Oh Jessica Simpson, while we all giggled and judged you on your poor grammar, we were blissfully unaware about how right you were to ask, “Is this tuna fish what I have?” If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple years, it’s that you cannot trust the labels in grocery stores and you may be ingesting items you never intended to ingest. More than ever, the general population can be found standing in any isle, brows furrowed, and carefully dissecting labels on their food. But I’m here to say that a lot of the time, all the effort you’re exhausting doesn’t even matter. Food companies are as sneaky and lecherous as Snidely Whiplash.
I first discovered this when looking into the healing powers of honey. During my investigation I learned that potentially three-fourths of the honey being sold in grocery stores couldn’t technically be classified as honey. More likely it could be classified as, “an imported syrup that contains a bit o’ honey”. Out of the estimated 400 million pounds of honey consumed in the U.S., only 150 million were produced in the U.S., meaning that most of our honey comes from places like China, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia.
This would be fine and dandy if Chinese honey hadn’t been found in the past to contain illegal antibiotics, heavy metals, or to have been shipped in containers previously used to store petroleum products. It would also be fine and dandy if they weren’t creating syrups made from high fructose corn syrup and sugar, adding just enough honey to pass inspection. So basically the majority of the honey you find in your grocery isle is just more expensive, glorified corn syrup/sugar water.
I know I know, “sugar is sugar is sugar…and the body processes all sugars in the same way”. That’s not the issue here. If I choose to avoid high fructose corn syrup, I should be able to tell, by reading the ingredient label, that there’s HFC in any given product. If I choose to get my sugar from honey because it has more vitamins, antimicrobial properties, and possibly helps reduce allergy issues, I shouldn’t be tricked into purchasing something that is barely considered honey. None of the honey in the stores are labeled “HFS, Sugar, and Honey”. They are labeled as 100% honey.
There’s a teeny bit of good news here, given that the FDA finally decided to put their big dumb foot down and require that a one ingredient item, such as honey, can only be labeled as 100% honey if it isn’t cut with anything else. However, it’s not all fine and dandy, because “spices, flavorings, and additives that have ‘no functional role’ and ‘minimal presence on the finished product” do not need to be listed. Hmmm…Hey Mr. FDA. Does arsenic fall under that category if it’s in small amounts?
Leading me to my next point on the insanity of labeling and the crap we’re consuming unknowingly. I’m talking about lead in Protein Powders (lead paint requires carcinogen warning labels and made the Romans nutso) and Yoga mat material in Subway bread. And unless you were sleeping under a rock last year, the FDA and poultry industry finally admitted to arsenic being in most chicken meat (being forced into confession by a study that proved their initial dismissals false). We’re talking 88% of chickens in the U.S. being fed arsenic, which doesn’t just magically disappear when digested. Not only does the arsenic pass through millions of chicken’s poop (contaminating the soil when used as fertilizer), but trace amounts remain in the chicken meat. A published study from the Environmental Health Perspectives journal found that:
“70 percent of samples from conventional producers without policies prohibiting arsenical use had inorganic arsenic levels that exceeded the aforementioned FDA safety standard.”
Now, I know what some people are thinking. “WHO CARES. There are trace amounts of cancerous crap in everything we consume. We can’t become freakishly afraid of everything we put in our mouths! Stop acting like them crazy anti-vaccinators!”
To that I respond with a couple points:
1. Yes, there are trace amounts of toxins and cancerous chemicals in most things we eat, sometimes even naturally. But if we’re already dealing with all that crap, why purposely add more risk if we can avoid it?
2. It should be our choice whether we want to be freakish about what we eat. My point is that nowhere on your package of chicken does it state, “Oh yeah, so there are most definitely levels of arsenic in dis chicken, which we purposely added for our financial gain, and the levels exceed the FDA safety standard. Enjoy your chicken wings kiddies!” We should, as consumers, have all necessary information at our fingertips so we can make our own health decisions.
And on that same topic, ever wonder why alcohol isn’t required to have a label like everything else? We require ingredient labels on items like chapstick, yet not on a liquid that is directly ingested. It is the only consumable product not required to have an ingredient label. Sure, you can find out the calories, serving size, and alcohol percentage per serving, but what is the reason behind alcohol companies not being required to share their ingredients? Well, gee, could it be…MILLIONS?
First off, the FDA does not regulate alcoholic beverages; a job left to the Department of Treasury, who are the same money-hungry folks who regulate our taxes. Combine that with the fact that the alcohol industry, collectively a $400 billion dollar industry, is vehemently against ingredient labels, spends millions lobbying Congress in regards to alcohol taxes and regulations (In 2013, alcohol lobbying groups spent approximately $22 million dollars), and you get the end result of no labels on alcohol.
Some examples of ingredients found in beer alone:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Carcinogenic Caramel Coloring
- Fish Bladder
- Propylene Glycol
- Casein (many people have allergies to this)
- Carrageenan (also known to cause an allergic reaction)
- Arsenic (man, people apparently love their arsenic)
Again, all I’m saying is this; if the alcohol and food industry is creating products that are safe and not gross, why all the secrecy and cover-up? And shouldn’t the FDA, the very organization created to ensure that what we consume is safe and that the knowledge companies are providing for us is accurate, actually be doing their job?
Here is the bottom line: Do not take grocery stores, food companies, alcohol companies, or even the FDA at face value. All of the groups in that list are out to make money, not to ensure that you as an individual are healthy. They will purposely mislead you in order to get your dollars. Educate yourself and make the choices you think are best for you, don’t allow them to do it for you.
If you want to become even more educated, please read this article that goes into more depth about what labels like, “Organic”, “Natural”, and “Raised without Antibiotics” actually mean: Truth Behind Food Labels.
And if you wanna get even more angry, read this article on how the FDA is quoted as saying that food manufacturers ultimately, “are responsible for ensuring that their food products are safe and lawful”. Lordy lord, time to buy me a farm and live off me own harvest… Washington Post.