Progress on Our Behalf

Sweeping changes are occurring in the food industry, perhaps escaping your notice. It’s encouraging to see changes. As we gain momentum gravitating toward healthier choices, the industry responds. They study our patterns and give us what we want, or rather, “need”. Decisions are made based on our feedback in the way of purchases, phone calls, written comments, and petitions. Maybe they see our nation’s health has declined or perhaps they are responding to our feedback and purchasing patterns and realize it makes good business sense.

WebMD highly recommends avoiding the following seven food additives – food colorings, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate and trans-fats. Recent food industry shifts are focusing on these particular additives. While the level of commitment varies greatly and it’s still not apparent whether all the ambitious time-lines for 2015 have been met, here is progress in the works –

The Aldi Supermarket chain (about 1,400 stores in the US) recently announced by the end of 2015 all their branded products, will be free of synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and MSG.

Taco Bell states by the beginning of 2016, they will remove artificial flavors and colors, added trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, and unsustainable palm oil from its core menu items, introduce aspartame-free diet Pepsi and convert to 100% cage free eggs by the end of 2016. Pizza Hut plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from most of their menu items in 2015. Burger King is committed to converting to cage-free eggs by 2017; whereas, McDonalds and Denny’s plan to convert within a ten year period. Noodle and Company is committed to removing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from their soups, sauces and dressings by the end of 2015. Panera plans to ditch 150 artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives from its menus by the end of 2016. Papa Johns will eliminate all synthetic ingredients from its recipes by the end of 2016, removing corn syrup and preservatives. Subway also plans to make changes over the next 18 months removing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from their menu.

Chipotle serves GMO-free tortillas and soybean oil. Kroger, Safeway, Aldi, Cosco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Red Lobster have all stated their commitment to not stock recently Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved GMO salmon. Sadly against over-whelming public outcry, the FDA approved what many now call “frankenfish”.

Chipotle, Panera and Chick-fil-A all now serve meat raised without antibiotics and McDonalds plans to switch to hormone-free chicken by spring 2016. Milk products are more frequently boasting “hormone free”. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly warned about the public health threat of antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry.
More good news next week.

Campbell’s announced it will disclose GMO ingredients across their entire product line and are calling for a national, mandatory GMO labeling regimen. Contrary to the chemical’s primary justification against such labeling, they said GMO labeling will not cause food prices to go up. Campbells Soup plans to remove artificial and unhealthy ingredients in all products by mid-2018. Given the Senate recent defeat of the bill dubbed as Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, General Mills has stated it’s intention to start labeling GMO products nationwide in preparation for Vermont’s GMO labeling mandate that goes into effect July 1st.

Nestles says it will remove artificial flavoring and colors, including Red 40 and Yellow 5, from all of its chocolate products by the end of 2015 and reduce the sodium content of their frozen pizza and snack products by ten percent. Krafts iconic neon orange macaroni and cheese will take on a new hue with plans to remove Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 by 2016. General Mills is working on removing their artificial color and flavors by 2017. Trix eaters will lose their blue and green crispies! Kelloggs plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from their cereals by 2018.
Schwann Foods plans to remove artificial and unhealthy ingredients from their offerings as well as high-fructose corn syrup by 2017.

Lowes and Home Depot have pledged to phase out neonicotinoid pesticide tainted garden plants, the chemical associated with the decline of bees and other pollinators. Home Depot reports it has removed neonicotinoid pesticides from 80% of their flowering plants, committed to a complete phase-out by 2018, Lowes being 2019. Pop Weaver and Pop Secret are phasing out neonicotinoid seed coatings. As a side note, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their plans to ban neonicotinoid insecticide use in all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016 and the European Union already has a moratorium on all uses.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports 61 percent of the food Americans buy is highly processed. Removing some of the harmful chemicals is a step in the right direction, but fact remains a diet based on junk food, fast foods and processed food will always be lacking. Basic combinations of saturated fat, calories, sugar with minimal fiber is never healthy. Studies have shown 80% of the contents in processed foods come from just four ingredients – corn, wheat, soy, and meat. Industry is happy to fill our shelves with those ingredients as farm subsidies have made them inexpensive to produce. While removing harmful chemicals is certainly progress, eating whole foods and unprocessed foods will always remain the healthier option.

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