Archives for the month of: September, 2012

In addition to my previous post – New York City to Ban Sugary Drinks

Huffington Post article “Big Apple Bans Big Soda: Big Deal?” written by David Katz, M.D. Director, Yale Prevention Research Center, gives the readers an update of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan which is to ban sugary drinks as large as 16 ounces.

“Now that the ban is policy, the only meaningful verdict can come from data. We need to pass judgment on the effects it has.”

According to the Consumer Reports, they may have found some level of arsenic in rice and rice products. In their study, 223 samples of various rice products were tested for arsenic. The samples were localized; store bought items from New York metropolitan area and even online retails. The test results showed that brown rice yielded more arsenic than the white rice. Even though brown rice has a higher nutritious value than white rice, its finding of having higher arsenic levels in brown rice is no surprise. Manufacturing white rice is by removing the outer layer, which may be highly concentrated with arsenic, then the rice is polished to produce the white, pearl-like color which may aid in reducing the arsenic levels. The brown rice retains the outer layer which may be concentrated with arsenic therefore finding that brown rice resulted significantly higher in arsenic levels than white rice. – Consumer Reports 

You can read more about their complete results and findings at their website via PDF file.

The purpose of Consumer Reports finding is to reduce the levels of arsenic in rice and other rice products. Also, the scientists are asking for the following:

  • The EPA should phase out use of pesticides containing arsenic.
  • The USDA and the EPA should end the use of arsenic-laden manure as fertilizer.
  • The FDA should ban the feeding of arsenic-containing drugs and animal byproducts to animals.

DNJ (A Gannett Company) – Reported by Pettus Read titles the article “READ: No need to panic about arsenic in rice supply.” The writer starts the report by reminiscing his childhood eating habits where he was frequently told to finish everything off his plate. He notes that the media is often frenzy “over carcinogens and other chemicals in the foods we consume, without real cause for alarm….  In fact, there are large numbers of carcinogens in every meal we eat, all perfectly natural and traditional, making no human diet completely free of these elements.” The writer also briefly explains the Consumer Reports findings of arsenic in rice. He then refers to 1958 when Congress passed a law to eliminate carcinogens in food products. He further explains that carcinogen tests have been studied with laboratory animals to parallel to the human body. As he finishes the report, leaves the readers to think about how “It is important that we all become educated consumers and dismiss the “carcinogen of the week” scare that is media-hyped. Rather we should study our lessons and recognize the fact that many times all the facts are not reported.”

Huffington Post – Reported by Maria Rodale and written by Sonya Lunder and Dawn Undurraga, of Environmental Working Group. A picture of bowl of rice is at the beginning of the report. The writers state that there are reports from “… U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the highly regarded Consumer Reports magazine, and both focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods.” The report is titled “10 Ways to Get Arsenic Out of Your (and Your Kids’) Diet.” Just as the title suggests, the writers list 10 directional ways to reduce and to eliminate arsenic levels. The very first is to limit rice intakes, and suggest other grain items. The remaining nine other items can be found at the website.

Metro – New York – Interview with the registered dietitian Rachel Begun, M.S., R.D.; The report is an interview with the news reporter and the registered dietitian. Rachel Begun briefly summarizes that the Consumer Reporters found arsenic levels in rice. When asked if consumers should stop consuming rice and if there are safer ways to incorporate rice into our diets, she answered “…Eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods, including a variety of whole grains. This ensures adequate intake of nutrients while minimizing the risk of potential harm from any one food….”

Associated Press – The news report states its findings from the Consumer Reports and also quotes the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in which she suggests that “…consumers shouldn’t stop eating rice, though she does encourage a diverse diet just in case.” It ends the report with a statement from Professor Jaymie R. Meliker of Stony Brook University that “it’s [arsenic] all a matter of moderation. …In general, in life, you shouldn’t stand out in the sun eight hours a day,” he said. “You shouldn’t eat rice exclusively every meal. You should introduce variety in your diet because there are contaminants in everything. Nothing is completely safe.”

FDA has Q & A layout in their analysis of arsenic in rice and rice products. One of the important things to focus is that they do not agree or disagree with Consumer Reports finding. However, the FDA does state that their preliminary testing is consistent with the Consumer Reports study.

Recently there has been lots of talk of increased obesity within children. Progressively, the diets in children have shifted to instant or take-out foods. Poor choices in food leads to bad eating habits which invariably could cause obesity and other health problems. Now, the news media is claiming that chemical BPA is also linked to children’s obesity. Chemical BPA is often found in plastics. The study that was conducted which led to this speculation was from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2008. The editor-in-chief Dr. Howard Bauchner has said that “this paper is speculative.” Not necessarily that BPA causes obesity in children but the “speculation” is that the fatty tissues may store more BPA and release harmful chemicals more often than normal.

The Chart

The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, has a long and controversial history.

Used to manufacture some plastics – like the kinds in soda or water bottles – and as an anti-corrosive in aluminum cans, BPA has been under fire for some time from consumer advocacy groups.

The FDA recently banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups after concerns were raised about potential side effects on the “brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children,” according to the FDA website.

Still, the organization has stood by the overall safety of the chemical; in March the FDA denied the Natural Resources Defense Council’s petition to ban BPA outright.

Now a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association is adding more fuel to the flames.  The paper shows an association between BPA levels in children’s urine and obesity prevalence.

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