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U.S. corporations sell more fast food and more soda than anyone else in the world by a very wide margin.
The average American drinks more than 600 12-ounce sodas every single year.
Forsaking healthy, home-cooked meals, more Americans than ever are gorging on calorie-rich, nutrient-poor snacks, sodas and sweets when the dinner bell rings, according to studies tracking changes in the U.S. diet over the past 25 years. "Americans have increased their energy intake of French fries, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza and Mexican food as part of their meals. Overall, they found that total (food) energy intake has increased over the past 20 years, with shifts away from meals to snacks and from at-home to away-from-home. In the United States, obesity is on the rise, and we know that this is because of two things--we're increasing our energy intake across all the age groups as well as decreasing our physical activity.
Focusing on changes in diet, researchers compared the results of national U.S. government food consumption surveys conducted in 1977-78, 1989-91 and 1994-96. In every age group, more and more Americans now consume a large proportion of their daily food intake via snacks rather than sit-down meals, favoring quick, easy--often non-nutritious--foods like potato chips, cookies, pizza and other high-calorie treats. The proportion of energy from restaurant/fast food has increased considerably since the late 1970s. Among 19- to 39-year-olds, away-from-home food consumption just about doubled between 1977 and 1996, with 28% of young Americans saying they had eaten out on any given day in 1996, compared to just 14% two decades previously. Another study, presented by Dr. Alanna Moshfegh of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, broke the survey findings down even further, looking at changes in the popularity of our favorite--and not-so-favorite--foods. She found steep increases in consumption of pizza, chocolate and hamburgers, in children as well as adults.
Children are making a definite shift away from milk to sodas and sugary drinks. While 90% of 6- to 11-year-olds in the late 1970s said they had milk on a given day, just 78% could say so by the mid-1990s. At the same time, daily soda consumption rose in the same age group from 31% in the 1970s to 46% two decades later. The war between milk and soda is indicative of a shift in the U.S. diet, where nutrient-poor "junk foods" are gradually replacing healthier items such as low-fat milk, fruits and vegetables. "One is being consumed at the expense of the other," said the author of a third study, Dr. Ashima Kant of the City University of New York. Looking closely at data on children's responses to the 1988-1994 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, she found that "energy-dense, nutrient-poor" foods now account for over 30% of American children's daily energy intake, "with sweeteners and desserts jointly accounting for nearly 25%." The population is changing, there's a faster lifestyle, the mix of restaurants is different today, the availability of all types of food in all kinds of settings is much more prominent today.
On any given day in the United States about one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food restaurant. During a relatively brief period of time, the fast food industry has helped to transform not only the American diet, but also our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture. The extraordinary growth of the fast food industry has been driven by fundamental changes in American society. The whole experience of buying fast food has become so routine, that it is now taken for granted, like brushing your teeth or stopping for a red light. It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held frozen, and reheated apple pie. Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias. In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music--combined!
In 1975, about one-third of American mothers with young children worked outside the home; today almost two-thirds of such mothers are employed. The entry of so many women into the workforce has greatly increased demand for the types of services that housewives traditionally perform: cooking, cleaning, and childcare. A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants--mainly at fast food restaurants. Fast food is heavily marketed to children and prepared by people who are barely older than children. This is an industry that both feeds and feeds off the young. In 1968, McDonald's operated about one thousand restaurants. Today it has about 28,000 restaurants worldwide and opens almost 2,000 new ones each year. An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has, at some point, been employed by McDonald's. The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private.
Fast food is nothing but a concoction of harmful and health-damaging chemicals which can easily be understood if you were to think for a moment how any restaurant could offer a double cheeseburger for only $1. Most recently it was uncovered that these $1 cheeseburgers, along with the rest of McDonald’s’ beef and chicken, were actually harnessing ‘pink slime’ scrap meat covered with ammonium hydroxide. Not only does this fake meat provide no nutritional value at all, but it is chemically contaminated from ammonia, the toxic cleaning agent found under the sink. The meat is actually fat trimmings and connective tissue that are separated from the bone – scrap meat that is not fit for human consumption. The ammonia treatment is in response to the danger of contamination from salmonella or E. coli, but the scrap meats themselves are more likely to contain pathogens. Despite the chemical treatment, the meat is still in the line of fire for contamination.
Additionally, McDonald’s McNuggets contain 7 different ingredients making up the ‘meat’, many of which contain sub-ingredients. Instead of using real meat, the ingredient list utilizes sodium phosphate, safflower oil, wheat starch, dextrose, and autolyzed yeast extract – a particularly dangerous substance very similar to the toxic MSG. Along side with these ingredients comes the use of dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicon substance used as an anti-foaming agent and often found in breast implants and silly putty.
Of course the use of these ingredients is not limited only to McDonald’s. In fact, all of the fast food restaurants are guilty of using them. The worst part? They are aware of the destructive nature behind these ingredients, but truly couldn’t care any less. The truth behind such a statement can be exemplified by Taco Bell’s attempt to create a drive-thru diet where individuals would supposedly lose weight by eating fast food. It was only a few years ago when Taco Bell announced the “Drive-Thru Diet”, where they showcased their foods low in fat. But what they don’t tell you is that even if their food has 9 grams of fat, it is still made up of numerous ingredients contributing to the global health decline.
While the reasons for the influx of fast food consumption are many, one primary one is the usage of psychological advertising. Being one of the most powerful tools to reach both the conscious and subconscious, advertising plays a huge role in how society is run today, and that includes which foods we eat. What’s more, children are much more influenced by what they see and hear, and research proves it. A study conduced late in 2011 showed that 71 percent of children will choose junk food like french fries over apple slices when given coupons for each of them. The number dropped only to 55 percent when parents encouraged children to choose the apple slices. But the desired reach does not stop at direct advertising and influence.
A new children’s educational book has recently been launched by the Council for Biotechnology Information, educating young children on the ‘numerous benefits’ of genetically modified food. Of course genetically modified food has time and time again been shown to cause human and environmental harm, but still the attempt to brainwash young children is carelessly made. The advertising for such food is also heavily tied in with fast food, as virtually all fast food is constructed with genetically modified food and ingredients.
The fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption. Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings. Besides the low quality of the meat, the ammonium hydroxide is harmful to health. Jamie Oliver calls it “the pink slime process.” Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children? After selecting the best parts of the chicken, the remains (fat, skin and internal organs) are processed for McNuggets.
In the United States, Burger King and Taco Bell have already abandoned the use of ammonia in their products. The food industry uses ammonium hydroxide as an anti-microbial agent in meats, which has allowed McDonald’s to use otherwise “inedible meat.” Even more disturbing is that because ammonium hydroxide is considered part of the “component in a production procedure” by the USDA, consumers may not know when the chemical is in their food. On the official website of McDonald’s, the company claims that their meat is cheap because, while serving many people every day, they are able to buy from their suppliers at a lower price, and offer the best quality products.
McDonald's is the nation's largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes--and the second largest purchaser of chicken. The McDonald's Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. Indeed, the company earns the majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rent. McDonald's spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand. As a result it has replaced Coca-Cola as the world's most famous brand. McDonald's operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States. It is one of the nation's largest distributors of toys. A survey of American schoolchildren found that 96% could identify Ronald McDonald. The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross. The centralized purchasing decisions of the large restaurant chains and their demand for standardized products have given a handful of corporations an unprecedented degree of power over the nation's food supply. Moreover, the tremendous success of the fast food industry has encouraged other industries to adopt similar business methods. Almost every facet of American life has now been franchised or chained.
The key to a successful franchise can be expressed in one word: "uniformity." Franchises and chain stores strive to offer exactly the same product or service at numerous locations. The industrialization of the restaurant kitchen has enabled the fast food chains to rely upon a low-paid and unskilled workforce. The restaurant industry is now America's largest private employer, and it pays some of the lowest wages. The roughly 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum wage earners in the United States. The only Americans who consistently earn a lower hourly wage are migrant farm workers. A hamburger and French fries became the desired American meal in the 1950s, thanks to the promotional efforts of the fast food chains. The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week. The leading fast food chains still embrace a boundless faith in science--and, as a result, have changed not just what Americans eat, but also how their food is made. The current methods for preparing fast food are less likely to be found in cookbooks than in trade journals such as Food Technologist and Food Engineering. Most fast food is delivered to the restaurant already frozen, canned, dehydrated, or freeze-dried. A fast food kitchen is merely the final stage in a vast and highly complex system of mass production. Foods that may look familiar have in fact been completely reformulated. What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the previous forty thousand. Much of the taste and aroma of American fast food is now manufactured at a series of large chemical plants off the New Jersey Turnpike. The fast food chains now stand atop a huge food-industrial complex that has gained control of American agriculture. Farmers and cattle ranchers are losing their independence, essentially becoming hired hands for the agribusiness giants or being forced off the land. Family farms are now being replaced by gigantic corporate farms with absentee owners. The United States now has more prison inmates than full-time farmers.
The fast food chains' vast purchasing power and their demand for a uniform product have encouraged fundamental changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed into ground beef. These changes have made meat packing--once a highly skilled, highly paid occupation--into the most dangerous job in the United States, performed by armies of poor, transient immigrants whose injuries often go unrecorded and uncompensated. And the same meat industry practices that endanger these workers have facilitated the introduction of deadly pathogens, such as E. coli 0157:H7, into America's hamburger meat, a food aggressively marketed to children. Again and again, efforts to prevent the sale of tainted ground beef have been thwarted by meat industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress. The federal government has the legal authority to recall a defective toaster oven or stuffed animal--but still lacks the power to recall tons of contaminated, potentially lethal meat.
Fast food has been carefully designed to taste good. It's also inexpensive and convenient. But the value meals, two-for-one deals, and free refills of soda give a distorted sense of how much fast food actually costs. The real price never appears on the menu. Hundreds of millions of people buy fast food every day without giving it much thought, unaware of the ramifications of their purchases. They rarely consider where this food came from, how it was made, what it is doing to the community around them. They just grab their tray off the counter, find a table, take a seat, unwrap the paper, and dig in. The whole experience is transitory and soon forgotten.
Popular American brands of snack chips and French fries contain disturbingly high levels of acrylamide, according to new laboratory tests commissioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The tests were conducted by the same Swedish government scientists that recently first discovered the cancer-causing chemical in certain fried and baked starchy foods. CSPI's tests included several popular brands of snack chips, taco shells, French fries, and breakfast cereals--the kinds of foods that were initially shown to have some of the highest acrylamide levels.
Acrylamide is a building block for the polymer, polyacrylamide, a material well-known in molecular biology laboratories as a gel matrix for resolving DNA fragments in sequence analysis and identifying proteins, both under electric fields. In the world at large, polyacrylamide is used in water purification to flocculate suspended organic matter. Acrylamide forms as a result of unknown chemical reactions during high-temperature baking or frying. Raw or even boiled potatoes test negative for the chemical. CSPI urged the FDA to inform the public of the risks from acrylamide in different foods, and to work with industry and academia to understand how acrylamide is formed and how to prevent its formation.
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had a closed meeting to review the finding that cooked vegetables had significant levels of acrylamide. It has been estimate that acrylamide causes several thousand cases of cancer per year in Americans. The finding received worldwide attention because acrylamide is a potent nerve toxin in humans and also affects male reproduction, and causes birth defects and cancer in animals. The WHO press releases implied that the acrylamide finding was a surprise and that the pollutant probably arose from cooking the vegetables. The finding has since been confirmed by the British, Swiss, and Norwegian governments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) though, has been standing on the sidelines of what is fast becoming a major global debate.
Strangely, the WHO releases did not mention the fact that polyacrylamide is a well known additive to commercial herbicide mixtures (25% to 30% solutions) to reduce spray drift and to act as a surfactant. The glyphosate (Roundup) herbicides of Monsanto Corporation are of particular concern because the herbicide interacts with the polymer. Experiments showed that heat and light contribute to the release of acrylamide from polyacrylamide, and glyphosate was found to influence the solubility of polyacrylamide, so care was advised in mixing the two.
The evidence seems compelling therefore, that acrylamide is being released from polyacrylamide in the environment, one of the main sources of which is in glyphosate herbicide formulations. Cooking vegetables that had been exposed to the glyphosate herbicide used with herbicide-tolerant crops, or used during soil preparation for normal crops would result in the releasing more acrylamide. Worse yet, additives such as polyacrylamide are designated "trade secrets" in North America and information on the contents of herbicide preparations are not available to the public.
Fast-food French fries showed the highest levels of acrylamide among the foods CSPI had tested, with large orders containing 39 to 82 micrograms. One-ounce portions of Pringles potato crisps contained about 25 micrograms, with corn-based Fritos and Tostitos containing half that amount or less. Regular and Honey Nut Cheerios contained 6 or 7 micrograms of the carcinogenic substance. Among the findings:
|Water, 8 oz., EPA limit||0.12|
|Boiled Potatoes, 4 oz.||<3|
|Old El Paso Taco Shells, 3, 1.1oz.||1|
|Ore Ida French Fries (uncooked), 3 oz.||5|
|Ore Ida French Fries (baked), 3 oz.||28|
|Honey Nut Cheerios, 1 oz.||6|
|Cheerios, 1 oz.||7|
|Tostitos Tortilla Chips, 1 oz.||5|
|Fritos Corn Chips, 1 oz.||11|
|Pringles Potato Crisps, 1 oz.||25|
|Wendy's French Fries, Biggie, 5.6 oz.||39|
|KFC Potato Wedges, Jumbo, 6.2 oz.||52|
|Burger King French Fries, large, 5.7 oz.||59|
|McDonald's French Fries, large, 6.2 oz.||82|
The amount of acrylamide in a large order of fast-food French fries is at least 300 times more than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows in a glass of water.
There has long been reason for Americans to eat less greasy French fries and snack chips, acrylamide is yet another reason to eat less of those foods. A California attorney has formally demanded that McDonald's and Burger King place a cancer warning on their French fries, as required by the state's Proposition 65. Burger King faces a legal deadline of late June and McDonald's of early July 2003 to respond.
In the early years of the twentieth century, hamburgers had a bad reputation. The hamburger was considered "a food for the poor," tainted and unsafe to eat. Restaurants rarely served hamburgers; they were sold at lunch carts parked near factories, at circuses, carnivals, and state fairs. Ground beef, it was widely believed, was made from old, putrid meat heavily laced with chemical preservatives. "The hamburger habit is just about as safe," one food critic warned, "as getting your meat out of a garbage can." During the 1950s, the rise of drive-ins and fast food restaurants in southern California helped turn the once lowly hamburger into America's national dish. Hamburgers seemed an ideal food for small children--convenient, inexpensive, hand-held, and easy to chew. Before World War II, pork had been the most popular meat in the United States. Rising incomes, falling cattle prices, the growth of the fast food industry, and the mass appeal of the hamburger later pushed American consumption of beef higher than that of pork. By the early 1990s, beef production was responsible for almost half of the employment in American agriculture, and the annual revenues generated by beef were higher than those of any other agricultural commodity in the United States. The average American ate three hamburgers a week. More than two-thirds of those hamburgers were bought at fast food restaurants. And children between the ages of seven and thirteen ate more hamburgers than anyone else.
In January of 1993, doctors at a hospital in Seattle, Washington, noticed that an unusual number of children were being admitted with bloody diarrhea. Some were suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a previously rare disorder that causes kidney damage. Health officials soon traced the outbreak of food poisoning to undercooked hamburgers served at local Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Tests of the hamburger patties disclosed the presence of E. coli 0157:H7. Jack-in-the-Box issued an immediate recall of the contaminated ground beef, which had been supplied by the Von's Companies, Inc. in Arcadia, California. Nevertheless more than seven hundred people in at least four states were sickened by Jack-in-the-Box hamburgers, more than two hundred people were hospitalized, and four died. Most of the victims were Children. Eight years later, approximately half a million Americans, the majority of them children, have been made ill by E. coli 0157:H7. Thousands have been hospitalized, and hundreds have died.
E. coli 0157:H7 is a mutated version of a bacterium found abundantly in the human digestive system. Most E. coli bacteria help us digest food, synthesize vitamins, and guard against dangerous organisms. E. coli 0157:H7, on the other hand, can release a powerful toxin--called a verotoxin or a shiga toxin--that attacks the lining of the intestine. Some people who are infected with E. coli 0157:H7 do not become ill. Others suffer mild diarrhea. In most cases, severe abdominal cramps are followed by watery, then bloody, diarrhea that subsides within a week or so. Sometimes vomiting and a low-grade fever accompany the diarrhea. In about 4% of reported E. coli 0157:H7 cases, the shiga toxins entered the bloodstream, causing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure, anemia, internal bleeding, and the destruction of vital organs. The shiga toxins can cause seizures, neurological damage, and strokes. About 5% of the children who develop HUS are killed by it. Those who survive are often left with permanent disabilities, such as blindness or brain damage. Children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with impaired immune systems are the most likely to suffer from illnesses caused by E. coli 0157:H7. The pathogen is now the leading cause of kidney failure among children in the United States.
Antibiotics have proven ineffective in treating illnesses caused by E. coli 0157:H7. Indeed the use of antibiotics may make such illnesses worse by killing off the pathogen and prompting a sudden release of its shiga toxins. E. coli 0157:H7 is an extraordinarily hearty microbe that is easy to transmit. E. coli 0157:H7 is resistant to acid, salt, and chlorine. It can live in fresh water or seawater. It can live on kitchen counter tops for days and in moist environments for weeks. It can withstand freezing. It can survive heat up to 160º F. To be infected by most food-borne pathogens, such as salmonella, you have to consume a fairly large dose--at least a million organisms. An infection with E. coli 0157:H7 can be caused by as few as five organisms. A tiny uncooked particle of hamburger meat can contain enough of the pathogen to kill you. The heartiness and minute infectious dose of E. coli 0157:H7 allow the pathogen to be spread in many ways. People have been infected by drinking contaminated water, by swimming in a contaminated lake, by playing at a contaminated water park, by crawling on a contaminated carpet. The most common cause of food borne outbreaks has been the consumption of undercooked ground beef. But E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks have also been caused by contaminated bean sprouts, salad greens, cantaloupe, salami, raw milk, and unpasteurized apple cider. All of those foods most likely had come in contact with cattle manure, though the feces of deer, dogs, horses, and flies may also spread the pathogen.
Person-to-person transmission has been responsible for a significant proportion of E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses. E. coli 0157:H7 is shed in the stool, and people infected with it, even those showing no outward sign of illness, can easily spread it through poor hygiene. Person-to-person transmission is most likely to occur among family members, at day care centers, and at senior citizen homes. On average, an infected person remains contagious for about two weeks, though in some cases E. coli 0157:H7 has been found in stool samples two to four months after an initial illness. For people with life-threatening E. coli 0157:H7 infections, the medical profession has little to offer, other than giving them fluids, blood transfusions, and dialysis. On top of that, they would be exposed to hospital-borne, antibiotic-resistant strains of organisms just by being in the hospital. From the Natural Healing realm, colloidal silver can be given orally and the administration of activated charcoal powder mixed in water. Colloidal silver will kill E. coli 0157:H7, but not the probiotic or "friendly" bacteria in the intestines; activated charcoal will absorb the shiga toxins. Homeopathic remedies will help neutralize the effects of the toxicity. There is no toxic level of either and no one has ever overdosed on either activated charcoal or colloidal silver.
Some herds of American cattle may have been infected with E. coli 0157:H7 decades ago. But the recent changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed have created an ideal means for the pathogen to spread. The problem begins in today's vast feedlots. A government health official compared the sanitary conditions in a modern feedlot to those in a crowded European city during the Middle Ages, when people dumped their chamber pots out the window, raw sewage ran in the streets, and epidemics raged. The cattle now packed into feedlots get little exercise and live amid pools of manure. We know we shouldn't eat dirty food and dirty water, but we still think we can give animals dirty food and dirty water. Feedlots have become an extremely efficient mechanism for "recirculating the manure," which is unfortunate, since E. coli 0157:H7 can replicate in cattle troughs and survive in manure for up to ninety days.
Far from their natural habitat, the cattle in feedlots become more prone to all sorts of illnesses. And what they are being fed often contributes to the spread of disease. The rise in grain prices has encouraged the feeding of less expensive materials to cattle, especially substances with a high protein content that accelerate growth. About 75% of the cattle in the United States were routinely fed livestock wastes--the rendered remains of dead sheep and dead cattle--until August of 1997. They were also fed millions of dead cats and dead dogs every year, purchased from animal shelters. The FDA banned such practices after evidence from Great Britain suggested that they were responsible for a widespread outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. Nevertheless, current FDA regulations allow dead pigs, dead horses, and dead poultry to be rendered into cattle feed. The regulations not only allow cattle to be fed dead poultry, they allow poultry to be fed dead cattle. Americans who spent more than six months in the United Kingdom during the 1980s are now forbidden to donate blood, in order to prevent the spread of BSE's human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. But cattle blood is still put into the feed given to American cattle. Cattle are ruminants; they're designed to eat grass and, maybe, grain. They have four stomachs for a reason--to eat products that have high cellulose content. They are not designed to eat other animals.
The waste products from poultry plants, including the sawdust and old newspapers used as litter, are also being fed to cattle. In Arkansas alone, about 3 million pounds of chicken manure were fed to cattle in 1994. Chicken manure may contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, parasites such as tapeworms and giardia lamblia, antibiotic residues, arsenic, and heavy metals. The pathogens from infected cattle are spread not only in feedlots, but also at slaughterhouses and hamburger grinders. The slaughterhouse tasks, most likely to contaminate meat, are the removal of an animal's hide and the removal of its digestive system. The hides are now pulled off by machine; if a hide has been inadequately cleaned, chunks of dirt and manure may fall from it onto the meat.
Stomachs and intestines are still pulled out of cattle by hand; if the job is not performed carefully, the contents of the digestive system may spill everywhere. The increases speed of today's production lines makes the task much more difficult. A single worker at a "gut table" may eviscerate sixty cattle an hour. Performing the job properly takes a fair amount of skill. A former "gutter" said that it took him six months to learn how to pull out the stomach and tie off the intestines without spillage. At best, he could gut two hundred consecutive cattle without spilling anything.
Inexperienced gutters spill manure far more often. The average hourly spillage rate at the gut table has run as high as 20%, with stomach contents splattering one out of five carcasses. The consequences of a single error are quickly multiplied as hundreds of carcasses quickly move down the line. Knives are supposed to be cleaned and disinfected every few minutes, something that workers in a hurry tend to overlook. A contaminated knife spreads germs to everything it touches. The overworked, often illiterate workers, in the nation's slaughterhouses do not always understand the importance of good hygiene. They sometimes forget that this meat will eventually be eaten. They drop meat on the floor and then place it right back on the conveyer belt. They cook bite-sized pieces in their sterilizers, as snacks, thereby rendering the sterilizers ineffective. They are directly exposed to a wide variety of pathogens in the meat, become infected, and inadvertently spread disease.
A recent USDA study found that during the winter about 1% of the cattle at feedlots carry E. coli 0157:H7 in their gut. The proportion rises to as much as 50% during the summer. Even if you assume that only 1% are infected, that means three or four cattle bearing the microbe are eviscerated at a large slaughterhouse every hour. The odds of widespread contamination are raised exponentially when the meat is processed into ground beef. A generation ago, local butchers and wholesalers made hamburger meat out of leftover scraps. Ground beef was distributed locally, and was often made from cattle slaughtered locally. Today large slaughterhouses and grinders dominate the nationwide production of ground beef. A modern processing plant can produce 800,000 pounds of hamburger a day, meat that will be shipped throughout the United States. A single animal infected with E. coli 0157:H7 can contaminate 32,000 pounds of ground beef. To make matters worse, the animals used to make about one-quarter of the nation's ground beef--worn- out dairy cattle--are the animals most likely to be diseased and riddled with antibiotic residues. The stresses of industrial milk production make them even unhealthier than cattle in a large feedlot. Dairy cattle can live as long s forty years, but are often slaughtered at the age of four, when their milk output starts to decline. McDonald's relies heavily on dairy cattle for its hamburger supplies, since the animals are relatively inexpensive, yield low-fat meat, and enable the chain to boast that all its beef is raised in the United States. The days when hamburger meat was ground in the back of the butcher shop, out of scraps from one or two sides of beef, are long gone.
The huge admixture of animals in most American ground beef plants has played a crucial role in spreading E. coli 0157:H7. A single fast food hamburger now contains meat form dozens or even hundreds of different cattle. The USDA does not inform the public when contaminated meat is recalled from fast food restaurants. Between 1996 and 1999, the USDA didn't tell the public about more than one-third of the class I recalls, cases in which consumers faced a serious and potentially lethal threat. The USDA now informs the public about every class I recall, but will not reveal exactly where contaminated meat is being sold (unless it is being distributed under a brand name at a retail store).
Soft drinks have subversive and destructive physiological consequences that contribute to early aging. In the 1500's, the Spanish colonists noted how the Indians of South America were able to allay fatigue by chewing the leaves of the coca shrub. However, that observation lay dormant for three centuries, as the science of organic chemistry developed. By 1860, in Germany, the first pure crystals of cocaine were extracted from coca. In small quantities, it was then used as a stimulant in beverages. By the 1880's, in Paris, a druggist named Angelo Mariani created an immensely popular cocaine-laced wine (vin Mariani). It contained about 30 mg. of cocaine in five ounces. Pope Leo XIII gave a gold metal to Mariani for being a benefactor of humanity. Thomas Edison praised the beverage. In the late 1880's, in Atlanta, a new non-alcoholic drink was born to quench thirsts and provide pep during steamy summers. Coca Cola contained cocaine from the coca plant and lots of caffeine from the kola bean. Other ingredients were lots of sugar, caramel coloring, lime juice, citric acid, phosphoric acid, nutmeg, coriander, neroli (orange flavoring), and cinnamon. The new beverage was sold as a syrup that would be mixed with cold soda water at local drugstores (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream--after refrigerators came on the scene in the 1930's)--it became a coke float. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, and the official in charge of its enforcement set out to prove that the "Coca Cola habit" was harmful to health. By 1922, that persistent official claimed in Good Housekeeping magazine that a child who drank three or four cokes (6 oz.) a day would probably ruin his health for life. Today, we know why that's true:
1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.
3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and .......Let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean.
The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.
4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a crumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. 30 minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.
8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, And run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.
9. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.
10. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.
11. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!
The soft drink usually contains the following components: phosphoric acid, caffeine, sugar or aspartame or saccharin, caramel coloring, carbon dioxide, and aluminum. Ingesting a soft drink does not cause any immediate warning such as stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea that would normally occur when a poison enters the body. Instead, there is the energizing feeling of caffeine, the sweet taste of sugar combined with the sour taste of phosphoric acid, and the playful feeling of the carbon dioxide bubbles. Those ingredients cause imbalances in the body systems that result in debilitating diseases that show up after many, many years of abuse. Those diseases have now become commonly thought of as normal aging with no directly attributable causes.
This is used because phosphoric acid creates an acid medium that enhances the absorption of carbon dioxide (which is also forms carbonic acid in water), thus reducing the pressure required and allowing the mixture to be bottled with a metal cap. The carbon dioxide bubbles are released more slowly, particularly if the mixture is chilled. The sour taste of the phosphoric acid is complemented by adding lots of sugar. The body maintains a concentration of phosphorus (P) times calcium (Ca) to equal potassium (P x Ca = K) in the bloodstream to provide the right combination for building new bones and remodeling old ones. The shock of incoming phosphorus with zero calcium in a soft drink causes ionized Ca in the blood to decline, along with an excretion of Ca in the urine. The drop in blood Ca causes another body system to dissolve Ca from the bones (taken from the teeth, spine and pelvic bones) to make up the imbalance caused by the Ca lost in the blood. This process, continued over time, results in the weakened bone structure (osteoporosis) associated with old people. The body dissolves more Ca from the bones than is needed in anticipation of more phosphoric acid shocks. The excess of Ca is eliminated in life-sustaining order by (1) excretion in the urine, (2) deposition in joints (oteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, bone spurs, and bunions), (3) accretion into stones (kidney stones, etc.), and (4) deposition in arteries (calcified plaque).
Phosphoric acid is the same stuff that cleans deposited materials in your shower--it is a strong chemical--a tooth will dissolve in it. Phosphoric acid, like coffee, causes the body to use its alkaline minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) to neutralize the acid. The body loses valuable minerals because the neutral compounds (salts) are excreted in the urine. Sodium depletion causes bile to become acidic and form mucoid plaque on the intestines, which causes colitis and other serious bowel diseases. Potassium and magnesium depletion can contribute to the development of heart disease. Phosphoric acid is physiologically a strong acid that causes the body to reduce secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCl) that is used for digestion of protein and fats and the absorption of minerals. Inadequate digestion results in bloating and flatulence. Poor absorption of dietary iron can result in anemia, and poor calcium absorption, accelerating the trend of osteoporosis. Another not-so-obvious harmful effect of low stomach acidity is the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeasts and parasites in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that had been held in check by adequate HCl. These creatures can break down the protective mucosal lining, penetrate into the bloodstream, lodge in organs and cause the formation of carcinogens that provoke cancer.
This chemical is an addictive drug that has the ability to stimulate mental alertness, overcome fatigue, and enhance endurance. But, at a price. Caffeine acts by blocking adenosine (neurotransmitter) receptor sites in the central nervous system. Adenosine has a generally depressant action in the brain, heart, and kidneys. The resultant stimulation is a accompanied by constriction of the cerebral arteries, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and excessive excretion of urine. Caffeine causes the release of adrenaline and an accompanying upshot in blood sugar to meet the need for emergency energy. The pancreas also reacts by secreting insulin to keep the blood sugar level stable. Insulin drives blood sugar levels down by forcing it into cells for oxidation and energy production. Excess sugar is stored as fat. This unbalanced cycling process puts undue stress on the adrenal glands and the pancreas, which are weakened after so much use. Adrenal exhaustion and the accompanying deficiency of cortisol allow arachidonic acid to be released to form prostaglandin-2 and leukotrienes which mediate arthritis. Regular users who are deprived of daily caffeine are subject to mental sluggishness, inability to think clearly, depression, and a dull, generalized headache. All these symptoms are promptly eliminated by caffeine. Even moderate users must have their daily fix and cannot give up their harmful habit. Caffeine addiction is difficult to break because the penalty to health is not immediately recognized, and, therefore, it is easy to deny. At excessive doses, caffeine will cause aggression, recklessness, shouting, and swearing (road rage). Caffeine given to rats in large dosages will cause them to physically attack one another and fight until death. If given to a lone rat, it will die of frenetic self-mutilation. The addiction of caffeine and sugar and powerful advertising make the soft drink a superior method for the delivery of ingredients that taste great, but are unsuspectingly destructive to health.
A 12-ounce can of soda contains about 33 grams (11 teaspoons) of sugar. It is difficult to think that something so common, and that tastes so good, can be so harmful to health. The ingestion of sugar (or a high simple carbohydrate diet) actually increases urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, chromium, copper, zinc, and sodium by impairing reabsorption in the kidneys. The loss of calcium in the blood activates the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which causes the release of calcium from the bones--more sugar starts the cycling that is at the root of osteoporosis, arthritis, bursitis, and gout. Sugar causes blood sugar levels to soar--insulin, secreted from the pancreas, shoots up to drive the sugar down--and rapid, unbalanced cycling ensues that eventually wears out the pancreas and makes the cells resistant to insulin--resulting in a disease called diabetes. It's no accident that it occurs in the declining years, after having inflicted so much continual damage. Sugar causes the clumping of red blood cells (as seen in live blood analyses). This impedes the flow and effectiveness of delivering oxygen to the cells and removing carbon dioxide from the cells. The result is a detrimental buildup of wastes in the body that accelerates aging. Sugar impairs immune function by competing with Vitamin C for transport into white blood cells. In turn, that reduces the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy invading bacteria, which leads to chronic infections. Sugar supports the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast in the GI tract which lead to not only painful and itchy infections, but, also, to infestations in the blood and body organs.
In the United States, about 50% of all carbohydrates eaten are sugar. The average adult eats 150 pounds of sugar each year. A teenager eats 300 lbs./yr.--and the trend is rising rapidly. Food manufacturers are currently deceiving the public by taking fat out of foods and adding sugar to enhance taste. It is then deceptively advertised as "fat free" to attract people who want to lose weight, but do not know that the body will convert excess sugar to fat anyway (it is estimated that 50% of Americans are overweight).
Aspartame is a sweetener that has found its way into almost everything to replace sugar. When aspartame is digested it breaks down into three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin that causes serious chronic neurological disorders--it can overstimulate neurons to such an extent that sensitive neurons are slowly destroyed before any obvious behavior symptoms are noticed. Phenylalanine can decrease serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter related to emotion and sleep). Low serotonin can lead to emotional disorders, depression, and poor quality sleep. Methanol is a poison that is metabolized by the liver into formaldehyde (a deadly neurotoxin, carcinogen, mutagen, and teratogen [birth defects] and formic acid (the active chemical in bee and ant stings). Methanol is a cumulative poison whose symptoms include headaches, tinnitus, shooting pains, memory lapses, numbness, and nerve inflammation. The most prominent symptoms are blurred vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Saccharin is a sweetener that is also a carcinogen (causes cancer) in animals. In 1978, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that saccharin was a potential cancer-causing agent in humans, and that it promotes the carcinogenic effects of other agents. The Food and Drug Administration's position is that saccharin should not be used in food, but it is used as a table sweetener! Caramel coloring is obtained by heating sugar until a brown color and characteristic flavor develops. Caramel coloring has negative genetic effects and is a cancer-causing agent.
Carbon dioxide is probably the least obnoxious thing in a soft drink. It is a waste product of metabolism that is exhaled. So, why should we ingest something that the body is trying to eliminate? When it was found that phosphoric acid eats-away enough aluminum from the container to be harmful, the problem was "solved" by plastic-coating the interior of the aluminum can. However, phosphoric acid leaches toxic amounts of aluminum into the soft drink despite the plastic coating. Aluminum is deposited in the brain and bone tissue. Aluminum results in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles in brain tissue--the same type of lesion seen on the brains of individuals who suffer from alzheimer's disease. Aluminum exposure increases the amount of bone break-down, while, at the same time, reducing new bone formation. Aluminum causes excessive loss of calcium in the urine. The resulting osteoporosis can be accompanied by severe bone pain. The most common source of aluminum ingestion is antacids and processed cheese.
Recent Studies and Government Actions Raise Concern About Harmful Breakdown Chemical That Has Contaminated Human Blood. In the growing controversy over the toxicity and pervasiveness of a group of chemicals, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) today asked the CEOs of nine major fast food corporations to disclose the use of the chemicals in their packaging. The chemicals--fluorinated telomers--can break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used to make Teflon. PFOA is toxic at low levels and is found in more than 90% of Americans. The use of the Teflon-related chemical could be widespread in the fast food industry, and in fact, initial concerns about the industry were raised by a document written by a 3M contractor. The document advised a supermarket food sampling team to wash their hands thoroughly after eating fast food, because of concerns that the chemicals in food packaging would contaminate the samples: "Many food and snack products--microwave popcorn, fast-food (sandwiches, chicken, French fries), pizza, bakery items, beverages, candy, cookies--are packaged in wrappers treated with the chemicals of interest. Therefore, hands will be thoroughly washed after handling fast food, carryout food, or snacks." Knowing if fast food packaging contains these chemicals will be critical information to both consumers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in making public health decisions.
The EPA has undertaken an effort to answer the question of how the Teflon-related chemical has contaminated the blood of almost every American. This review is the largest in the Agency's history, and the stakes are high. EWG is concerned about the efforts by DuPont, 3M and other manufacturers to sharply limit the number of consumer products included in the review of potential routes of exposure and to keep the names of those products and the findings of the review secret. The chemical industry is planning more tests to better define sources of human exposure under an enforceable agreement with EPA, but unfortunately, only two food-packaging products are slated for testing. Details about the products are being claimed as confidential by the industry, and publicly available information is limited.
"We are writing you to request information that the chemical industry is unable or unwilling to provide, in the hope that your answers will give your customers knowledge of, and confidence in, the safety of your products," EWG president Ken Cook wrote in his letters to the CEOs of Burger King, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Subway and Wendy's. "If you are using fluorinated chemicals in food packaging, as many companies are, we look forward to hearing your plans for eliminating their use in the future as a proactive way to protect the health of your customers and reduce contamination of the biosphere with these toxic, indestructible pollutants."
Finally, Cheetos are a smart choice. The baked kind, that is. Or so says PepsiCo (PEP), which sells them.
PepsiCo, saying it wants to give consumers a "little shortcut to a healthier life," has deemed more than 100 of its food and beverage products worthy of green "Smart Spot" stickers that read "smart choices made easy." Products making the grade include some that wouldn't necessarily be considered healthy, such as baked Cheetos and baked Lays potato crisps. The thinking: Baked is better than fried. "It's a smart choice in its given category," says PepsiCo spokesman Mark Dollins. The stickers, appearing on the first products September 8, 2004, will be fully rolled out by the end of the year.
Some nutrition experts aren't impressed. The stickers may encourage people to eat foods they "shouldn't be eating at all," says nutrition professor Marion Nestle at
To make the Smart Spot grade, PepsiCo products must meet criteria chosen by PepsiCo but based on "authoritative statements" from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences, the company says. What's a passing grade? That depends. A "snack" such as Cheetos cannot get more than 35% of its calories from fat. NAS recommends 20% to 35% of calories a day from fat. Baked Cheetos comes in at 34.6%, fried at 56.3%.
A "food" product cannot contain more than 30% of calories from fat. Winners there include Life cereal, Quaker Instant Oatmeal and Aunt Jemima Butter Lite Syrup. The products cannot have any trans-fats and must meet other nutrient criteria unless they have specific health or wellness benefits. For example, Gatorade's added sugar provides energy. Or, if they have at least 25% fewer calories, fat, sugar or sodium than a "base" product. While abstinence may be the healthiest option, people eat chips, says Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at
Whether consumers, perhaps jaded by low-fat or low-carb claims that fell short of their expectations, will see Smart Spot stickers as helpful or just savvy marketing remains to be seen. If the latter, "Pepsi will pay for that on the bottom line," says Lynn Dornblaser of market research firm Mintel Group. Smart Spot products accounted for 38% of PepsiCo's