Bogus Herb Supplements & Dangerous Partially Hydrogenated Oils

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Bogus Herb Supplements & Dangerous Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Here are two interesting items that deserve attention this week:

Partially Hydrogenated Oils Officially Unsafe:

Partially Hydrogenated Oils Officially Unsafe: For those who read labels, Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) are often found in many processed foods and snacks. PHOs are the primary source of harmful “trans fats” which are essentially human artery cloggers. These trans fats increase levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol.” As a result, PHOs significantly increase the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.  PHOs have been hidden and mixed in many brands of manufactured processed foods for years. Think junk food. In an important move this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its preliminary determination that PHO’s are no longer “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. Seehttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm373939.htmThis determination is subject to public comment before the FDA’s final determination is announced. The FDA’s official request for public comment is at:https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/08/2013-26854/request-for-comments-and-for-scientific-data-and-information-tentative-determination-regarding For many diet and nutrition advocates, this announcement is long overdue.  For those who don’t read food and product labels, perhaps it will be an incentive for them to pay close attention to food product labels. PHO’s should be avoided. Read food labels closely to determine if PHOs are present.

Bogus Herbal Supplements: Canadian researchers recently tested many popular herbal supplement brands and made a shocking and disappointing discovery. According to the researchers, most of the popular brands of herbals supplements have herbs that are significantly diluted or non-existent. Instead, some of these brands are filled with rice and weeds. Using DNA barcode testing from most herbal products, the researchers concluded that in 30 of the 44 brands tested some form of product substitution occurred. Even a smaller fraction of brands had herbal products without any substitution, contamination or fillers. The scientific abstract of that study is at:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/222/abstract For a good review of the “the Wild West” of the herbal supplement industry and of the Canadian study, read New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor’s story athttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&  In fairness, some herbal supplement industry representatives claim that DNA barcode testing is flawed (although it did help uncover labeling fraud in the commercial seafood industry). Despite such claims, according to Anahad O’Connor’s New York Times story, “Representatives of the supplement industry said that while mislabeling of supplements was a legitimate concern, they did not believe it reached the extent suggested by the new research.” Consumers should not have to tolerate a “legitimate concern.” Without FDA enforcement of herbal supplement safety standards, there are no easy answers for consumers. ConsumerLab.com is an independent laboratory that tests vitamins and supplements through a subscription service. Also, theU.S. Pharmacopeial Convention sets standards for food ingredients, medicines, and dietary supplements. It issues a “USP Verified” label for manufacturers who voluntarily have their products tested and verified for such standards.

 

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com