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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Food Facts: QR Codes, GMOs, and other trends in packaged foods.

Courtesy of Visit Jacksonville
By Tracy Thomas,
Doctor's Wife & Mother of Four.
Dr. Thomas recently wrote a blog post about the advantages of buying locally grown foods, especially from farmers’ markets. We’re fortunate to live in a region where good things grow throughout the whole year, and those foods can be brought to market very shortly after they are harvested. No preservatives and no packaging.
One thing Dr. Thomas didn’t mention is that those fresh foods generally don’t require labelling. What you see is what you get. Bananas are bananas, tomatoes are tomatoes, and potatoes are potatoes. It’s fairly straightforward.
However, for lots of reasons, many of us are not able to go one hundred percent natural in our food choices. Most people buy packaged foods at least some of the time. When it comes to packaged foods, it’s very important to read and understand the labels.
The Food and Drug Administration and Food Labeling Requirements
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
According to the official FDA website, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for assuring that foods sold in the United States are safe, wholesome and properly labeled. This applies to foods produced domestically, as well as foods from foreign countries.”
The FDA website has a great deal of information about lists of ingredients, how foods should be labelled, and much more. There’s even information on how companies should figure out serving sizes to include with their food labels.
Comedian Brian Regan tells jokes about the serving size for fig newtons. The serving size on the label that he saw was two cookies. He asked, “Who eats two cookies?” The serving size for his ice cream was half a cup. “Who eats half a cup?”
Nutritional information is generally presented per serving. In other words, the number of calories printed on the label is the number of calories per serving, not per container. It’s important to understand that when making food choices. If the container has three servings in it and you like to eat the whole thing, the calories, grams of fat, etc. all have to be multiplied by three.

QR Codes and Food Labels
One recent trend in food labelling is the use of Quick Response codes. They’re also known as QR codes and they consist of black and white blocks of shapes, lines, and squares that are now seen on many products including packaged foods. QR codes can be scanned with smart phone apps. Once scanned, information about the product can be accessed.
President Obama recently signed a law requiring food companies to flag genetically modified ingredients in plain writing, an icon developed by regulators, or with digitally readable QR codes. The new law allows companies to disclose the presence of GMOs using QR codes rather than words on labels. This news was recently covered in a Wall Street Journal article.
So, for some food products, the only way to get nutritional information is with the QR codes. That’s fine for people who have an app, but it’s tough luck for people who don’t have an app. Here are two of the apps that are now available.
QR Code Reader: To scan a QR code or barcode, simply open the app, point the camera at the code, and you’re done. There’s no need to take a photo or press a button. The app will automatically recognize any code your camera is pointing at.
Shazam: According to the company website, this app is “one of the world’s most popular apps, used by more than 100 million people each month to magically connect to the world around them.” This app does much more than read QR Codes.  
Growing concerns about Genetically Modified Organisms
“GMOs are organisms that have been created through the application of transgenic, gene-splicing techniques that are part of biotechnology.” OrganicItsWorthIt
One thing that many people have become concerned about in their food is the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Genetic Engineering, the science of GMOs, allows genetic material (DNA) from one species to be transferred into another species. The result is organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools.
Genetic engineering is a new science and there are a host of unknowns about genetically engineered crops and GMOs. Research is accumulating which suggests that GMOs may not be safe. If GMOs are in products, many consumers want to be aware of it and they deserve to have the means to find that important information. Many consumers want to avoid GMOs as much as they possibly can.
If you’re concerned about GMOs, as everyone should be, start looking for the Certified NON GMO label on the food products you purchase.
The trend toward fewer ingredients
Another interesting trend in the food industry is the movement toward fewer ingredients. In fact, fewer ingredients is now being used as a selling point for many foods.  Many people feel that fewer ingredients equates to more natural and better for the body. There’s certainly some logic to that.
Products ranging from chocolates by Hershey to ice cream by Haagen Dazs to snack bars from General Mills now consist of fewer ingredients than similar products in the past. The Wall Street Journal recently published an interesting article about this trend in packaged foods.
Take back your health. Know what you’re putting into your body.
It’s extremely important to know what you’re putting into your body. The human body is complicated and it requires good foods in order to run optimally. If you can’t find the ingredients of a food product, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. If you need to get an app to read QR Codes, I encourage you not to put that off. Download an app and start using it.  
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This article discusses the importance of reading food labels and how to read food labels. I have also discussed nutritional information that is now available through QR codes, the trend of some food producers toward using fewer ingredients, and GMOs in food products.
If you have a comment about this article, please leave it in the comments section below. If you know of someone who might benefit from the information in this blog, please share it with your friends and colleagues, and also on social media.
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At Vibrant Life, we address all of the key elements to add vibrance and vitality to your life. This includes nutrition, chiropractic care, and fitness. If you need to consult with a chiropractor about your neck, back, or any other health concern, please contact our office to set up an appointment.

Tracy Thomas is the Vice President of the Vibrant Life Health Center. After experiencing the transformative power of Chiropractic and proper nutrition in her own life, Tracy made it her personal mission to help others to find their own paths to true health and wellness. Tracy is dedicated to developing and providing the best care available to patients at the Vibrant Life Health Center. She helps clients implement and stick to programs that lead to positive lifestyle changes. Tracy is sought after by chiropractic practices throughout the country for training and consultation pertaining to the implementation of nutrition programs.

3 comments:

  1. It's getting harder and harder to know what you are eating. It used to be you only had to be suspicious about packaged food. Now even "whole food" can be suspect.

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  2. Great article. Very comprehensive. food companies have been tricking people into buying foods with little or no nutritional value for years. your article give the reader a jump start on what to look at and where to get more info.

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  3. Interesting article. My wife once asked me to pick up some bran at the grocery store. I got 100% Bran and found out that wasn't what was in the box. That was the name of the cereal. In fairness, it did have some bran in it. Less than ten percent, but still.

    ReplyDelete