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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The problem with some pancakes

Is Your Stack of Pancakes
Increasing Your Cancer Risk?

If you’re the kind of person who likes a good breakfast of syrup and pancakes, you could be putting yourself at risk for cancer.
That’s because the dangers of caramel food coloring are becoming more widely known. I first reported the potential risks of food coloring in Issue #380. And it comes as no surprise to most people that food dyed with black or bright neon colors is going to be bad for you.
Continued below…

In this weeks exposé…
A top executive of a major pharmaceutical company spills the naked truth about the drugs you and your family take... which drugs heal, and which ones KILL... what doctors turn to when they don't know the cure... what they do when they themselves or their loved ones are stricken with disease or illness... what life-saving resource they insist should be in every home. Watch this must-see video now because your life -- or the life of your loved ones -- may depend on it.

Today I want to revisit the risks of brown food coloring – caramel color -- in particular, because it turns out to be more of a risk than the bright reds, blues, yellows and greens that might be the first thing you think of when someone mentions food dyes. Brown coloring is especially a problem if you love syrup with breakfast.
Three reasons caramel coloring
could poison you
Pancake syrup is a popular product in Western culture. Unlike real maple syrup, it’s pretty cheap. But also unlike natural syrup, it contains 4-MeI – the same carcinogen that's common in popular sodas, according to Consumer Reports. Caramel food color presents a more significant risk than the other food dyes for three reasons.
First, it’s easy to overlook. If you eat a cupcake with bright pink icing, or a purple cookie, you know there’s a pretty good chance it’s been dyed with a chemical. But a brown cookie or cupcake could easily take its color from chocolate, cinnamon, or a number of other food ingredients that are naturally brown.
The second reason caramel food coloring presents such a significant risk is its name. To most of us, the words “caramel color” sound natural. The phrase doesn’t suggest something artificial. It just sounds like more sugar was added to a product, and sugar becomes brown or golden brown when it’s “caramelized” – heated to a high temperature and liquefied. Sugar, of course, isn’t healthy but it’s not a toxic chemical, either.
And third, caramel food coloring is in a shocking number of popular foods. It’s one of the oldest and most commonly used food colorings, so you find it in just about everything. Brown sodas, mainly colas, are probably the most widely consumed products that have this coloring. But other popular foods have it as well, such as custards, potato chips, doughnuts, fish and shellfish spreads, fruit preserves, gravy, ice cream, dressings -- and pancake syrup.
Another problem when it comes to caramel food coloring is that not all dyes of this type contain 4-MeI. Class I and II caramel coloring don’t have it – only Class III and IV. But it’s just about impossible to tell which level of coloring is in your food, because manufacturers aren’t required to list it. (If you want to delve deeper into this whole question of different classes of caramel coloring, there’s more at our article on colas, Issue #108.)
Eggs with pancakes and carcinogens on the side
According to Consumer Reports, the simple pancake syrup you serve with breakfast every weekend is probably loaded with carcinogens.
Both the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer say 4-MeI may cause cancer in humans. It has already been proved beyond a doubt that it causes cancer in mice.
Recently, Consumer Reports teamed up with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future to test pancake syrup samples purchased in both California and New York. Pure, natural maple syrup was used as a control. (By the way, real maple syrup is what I eat on the occasions – extremely rare – when I have pancakes or French toast.)
Appallingly, 4-MeI was found in every syrup tested, with Hungry Jack Original and Aunt Jemima Lite leading the pack in terms of micrograms of 4-MeI per serving.
Consumer Reports stipulates that their test wasn’t large enough to be able to recommend specific brands over others, but the fact that 4-MeI was present is pretty conclusive.
The problem is significant enough that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to take a closer look at levels of caramel coloring in food. I don’t have high hopes for swift regulatory action from them, but it’s worth noting that big government agencies are acknowledging the problem.
In fact, California includes 4-MeI on its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Since 2012, they’ve required cancer warning labels on products with over 29 micrograms of the substance.
An avoidable and unnecessary risk
Pundits say pancake syrup isn’t as big a risk as soft drinks because even those who eat syrup regularly do so only a couple of times a week. According to Consumer Reports, if you were to consume the syrup with the lowest levels of 4-MeI (Log Cabin Original), then your risk of cancer would be negligible – roughly one in 1,000,000. I would agree, this shouldn’t keep you up at night.
The problem is there are those who eat pancake syrup daily – and that includes four percent of children between age one and five. People who eat syrup that often increase their cancer risk by ten times. That’s still a modest risk, but don’t forget to add in all the exposure you get from other foods with trace amounts of 4-MeI, like soy sauce, vinegar, and rum. It all adds up and increases your risk.
Please note, colas are by far the greater risk, based on the quantity many people consume.
Most colas have about 200 micrograms of 4-Mel per 20-ounce bottle! Lots of folks drink more than that every day. So they’re drinking a carcinogen in big enough quantities to cause concern. And it’s a carcinogen that you might think is unnecessary since natural caramel should do just as well.
Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. Avoid exposure to carcinogens in colas by not drinking this junk. You’ll enjoy the added benefit of avoiding the sugar or artificial sweeteners which are, if anything, even more dangerous than the chemical dyes.
And avoid carcinogens in syrup by buying and eating only 100 percent pure maple syrup, manufactured from the sap of the maple tree. Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than going through cancer. Maple syrup also tastes much better. Just do a side-by-side comparison. There’s no contest.
Other breakfast alternatives include smothering your pancakes with natural preserves, or using fresh fruit and cream. Try it for a week — chances are good you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll be better off in the long run.
The history of prepared and processed foods in this country is long and tragic. As a boy, my family NEVER served real maple syrup OR real butter. It was fake syrup and margarine all the way – just to save a couple of bucks. When I found the stuff didn’t even taste good, compared to the natural products, I changed my ways and never looked back. As for colas, I was allowed to have as much as I wanted, every day. I suspect millions of other homes were the same. It’s a wonder any of us are still here!

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