrease the use of toxic chemicals and your environmental impact, but you still have an impact!  The old cliché fits here: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

By MATT RICHTEL–Februay 16, 2016

Ruchit Garg, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, says that he worries that something isn’t right with his Internet shopping habit. With each new delivery to his doorstep — sometimes several in a day — he faces the source of his guilt and frustration: another cardboard box.

Then, when he opens the shipment, he is often confronted with a Russian nesting doll’s worth of boxes inside boxes to protect his electronics, deodorant, clothing or groceries. Mr. Garg dutifully recycles, but he shared his concerns recently on Twitter.

A handful of scientists and policy makers are circling the same question, grappling with the long-term environmental effect of an economy that runs increasingly on gotta-have-it-now gratification. This cycle leads consumers to expect that even their modest wants can be satisfied like urgent needs, and not always feel so great about it.

The new arms race for Internet retailers is speed, making the old Federal Express commercial, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” seem as quaint as delivery by horse and buggy. Amazon boasted in a news release in December about its “fastest order delivered to date” — a Miami customer’s craving for a four-pack of Starbucks vanilla frappuccino was sated in 10 minutes flat.

In 10 major regions, Google Express delivers in a little less than two hours from dozens of stores — including toys, drugs, hardware and pet supplies. Postmates, a San Francisco start-up, promises deliveries in less than an hour. It dropped off nearly one million packages in December.

Over all, the $350 billion e-commerce industry has doubled in the last five years, with Amazon setting the pace. Its Prime membership service has grown to more than 50 million subscribers, by one estimate. (And its new faster service, Prime Now, can “get customers pretty much anything in minutes,” its website says).

Uber calls its new UberRush service “your on-demand delivery fleet”; Jet Delivery offers “white glove” service in less than two hours; Instacart can deliver groceries to your door in less than an hour.

The environmental cost can include the additional cardboard — 35.4 million tons of containerboard were produced in 2014 in the United States, with e-commerce companies among the fastest-growing users — and the emissions from increasingly personalized freight services.

“There’s a whole fleet of trucks circulating through neighborhoods nonstop,” said Dan Sperling, the founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and the transportation expert on the California Air Resources Board. He also is overseeing a new statewide task force of trucking companies and government officials trying to reduce overall emissions from freight deliveries, including for e-commerce.

Dr. Sperling said that consumers shared as much responsibility for the environmental cost of the deliveries as the companies that provided the speedy services.

“From a sustainability perspective, we’re heading in the wrong direction,” he said.

But measuring the effect of the cardboard economy is more difficult.

E-commerce was responsible for much of the 35.4 million tons of containerboard produced in 2014 in the United States. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

There are possible trade-offs, for example. As people shop more online, they might use their cars less. And delivery services have immense incentive to find the most efficient routes, keeping their fuel costs and emissions down. For its part, Amazon said that delivering to consumers straight from huge warehouses cuts down the need to distribute to thousands of stores.

So far, though, shoppers appear to be ordering online while still driving to brick-and-mortar stores at least as much as in the past, according to Dr. Sperling and other academics. One recent study explored the environmental effect of Internet shopping in Newark, Del., and found that a rise in e-commerce in recent years by local residents corresponded to more trucks on the road and an increase in greenhouse emissions.

Ardeshi Faghri, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Delaware, said the increase of various emissions — which he estimated at 20 percent from 2001 to 2011 — “could be due to a multitude of reasons, but we think that online shopping and more delivery trucks are really one of the primary reasons.”

“Online shopping has not helped the environment,” he said. “It has made it worse.”

Other scholars say that, at least for now, online shopping appears to be complementing brick-and-mortar shopping, not replacing it.

“People who shop online also like to see and feel things,” said Cara Wang, an associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who studies transportation issues and has written a paper about habits of online shoppers. “And they have to return things.”

Dr. Wang and other researchers say the demand for instant delivery, in particular, creates challenges for trucking companies trying to be efficient. Instead of taking big truckloads to single retailers they now make more scattershot deliveries.

Many drivers deliver just one item. This is often the case for Postmates, which has a fleet of 15,000 freelance drivers signed up to make deliveries of whatever the customer orders — an Uber-like service, but for deliveries. The cost typically starts at $5, and a 9 percent service fee applied to the cost of the item. (The company says it also has about 5,000 deliverers who go on bike or foot in dense urban areas).


Ruchit Garg and his 3-year-old son with produce ordered online through Google. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

And the push for speed from marketers gives shoppers little incentive to wait.

“Why select one week if I can get it in one hour?” asked Miguel Jaller, an assistant professor at U.C. Davis who studies urban freight patterns.

Such is the case for Monica Rohleder, who admits to using Amazon Prime so much that “my husband jokes we keep Amazon in business.”

Ms. Rohleder, who lives in Los Angeles and works at a public relations firm, said she liked overnight delivery, but “within a couple of hours is best” because she is busy with work and her two young children. So she often does not order something until it’s urgent. “There’s the immediate gratification of getting something and checking it off your list,” she said.

One afternoon she received six boxes, from Amazon and Nordstrom, for a Hawaii trip, including bathing suits, workout clothes and coloring books. Some of the clothes did not fit, so she returned them.

She thinks more about the cardboard that comes into her house than the truck emissions, she said. “It’s embarrassing,” she added of her mass of weekly recycling.

Dennis Colley, the president of the Fibre Box Association — the trade group for the corrugated paper, or cardboard, industry — estimated that the use of boxes for e-commerce was growing faster than most other market segments. However, he emphasized the industry’s efforts to be environmentally conscious, and that 90 percent of corrugated packaging were recycled.

Amazon is aware of the cardboard issue. Since 2009, it has received 33 million comments, ratings and photographs about its packaging as part of its “packaging feedback program.” Amazon said it used that feedback to make sure that cardboard box size was consistent with the size of the product. It also works with manufacturers to send some products without additional cardboard packaging, said Craig Berman, a company spokesman.

Though recycling can make consumers think they are helping the environment, the process has its own costs, including the emissions from shipping it to recycling centers, which use a lot of energy and water. Don Fullerton, a professor of finance and an expert in economics and the environment at the University of Illinois, said one possible solution would be to make the retailers responsible for taking back the boxes. That would create incentives for them to come up with solutions for less packaging.

“And maybe not put a box inside a box inside a box,” he said

Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, San Francisco’s main recycling processor, which collects 100 tons of cardboard every day, has a simpler solution: “Slow down consumption,” he said. “Slow down.”

(via New York Times)

The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood

Color me shocked! …Not! Is it that surprising that the “parmesan cheese” you buy from Kraft/Walmart/etc. that does not need to be refrigerated is not authentic parmesan? Nope. At least it is just cellulose, which is relatively harmless! This article reminds me of the claims about faje olive oil about 2 years ago.  This shines a bright light on the disparity between providing quality and creating/increasing revenue. Labels are often misleading, which is why many consumers are so confused when it comes to making food and beauty choices.  On another note, sit and ask yourself about how a product is made, thinking of the human, environmental, and economic input and outputs.

By Lydia Mulvany–February 16, 2016

No Copyright Infringement Intended

Acting on a tip, agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paid a surprise visit to a cheese factory in rural Pennsylvania on a cold November day in 2012.

They found what they were looking for: evidence that Castle Cheese Inc. was doctoring its 100 percent real parmesan with cut-rate substitutes and such fillers as wood pulp and distributing it to some of the country’s biggest grocery chains.

via Yahoo Finance.

The cheese police are on the case.  One might be tempted to think of this as a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of “NYPD Bleu,” except that the FDA wasn’t playing. Some grated Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products by filling them with too much cellulose, a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp, or using cheaper cheddar, instead of real Romano. Someone had to pay. Castle President Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. She faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

German brewers protect their reputations with Reinheitsgebot, a series of purity laws first drawn up 500 years ago, and Champagne makers prohibit most vineyards outside their turf from using the name. Now the full force of the U.S. government has been brought to bear defending the authenticity of grated hard Italian cheeses. Which is good news for Neil Schuman.

For years, Schuman has been a one-man Reinheitsgebot, insisting that the fragrant granules Americans sprinkle on their pizza and penne ought to be the real thing; if not, the label should say so.

The stakes are 100 percent real for him. Schuman’s Fairfield, New Jersey-based company, Arthur Schuman Inc., is the biggest seller of hard Italian cheeses in the U.S., with 33 percent of the domestic market. He estimates that 20 percent of U.S. production — worth $375 million in sales — is mislabeled.

“The tipping point was grated cheese, where less than 40 percent of the product was actually a cheese product,” Schuman said. “Consumers are innocent, and they’re not getting what they bargained for. And that’s just wrong.”

How serious is the problem? Bloomberg News had store-bought grated cheese tested for wood-pulp content by an independent laboratory.

Cellulose is a safe additive, and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin. Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.

“We remain committed to the quality of our products,” Michael Mullen, a Kraft Heinz Co. spokesman, said in an e-mail. John Forrest Ales, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said he questioned the reliability of testing a single sample and that Wal-Mart’s “compliance team is looking into these findings.”

Jewel-Osco is also investigating, spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco said in an e-mail. “We pride ourselves on the quality of products we deliver for our customers,” Trucco said.

“We strongly believe that there is no cellulose present,” Blaire Kniffin, a Whole Foods Market Inc. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail, adding that it could have been a false positive. “But we are investigating this matter.”

According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.

Castle has never been an authorized Target vendor, according to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. “We are investigating the information provided in the report,” she said in an e-mail. Jeff Pedersen, an executive vice president of Associated Wholesale Grocers, had no comment.

DairiConcepts, a Springfield, Missouri-based cheese maker that’s a subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, said on its website that in a test of 28 brands, only one-third of label claims about protein levels in grated parmesan were accurate. The company blamed fillers such as cellulose.

Until recently, there was little incentive to follow labeling rules. Criminal cases are rare. That’s because the FDA, which enforces the country’s food laws, prioritizes health hazards, said John Spink, director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University. But civil lawsuits abound. A Jan. 29 complaint accuses McDonald’s Corp. of selling pure mozzarella sticks that contain starch, considered a filler, a claim the company denies.

Cheese makers commit adulteration because it saves money.

Marty Wilson, chief executive officer of New York-based Sugar Foods, which buys cheese from Schuman and supplies major pizza chains with to-go packets of parmesan, said whenever his contracts come up for renewal, competitors peddling ersatz cheeses surface. And he has lost business to them. “We’re constantly battling cheap imitators across all of our product lines,” Wilson said.

Bob Greco of Cheese Merchants of America said competitors hawking bastardized products have underbid him by as much as 30 percent. “The bad guys win and the rule-followers lose,” Greco said.

The FDA regulates what can legally be called Parmesan or Romano according to standards established in the 1950s to ensure that manufacturers wouldn’t sell cheeses wildly different in composition.

Americans love their hard Italian cheeses. Last year, U.S. Parmesan output rose 11 percent from 2014 to around 336 million pounds, while Romano production grew 20 percent, to 54 million pounds, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Italian producers, however, aren’t loving it as much. The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, a trade group based in Rome, asked the European Union in December to protect its manufacturers against U.S. companies that were using the names of their cheeses and Italian flags on their packaging. “A deceit” is how the organization’s president, Giuseppe Alai, characterized Americans’ use of Italian names and symbols.

Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan. That two-pound difference means millions of dollars to manufacturers, according to Sommer.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania-based Castle produced mainly imitation cheeses for nearly 30 years. The company, whose factory was adorned with crenelated battlements and curved archways to look like a medieval castle, had $19 million in sales in 2013.

The trouble started in 2010 when it began making what it called 100 percent grated Parmesan. A plant manager designed flawed recipes, and after Castle fired him in 2012, he alerted the FDA, the company said in a December 2012 letter to the agency, obtained through the FOIA.

The FDA accused Castle Cheese of marketing as real grated Parmesan what was in fact a mixture of imitation cheese and trimmings of Swiss, white cheddar, Havarti and mozzarella. After the probe, Castle stopped production of the problematic cheeses and dumped inventories. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

A lawyer for Michelle Myrter and Castle Cheese didn’t respond to requests for comment. In the 2012 letter to the FDA, Castle said there was inadequate documentation, and the FDA could note only the potential that the products weren’t 100 percent pure.

Lauren E. Sucher, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency couldn’t comment on pending legal cases. “The FDA takes economic fraud very seriously,” she said in an e-mail.

The FDA’s investigation may be the spark that changes things, said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

“The industry wants to be known for a wholesome, safe, honest product — it’s what’s kept the industry growing for 100 years,” he said. “The wholesomeness of dairy products is a treasured part of our story.”

—With assistance from Craig Giammona and Leslie Patton.

(via Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance)

EOS lip balm caused blisters, rash, lawsuit claims

I’m not at all surprised by this article. If you’ve been following Nature’s Pulchritude, you’ve heard about my own negative experience after using an “all natural” lip balm. Just because a product is all natural does not mean it is not a skin irritant or toxic!

(By Meghan Holohan–January 14, 2016)When it’s cold out, we grab the lip balm and apply. And apply. And after the umpteenth application, we may wonder why our lips feel even more dry than before we started.
That recently happened to a woman using EOS lip balm — only when she reapplied, she claims her mouth broke out in blisters and rashes.

EOS, otherwise known as the Evolution of Smooth, is “anything but smooth,” according to a lawsuit filed on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles.

Copyright Fox News

The class action suit claims the “Summer Fruit” version of the lip balm company—which pays celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears to promote its cheerful, egg-shaped varieties—caused blisters and a rash to erupt all over the mouth of a woman named Rachel Cronin.

Copyright Evolution of Smooth

According to the document, after first applying the balm, “within hours, her lips became substantially dry and coarse, what Ms. Cronin describes as feeling like “sandpaper,” causing her to apply more of the balm on her lip to achieve the results of becoming “sensationally smooth.”

Image via Facebook

Cronin’s lips began cracking on the edges and, by the next day, the surrounding skin had “severe blistering and rashes causing her to seek medical care on Dec. 7, 2015.” The condition lasted for approximately 10 days, according to the lawsuit.

The suit asks for damages, claiming the company deceived consumers and misrepresented the product as natural and organic.

On Wednesday, the website TMZ posted pictures of a young woman’s face, allegedly show irritation caused by the balm.

The company claims its lip balm products are 99 percent natural, organic, and gluten free. On Wednesday afternoon EOS Products tweeted its reaction to the suit.

However, even products that are natural, organic, and gluten free can still cause irritate or cause allergic reactions, dermatologists say.

“Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is safe. Anthrax is natural but not safe,” said Dr. Adam Friedman, associate professor of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Organic refers to food—not skin care products—and no agency regulates whether beauty products are organic, he said.

So what possibly caused a bumpy, painful-looking rash?

Allergic contact dermatitis, which resembles eczeme, occurs when people touch something—natural or artificial—they are allergic to.

“Contact reactions are not that uncommon and can even happen with natural products,” said Dr. Apple Bodemer, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Don’t lick your lips!

Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology in New York City, says there’s also a rash known as lip lickers dermatitis.

“Anything that has a flavor is potentially irritating and anything with a flavor in it will make you lick your lips,” she said.

When people lick their lips, their saliva spreads over the lips and mouths.

“[Saliva] is basically digesting away your lips,” she said. This makes it easier for people to contract a bacterial or viral infection.

Hooked on lip balm?

Yet, the lip products themselves often create a vicious cycle of skin problems and dependence.

“It’s not uncommon that lip balms and ChapSticks and lip plumpers can cause severe irritation on the lips and the skin around the lips. Some of the ingredients can actually dry out the lips —menthol, camphor, and phenol— that gives the tingling sensation.

That is actually a signal to the brain you are having a reaction,” Bowe said.

This reaction is actually one of the reasons why people become hooked on lip balm. After the tingling and irritation, lips feel dry and cracked again, causing people to reach right for the lip balm.

The cure for irritation, unsightly rashes, and lip balm addiction?

Petroleum jelly.

“No one has ever been shown to have a reaction to petroleum jelly,” said Bodemer.

According to Dr. Aleksandar Krunic, a dermatologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital and dermatology professor at University of Illinois College of Medicine, these are the simple, safest ingredients to look for in a lip balm:

    Paraben-free moisturizers like beeswax (cera alba)
    ceramides (fats that help retain water)
    Up to 5 percent of humectants — which help prevent cracked skin and reduce skin irritation — like urea or glycerin
    Dimethicone, which helps prevent drying and makes the product last longer
    Lanolin and cocoa butter
    Sunscreen

[Nature’s Pulchritude Note: The accuracy of this statement is questionable. Beeswax does not moisturize!]

(via CNBC

Yogurt Companies Duel Over Artificial Ingredient Claims

Preservatives and artificial sweeteners are once again at the forefront of a debate over product quality and ingredients. By the way, the fact that companies are calling each other out about artificial ingredients as a marketing tool means that you the CONSUMER are helping to shift the market! The most interesting aspect of this case is over potassium sorbate, which has been featured in our preservative series. Potassium sorbate is considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in low concentrations. It is important to realize that natural ingredients can be just as harmful and artificial ingredients! Chobani had several instances of yogurt expiring (being liquidy) well prior to the expiration, so perhaps they should look at the efficacy of their own preservatives. That said, I do not and would not purchase the brands in question and was a frequent Chobani purchaser until I realized they may be used cow’s milk that have been feed GMO diets (they now claim their products are non-GMO yet they are not non-GMO project certified).

Chobani Ads Shift a Battle Out of the Yogurt Aisle and Into the Courts


A still from a Chobani ad. The company’s new campaign calls out rival yogurt companies for using artificial ingredients. CreditChobani 

(1/10/2016, By Stephanie Stromjam–A legal fight is brewing over Chobani’s new advertising campaign for its Simply 100 line of Greek yogurt.

The campaign, on television and social media and in newspapers, lists what Chobani says are the differences in ingredients in Simply 100 and low-calorie yogurts made by two competitors, Dannon and Yoplait.

The ads say that unlike Simply 100, Dannon Light & Fit Greek uses the artificial sweetener sucralose and Yoplait Greek 100 contains potassium sorbate as a preservative.

In one of Chobani’s television ads, which began airing on Jan. 6, a woman lounging next to a pool tosses a cup of Dannon Light & Fit into a used-towel receptacle with a disgusted look on her face.

Michael Neuwirth, a spokesman for Dannon, said in an email that Chobani’s ads were misleading and deceptive. “Like many reduced-calorie foods, Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt contains sucralose, an F.D.A.-approved ingredient that has been safely and widely used as a sweetener in foods for more than 15 years,” Mr. Neuwirth said.

Potassium sorbate is a common preservative. But Chobani’s ad campaign contends that it “is used to kill bugs.” Another Chobani commercial shows a young woman in a classic convertible reading the label on a tub of Yoplait Greek 100 and then tossing it out of the car.

Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for General Mills, which owns Yoplait, says that potassium sorbate is a salt used in small amounts in yogurt to prevent the growth of mold and yeast. “The statements made by Chobani in their latest attempt to sell more yogurt are entirely misleading, and we don’t think consumers appreciate that kind of approach,” Mr. Siemienas said in an email.

Consumers have become much more aware of the ingredients in their food over the last few years, sending food and restaurant companies scrambling to reformulate products. PepsiCo removed brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade after a teenager in Mississippi complained and pointed out that the ingredient — added to some citrus drinks to keep the fruit flavoring evenly distributed — was banned from use in foods in many other countries. Coca-Cola later followed suit. And the Campbell Soup Company is retooling its soups to get rid of ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.

“This campaign is fundamentally about choice — the choice between natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients,” Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer at Chobani, said in a statement. “We’re empowering consumers with facts and information to help them make more informed decisions when they’re buying food for themselves and their families.”

A day after the ads began running, Dannon sent a cease-and-desist letter to Chobani, demanding that it immediately stop the campaign. “These Simply 100 advertisements are false, misleading and deceptive, will deceive consumers, and have caused and will continue to cause immediate and irreparable injury to Dannon, as well as to consumers,” Marcella Ballard, a lawyer at Venable who represents the French company, wrote to Chobani’s general counsel.

Ms. Ballard said the ads violated the Lanham Act, a federal law that, among other things, protects companies from unfair competition and is often cited in cases contending false and misleading advertising. She also said the campaign violated New York State law.

On Friday, Chobani went to court seeking a decision that would allow it to continue the advertising campaign. The company argued that the information in the campaign on sucralose and potassium sorbate came directly from federal government websites.

Chobani asserts that the statements made in its ads “are true and accurate.”

(via The New York Times)

Lean Meat OK But Cut Sugar, New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advise

It is about time there is a poli y addressing the e,tremely high levels of sugar consumed in this country. Have you e ery wo dered why there is no “percent daily value” of sugaron your favorite food label? The sugar lobby (also known as “Big Sugar”) doesn’t want you to know! 3000% daily value of sugar would make you think twice, no?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Americans may not have to cut back on eggs and salt as much as they once thought. And eating lean meat is still OK. But watch the added sugars — especially the sugary drinks.

The Obama administration’s new dietary guidelines, released Thursday, back off the strictest sodium rules included in the last version, while still asserting that Americans consume too much salt. The guidelines reverse previous guidance on the dangers of dietary cholesterol and add strict new advice on sugars.

via Associated Press/Yahoo!

After a backlash from the meat industry and Congress, the administration ignored several suggestions from a February report by an advisory committee of doctors and nutrition experts. That panel suggested calling for an environmentally friendly diet lower in red and processed meats and de-emphasized lean meats in its list of proteins that are part of a healthy diet.

But as in the previous years, the government still says lean meats are part of a healthy eating pattern.

Released every five years, the guidelines are intended to help Americans prevent disease and obesity. They inform everything from food package labels to subsidized school lunches to your doctor’s advice. And the main message hasn’t changed much over the years: Eat your fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and seafood, too. And keep sugar, fats and salt in moderation.

This year, one message the government wants to send is that people should figure out what type of healthy eating style works for them, while still hewing to the main recommendations. The Agriculture Department, which released the guidelines along with the Department of Health and Human Services, is also releasing a tweaked version of its healthy “My Plate” icon to include a new slogan: “My Wins.”

“Small changes can add up to big differences,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

One new recommendation is that added sugar should be 10 percent of daily calories. That’s about 200 calories a day, or about the amount in one 16-ounce sugary drink. The recommendation is part of a larger push to help consumers isolate added sugars from naturally occurring ones like those in fruit and milk. Added sugars generally add empty calories to the diet.

Sugar-sweetened beverages make up a large portion of those empty calories. According to the guidelines, sugary drinks comprise 47 percent of the added sugars that Americans eat every day.

Americans also need to lower salt intake, the government says. New figures from the Centers for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention show that around 90 percent of people eat too much. The average person eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, and the guidelines say everyone should lower that amount to 2,300, or about a teaspoon.

Lowering sodium intake was the major push of the 2010 guidelines, and that document recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500. The new guidelines drop that lower amount as part of the top recommendations. Still, advice buried deeper in the guidelines says that those with hypertension and prehypertension could still benefit from a steeper reduction.

(via Associated Press/Yahoo!)

Microbeads have been banned in the United States

This is great to see.  The microbead ban started at the state level and made its way to a Federal law in the United States.  The ban will official come into effect in 2017.  Hopefully, over the next several years a solution will be found to get rid of the microbeads already in aquatic systems and impacting wildlife.

Microbead ban signed by President Obama

(By Jareen Imam-12/30/2015) Say goodbye to your exfoliating shower gel.

Those tiny plastic microbeads you have been rubbing on your face are now outlawed in the United States.

President Obama signed a bipartisan bill that prohibits selling and distributing products containing microbeads. The bill is intended to protect the nation’s waterways.

No Copyright Infringement Intended

A microbead is any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters and is used for the purpose of exfoliating or cleansing, according to the bill.

These tiny plastic beads have become ubiquitous in hundreds of products ranging from body scrubs to toothpastes. They provide an exfoliating sensation for users and are designed to wash down drains.

But because they are made of plastic, microbeads do not dissolve and may pose a threat to the environment.

No Copyright Infringement Intended

In September, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology reported that more than 8 trillion microbeads were entering the country’s aquatic habitats daily. The volume was enough to coat the surface of 300 tennis courts every day.

Microbeads have contributed to a greater increase in microplastic polluting the planet’s oceans and lakes, researchers say.

Not only are they hard to clean up because they are about the size of a pinhead, researchers say they are also posing a threat to aquatic life.

Some marine life mistake small plastic as food particles. Scientists are researching whether microplastics affect the health of marine life once ingested and if chemicals transfer to humans who eat those species later, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(via CNN Health)

 

Major Retailers are Leading the Push Make Over Make Up

As you loyal readers already know (Thank you for reading :)), the mission of Nature’s Pulchritude is to educate consumers on the ingredients in their beauty, cosmetic, and personal care products so that they can make informed decisions and in turn shift the market towards effective and safe products for everyone.  This article is just a glimpse of a wave of evidence that shows that more and more customers care about what is in their products and that retailers are investing in making sure they sell what customers want.  YOU as a CONSUMER hold the POWER!  Do NOT forget that!  If you want to learn how to pick the appropriate beauty products without the unwanted chemicals, visit Label Poise!

(Heather Clancy, 12/10/2015)–More consumers than ever are inquiring about the makeup of cosmetics and other personal care products. The best anecdotal evidence? The pressure giant retailers Target and Walmart have put on their suppliers — especially over the past year — not just to disclose their use of “ingredients of concern” but to phase them out entirely.

For the most part, the retailers’ past efforts have been very company-specific. Both companies have published lists of chemicals they’d like to see go, such as triclosan, diethyl phthalate and preservative compounds that release formaldehyde.

Now, however, Walmart and Target are taking this cause industry-wide in collaboration with non-profit Forum for the Future.  All three are encouraging other retailers, consumer products companies and other interested parties to participate in the forum’s Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Project.

The goal: clarify priorities for products such as makeup, hair products and other personal care goods and share best practices that accelerate the availability of greener chemical alternatives.

“You wouldn’t have the retailers pushing as hard if the consumer pressure wasn’t there,” said Helen Clarkson, director of Forum for the Future U.S. “Retailers are seeing more rapid growth in product categories with natural or safe on the label. … We want more products like this, and we want to be more sure about what the labels mean, because more manufacturers are making these claims.”

Many details, including specific membership requirements, have yet to be finalized.  What’s clear, however, is that the new leadership group will focus on coordinating the work of existing initiatives, such as the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council. One of the first things it plans to tackle is the development of sustainable preservatives. “We want them to be ambitious,” Clarkson said.

Walmart began asking for disclosures about chemicals from its suppliers way back in 2006. Its initiative, the Sustainable Chemistry Policy, prioritizes action around 10 chemicals of concern.

Target updated its own chemicals list earlier this year as part of broader update to its Product Sustainability Index.  Its “Made to Matter” brand, which features natural, organic and sustainable brands selected by Target, should generate $1 billion in sales this year, according to the company. In fact, human wellness is officially part of its corporate social responsibility platform.

“It is a critical time for collaboration; we need the supply chain to come together to truly move the need and make the greatest impact,” Target spokeswoman Angie Thompson told GreenBiz.

Early recommendations

Forum for the Future has collaborated closely with Walmart and Target over the past year to document what’s working and what’s not. In preparation for the leadership group’s first meeting this month, in October it published a think piece” identifying potential barriers as well as frameworks that could inform a systemic approach.

Aside from the retailers, other companies involved in the research were BASF, CVS, Dow Chemical Company, Eastman Chemical, the Environmental Defense Fund, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Method, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

Among the report’s recommendations are a push for more cross-initiative communications among the groups already working on solutions. The authors note: “To ensure a systems approach and lay the groundwork for greater alignment, we recommend creating a short-term, overarching organizational structure that provides an umbrella for the various sustainability initiatives in the beauty and persona care industry and combines their influence. This body should support holistic thinking over the coming months, until alignment and collaboration among the various existing initiatives has build up enough momentum to continue independently.”

Forum for the Future also advocates a collaborative research and development initiative centered on sustainable preservatives.  Among the issues that the industry needs to address are the sharing of intellectual property and safety information, as well as the framework for forward-thinking procurement policies that help bring these new products to market.

The latter is already a focus for GC3, according to the Forum’s analysis. Other groups, such as the Sustainability Consortium, have made progress in prioritizing ingredients.

“We see more and more retailers developing sustainable product indices, as well as evolving their policies beyond just chemicals, to now include ingredients, animal testing, safety and packaging,” Sarah Lewis, a TSC managing director, told GreenBiz. “We are also seeing convergence around key certifications and standards in this space.”

There’s also a policy-related twist that could inform the sustainable chemicals movement, in the form of proposed reforms to the nearly 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act. Two bills are circulating in Congress, both of which would require more testing and more disclosure.

“Americans are exposed to a toxic soup of more than 80,000 different chemicals, but we have no idea what the impact of those chemicals is on our bodies — or those of our children,” said New Mexico senator Tom Udall when in March he proposed the Senate’s version of the bill (named for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg).

Right now, however, it doesn’t look like the legislation will be addressed this year.

(via GreenBiz)