Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Do McDonalds chicken nuggets contain butane?

Someone mentioned to me that McDonald’s sprays their chicken nuggets with butane (lighter fluid). Not one to take everything for truth, I embarked on my own research to find out if this was true, and well, basically it is. I am VERY glad I do not eat McDonald’s and even more glad my daughter never has and now she certainly never will.

Here is what I found:
These two paragraphs are taken directly from The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There’s some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.

According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the “leavening agents”: sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are “anti-foaming agents” like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it’s also flammable.

But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to “help preserve freshness.” According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

Yum, sounds good doesn’t it? I have not seen anywhere that says whether or not Europe allows this junk in their food. I am guessing not because they are better at protecting their consumers than the FDA. I am pretty sure high fructose corn syrup is illegal in Europe, just for one thing.

Though Wikipedia does not mention a link TBHQ to butane, it still does not paint a very flattering picture. And yes I realize Wikipedia is not a great source.


Lead in the Garden Hose

Don’t drink from the hose!! Of course, who didn’t do this as a kid? Who has not run through the sprinkler? Well, as it turns out, the entire time, we were being exposed to lead. Not until recently was it made public that lead is a staple in garden hoses. Look at the package of virtually any hose and you will see a warning stating something like “NOT INTENDED FOR DRINKING WATER” or “DO NOT DRINK FROM HOSE.” Other warnings include “wash hands after use” and some recommend wearing gloves while handling the hose.

ABC and Consumer Reports did a test on 10 different hoses and found levels of lead 10 to 100 greater than the allowable EPA standards. Lead as you likely know, is extemely dangerous and can lead to irreversible brain damage and other health issues.

That makes me want to run out and play with the hose, water my garden, run through the sprinkler and take a long cold drink of water from it.

Our children are most vulnerable since they are so small and are more affected as many toys they gum, the tubs they bath in, etc. may also contain trace or excessive amounts of lead.

The good news is, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your children.
1. Avoid brass fittings. They can also leach lead into the water.
2. Read the package before you buy. If it says “do not drink” then do not buy.
3. If you do have a hose tainted with lead, take care in its use. Do not use it to drink from, fill the pool or water plants that will be a food source or plants near a food source.
4. Keep the hose away from the reach of children.
5. Store the hose in a cooler place (apparently leaving in the sun makes the leaching worse).
6. Flush the hose before each use.
7. Buy a drinking water safe hose. They are surprisingly not much more expensive than traditional hoses, I am talking a few dollars in most cases. Look for hoses for marine and camper use. 

Drinking Water Safe Hoses
EZ-Coil-n-Store Drinking Water Hose

RV Drinking Water Hose – 50′

Gilmour 12 Series 5 Ply Marine & Recreation Hose, 5/8 Inch x 75 Feet

Apex NeverKink Boat and Camper 2000 1/2-Inch-by-50-Foot Hose

News articles 
ABC News

Consumer Reports

TruKid Sunny Days Sunscreen: Product Review

This stuff is GREAT!! After the recent report on most sunscreens failing to work, I consulted the EWG’s list of what they considered to be the safer and most effective of the sunscreens. TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen lotion and TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Water Resistant Face Stick were both on the list, so I ordered some from Amazon for our beach trip.

The bottles are small I will say, however, compared to California Baby, it’s less expensive. The product has a nice citrus scent, it goes on smooth and does not feel greasy. It also does not leave a white mess like other lotions. And most importantly, we did not get burned! I admit, I got a little pink one day, but that was my own fault for not reapplying soon enough, and I am very pasty white right now! But we kept reapplying it about every 90 minutes or so, and everyone on our trip got burnt except us! They were using Bull Frog mainly and they were reapplying, too.

Another bonus, the customer service and shipping were great! I ordered from and the shipment arrived in about 4 days. I emailed to check the status, but about an hour later it arrived, so I emailed back to say never mind it had arrived, but they still responded! They are also working with Whole Foods to try and get the product on the shelves there. I hope they do!

Both the TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen lotion and TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Water Resistant Face Stick are fantastic products and I highly recommend them. We will definitely be loyal customers!

Flavor of breastmilk may influence child eating habits

Any breastfeeding mother will tell you that her diet can definitely affect her milk, but this takes a step beyond that saying the varying flavor of breastmilk can influence the child’s eating habits when he starts eating solid foods. The study suggests that breastfed babies are used to a variety of flavors and are more willing to accept new foods than a formula fed baby. Formula is very bland and the flavor never changes, so a formula fed baby may not be as willing to give a new food much of a chance.

I can definitely see this with my daughter who breastfed until she was 2. She still nurses occasionally. My daughter eats pretty much anything, especially hummus, lima beans, Mexican food, broccoli, and jambalaya. She also will eat salsa and likes spicier foods. I will say that I ate a lot of all these foods when I was pregnant and nursing. Other moms I talk to (who I know formula fed) are in envy of the variety of foods she will eat.

Now of course, this is not an exact science. There will be breastfed babies who are picky eaters and formula fed ones who will eat absolutely anything you put in front of them. But for sure the flavor of breastmilk definitely changes, and that is something that is only beneficial. More research would need to be done to get a better idea of the extent breastmilk can influence a child’s eating habits later in life. And as more mother’s are making the decision to breastfeed, that could help encourage better eating habits and lower the rates of childhood obesity.

Read the entire article here.

Drug Regimen Prevents AIDS Transmission Via Breast Milk

This article was in US News and World Report. A new drug regimen helps prevent the HIV virus from being passed from an infected mother to her infant via breastmilk. This is significant particularly for African mothers who rarely formula feed. There, they have little or no access to clean water for mixing formula or sterilizing/cleaning bottles.

Another interesting point of the studies finding is that duration of breastfeeding had no impact on the risk of passing the virus, so limiting the duration of nursing does not offer any further protection. It also said that stopping breastfeeding in an HIV infected infant was harmful.

This is great news and I hope all infected mothers will be able to take advantage of this.

Read the entire article

And for even more details on the study, this article was posted in Science Daily. It gives a more detailed version of the study. Very interesting stuff!

Soda consumption fuels obesity

OK, so that’s not news. But there is an interesting campaign going for the summer encouraging Bay Area/Oakland residents to eliminate or at least reduce their soda consumption this summer.

Some interesting points from the article

The Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, states that sugared beverage consumption has increased 500 percent over the past five decades — at a rate that roughly corresponds with the increase in overweight children.”

“Gee told the crowd of about 100 gathered for the campaign launch that he’s seen rates of Type 2 diabetes in children multiply during the 20 years he’s been in practice. And he described a recent study concluding that it took the consumption of just 150 excess calories a day to separate the children who became overweight from those who maintained normal weights. ‘And what is 150 calories a day? It’s a can of soda,’ Gee said.”

“…the average teen drinks 750 cans of soda yearly.”

Beverage facts

– Soda is the No. 1 source of sugar in the American diet.

– 30 percent of all calories consumed daily are from sweetened beverages.

– Americans spend $56 billion annually on purchasing nondiet soft drinks.

– U.S. teens consume twice as much soda as milk.

– Drinking just one 20-ounce bottle of soda each day for a year can result in gaining 25 extra pounds.

Read the entire article

BPA found in canned foods

This is really no surprise, but I found this Canadian article today discussing why this is an issue and why we should be concerned. The highest concern in canned foods is more acidic foods, such as tomatos and ravioli, but also chicken noodle soup. Foods often consumed by young children who are more susceptible to the harmful effects of BPA.

The article links to this great report done by Environmental Health Perspectives.

Mother breastfeeding 8 infant earthquake victims

Wow!! What an amazing story!! A Chinese police officer and new mother, has taken in 8 babies to nurse. Three of the infants mother’s were traumatized by the event and it affected their milk supply. Five of the infants were orphaned. This mother is truly a hero.

In such tragic events, artificial feeding becomes dangerous because water supplies often becomes contaiminated. So mixing formula and cleaning necessary supplies becomes a challenge and can endanger the health of an artificially fed infant. Read more here….

US Government says BPA is harmful

So it is not just concerned parents, half of the US state governments and Canada, now a federal health panel for the US government, Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, is stepping up saying BPA may in fact cause cancer and other serious disorders.

This article also points out the FDA is under-funded. That really is not good news. With all the food and drug-recalls and now research showing BPA is harmful while the FDA is still claiming its safety – well, that really is not the best news I heard today.

The folks in the plastic industry maintain BPA is safe, but really, don’t they have something to gain by saying so? Kinda reminds me of when the tobacco industry said smoking was good for your health… We now know better.

While the FDA is pointing to studies showing the safety of BPA it is worthy to note that the studies were funded by the plastic industry.

There are numerous independent studies that show BPA is harmful. Why can’t the plastic industry folks just fess up and remove this toxic chemical from its production line, and while they are at it, they can stop the production of #3 (polyvinyl chloride containing phthalates) and #6 (styrofoam containing polystyrene). These all have been shown to threaten human and animal health, and the environment.

There are many articles in the news today talking about the federal health panel’s stance on BPA.

Safety of Water Bottles, Baby Bottles Questioned, ABC News
Reusable plastic water bottles may be good for the environment, but a new study shows they might be bad for your health.  There’s a possibility that the chemical found in plastic water bottles, baby bottles and the lining of many food, drink and baby formula cans could be linked to health problems, including prostate cancer, breast cancer and early-onset puberty, according to a chemical evaluation released Monday night by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program.

US Government says BPA may cause cancer, Mom Houston
U.S. Cites Fears on Chemical In Plastics, Washington Post
A federal health panel Tuesday for the first time acknowledged concerns that a chemical found in thousands of everyday products such as baby bottles and compact discs may cause cancer and other serious disorders.

Chemical in plastic may harm human growth, LA Times
A controversial, estrogen-like chemical in plastic could be harming the development of children’s brains and reproductive organs, a federal health agency concluded in a report released Tuesday.

Ignore self-serving industry studies and ban plastics chemical, Mercury News
That day in 1998 in Patricia Hunt’s Washington State University research lab started like any other: scientists hard at work, searching for causes of human pregnancy failure. But then the data suddenly went haywire. Eggs from normal female mice – the controls – began exhibiting striking abnormalities. Hunt had a mystery on her hands. Weeks of reviewing internal protocols finally gave Hunt her answer. The culprit was bisphenol A.

Related articles:

Get reports on BPA-free products right on your mobile

So you are on your quest to find BPA-free sippies, bottles, pacifiers and feeding tools, but once at the store, you are overwhelmed with options and completely forget which items are safe from what company. Z Recommends has come to the rescue with a wonderful service. Just send them a text from your mobile phone and they will send you a report! Genius! Best part is that it is free (aside from your standard texting fees).

Read more about how to use this service on Z Rec’s website.

Here is how the service works:

How It Works
Text “zrecs” plus a company name and/or a product category to 69866. You’ll get a text back (or occasionally two) providing the BPA status of products by that company and/or in that category. Current categories are bottles, sippys, pacifiers, and tableware.

Requirements: Every request sent to this service requires the first word to be “zrecs” to access our BPA database, and must be sent to the number 69866.

Charges/Access fees: This service is currently offered free of any charge except whatever it costs you to send and receive text messages (based on your cell phone plan). This free service is made possible by a partnership between Z Recommends and Mobile Commons, a company that designs and serves mobile applications. We’ll invite you to contribute to this project at the foot of this post.

Here are some specific ways you can access our BPA info through this service.

Check all of one company’s products: Text “zrecs” and then the company name. Example: “zrecs boon” returns, at the time of this writing:

Reported BPA-Free: Fluid, Benders, Modware, Catch Bowl, Groovy, Snack Ball. W/BPA: Squirt. More at | StdOthrChrgsMayApply. Powered by mCommons

Product category status and recommendations: For this text service products are covered in the following categories:


You can check on a company’s products in a particular category by texting “zrecs” + company name + category (no plusses!). Example: “zrecs avent pacifiers” returns, at the time of this writing:

All current Avent pacifiers have BPA. Alternatives: txt pacifier. More at | StdOthrChrgsMayApply. Powered by mCommons

Whenever we find a company’s BPA-free offerings in a product area lacking, we’ll point you to the alternative: requesting info for the product category overall. In the above case, we wanted to remind you that you can text “zrecs pacifiers,” which will return:

BPA-Free pacifiers: all First Years+Playtex, some Evenflo (txt company name + pacifier for specs). More at | StdOthrChrgsMayApply. Powered by mCommons

As we add new companies to the Z Report, you’ll see more companies’ products popping up in some of these categories. We have very few listings that run into two messages, and if we run out of space we are more likely to drop companies which are unlikely to be seen in brick-and-mortar stores; when you’re shopping online, just check the Z Report.

Get general recommendations or info: There are a few other texts you can send.

  • zrecs BPAFree: Basic instructions for checking on companies, plus a list of recommended BPA-Free companies from the Z Report.
  • zrecs info: Reminds you that we canvassed companies, rather than lab-testing, to get the information in our report.
  • zrecs disclaimer: We do our best, all the time.

Related Articles:

  • Pregnant women told to avoid BPA
  • US Government says BPA is harmful
  • Today Show report on BPA & plastic safety
  • BPA may lead to health problems such as obesity and ADD/ADHD
  • Whole Foods private label canned food contain BPA
  • Canned foods and BPA
  • BPA is found in infant formula
  • Gerber baby food containers
  • BPA and other plastic safety
  • Z Recommends: The Z Report on BPA In Infant Care Products, Third Edition
  • Environmental Working Group: Guide to Baby Safe Bottles & Formula
  • Environmental Working Groups Report on BPA in Baby Formula
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