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Beware the Banned Foods in Your Pantry!

by Susan Burke March - January 23, 2014 - with 0 Comments

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Beware the Banned Foods in Your Pantry!

Forget about waiting until spring to clean up your home. The new year is an ideal time to clean out your cupboards, fridge and pantry – especially if they’ve been hiding spots for banned foods!

Here in America, food products are regularly banned for safety reasons. A good example is the Japanese puffer fish. Unless scrupulously prepared, “fugu” contains deadly toxins.

Other restricted foods include shark fins, wild Beluga caviar, Chilean sea bass and redfish. Individual cities and states have been known to ban certain foods, too.

Chicago and California have banned the sale of foie gras – a fancy term for duck or goose liver. The reason: the inhumane force-feeding required to sufficiently fatten livers for harvest.

More than 20 states have banned the sale of unpasteurized milk. The move is meant to protect consumers from possible contamination.

While it’s highly unlikely that you have any of the above foods tucked away in your fridge or pantry, there is a good chance you do store a number of products that contain trans fat, a popular ingredient that faces a national ban.

Yes, the U.S. is finally set to join a number of nations and foreign cities in banning trans fat in processed foods.

Last November, the Food & Drug Administration announced that it will require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move may prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year.

Trans fat is a man-made substance that’s best described as liquid vegetable oil chemically treated to be stable and solid at room temperature.

The American Heart Association says trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.

AHA notes: “Companies like using trans fats in their foods because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.”

The Natural Restaurant Association says many manufacturers have already begun replacing trans fats with healthier options.

So, how can you avoid consuming trans fat?  Ask questions and read labels.

In addition to stick margarine and vegetable shortening, popular foods containing trans fat often include:

  • Commercially prepared foods: Top offenders include donuts, pies, cookies and cupcakes.
  • Pantry: Crackers, breads, donuts, cereals, tortilla chips, dips, cookies, cakes, muffins, microwave popcorn, peanut butter and frosting.
  • Frozen: Frozen entrees, pot pies, pizza, chicken nuggets (anything breaded), and crescent rolls.
  • Dining out: Many restaurants and chains still use shortening, especially in fried foods, pastries, and spreads.

When dining out, ask whether or not they cook or serve foods with margarine or shortening. If you’re really concerned, ask what they do cook with. Good options are canola and olive oil.

When buying processed foods, read the ingredient label first.

Weak FDA labeling law allows manufacturers to list “0” next to “grams of trans fat” as long as a serving contains less than a half-gram of trans fat. But, manufacturers must list the ingredients in descending order of weight (from most to least). If “partially hydrogenated fat”, or “hydrogenated fat”, or “PHO (partially hydrogenated oils)” appears in the ingredients, then it’s made with trans fat.

It’s easy to avoid trans fats. Read labels, ask questions, and make your choice with your health in mind.

BONUS NEWS

The website EatLocalGrown.com hosts the article 10 American Foods that are Banned in Other Countries. The feature that was written by alternative medicine proponent Joseph Mercola warns consumers about these products:

#1: Milk and Dairy Products Laced with rBGH

#2: Genetically Engineered Papaya

#3: Ractopamine-Tainted Meat

#4: Flame Retardant Drinks

#5: Processed Foods Containing Artificial Food Colors and Dyes

#6: Arsenic-Laced Chicken

#7: Bread with Potassium Bromate

#8: Olestra/Olean

#9: Preservatives BHA and BHT

#10: Farm-Raised Salmon

You'll need to read the feature to see why these foods have been banned elsewhere.

BONUS NEWS 2

According to MSN’s Healthy Living website, these are the 22 Worst Foods for Trans Fat. How many can you toss out today?

Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who as chief nutritionist for eDiets promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.

eDiets Free Diet Profile

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