Be mindful of the impacts you directly and indirectly have on the environment and other people. The food you eat, the clothing you buy, the cars, etc. all have an impact on people and the planet. Make informed choices to minimize that impact! 🙂
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
“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
[Nature’s Pulchritude Note: The accuracy of this statement is questionable. Beeswax does not moisturize!]
This product was purchased by Nature’s Pulchritude. All opinions are that of Nature’s Pulchritude and have not be influenced in any way, shape, or form.
My lip balm search has yielded yet another great lip balm! Read about my lip balm ‘incident’ and my first great lip balm find. This product moisturizes and keeps my lips soft and supple as I reapply throughout the day!
Certified organic, great supple scent, and it keeps my lips moisturized. Fabulous product! I have not experienced any allergic reactions.
The ginger in this product is so subtle it is almost non existent. The mango is the dominant scent. The overall scent is light and does not linger longer than 2-3 minutes. The product is flavored organically, no synthetic fragrances!
This lip balm is smooth and buttery. The castor oil combined with beeswax is a great pair and it makes the lip balm feel substantial on the lips. It is heavy enough to know it is there, but it melts into your lips after several minutes.
This product has 8 ingredients, all of which are USDA certified organic. For more detailed information about the ingredients read its Label Poise. I’m not too sure what “flavor” means but it may be proprietary essential oils? That is my major gripe with this product.
The first Label Poise of 2016! Continue to expect Label Poise every other Thursday in 2016! Have a product you want insight on? Let me know in the comments!
I picked up this lip balm on my hunt for a quality, all natural, non irritating, moisturizing lip balm. My long time readers remember my unfortunate experience with a lip balm from a very well known brand. My ingredients to avoid are linalool and beeswax (as the first ingredient). My last lip balm selection turned out well. Will my streak continue This is Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough. For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.
Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*: Safe! This ingredient is used as an emollient, moisturizer, and skin conditioning agent. The type of Castor Oil in this product is unlike Castor Oil you will find in a drug store, as the castor seeds are roasted and the oil is typically extracted by hand. This ingredient is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic, though it is a suspected penetration enhancer.
Cera Alba (Beeswax)*: Safe! This ingredient is derived from worker honeybees within a bee hive. It is used as a thickener and skin barrier.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*: Safe! Coconut oil is used for is skin conditioning and moisturizing properties. It is high in vitamins E and K.
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*: Safe! Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has a high Vitamin E content. It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.
Flavor*: Safe!/Beware! Without knowing what flavors were used and assessment of toxicological information and benefits cannot be determined. The ingredient is certified organic, though that does not mean it may not have drawbacks.
Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil*: Safe! Raspberry Seed Oil contains high concentrations omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids of linolenic, alpha linolenic, and oleic, which act as antioxidants for the skin. This ingredient is also high in alpha and gamma tocopherols (vitamin E, antioxidants) and carotenoides (vitamin A); it is believe to have anti-inflammatory properties. (MSDS; MSDS)
Rosa Rubiginosa (Rosehips) Seed Oil*: Safe!/Beware! This oil is extracted from the seeds of the ‘sweet briar’ rose native to Europe and western Asia. Rose hip seed oil is an emollient that is high in vitamins A and C. There is limited toxicity information available on oil extracted from this species of Rose, though it is unlikely to be of concern.
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Extract*: Safe! The ingredient is used for its soothing and rejuvenating properties. It is believed to be a humectant and emollient.
Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: My strategy worked again! This product is certified organic and has 8 ingredients. The combination of Castor and Coconut Oils and beeswax work really well. Coconut and castor oil penetrate the skin well and contribute to healthy lips. The two ingredients of mild concern are aloe vera leaf extract and rose hip seed oil due to limited information. Interested in learning more about this product? Check back TOMORROW for the second ever Label Poise-Pulchritude Critique REVEAL!
2015 has been a great year! Nature’s Pulchritude wasn’t as active as I would have liked but that will improve in 2016. Nature’s Pulchritude has grown significantly in 2015 and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow in 2016! There were a lot of things I did not get a chance to show this year, mainly recipes and product reviews, but stay tuned for exciting content in 2016.
2)SheaMoisture & Bain Capital Partnership Controversy. This controversy was and still is a touchy subject for many SheaMoisture fans. I can see the positives and negatives of this partnership, but the old waiting game applies here and we will see how it turns out.
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.
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.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, it is officially winter. Despite mild temperatures thus far in much of the United States, winter typically brings cold sometimes frigid temperatures and dry air which more often than not disturbs the skin’s moisture balance. Those with skin conditions, such as eczema, often experience flare ups during the winter due to the increased dryness of their skin. To keep your skin soft and supple, and prevent skin ailments, everyone should “winterize” their skin regimen. The same way many women have 2 foundation shades–one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter–you should have at least 2 skin regimens that reflect the changes in the environment! Given such, your regimen will be based on your location. Those in warmer states/countries may not need as much of an adjustment, where as those in northern latitudes will have very clear differences in their regimens.
Say it with me: “Moisture is key.” In areas where the temperature is below 40 degrees for most of the winter, there is typically little available moisture in the air. As a result, the air will try to pull moisture for your skin or hair, resulting in dryness. The relative humidity (humidity and dew point) on a weather forecast is a great indicator of when moisture levels in the air are low. This is also why many ladies with natural hair avoid products with the humectant glycerin during colder months. Using a heavier butter-based (shea, cocoa, etc) moisturizer can help keep moisture in your skin. For example, though coconut oil is my go to during the summer, I switch to a much heavier homemade shea butter mix to moisturize. Less substantial moisturizers (i.e. mineral oil/petroleum based) are unlikely to keep your skin soft and truly moisturized for 24 hours, especially once the cold air reaches your skin (Author’s Note: Petroleum based products are great for keeping moisture in and forming a protective barrier after you’ve used a moisturizer, user Beware!. Using a moisturizing soap (note: not surfactant based “soaps”) is also beneficial. A true soap is a saponified (alkali reaction, typically KOH) vegetable oil.
Don’t forget to exfoliate. Dry skin can accumulate particularly faster during winter. Exfoliating not only removes dry, dead skin but also helps your skin better absorb moisturizers. Monthly or biweekly should be a good starting point, adjust based on your specific skin needs. Be sure NOT to over exfoliate! Never be rough with your skin when exfoliating! If you notice your skin becoming rough/dry/patchy/inflammed after exfoliating: stop exfoliating and apply coconut oil to over-exfoliated skin at least 2x a day until the skin softens. Try a sugar/oil scrub with a few drops of your favorite essential oils, avoid exfoliants with polyethylene beads.
Incorporating more foods with high omega-3 fatty acid content can do wonders for your skin. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: flaxseed oil, walnuts, sardines, salmon, beef, and soybeans (opt for organic). Also be sure to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein.
Protect Your Skin
This is a given, but always wear appropriate clothing in cold weather. This includes a proper warm coat, gloves, scarf, hat, etc. In addition, you should continue to wear a sunscreen during the winter. This is especially true if you do any winter sports or outdoor winter activities!
Suggested Winter Skin Routine:
Wash with true soap
Moisturize with a heavy butter or heavy oil
Apply SPF face moisturizer in the morning
Incorporate Omega-3’s in at least 1 meal
What are your winter skin care tips?
Appreciating the 'Pulchritude' Of Nature Through Natural and Organic Beauty Products and Food.