10 Gross FDA Regulations the Government Doesn’t Want You to Think About
Taking shortcuts on occasion is understandable, but we really don’t want shortcuts being taken on our food, and especially not by our government that’s supposed to be protecting We the People. Unfortunately, there are 10 dangerous little food shortcuts that have come up recently in a Huffington Post article that may shock and scare you, but really, we shouldn’t be so surprised in an economy that focuses on getting the most bang for your buck at any cost. The good news and bad news is, all of the information is public record, if you have the stomach to dig through it.
1. Mold, Excrement, and Bugs
If you don’t mind getting a little nauseous in uncovering the truth, try reading the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook and the levels of contaminants your food can contain. It labels it off as “maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use,” including “insect filth,” “rot” and “Mammalian excreta.” But reading what exactly insect filth can entail (canned or frozen asparagus is permitted to have “10% by count of spears or pieces infested with 6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs,” and berries are allowed a specific amount of larvae or rodent hairs, yay!) is enough to make you wonder why the hell we’re just letting this happen. Um, can we hold all of the beetle eggs, mammal poop, and rodent hairs, please?
2. Genetic Engineering
According to the Organic Consumers Association, the United States is the only developed country that does not require testing for safety of GE foods. It’s not required, and it hasn’t been done by the government. So all these people decrying the push against GMOs don’t really have a leg to stand on, when the positive or (most likely) negative effects of genetically modified foods have not been proven by our government. GMOs…bon appetite!
3. Ammonia in meat
This practice has been around a long time, very notably, it cropped up in a lot of McDonald’s burgers (they’re really batting a thousand for their healthy choices!). It’s commonly known as the “pink slime” factor on your meat. Ammonia is the FDA’s first choice to kill bacteria in meat. “But wait,” you may say, “is it the same stuff I use to clean my house or that I use in my fertilizer?” Yes. Yes it is. The FDA claims it’s fine because, “it eliminates E. coli to the same degree as if you cooked the product.” You may have internal damage from ingesting it, but at least you won’t have a case of E. coli from your tasty hamburger!
Monsanto has been putting forth all kinds of farm products that we aren’t so sure about, such as Round Up Ready Crops and GMOs up the ying. In most recent news, their Round Up Ready herbicide has been labeled as responsible for the eradication of milkweed, the food of the beautiful monarch butterfly, and the following eradication of the butterflies by 81%. So maybe they don’t care as much about butterflies. Do they care about humans? Meet Michael R. Taylor, a guy with his fingers in all kinds of pies. He’s had jobs both at the FDA and Monsanto, one after the other, there and back again. He’s also a heavy advocate for the government’s controversial “revolving door” issue. The FDA’s current Deputy Commissioner of Food is responsible for the substantial equivalence policy, which is used as a weapon against the “right to know” argument for GMO labeling.
5. Arsenic for livestock
Sometimes bad things come in good packages. In September 2013, the FDA stopped allowing a few arsenic-based drugs from being in farm animal feed (it’s been around since the 1940s). The Huffington Post has this to say about it, “While it might seem like a step in the right direction, consider this: The FDA only passed down the decision after food groups threatened to sue the agency. Before the ban, about 70 percent of U.S. poultry were being fed arsenic-based drugs, and even with the new legislation, one of the 4 banned drugs can still be fed to turkeys.”
6. Artificial Coloring
Even when studies are done, the FDA doesn’t do a thing about it. Red #40 (think Doritos and Cheetoes), the most widely-used food dye, and Yellow #6, the third most widely-used food dye, are linked to hyperactivity, migraines and possibly cancer. Europe is, as usual, ahead of the game and has had them banned, but the FDA still isn’t budging to take them off the US market.
7. The “Whole Grain” Myth
We can all agree that whole grain foods are pretty much the healthiest option. We envision untouched grains just full of unaltered vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. But there’s a terrible truth behind what the FDA allows to be called “whole grain.” As long as the naturally occurring nutrients and parts are added back into the food at the end, you can take them out along the way and add in a number of other additives and flavorings. Sigh.
8. The “Trans-Fat” Myth
Once again, the labeling system seems to have fallen through the cracks of the FDA’s radar. When you’re picking through the snack section of the supermarket and find a package with “Zero Trans Fats” slapped across the front, you may want to think twice. If a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, the label can claim it has “0 grams of trans fats.” Although the FDA recently began a campaign to claim that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer GRAS (generally recognized as safe), legislation has yet to be made against them. If you consume a number of these foods per day, you could be racking up dangerous fats without even knowing. Time to cut back on the chips.
9. Crackdowns on Crime
Would you bust your pals for things they were doing wrong? Probably not, and the FDA is no different. They actually had to be told to prosecute misdemeanor crimes in 2010. A governmental report found the agency to be too soft on corporations that break the rules. Congress found that the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations fell short in comparison to similar agencies, in response to which the FDA admitted they were working on “developing meaningful performance measures.” Excuses, excuses.
Once again, other countries seem to be more on top of things than the United States. rBGH is a hormone that has been banned in more than 25 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the European Union. Although we consumers have gotten smarter (and tend to pick the products that claim rBGH-free), a 2009 USDA study found that less than 17 percent of cows were being injected with the hormone. The FDA, on the other hand, insists that rBGH (also known as rBST) is both safe and effective.
The Actual Truth About Fluoride
Fluoride is added to 70% of America’s drinking water, in what has long been a controversial practice of involuntary mass medication. The CDC lists fluoridation as one of the top 10 most important public health measures of the 20th century. But a group of non-profit organizations is now fighting the EPA on this practice, citing a mountain of evidence that shows little benefit, and massive risks.
Not only has the ingestion of fluoride been linked to a variety of health concerns, but research increasingly shows that it doesn’t even improve our teeth. While applying fluoride directly to the tooth’s enamel can perhaps prevent tooth decay, it has been proven in dozens of peer-reviewed studies that swallowing the substance has no health benefit whatsoever.
So why exactly do we fluoridate our water?
The origin of the practice is downright bizarre: In 1901, dentist Frederick McKay began a 30-year study of what was known as “The Colorado Brown Stain.” Residents of Colorado Springs showed a unique disfiguration of their teeth: brown, mottled pits appeared in this population with alarming consistency. Yet, as McKay would soon discover, there was a beneficial trade-off for this unsightly condition: Those afflicted by the “Brown Stain” showed a complete lack of tooth decay and cavities.
After an analysis of the local water supplies, McKay found an unusually high amount of fluoride, which he credited for both the lack of decay and the “Brown Stain.” Today, the “Brown Stain” is known as dental fluorosis, and mild cases (which only produce white streaks) are present in 58% of adolescents. This mild discoloration has been a known side effect of fluoridation since the beginning, but the benefit of cavity and decay reduction was thought to outweigh the risk.
In the last few decades, however, an abundance of medical research has emerged that shows much more profound potential dangers, leading to an ongoing legal battle to end this practice. Fluoride is essentially toxic to the human body, although in small doses, no acute effects are perceived. While our kidneys are able to filter out 50-60% of the fluoride we consume, the rest is stored in the body and has been observed to build up over time in certain areas.
One organ that is particularly susceptible to fluoride build-up is the pineal gland — the part of our brain responsible for regulating sleep and reproductive hormones. Sometimes known as “the third eye,” this small gland has been linked to metaphysical abilities by many cultures throughout history. Philosopher and scientist René Descartes believed the pineal gland to be the “principal seat of the soul.”
It is estimated that 40% of Americans have significant amounts of fluoride build-up in this gland by age 17. By old age, the pineal gland contains about the same amount of fluoride as a tooth. While the role of the pineal gland in facilitating psychic abilities and increased intuition is still up for debate, the fact that fluoride consumption impacts the gland’s ability to function is absolutely proven.
And that’s not the only part of the brain that suffers: over 30 independent studies have linked fluoride to a reduction in childhood IQ: A 2018 study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that, for every increase of 1 milligram per liter of fluoride in a pregnant women’s urine, their offspring averaged 2.4 points lower IQ scores at age 1-3 years old. This follows a 2017 study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing in utero fluoride levels associated with lower IQ in 6-12 year-olds.
Animal studies have shown other neurological effects, including impaired memory, reduced ability to learn, and even mild forms of brain damage. With potential health risks like that, you would think that the evidence of fluoride’s benefits must be pretty solid. …..well, think again.
There is no solid proof that drinking fluoride actually improves dental health.
In a 1989 study, data collected by the National Institute of Dental Research found that children who live in areas where the water supplies are fluoridated have tooth decay rates nearly identical to those who live in non-fluoridated areas. While tooth decay has declined in the US since fluoridation was introduced, countries which do not add fluoride to their water have seen the same rate of decline in tooth decay. This data from the World Health Organization implies that factors other than fluoridated water are contributing to the overall improvement of dental health worldwide.
In fact, there has never been a controlled, randomized trial to demonstrate the effectiveness or safety of fluoridation, despite over 60 years of consumption in public water supplies. A 2009 study, funded by the NIH, was surprisingly the first to look at individual exposure to fluoride (as opposed to simply living in a fluoridated community). They found no correlation whatsoever between fluoride ingestion and tooth decay.
Considering the wealth of scientific evidence now available, the involuntary mass consumption of fluoride seems indefensible. Yet the EPA has dismissed citizen petitions to remove the substance and is now trying to dismiss a lawsuit that would ban the use of fluoride under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Carbon filtration devices, like those made by Pur or Brita, will not remove fluoride from water. Even expensive reverse-osmosis filters can not remove 100% of the substance, although they can be up to 90% effective. Even if you have your own well or collect rainwater to drink, fluoride is still practically impossible to avoid. Food and drink is often made with fluoridated water. And of course, no explicit labeling is required.
When most people hear the term fluoride, they think of happy, white, shiny teeth. But if more Americans looked at the actual truth about this practice, perhaps the involuntary medication could end.