Archive for February, 2011

Breast Milk Ice Cream!?!? A hit in London

February 28th, 2011

Cow milk is so 1990s...

Yes you heard correctly. Breast milk ice cream. Lactation has never been so in….at least in the U.K. An eccentric ice cream shop in the London called the Ice Creamists started serving ice cream made with human breast milk, calling it “Baby Gaga”.
Strange? Yes. Waste of breast milk that could have prevented vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition in the Donor-mothers’ babies? Maybe. But disgusting it is not, at least according to store founder Matt O’Connor:

How could anyone POSSIBLY say this is disgusting. If it is good enough for our kids, it’s good enough for anyone else.

Mr. O’Connor went on to say, “it’s pure, it’s natural, it’s organic, and it’s free range — and if it’s good enough for our kids, it’s good enough to use in our ice cream.”

The Ice Creamists shop is not exactly your typical ice cream shop, with a parental advisory on their website and scantily clad, lady-gaga look-a-likes wearing Madonna cone bras serving you ice cream made from human body fluids:

Maybe it tastes great, but is it safe? And is it any healthier then regular cow’s milk, as some may claim?

The nutrition in 1 cup of whole milk as calculated by PhotoCalorie:

And 1 cup of human breast milk, according to the USDA’s Nutrient Database:

Calories: 172
Total Fat: 10.7 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 34 mg
Sodium: 42 mg
Carbohydrates: 16.95 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 2.53 g
Sugar: 16.95 g

They are quite similar. Human milk has slightly more calories and fat, but surprisingly much less protein. But what if the donor was sick, like with HIV for example? The FDA cautions against donor breast milk, saying:

If you are considering feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you should know that there are possible health and safety risks for the baby. Risks for the baby include exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened. In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.

According to the Ice Creamists, the milk came from women found on an Internet advertisement, and their milk was screened in line with hospital/blood donor requirements. Sadly the city of London is not convinced, removing the ice cream from the shop, amid concerns that it is unsafe.

Unfortunately Mr.O’Connor will have to come up with a new type of ice cream, hopefully not including any other body fluids…

Founder Matt O'Connor

Food Marketing, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Restaurants

American Heart Association has change of heart about beef

February 25th, 2011

Filled with saturated fats, Beef has been vilified by public health figures as a contributor to heart disease. Since saturated fat raises blood cholesterol, and high cholesterol is associated with heart disease, saturated fats must lead to heart attacks. Therefore, if we replace meats like beef with fish or chicken, we may reduce our heart disease risk. One of the most prominent advocates of this idea been the American Heart Association (AHA). Yet now, the AHA is advocating for beef?

In a rather unexpected turn of events, the AHA has announced that it will be putting its stamp of approval on three cuts of beef: Boneless Top Sirloin Petite Roast, Top Sirloin Filet, and Top Sirloin Kabob, which couldn’t make the beef industry much happier! Margie Hande, a cow/calf operator from Amidon, ND and chair of the checkoff retail committee had this to say:

We are extremely thrilled to receive the American Heart Association certification because for consumers, it represents the independent voice of a trusted health organization

Of course they are thrilled. Consumers are much more likely to buy food with the AHA check on it. In fact, “more than 83 percent of consumers have an aided awareness of the heart-check mark and nearly 75 percent of primary grocery shoppers say the heart-check mark improves the likelihood that they’ll buy a product.”

Great news for the beef industry.

But does this not go against their ‘eat less saturated fat campaign’? To be fair, they only are certifying very lean meats, extremely low in saturated fats, yet it provides a mixed message that may confuse the general public. Especially when the beef industry makes ad campaigns entitled “I <3 Beef":


Sarah Palin’s crusade to prolong childhood obesity

February 22nd, 2011

If stale pizza, soggy french fries and fried tater tots had the right to vote, Sarah Palin would assuredly win the 2012 presidential election in a land slide. Twitter extroirdinare and reality-TV-show star Sarah Palin isn’t happy about Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Palin recently spoke out about it:

Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat…And I know I’m going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.

This quote embodies Sarah Palin’s anti-government attitude towards most left-wing initiated ideas. But childhood obesity – among all issues our country faces – should not be a political one.

Even Republican Governor Mike Huckabee thinks Palin is confused: “With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she’s misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do…Michelle Obama’s not trying to tell people what to eat or not trying to force the government’s desires on people,” Huckabee said.

With childhood obesity rates tripling, with one in three kids born after 2000 predicted to suffer from diabetes, maybe offering some better options isn’t a terrible idea.

Here is a sample of the new lunch menus planned in the recently passed Child Nutrition Reauthorization Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Doesn’t seem too harmful.

This is not the first time Palin took offense to anti-junk food initiatives. When she heard about a government intervention in Pennsylvania to offer healthier snacks, she stepped in saying “I had to shake it up a little bit, because I heard there is a debate going on in Pennsylvania over whether most schools condemn sweets, cakes, cookies, that type of thing. I brought dozens and dozens of cookies to these students.

Palin says she is upset because the first lady is “telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.” But this misses two critical points. The first is that not all American kids are home schooled. The overwhelming majority of American children eat lunch and snacks at school – a place that is absent of parental supervision.

Secondly, what about all the kids without caring parents. Or those whose parents either don’t know enough or care about nutrition, or can’t afford to feed them. Or worst of all, without parents. This group of kids also just happens to be the most susceptible to obesity and nutrition-related health problems. What would Mrs. Palin suggest for these children?

Critics view these attacks on a healthier America just Palin’s continuous attempts to rile up her ever-dwindling 2012 presidential supporters who feel government should play a minimal role in our lives, and probably should not be taken too seriously.

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:

Nutrition and Weight Loss, Policy

Sugar: the new Fat

February 14th, 2011

We’ve been hearing the same thing for the past 30 years: Fat is bad. It has more than twice as many calories as protein or carbs AND it shares the same name with the very characteristic so many of us have acquired during this obesity epidemic.

It has been the general consensus because it makes sense. If people are gaining weight by eating too many calories, then eliminating fat (the most potent calorie-contributor) from the diet should ameliorate the problem. The recommendations soon followed: “Choose lean meats; Use low fat salad dressing; Eat fat free potato chips.” After 30 years of trying, Americans – as well as the rest of the world – have not been very successful. 75% of Americans are projected to be overweight or obese by 2020.

Inadequate advice or poor compliance are the two obvious explanations for this failure. The latter has been incriminated thus far: the majority of Americans just aren’t listening. Yet much evidence suggests they may have been listening quite well.

Clinical Trial Evidence

The appearance and sudden popularity of the Atkins diet in the 1990s had dieters running to the meat department, leaving carbs in the dust. The apparent success of this diet, mostly ascertained from anecdotal evidence, had the overweight population excited and health experts worried. A diet characterized by high amounts of meat and fat was deemed impossible to be effective and a serious health risk.

At the time, few clinical trials had been done analyzing the efficacy and safety of such a diet, which understandably led to extreme skepticism among dietitians and doctors. Recent years have seen numerous studies comparing a calorie unlimited, low carbohydrate diet to various other low-fat, low calorie diets.In other words, a battle between two notorious opponents: Eat until you are full and limit carbs Vs. Eat until you reach a calorie limit and restrict fat. Since fat has 9 calories per gram and protein or carbs have 4 calories per gram, a high fat diets seem destined to fail.

Yet to the surprise of many, when compared to other diets, the calorie unrestricted, lowest carbohydrate diet group generally — but not always — loses more weight. With few exceptions, their HDL increases and their blood triglyceride levels decrease without having any significant effect on LDL (bad cholesterol). When subjects keep their carbohydrate intake lower than 50-75 grams per day, they seem to be most successful.

Often times the various groups fare the same, both losing approximately the same amount of weight. But NEVER, in dietary clinical trial history, has the low-fat, low-calorie diet group lost more weight (more).

The High-Fat Paradox

The very idea that a diet characterized by high-fat foods and unlimited calories can do as well, or better, than a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet poses a challenge to the current weight-loss recommendations. However, conceding to this evidence, and altering the recommendations would mean the advice from the last 30 years may have been premature.

Yet it seems that slowly, the anti-carb message is seeping in. Here is a recent public service announcement from the New York City Health Department:

Researchers at Harvard seem to agree.

Fat is not the problem. If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

-Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health

The country’s big low-fat message backfired. The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.

-Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Compliance to the high-carbohydrate recommendations

According to the center for disease control, since 1975 Americans have eaten less fat and more carbohydrates:

Perhaps it is possible that the blame does not lie entirely on the individual, due to the fact that this change in eating behavior is EXACTLY what we were asked to do:

Dietary Research, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Policy

New Feature: Reminder E-mails

February 9th, 2011

As many of you may have noticed, we have recently implemented a new feature that e-mails you a maximum of once per day, if you forget to log a meal. Each e-mail includes a tid bit related to food, exercise, or nutrition.

This is an optional feature, and anyone can easily turn it off by going to and un-checking the “Remind me to log meals if I forget” box.

In case you haven’t opened any of the e-mails, here is a recap of a few of the videos included in the tid bits so far:

Why go to the gym? Use the hawaii chair at work, and take the “Work” out of your workday!

And remember, A Ba nah nah nah a day keeps the doctor away!

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:


Wordle of foods searched so far

February 8th, 2011

We have compiled all the search terms queried against the PhotoCalorie database so far into a wordle, and here is what it looks like. The bigger the word, the more often it has been searched.

Cheese, coffee, sugar, and sandwiches seem to be pretty popular, a strange mix. Unfortunately none of the fruits or vegetables stick out yet…

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:

Uncategorized, Updates

Taco Bell Beef – Perfect for the 64% Vegetarian!

February 2nd, 2011

As you may have heard, there has been some controversy over how beefy Taco Bell’s Beef actually is. At first, I was confused as to why this story was getting so much buzz. Is it really that surprising that Taco Bell’s ingredients aren’t locally grown and farm fresh?

The issue lies in the fact that Taco Bell calls its meat Beef to begin with. According to the USDA, you can’t call your food Beef unless it contains the following:

Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

Here is the ingredient list from Taco Bell’s “Beef”, from the gizmodo blog:

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

The complaint was filed by a consumer that tested the meat and found it to contain only 36% beef, and 64% other stuff. They believe Taco Bell should change the name of their “Beef” to “Meat Taco Filling”, defined by the USDA as at least 40% fresh meat. Unfortunately, Taco Bell’s “Beef” is only 36% according to this complaint.

Taco Bell’s Australian president thinks otherwise. He says their meat is “88% beef” plus water and flavors:

They have also posted a statement online entitled “Thank you for suing us,” falsifying the claim and threatening to counter-sue.

So who’s lying here? It’s tough to tell so far. As far as I can tell, the USDA has not released any statements confirming or negating these claims.

EIther way, I think it’s a non-issue. People who really care about the quality of their beef probably don’t eat at Taco Bell in the first place. On the upside, vegetarians can eat Taco Bell Beef tacos and not feel terribly bad about it!

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:

Food Marketing, Restaurants