The newsletter is available in .PDF format here 1.3 MB

Fluoride not good for babies

Victory for anti-fluoride campaigners

Fluoridated water should not be used to make up infant formula, two US authorities have warned. On 18th September Hutt City Council resolved to pass on this warning to the public.

Last year the American Dental Association (ADA) and the US Public Health Service's Center for Disease Control issued this warning because babies being bottle fed with fluoridated water are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis, a defect of the teeth which can result in staining and even corrosion of the enamel.

However, dental fluorosis is not the only risk stemming from a baby's exposure to fluoride. In the same week that ADA issued its advisory, an article in the British journal, the Lancet, reported that fluoride may damage a child's developing brain. The Lancet review described fluoride, along with the rocket fuel additive perchlorate, as an "emerging neurotoxic substance" due to evidence linking fluoride to lower IQs in children and brain damage in animals.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), however, has refused to pass any warning on to parents in New Zealand. The Fluoride Action Network (FANNZ), therefore, took the issue to Hutt City Council and suggested that since they were the people actually responsible for adding fluoride to Lower Hutt's water supply, then they should pass this warning on.

After a report was completed by one of the Council's policy analysts and the views of the MOH sought, the Hutt City council agreed to pass this warning on, despite the MOH's opposition. The Council are in the process of developing some information on their web that will link to the American organisations and the Fluoride Action Network ( When the website is updated notification will be given in the Hutt News so residents are made aware of it.

Please contact FANNZ if you wish to bring this issue to the attention of the other councils around the country and would like some help or support.

Mary Byrne (04) 972 6249

Aspartame An addictive carcinogenic neurotoxin

The artificial sweetener aspartame (951) is the most controversial and complained about additive in history.

What is aspartame?

Appeal for funding
GE Free New Zealand needs your help to raise money to challenge ERMA's approval of GE brassica field trials.

GE Free has been joined by three organic organisations in an appeal against the genetic modification of brassica with the Bt gene. This gene has been found to be highly toxic to livestock and insects. It has also been found to survive in the soil and affect the ecosystems and following crop performance. The appeal is to challenge the ten year GM brassica approval by ERMA over the lack of research outcomes on adverse effects to the environment that field test experiments are required to conduct. For more info go to

Please send a donation (cheque) to: GE Free New Zealand, P.O. Box 693 Nelson or donate directly into account # 0609960521358 00 (GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment, Inc., National Bank Wellington)

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in over 6000 products worldwide. It is found particularly in 'sugar free' and 'diet' products, chewing gum and sports drinks. Brandnames include Equal and Nutrasweet. It may be labelled 951 or "contains phenylalanine". It is also in some dietary supplements and medications, but may not be labelled as such, because in New Zealand these do not yet have to list their ingredients.

Aspartame (L-Aspartyl-L-Phenylalanine Methyl Ester) is made up of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and bound together with methanol. These break down to formaldehyde (used for embalming and known to cause cancer), formic acid (a venom in ant stings) and DKP (known to cause brain tumours). While aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol occur naturally in various foods, aspartic acid and phenylalanine are usually bound up with other amino acids and methanol is counterbalanced with ethanol. In aspartame these compounds are not bound up (isolated phenylalanine is a neurotoxin), and the influx is readily absorbed into the brain, causing an excess of free radicals and over stimulating brain cells. Ultimately, holes are made in the brain.

For more details, see the books "Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic" by HJ Roberts, MD, 1000 page medical text, Sunshine Sentinel Press (now on special for US$49.95), and "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills" by Russell L. Blaylock, MD.

What are the symptoms of exposure to aspartame?

The most common aspartame symptoms include headaches, dizziness, poor balance, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain or cramps, change in vision, diarrhoea, memory loss, fatigue and other neurological symptoms. The 50% phenylalanine in aspartame lowers the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin, and can trigger bipolar or manic depression, mood swings, paranoia, hallucination and suicidal tendencies. Aspartame is a multipotential carcinogen, can trigger male sexual dysfunction and birth defects, and is particularly dangerous for the foetus in the womb.

Aspartame exposure can mimic and precipitate multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and lupus. It can make epilepsy worse and can cause chemical hypersensitivity. An FDA report admits to 92 symptoms including death. There are more, however, in Dr. Roberts' book. Dr Roberts has remarked that every doctor probably encounters aspartame disease in practice.

For the complete FDA list go to

Don't diabetics and those trying to lose weight need to use it?

With over 50 years of experience, Dr Roberts, a diabetic specialist, points out that aspartame can precipitate diabetes, simulates and aggravates diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, destroys the optic nerve, can cause diabetics to go into convulsions and interacts with insulin. His patients notice a dramatic improvement in their condition when they avoid aspartame. There is no research which proves that use of aspartame helps with weight loss. There is, however, some research that shows it induces carbohydrate craving, which results in weight gain. Safer alternative sweeteners include stevia, xylitol (may be laxative in large doses) and "Just Like Sugar®".

Aspartame interacts with drugs

Dr Roberts describes in his medical text how aspartame interacts with Coumadin, Dilantin, antidepressants, other psychotropic agents and all cardiac medications. He discusses various mechanisms for this, including alteration of the blood proteins to which drugs attach, interference with drug action by amino acids and protein, and metabolic abnormalities in the elderly that are known to enhance their vulnerability to drug reactions. Dr. James Bowen describes another process by which aspartame interacts with all drugs and some additives, including vaccines, MSG (621), and other artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (955) and neotame (961).

More details available from

How did aspartame get approved in the first place then?

Aspartame was approved for use as an additive in the US in 1981, even after the FDA refused to approve it for over eight years because it produced seizures and brain tumours in lab animals. Donald Rumsfeld was at the time CEO of Searle, the manufacturer, and used political chicanery rather than science to get the toxin on the market. This happened after Ronald Reagan came to power and a new FDA commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes, was appointed. Arthur Hayes later became a consultant for Searle and Monsanto, receiving a huge salary.

For more information see and also the Ecologist magazine Sept 05 which contains 17 pages on aspartame, including a detailed timeline.

Why hasn't aspartame been removed from the market place?

For the same reason as tobacco: addiction, profit and greed. Aspartame has an effect on the dopamine system in the brain, creating a 'high' and resulting in addiction. Those addicted to aspartame will notice withdrawal symptoms if they go without, however many symptoms should lessen after some days. Former addicts may become hypersensitive to even small amounts.

More details and stories on addiction can be found at:

The European Union reviewed the use of aspartame in 2002 and concluded there was no reason to change any regulations. Intense scrutiny was applied to a few studies showing adverse effects of aspartame, but was not applied to a number of studies funded by industry which did not show effects. A large number of human studies and clinical reports showing adverse effects were ignored. There were several members of the European Commission Scientific Committee on Food that had ethical and financial conflicts of interest with the food industry that should have disqualified them from participation on the Committee.

The 60-day no-aspartame challenge

If you use products with aspartame, and have physical, visual and mental problems - ailments the doctors can't seem to cure - then try the 60-day no-aspartame test. If you become convinced after this that your symptoms were due to aspartame, contact Food Standards Australia NZ, the NZ Food Safety Authority and email if in NZ. Dr Blaylock's detox programme is at

Other resources

DVD "Sweet Misery a Poisoned World" watch for free at 90 minutes long

CD "The Truth About Aspartame" by Russell Blaylock MD.

DVD "Nutrition and Behavior" by Russell Blaylock MD. Orders for these DVDs and CDs can be made through the Safe Food Campaign. scientific papers on aspartame

Compiled by Alison White, with thanks to Betty Martini, Founder of Mission Possible International, who has researched aspartame over 15 years and has collected many documents and resources.

Aspartame: an inconvenient truth

In the wake of mainstream media publicity of Abby Cormack's poisoning with sugar free chewing gum, the Safe Food Campaign and Soil & Health Association hosted aspartame expert Betty Martini from the US at media and public meetings in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in July. Betty has been researching the artificial sweetener for over 15 years and has the authoritative 1000 page medical text "Aspartame: an ignored epidemic" by Dr HJ Roberts dedicated to her.

The Food Safety Authority, however, refused to allow her to speak at a consumer forum meeting and also refused to meet her in person. Steffan Browning of Soil & Health remarked, "It seems NZFSA would rather dodge an inconvenient truth by attempting to discredit the expert...The Authority continues to claim that aspartame is one of the most studied substances in the world, yet they conveniently brush aside the fact that all industry-funded studies do not show a problem, but the overwhelming majority of independent studies do," he added.

"The corruption and scandal associated with the registration of aspartame in the US and UK in the early 80s are a matter of public record," stated Alison White, speak-ing on behalf of the Safe Food Campaign. "It remains on the market today because of addiction, profit and greed... Because of our concern over the unnecessary suffering of people who are often unknowingly taking in this addictive drug, we have launched a petition which calls for restrictions and warning labels ahead of a ban."

From media releases Safe Food Campaign and Soil & Health Association 19 July, 4 August 2007

Aspartame in 81 children's medicines

The controversial additive aspartame is contained in 81 medicines which may be used by children and young people. Green MP Sue Kedgley said that the Minister of Health has confirmed Medsafe has approved a total of 124 medicines which contain aspartame.

Ms Kedgley stated: "There should be a requirement that the word 'aspartame' appear prominently on the label, along with a warning statement that it has been linked to a range of adverse reactions." Ms Kedgley is also calling on Medsafe to put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to reformulate their products, and in the meantime ensure medicines containing aspartame are clearly labelled with a warning so parents are aware of its presence and potential for side effects.

Aspartame is not always clearly identified on many labels, because in New Zealand medicines and dietary supplements do not have to be labelled with their ingredients. We therefore reproduce a list of the brandnames. Not all the medicines in a particular brand will contain aspartame - look for 'sugar-free', also 'chewable' and 'effervescent'. One reason why manufacturers use aspartame in so many products is because it is cheaper than sugar, as well as being addictive. (For a full list of the 81 medicines containing aspartame, go to our website and look under aspartame.) If you are not sure whether a medicine you are giving your child contains aspartame, ask the pharmacist.

Amcal Lozenges, Augmentin, Berocca, Cellcept, Children's Panadol, Chlorvescent, Claramax, Curam, E-Mycin, Gastrolyte, Gaviscon, Glycoprep, Imodium Melts, Konsyl, Lemsip, Metamucil, Moxlin, Mucilax, Nucolox, Nurofen, Orelox, Ospamox, Panadol, Paracotene, Phenergan, PicoPrep, Redoxon, Singulair, Synermox, Synermox, Guardian Lozenges, Vicks Lozenges, Videx, Vitaplus, Voltfast, Zyvox.

Action alert! Contact the manufacturer and ask them not to use aspartame or other artificial sweeteners in the medicine (or dietary supplement, chewing gum, sports drinks, and many other sugar free products).

Source: Green Party media release 1/10/07

Open letter to Food Safety Authority:
Controversial issues

11 October 2007

"We would like to make a few comments and some suggestions about the Food Safety Authority's stance on controversial issues such as A1/A2 milk. It has unfortunately been our experience that where divergent views are held on food safety issues, that the Food Safety Authority has taken a very one-sided approach, ignoring and misrepresenting science, as well as attacking viewpoints and even people that present views contrary to current policy. We would like to see more openness, more impartiality, less emotive language and less mud slinging being used.

The Food Safety Authority will not endear itself to consumers when it continues to cling to views that coincide more often than not with manufacturers. My observation is that the Authority gives greater priority to the goal of protecting New Zealand's trade interests rather than of looking after consumers' interests.

A recent example of an issue where the Authority has attacked people holding different viewpoints is that of aspartame, the artificial sweetener. We would prefer the Authority to look more critically at the scientific evidence, as we express in a recent letter to the Listener:

While we applaud the precautionary approach the Authority has taken over infant formula, we have yet to see a more balanced attitude in relation to other issues such as colourings and children, pesticides in food, genetically engineered food and country of origin labelling.".

Alison White

Precaution on nanotechnology urged

Abroad international coalition of consumer, public health, environmental, labour, and civil society organizations spanning six continents have called for strong, comprehensive oversight of nanotechnology and its products. They have issued a statement in the document Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials.

The manufacture of products using nanotechnology - a powerful platform for manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules in order to alter properties - has exploded in recent years. Hundreds of consumer products incorporating nanomaterials are now on the market, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging. But evidence indicates that current nanomaterials may pose significant health, safety, and environmental hazards. In addition, the profound social, economic, and ethical challenges posed by nano-scale technologies have yet to be addressed.

As Chee Yoke Ling of the Third World Network explained, "Materials engineered at the nano-scale can exhibit fundamentally different properties - including toxicity - with unknown effects. Current research raises red flags that demand precautionary action and further study." She added, "As there are now hundreds of products containing nanomaterials in commerce, the public, workers, and the environment are being exposed to these unlabelled, and in most cases, untested materials."

George Kimbrell of the International Center for Technology Assessment continued, "Since there is currently no government oversight and no labelling requirements for nano-products anywhere in the world, no one knows when they are exposed to potential nanotech risks and no one is monitoring for potential health or environmental harm. That's why we believe oversight action based on our principles is urgent."

From: International Center for Technology Assessment, Jul. 31, 2007 ( RPR#101)

Fast Food Nation

by John Silvester

A review of the classic exposé of American fast food, cattle-ranching and slaughtering: the film (Wellington, November 2006) and the book (Schlosser, 2001).

What's really in our food? Videos of TV programme available
The TV documentary "What's really in our food?", shown on TV3 13 September 2007, provoked great interest in those who saw the programme, which considered the additives a family might consume in their food and their possible effects. If you didn't see it, ask TV3 to screen it again. As a result of the documentary, the Safe Food Campaign has been contacted by several aiming to get more information about additives. The producers of the programme, Top Shelf Productions, are now offering the programme in DVD or VHS format for $44.95 incl. GST. To order, you can go to or phone (04) 382 8364.

I view the film as an understated portrayal of the origin of meat patties and other processed food products offered by fast food restaurants. It contained or implied important messages about the treatment of cattle and slaughterhouse workers as well as health outcomes for consumers. While I consider the film played down some of the most disturbing aspects of the industry, for viewers who have never seriously considered how meat gets onto their plates, it could appear as a shocking and exaggerated account.

However, the reality is much worse than either the film or the book indicates. Cows are being routinely skinned and gutted alive because the killing line moves too fast for the animals to be reliably stunned at the start of the process. Workers are kicked by the frantic tortured cattle (Eisnitz, 1997). Schlosser gives a small print endnote reference to Eisnitz (1997) stating that she "suggests that many cattle are needlessly brutalized prior to slaughter" (Schlosser, 2001) but otherwise avoids these gory details.

Schlosser does, however, clearly indicate that intestines frequently burst during hasty gutting, spilling faeces laden with potentially lethal bacteria onto the meat. Children are particularly vulnerable and some of them suffer horrific deaths from infected meat. Hamburgers and other fast food products are aggressively marketed to children, some of the most contaminated ending up in school cafeterias.

The film focuses on selected aspects of the book, adding new material to dramatise the plight of illegal Mexican migrants and their vulnerability in the meat packing industry, as it is euphemistically called. The realism is enhanced by the balanced use of (subtitled) Spanish and English dialogue.

The swearwords and explicit sex may shock some viewers. However, having worked in an Auckland freezing works and as a kitchenhand in a large Australian bakery/cafeteria, I can report that workers do talk like that and that I have seen sexual harassment. In my view, the film is realistic but moderate and quite discreet in its presentation. It raises questions about some real problems rather than being sensational or pornographic. This is a film for discerning adults, not one that most of you would want your young children to see, if only because they might not be able to cope with the blood and guts, both bovine and human.

Two poignant moments sum up the feeling of the film. Some activists saw down the railings of a cattle pen but the cows stay put, frozen by their conditioning to closely confined captivity. A parallel is seen at the close of the movie (during the credits). The "nice guy" marketing executive, who has discovered the truth about the origins of the hamburgers he is promoting, is back in the boardroom pushing the product to keep his job. As the subtitle of the film promo puts it: "Would you like lies with that?"


Eisnitz, Gail A. 1997. Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Schlosser, Eric. 2001. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Additives and hyperactivity

New study

Common food additives and colourings can increase hyperactive behaviour in a broad range of children, not just those previously diagnosed with a learning problem, a University of South Hampton study has found.

The study, a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, tested mixtures of sodium benzoate (211), tartrazine (102), quinoline yellow (104), sunset yellow (110), carmoisine (122), ponceau 4R (124), allura red AC (129), in doses that 3 year olds and 8/9 year olds were likely to encounter. The researchers note, "The present findings...lend strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviours (inattention, impulsivity, and overactivity) in children at least up to middle childhood. Increased hyperactivity is associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading, and therefore these adverse effects could affect the child's ability to benefit from the experience of schooling."

The research, commissioned by Britain's Food Standard Agency and published in the Lancet, presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children's activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colours and preservatives. In October the Agency had a meeting with representatives of industry and requested them to provide details on what action they had taken to removing additives used in the study, and also deadlines by when further removal of these additives would be completed.

In New Zealand, the Food Safety Authority is being very guarded: "Parents can use [label] information to identify when the additives included in this study are in their child's diet, but it should not be assumed that simply taking these additives out of a child's diet will eliminate these symptoms."The Authority has previously asserted that parents do not need to worry bout their children having colourings.

New York Times, September 6, 2007

Action alert! Write to Food Standards Australia New Zealand and also the NZ Food Safety Authority to ask them when they are going to implement measures similar to the UK Food Standards Agency.

Our daily bread

by Alison White

Bread is an important part of our culture and of many cultures with a long history of use. Wheat, the main ingredient in bread, has many valuable nutrients. But just how good for us is the bread we eat nowadays?

What pesticides are in non-organic bread and what types of bread are there?

Pesticides in bread

Bread and all products containing wheat have high levels of pesticides in New Zealand, especially compared to other countries. In fact bread and wheat products are at the top of the dirty dozen list, with residues detected in 94.4% of 90 samples in 1997/8 (White 2003), and near the top in 2003/4, with 23 pesticides found in 168 samples. The dirty dozen are foods eaten in New Zealand which are ranked on the percentage of samples with pesticides found and the number of pesticides detected. Wheat products sampled in the 2003/4 Total Diet Survey included bran cereal, biscuits, noodles, snack bars, spaghetti, wheat biscuit cereal, cake, muffin, pizza, sausages, muesli, hamburger, meat pie and the batter around fish (Vannort 2005). The Total Diet Survey is carried out by the Food Safety Authority every 5-7 years to look at pesticides and contaminants in our diet.

The chances are, then, you are also taking in organophosphate residues (a type of chemical insecticide) most of the time you eat something with non-organic flour in it. Many of these residues result from the post harvest application of a fumigant on the stored grain. Other countries are increasingly using non-pesticide means of storage for their grain, for example, cold storage or carbon dioxide.

Possible harm from these pesticides

Children are particularly susceptible to the organophosphate pesticides usually found in flour and may suffer from acute poisoning due to the additive nature of organophosphates also found in other fruit and vegetables. Other possible long term damage from organophosphates include nervous system damage and inhibiting cholinesterase in the blood. Six of the pesticides found most frequently in bread and flour products are listed below in order of frequency with other specific effects. The first five are organophosphates.

  1. Pirimiphos methyl. Not much is known because data is incomplete (Orme 2000)
  2. Chlorpyrifos methyl. Information very incomplete. Chlorpyrifos is the chemical parent (Orme 2000).
  3. Fenitrothion. Possible endocrine disruptor, but data is incomplete (Cox 2000).
  4. Chlorpyrifos can, through newly discovered mechanisms, alter the development and function of a number of regions of the brain and central nervous system, according to recent research. The prenatal brain is especially vulnerable to it, even at very low doses, with potentially permanent effects on cognitive development and behaviour (Colborn 2006). It has also been linked to birth defects, nervous system, genetic and immune system damage, and in addition is accumulative. It has been found in air, ground water, rivers, lakes, rain and fog. It has been found to act synergistically with other chemicals (Cox 1994).
  5. Malathion is a suspected endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen (Orme 2000). Linked with gene damage, and sperm and thyroid disruption (Cox 2003).
  6. Procymidone. This fungicide is a probable carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor (Orme 2000). It has an effect on the androgen receptor, feminising male rat offspring (Gray 1999).

    Different types of bread

    White bread

    White bread is produced from flour made from the endosperm (white fleshy part) of the wheat grain. In New Zealand white flour contains 78% of the grain, referred to as the extraction rate. The wheatgerm and bran are removed during the milling process, which results in a higher gluten content, giving a lighter and spongier texture. The removal of fibre makes it more easily digested, but valuable nutrients are lost, including many vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. (The wheatgerm commonly ends up in animal and poultry feed.) In other countries such as the UK and USA, white flour is enriched or fortified with some minerals and B vitamins in an attempt to replace some of this loss of nutrients. I have seen one brand of bread fortified in NZ, with added iron, folate and Vitamin E. See the chart to compare fibre and nutrients in white flour and wholemeal flour.

    Wholemeal bread

    Wholemeal bread is supposedly made from the whole grain, containing bran and wheatgerm as well as the endosperm. It may contain up to 10% of white flour (Pickford 1999). However, wheatgerm is normally removed from milled flour and not put back into 'wholemeal' flour because of its tendency to go rancid, especially in warm weather (Pickford 1999, Fraser 1985). This means in practice that wholemeal bread does not contain wheatgerm unless it is stated on the label. On the other hand, because organic wholemeal bread is normally made from stoneground or zentrofan flour, a different process, it includes the wheatgerm.

    Essene bread

    This is genuinely 100% wholemeal bread where the grain is soaked, sprouted, ground up and then cooked at a low temperature for a long time, mimicking conditions in the desert, where it has been done this way for many centuries. It has a rich, dense and naturally sweet flavour, with more nutrients than other breads

    Brown bread

    Brown bread is made from a mixture of white and wholemeal flours, containing at least 60% wholemeal by law. Wheatmeal and oatbran breads may fit into this category.

    Wholegrain bread

    Wholegrain or multigrain bread consists of white flour mixed with kibbled grains, with varying percentages sometimes stated: 10-25%. Kibbled grains are a mixture of broken wheat grains, barley, oats, rye and sometimes other grains or seeds. Wholegrain bread is higher in fibre and nutrients than white bread because of the kibbled grains. Because the kibbled grains take a while to digest (that is, wholegrain bread has a moderate to low Glycaemic Index, especially compared to white bread), this provides more sustained energy. The extent to which nutrients from the kibbled grain is actually digested by the body can be debated, however. Certainly wholegrain bread provides more roughage than white bread and may be a useful compromise for those who don't want to have wholemeal bread. It would be useful for consumers to know what percentage of kibbled grain bakers put into their bread - it is often not labelled.

    Spelt bread

    Spelt (triticum spelta), is a 'great uncle' of wheat (triticum aestivum), grown in Europe thousands of years ago. After the 19th century it was forgotten, partly because of its lower yield in comparison to wheat, and also because of the need to mechanically dehull the grain before grinding. The sturdy hull protects the spelt grain from insects before it is made into flour, and it also helps retain the nutrients in the kernel.

    Rich in fibre and B vitamins, spelt contains more protein than wheat, including all eight amino acids. It also contains ingredients which have been reported to stimulate the immune system (Grainger). Some people who are sensitive to wheat gluten may be able to tolerate spelt. In sum, spelt is a useful bread to lessen the over consumption of wheat and provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release.

    Gluten free bread

    Gluten is a mixture of proteins found mainly in wheat but also in rye, barley, oats and millet. People who are allergic or sensitive to gluten need to avoid foods that contain these and use alternatives. Some, who may not necessarily be sensitive to gluten, report they feel better not having so much wheat: less lethargic and more able to focus. (Is that a reason why we are becoming a coffee-dependent society?) Fortunately there is a range of gluten free breads available now, especially in organic and health food stores.

    What should I give my children?

    The outer covering of wheat or bran is acknowledged to be a very good for getting the bowels moving, but it may be too indigestible for young children. As the Ministry of Health comment:

    High-fibre diets are not recommended for young children as the bulkiness of high-fibre foods make it difficult for children to eat sufficient to meet their energy requirements... Too early and too large amounts of fibre may exceed the capacity to ferment indigestible fibre in the colon...Children should be encouraged to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and whole grain cereal products. This recommendation should not result in over consumption of fibre in the child's diet. (MOH 1997)

    Ministry of Health advice is to gradually increase the fibre in your child's diet, not giving food with added bran to very young children. Some nutritionists recommend not giving a child wheat at all until they are 9-12 months old, because intolerance to wheat is common, and delaying it until a later time if there is any family history of allergies (Hamilton 2005).

    On the other hand it is easier to get children to accept whole grains if they are introduced earlier rather than later. For that reason and for nutritional reasons I would recommend not introducing white wheat bread to young children, but instead in the first two years especially introducing a variety of whole grains into a child's diet, for example, corn, quinoa, spelt, rice, buckwheat, thus getting them used to different tastes and reducing the current overemphasis on wheat that we have in our society. It can be argued, in fact, that mostly fruit and vegetables should be given to young children, putting less emphasis on grains. If you bake wheat bread for your children, the more finely ground zentrofan flour may be better tolerated.

    How much bread is good for you?

    We eat more bread in New Zealand compared to some other countries, with consumption being higher than in Australia, the UK and US. The average is about 1.4 loaves per person per week (Monro 1994). Since the 1980s consumption of white bread has reduced: in 1981 75% ate white bread but in 1991 less than 50% did so (Pickford 1999).

    The Food and Nutrition guidelines from the Ministry of Health recommend that we have a least 6 servings of breads and cereals a day. However this recommendation seems to reinforce current patterns of dietary behaviour rather than improving them. While wheat has many commendable nutrients, we do tend to overdo our consumption of it in our society: some people have it all day and every day. It is a good idea to reduce your consumption of white bread and increase your consumption of whole grains, eating a variety of them, not just wheat, but at the same time aim to consume more fruit and vegetables rather than grains.


    To bakers and the NZ Flour Millers Association:

    References available on request. Extracted from an article that first appeared in Organic NZ March/April and May/June 2006. Updated October 2007. For a fuller version of this article, which discusses the advantages of wholemeal as opposed to white breads, go to our website.

    Nutrients in New Zealand flour
    Per 100gWhite flourWholemeal 78% flour for extraction breadmaking
    Dietary fibre3.6 g11.8 g
    Magnesium32 mg104 mg
    Potassium195 mg449 mg
    Calcium21 mg34 mg
    Manganese680 µg3670 µg
    Iron1.4 mg 3.5 mg
    Zinc0.8 mg3 mg
    Thiamin (B1)0.39 mg0.8 mg
    Riboflavin (B2)0.1 mg0.16 mg
    Niacin (B3)2.6 mg4.4 mg
    Vitamin B60.21 mg0.44 mg
    Pantothenate0.3 mg0.9 mg
    Biotin1 µg7 µg
    Folate22 µg51 µg
    Vitamin E + alpha0.4 mg3.5 mg
    From Monro & Humphrey-Taylor 1994

    Plastics to avoid

    by Jacky Pearson and Alison White

    Check out the bottom of your plastic containers and you may find that your food is in contact with a plastic containing some chemicals that could cause you, your child, or your child's child unwanted health issues. A gathering body of research is showing that certain chemicals which are added to plastics could have irreversible effects on the body, especially if the foetus is exposed to them.

    Inside a triangle containing a recycling number check for numbers 3, 6 and 7. Avoid them if you find them. Ask manufacturers and retailers to not use them. Don't microwave or heat foods in plastics.

    No. 3 PVC (plastic bottles and containers, children's toys, wall paint, vinyl flooring,)
    No. 6 polystyrene (white disposable cups, styrofoam products)
    No. 7 polycarbonate (in many baby bottles, some microwave cookware).

    A chemical added to polycarbonate is bisphenol A (BPA), which is also added to the resin lining of food cans and dental sealants. It readily leaches into food, especially when heated or exposed to acid food and drinks. Very low levels of BPA, about which there has been an explosion of studies over the last 10 years, have been shown to scramble the chromosomes of the exposed foetus, with effects noticed even in the next generation. Indeed, 38 world experts on bisphenol A have published a consensus statement this year, in which they warn regulatory authorities that average levels of BPA in people are above those that cause harm in laboratory studies. Effects noted included breast and prostate cancers, infertility, spontaneous miscarriage, changes in the brain structure and chemistry, and behaviour.

    PVC (polyvinyl chloride or just vinyl) is a known human carcinogen and very damaging to the environment. When chlorine in PVC is produced or burned, the process creates dioxin, one of the most toxic hazards known to man. Phthalates are often added to PVC to make it pliable, in children's toys for example. They are unbound to the plastic so can leach out readily. Like dioxin, some phthalates are a suspected endocrine disruptor, ie affecting our hormones.

    Polystyrene is a suspect carcinogen, and contains p-nonylphenol, an endocrine disruptor. Sometimes used by takeaways to keep food warm, it can take thousands of years to break down.

    Safer alternatives

    Instead of using plastic containers save glass jars or use ceramics for storing and freezing food in the fridge. If plastic is unavoidable use cellophane and wrap children's lunches in natural wax paper. Disposable cutlery and containers can be bought made of corn and potato starch. No known health effects have been associated with No. 1 PET (most drink bottles), No.2 HDPE (milk bottles), No.4 LDPE, and No.5 polypropylene (PP). However we recommend sticking to plastics 1 and 2, because these are commonly the only ones that local authorities recycle.

    For further information: and

    Additives to avoid

    The following additives may cause health problems such as allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, birth defects and cancer.


    102 tartrazine
    104 quinoline yellow
    110 sunset yellow
    122 azorubine, carmoisine
    123 amaranth
    124 ponceau, brilliant scarlet
    127 erythrosine
    129 allura red
    132 indigotine, indigo carmine
    133 brilliant blue
    142 green S
    151 brilliant black
    155 brown, chocolate brown
    160b annatto, bixin, norbixin
    173 aluminium


    310-312all gallates
    319 TBHQ
    320 butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
    321 butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)


    Approx 3000 permitted, untested and unregulated. Artificial and natural are both suspect. Some may contain MSG (621) or free glutamate.

    '...flavouring' implies artificial, 'flavoured with ...' implies natural.

    Flavour enhancers

    620-625 glutamic acid and all glutamates, incl.

      621 monosodium glutamate (MSG) which may be disguised as hydrolysed protein, yeast extract, sodium or calcium caseinate.
      627 disodium guanylate
      631 disodium inosinate
      635 ribonucleotides


    200-203 sorbic acid, potassium & calcium sorbates
    210-213 benzoic acid, sodium, potassium & calcium benzoates
    220-228 sulphur dioxide, all sulphites, bisulphites, metabisulphites
    249-252 all nitrates & nitrites
    280-283 propionic acid, sodium, potassium & calcium propionates

    Artificial sweeteners

    950 acesulphame potassium
    951 aspartame
    952 sodium or calcium cyclamate
    954 saccharin
    955 sucralose
    961 neotame

    Updated October 2007

    For more information also see: the book "The Chemical Maze" by Bill Statham,,, and www.holisticmed/aspartame on aspartame, (for a list of permitted additives), additive info:

    News Briefs

    Organic food best for kids

    Switching to organic foods provides children "dramatic and immediate" protection from widely used pesticides that are used on a variety of crops, according to a recent study by a team of American scientists.

    Concentrations of two organophosphate pesticides - malathion and chlorpyrifos - declined substantially in the bodies of primary school age children during a five-day period when organic foods were substituted for conventional foods.

    In New Zealand chlorpyrifos was found in 12 food groups in the latest Total Diet Survey of the Food Safety Authority. These were mostly fruit but also products containing wheat. Malathion was found 6 food groups, all containing wheat, apart from cream.

    The health effects of exposure to minute amounts of pesticides found in food are largely unknown, especially for children. Some research, however, suggests that the residue may harm the developing nervous system.

    Parents can minimize their children's exposure if they substitute organic products for those that contain the most residues. We advise parents to wash produce and peel skins if they buy conventional foods, but for foods that cannot be peeled, such as grapes and strawberries, it is especially important to buy organic. Also it is important to choose organic bread, especially in New Zealand where pesticide residues are high because of the post-harvest application of organophosphates. (See bread article in this issue.)

    Study available at:

    Total Diet Survey available at:

    France bans Splenda ads

    The Commercial Court of Paris has found that advertising claims used by McNeil Nutritionals, the marketers of the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose, 955), violate French consumer protection laws. They ruled that Splenda's advertising slogans, such as "Because it comes from sugar, sucralose tastes like sugar," are misleading to consumers, and have ordered McNeil to stop using them. The case against them was brought by the competing artificial sweetener firm Merisant, who manufacture aspartame.

    From Food Europe May 14, 2007

    Our comments: Avoid sucralose (955) or Splenda, or indeed any artificial sweetener. The research supporting its safety is just as inadequate as that of aspartame. The industry-funded studies, most of which have not been published, have not looked at human trials for more than six months and have ONLY looked at blood sugar control. A range of adverse reactions to sucralose are beginning to appear, some of which are reported on Dr Mercola's website:

    UK supermarkets phase out additives

    Two of Britain's biggest food retailers have announced they will phase out artificial colours and flavourings amid concern about the substances' impact on children's behaviour. Asda said its new guarantee meant that certain additives would be removed from all its own-brand products by the end of the year, while Marks & Spencer promised to do the same for 99 per cent of its food in the same time. The sweetener aspartame is also being removed.

    Asda, Britain's third biggest supermarket, said it will cost £30m to remove artificial colours, flavours, hydrogenated fat or flavour enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (621) from its 9,000 own label food and soft drinks. Artificial colours such as carmine (120), erythrosine (127), quinoline (104) and sulphite ammonia caramel (150d) will be either dropped outright or replaced with natural colours and fruit and vegetables. Artificial flavours will be replaced with natural flavours, such as vanilla. Aspartame is being replaced with sucralose, a sweetener made from sugar. (Editor's note: see our comments above on sucralose!)

    M&S said that 4,455 food products and soft drinks would be free of artificial colours and flavours by the end of 2007. The chain has already dropped monosodium glutamate (621) and tartrazine (102) from its products. Additives particularly associated with concerns about food intolerance and children's diets such as Ponceau 4R (124) and Sunset Yellow (110) are often used in cakes and bakery. "Removing artificial colourings and flavourings from our cakes was really important for us, as our birthday cakes are enjoyed by parents and children alike," said a spokesman. The artificial colours quinoline (104), brilliant blue (133), allura red (129) and carmosine (122), once used in birthday cakes, had been replaced with beetroot and paprika natural colours, the store said.

    From 16 May 2007

    Action alert! Approach your supermarket chain and ask them to follow the example of the UK supermarkets by removing questionable additives from their in-house brands.

    Styrofoam food packaging banned in Oakland, USA

    The city of Oakland, California has banned the use of styrofoam (or polystyrene plastic #6) packaging for takeaway food. Roughly 100 other U.S. cities have taken similar steps to avoid the creation of unmanageable and unnecessary plastic wastes, including Berkeley, which banned styrofoam nearly 20 years ago.

    The measure will require restaurants and cafes to switch to disposable food containers that will biodegrade if added to food compost. In 2004, the city began an ambitious food recycling plan that encourages residents to stuff used food containers, such as pizza boxes, into the green litter container that already includes yard waste.

    The city plans to enforce the measure based on citizen complaints. After a first warning, food vendors could face fines ranging from $100 to $500 for repeat offences. Supporters note that polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose and is already a huge problem in waterways. The California Integrated Waste Management Board reported that polystyrene is responsible for 15 percent of the litter collected in storm drains.

    From San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2006

    Action alert! Approach your local city council and persuade them to cut down their waste by requiring restaurants and cafes to switch to food containers that will biodegrade.

    Organic food less expensive

    A common attitude is that organic food is too expensive, and it is true that organic food generally has a greater upfront cost than conventional. However, it does depend on your knowledge and motivation to buy organic. Liana Hoodes, who has grown food organically for over 20 years in the US, answered a column attacking the value of organics. As she pointed out, 'A National Academy of Sciences study noted that "low-level pesticide exposure can cause serious, developmental risks to infants and children, some with serious lifelong consequences."

    She continues, "Recent long-term studies at the Rodale Institute have shown that organic soils are more resistant to both drought and floods, and yields in most products are equal or better in organic. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that worldwide average yield of all organic products are 130 percent that of conventional. A recent UNFAO symposium suggests that organic agriculture may indeed help feed the world, through efficient energy use, lower inputs, and greater diversity... Given these facts, a true cost-benefit analysis - where all the costs of our food are taken into account - may find organic the least expensive alternative."

    Times Herald-Record 14 September 2007

    Secret Monsanto GE potato study suppressed for 8 years

    A secret feeding study of Monsanto GM potatoes, conducted in 1998 by the Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and suppressed for 8 years, showed that the potatoes did considerable damage to the organs of the rats in the study. In comparison the rats in the "control groups" which were fed on normal potatoes or on a non-potato diet were healthier, and had much less organ and tissue damage. This research, fully supported by Monsanto through the provision of the GM potatoes, was conducted at approximately the same time as Arpad Pusztai's research in the Rowett Institute.

    The potatoes used in the study were Monsanto GM NewLeaf potatoes with Bt, bred to be resistant to the Colorado Beetle. They also contained an antibiotic resistance marker gene. The potatoes were deregulated in the USA in1998, without any feeding studies being required. The
    Russian institute that carried out some feeding studies refused to release all the information, and it took a protracted court case from Greenpeace and other environmental groups, as well as extensive media coverage to obtain sight of the research team's raw data and to reveal evidence of damage to health, a very similar situation to the feeding study results for MON863 maize in 2005.

    UK Greenpeace activists said the findings vindicated research by Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose work was criticised by the Royal Society. Discrediting of Pusztai's work also took place at the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification.

    From 17 Feb 2007

    Fluoridation: 600 professionals want it to end

    A statement asking Congress to end water fluoridation in the United States has been released by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Over 600 professionals, including a Nobel Prize winner, officers in the Union that represents Environmental Protection Agency professionals, and members of the National Research Council panel on fluoride's toxicology, have signed the statement. The report urges Congressional members to "recognize that fluoridation is outdated, has serious risks that far outweigh any minor benefits, violates sound medical ethics, and denies freedom of choice."
    It cites eight recent events that call for an urgent end to water fluoridation. Among them:

    In the meantime in New Zealand the Ministry of Health continues to zealously push for the fluoridation of the rest of the country.


    School food shake up

    After pressure from the Greens, the Government have helped secure the introduction of new rules that require schools to sell only healthy food and drink to students. The Green Party's own annual tuck shop survey, carried out over the past three years, have highlighted that a majority of school canteens continue to sell a staple diet of unhealthy food such as sausage rolls, hot dogs, pies, biscuits and other sugary, fatty foods. This is despite heightened awareness of the link between diet, health and learning, and also the introduction of Food and Nutrition Guidelines.

    "Clearly schools were not making the change voluntarily, so I believe amending the National Administrative Guidelines to make it a requirement on schools was the next step," said Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley. "If we are to improve the health and well-being of New Zealanders, it's essential we start with children, teach them good eating habits and encourage them to make healthy food choices.

    "One of the main problems is that many school canteens are contracted out, run at a profit, and for them it's easier to throw some sausage rolls into a warmer, than it is to make a healthy sandwich. This should not be used as an excuse to feed our children unhealthy food and drink that we know contributes to obesity, diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases. Schools which have made the changes and instituted healthy eating policies have all reported that children's ability to learn and their behaviour improved."

    If schools needed help changing their food canteens, they can apply for funding from a $12 million Nutrition Fund, which the Green Party secured in last year's Budget.

    The Government has made an agreement with two of New Zealand's biggest beverage companies, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and Frucor Beverages Ltd, to remove full sugar fizzy and energy drinks from secondary schools by 2009. While this sounds really commendable, the likelihood is that the beverage companies will simply substitute artificially sweetened drinks (eg with aspartame) for sugary drinks, thus not improving nutrition and moreover increasing young people's exposure to an addictive, carcinogenic neurotoxin.

    Meanwhile, in the US and Canada, an increasing number of schools have adopted a policy of banning junk food and introducing organic food in their cafeterias. At Lincoln Elementary, for example, the school's organic salad bar has proven so popular - and surprisingly economical - that all Olympia grade schools now have one.

    Green Party media release 11 June 2007,

    Action alert! What sort of food and drink does your local school sell to students? Is it fatty or sugary? Does it contain questionable additives such as colourings and artificial sweeteners? If the school has a canteen, alert them to the Nutrition Fund. Give the principal and school board copies of our 'Additives to avoid' sheet.

    Breast milk better in organic eating mothers

    A Dutch study this year has found that the breast milk of mothers consuming organic dairy products and meat was higher in desirable fatty acids compared to mothers eating conventional dairy products and meat. Two fatty acids in particular, rumenic acid and trans-vaccenic acid, were higher in mothers eating at least 50% organic dairy products and meat, and even more so in those eating 90%. The researchers point out there is experimental evidence suggesting that these fatty acids might have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-modulating effects, as well as a favourable influence on body fat composition, especially when consumed at a very young age.

    Rist L A Mueller et al 2007: Influence of organic diet on the amount of conjugated linoleic acids in breast milk of lactating women in the Netherlands, British Journal of Nutrition, 97, 735-743