Category Archives: Health news

Cheese Regulation Reviewed

Regulators want to increase the scope of regulation on cheese. An interesting concoction of mathematics and creative logic has convinced regulators on the risk of certain cheeses – that have not caused a single documented problem in the last 23 years…

“(I have spent much of the last week reading a 189-page report issued jointly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, with the dry title, “Joint FDA/Health Canada Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the United States and Canada”. The reading is as dry as the title suggests. It’s full of technical statistical and research terminology, terms like “risk characterization,” “sensitivity analysis,” “mitigation,” “rank correlation,” and on and on. What that meant was that I had to read everything two, three, and four times before I could begin to make sense of it. But the more I read, the more upset I became, because I realized this is a very important document, one that could have a huge effect on food availability. If the authors of this report are successful in accomplishing what they want to accomplish with brie and camembert cheeses, you can be sure they will continue on to other kinds of cheese, and then other entire categories of food products, in their endless search for supposedly serious pathogen dangers. Equally troubling, the FDA considers this report ”science based and transparent,” when it is anything but. I wrote the following analysis to try to get my thoughts down in an orderly way. I encourage you, after you’ve read my assessment, to try your own hand at reading the report, or at least the summary, and then to take the opportunity the FDA is offering to provide comments, and let the agency know in no uncertain terms what you think about this particular piece of literature. )”


How the Medical Industry is Making Themselves Irrelevant with Polypharmacy

The medical industry has successfully raised the barrier of what can be called healthy or medicinal, to isolated active ingredients. A herb with multiple active ingredients is too complicated to understand without millions of dollars in research. We should trust our doctors and stick to well researched ingredients.

Doctors then prescribe an annual average of 18 of these safe medicines, creating a medicinal cocktail, which once again is not understood by science. As medical students, they do teach us polypharmacy, and warn us of the dangers of combining multiple medicines, but the medical profession prefers to focus on the mistakes of their competitors, ignoring their own shortcomings – much like the alternative health crowd they detest.

A new Israeli study showed how over 80% of patients improved simply by stopping all their medications. prescribed up to 25 different drugs&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=,d.bmk

Food Fraud Follow Up Post

I linked to an article on food fraud a couple of weeks back. I have been bumping into that article all over, It seems the message on olive oil is getting around. I want to share a few more general ideas on the subject, and a couple more links to related news.

EU Standards and Fraud

It seems people are waking up to the fact that the food fraud is not just a corporate issue, but related to organized crime. Some years earlier I was looking into importing basic food commodities to Europe, and I was warned by families in central Europe against the idea, because they said that entering commodity markets is only possible with ties to organized crime, or politics. We like to laugh at the Americans, but we have barely started with the problems back home.

People with power are quite able to avoid the high standards we have built to protect us, making our standards a barrier of entry, rather then a guarantee of quality. If European fishers want to enter Somalian coastal waters to hoard their fish, we will send in our navies to back them up. If the Somalians claim EU dumps their nuclear waste in their waters, we don’t bother to check their claims, any more then we did in Lebanon in the 90’s. There are serious structural issues underlying the narrow debate of food fraud.


At emergent health we are interested in supplements, and although we are just getting started, we are becoming alarmingly aware that the issue is relevant too. I walk around the Bangkok Chinatown, and all the shops selling 20-30k$ cordyceps admit there is no way to know about the quality. In the internet there are warnings of contamination with heavy particles, as a 0.1g increase in weight will bring in a few dollars of profit.

Quality in supplements seems quite important. I found a shop squeezing fresh centella (kotu kola) juice, and every time I visit the shop their juice flips my lid. I feel a rush of mental clarity, and a clear balancing of blood sugar. Inspired by this I ordered a kilo of dried organic centella from an online vendor. It does not matter how much of this dried powder I consume, I cant feel a thing. Last time I visited China Town, I tried another shops fresh centella juice, and once again I could not feel a thing. Olli Posti, who visited me a moment back gave me a chance to verify my theory on centella, since he is well aquinted with standardised centella extracts – he verified the first shop as the real thing, and the others as ineffective.

Olli posti stresses quality in all things, he prefers to only use products that come from single producers. The company must grow and package the product themselves, and openly discuss production methods online. He believes anyone who is passionate about the quality of their product will be found on youtube ranting on their vision. Olli would not trust, nor support a company that uses ‘secret propriety methods’, his money is a vote for the type of business he believes in. Further more he believes this leads him to products that are even higher quality then current standards (organic, etc) identify.

More News on Food Fraud:

This article explores a few areas where food fraud includes adding dangerous ingredients, not just a reduction of quality.

Here Dr Mercola (who’s words should always be taken with a bit of skepticism  discusses food fraud in the meat industry.

Botanical Revolution

Science is opening a whole new world in terms of health benefits from plants. While corporate inspired regulators, and the medical profession have seemed less then exited about people trying to improve their health with plants, it seems that other corporate elements are in a hurry to cash in from the trend.

“Botanicals, the bioactive components of herbs, spices and other plants in either powdered, extracted or other forms, promise to take advantage of substances that have potential benefits while they do not qualify as nutrients.

Plant chemicals – phytochemicals – garner attention because they are viewed as untapped sources of energy and health benefits. There are only three energy-yielding macronutrients — proteins, fats, and carbohydrates — and only a handful of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, all of which are dietary essentials. But the number of plant-derived chemicals that could yield health benefits is vast and yet to be completely discovered.”

Overview of Trends in Botanical Drinks

 There is huge growth in the market of healthy spiced up drinks, as a side note its good to keep in mind that these products are pasteurized so many benefits might be lost. Its also worth checking for chemicals included for shelf life.

“After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage globally. But tea drinking historically has lagged in the U.S., even though it may hold the Asian secret to longevity and good health.

As July 4 approaches, one can’t help but reflect that a tax on tea in the Colonies was the impetus for our rebellion from Great Britain in 1776. In Tea Lover’s Treasury, author James Norwood Pratt relates this story: En route to sign the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote his wife Abigail that he asked at a tavern, “Is it lawful for a weary traveler to refresh himself with a dish of tea, provided it has been honestly smuggled and has paid no duty?” The landlord’s daughter answered sternly: “No sir! We have renounced tea under this roof. But, if you desire it, I will make you some coffee.”

American attitudes are changing. An aging U.S. population with disease prevention on its mind, including some 77 million baby boomers, has embraced beverages such as tea as part of a holistic lifestyle. Many believe the antioxidants, botanicals and herbs not only quench their thirst but aid their hearts with anti-inflammatory benefits, improve immunity, aid digestion, provide energy, detox their systems and help them relax.”

Health by Stealth

  Demand for healthy food for children is skyrocketing among parents. Creative ways to hide healthy ingredients are entering the market. Being a parent myself, I must admit I have often compromised the quality of my own meal, so i could let my child get her extra omega threes or more organics.

 I have been quite dissapointeed in the corporate approach to health food. The root problem is in the corporate approach to product design, specifically in the way quality is defined (quality in product design means only giving what is appreciated and understood, everything else is waste), so kellog’s would make a bad product if the iron in corn flakes were bio available, since the customers are not wise enough to appreciate the difference. There would be no more perceived value, but an increase of price, resulting in a ‘lower quality product’. Quality means something different for us as consumers, for product designers and in the manufacturing process. Its worth understanding these differences as a consumer.

The other day on was an ingenious sippy-cup design that contained a hidden compartment near the lid to put liquid medication. It mixes in unobtrusively with a child’s beverage to help parents avoid one potential battleground with their children in the quest to stay healthy.

For years now, food formulators have employed stealth options for hiding nutrients or better-for-you ingredients in children’s snacks, meals and beverages. New ingredients, methods and technologies have made this task easier, and this leads to healthier food options at retail and in the school lunch line.