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The Food-Additive Loophole – Experience Life

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– Nutrition –

There are thousands of additives — chemical preservatives, flavorings, thickening agents, and more — in our food supply. The FDA simply can’t keep up.

There’s a technicality in the food oversight process. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates many food ingredients to ensure your safety. But there are spices, preservatives, and other additives that the agency deems so commonplace that it exempts them as “generally recognized as safe,” or “GRAS.”

The GRAS rule was set by Congress in 1958, when additives primarily included basics like salt and vinegar. Since then, the world of processed food has exploded: More than 3,000 additives — chemical preservatives, flavorings, thinning or thickening agents, and emulsifiers — now appear in everything from premade meals to bread.

This problem has been growing for some time. In 2014, then FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor warned, “We simply do not have the information to vouch for the safety of many of these chemicals.” And more additives continue to be developed.

The food industry regularly bypasses the FDA’s lengthy review process by introducing new food additives through the GRAS loophole. And though the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended numerous changes after auditing the GRAS rule in 2010, Congress has been slow to respond.

Meanwhile, food manufacturers continue to insert numerous untested ingredients into foods without alerting the FDA.

When companies actually do submit GRAS notices, critics contend that the agency allows additive-maker employees or consulting firms and expert panels selected by the company to handle the safety assessments. A 2013 JAMA report found that such financial conflicts of interest were “ubiquitous.”

Among the common GRAS additives that raise concerns:

  • Caffeine, which is prolifically added now to a wide range of foods to provide an energy jolt.
  • Carrageenan, a seaweed extract used as a conditioner that has been linked to dangerous gastrointestinal inflammation and even cancer.
  • Partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats that are prevalent in processed baked goods and cake mixes and have been cited as a contributor to type 2 diabetes, strokes, and heart disease.

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Health & Fitness

5 Sustainable Items for Healthy Eating

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Sustainable goods that make eating well a little easier.

1. Better Bags

Better Bags

Vejibags not only reduce the amount of plastic waste headed for landfills: These U.S.-made organic-cotton produce bags let vegetables “breathe” and stay fresh for longer. $20–$25 from www.vejibag.com.

2. Fresh Start

Fresh Start herbs

These self-watering herb kits from Modern Sprout are a foolproof way to bring more fresh herbs into your kitchen. Just add water, set on a sunny windowsill, and enjoy the bounty. $20 each. www.modernsprout.com

3. The Right Tool

Wooden kitchen spoons

Make everyday cooking a true pleasure with these elegant, hand-carved walnut spoons from Hawkins New York. Available in a variety of sizes, from cocktail spoons to spatulas. $18–$36. www.hawkinsnewyork.com

4. Just Nuts

Joi nut milk

Joi nut-milk bases allow you to mix up your own creamy almond or cashew milk at home — and only as much as you need.  There are no additives, either; these are purely nuts. $20–$25 per tub; makes 7 quarts. www.addjoi.com

5. Vim and Vinegar

Vim and Vinegar product

Stone Hollow Farmstead’s infused cider vinegar contains immune-boosting turmeric along with garlic, star anise, and cardamom. Bright-tasting, versatile, and delicious straight from a spoon. $16. www.stonehollowfarmstead.com


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