News bites, August 2012

This article was originally published in August 2012

Breakfast dessert for weight loss?

Dessert with breakfast may help dieters. Scientists at Tel Aviv University randomized obese people to two low-carbohydrate diets that were identical except one included a breakfast with a choice of cookies, chocolate, cake or ice cream.

The average weight loss of 32 pounds was identical between both groups over the first four months. But over the next four months, people who had dessert with breakfast reported a greater sense of fullness and lost an additional 13 pounds, while the others gained back nearly all the weight they had lost. (The New York Times)

Fluoride warning

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants under the age of 6 months that exclusively consume formula reconstituted with fluoridated water may have an increased risk of fluorosis with discolored teeth. Science shows fluoride hardens teeth topically, but swallowing fluoride delivers risks without benefits.

The CDC reports 41 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds show fluoride overdose symptoms — white spotted, yellow, brown and/or pitted teeth from over-ingesting fluoride while their teeth were forming. New Hampshire will be the first state to require notices that young infants should not routinely be fed formula mixed with fluoridated water, starting August 4. (Fluoride Action Network/PR Newswire)

Organic bread better

A new study by the Organic Center found significant differences between organic bread and conventional breads, including those labeled “natural.” There was less difference between “natural” and conventional breads than might be expected.

Organic bread has far fewer ingredients, averaging only 15 ingredients compared to 25 in conventional breads and 19 in “natural” breads. Organic breads also contain more whole ingredients and far lower percentages of preservatives or additives. (The Organic Center)

“Natural” lawsuit

Two organizations in Vermont are suing Pinnacle Foods Group, charging that labeling its Log Cabin Syrup and Birds Eye Frozen vegetables as “all-natural” violates state law. The lawsuit alleges the “all-natural” claims are deceptive because the foods contain synthetic and/or genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration says a product is not natural if it contains synthetic or artificial ingredients formulated or manufactured by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal or mineral sources. (Vermont Public Radio)

(See also the Sound Consumer story What does “Natural” mean?, October 2011.)

Pesticides cause bee death

Two more studies suggest that ending the use of common agricultural pesticides known as neonicotinoids may be the key to restoring bee populations. A study by French scientists found that colonies treated with the pesticides had significantly reduced growth rates and produced 85 percent fewer new queens compared to untreated hives. British scientists found exposure to the pesticides also impaired the homing ability of bees and that exposed bees were two to three times more likely to die while away from the hive. (

Bees self-medicate

Research from North Carolina State University shows honey bees “self-medicate” when their colony is infected with a harmful fungus. Researchers found that bees brought in 45 percent more propolis, an antifungal mixture of plant resins and wax, to ward off threatening pathogens. Beekeepers historically have disliked hives with more propolis because it’s sticky, but this study demonstrates it may be necessary for the bees’ natural defenses. (

Biotech lies about GE corn

Biotech giant Syngenta is facing criminal charges for willfully concealing results of an internal, company-run study on a GE corn called Bt 176. A German farmer filed the lawsuit after discovering Syngenta had hidden the study that reportedly proves Bt 176 was capable of killing animals that ate it. Bt 176 was withdrawn from the market by Syngenta in 2005, nine years after the farmer’s cows suffered intestinal damage, decreased milk production, and in numerous cases, sudden death. (

Cantwell and Murray vote

Washington’s two U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both voted for a recent effort to label foods produced through genetic engineering. They voted “yes” for a Farm Bill amendment sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) that would affirm state rights to require labels on any food produced through genetic engineering. It was the first time a bill on labeling GE food has been before the Senate. It was rejected in a vote of 26 to 73. (

India mandates GMO labeling

Consumers in India soon will be able to make informed choices about whether they want to buy packaged foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Foods with GMO ingredients must be labeled prominently starting January 1, 2013. The law will affect GMO foods imported to India; India does not produce GMO foods. (The Hindu)

Also in this issue

Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

The good: peach and nectarine flavor is outstanding this year, and there's a record Northwest blueberry harvest. The bad: walnuts have disappeared from Oregon, fishmeal prices have spiked, and meat prices are on the rise.

Choosing toothpaste

The many ingredients in toothpastes can be confusing. Here's a look at what they do for teeth, and why it's important to buy natural brands.

Pastured, organic Washington chicken

PCC is pleased to announce pastured, organic Washington chickens are available now at our Fremont, Edmonds, Issaquah and Redmond stores.