We’ve come a long way Food Babe Army! 2016 was full of surprises and a lot of turmoil – but there was so much good to reflect on, these are some of my favorite moments of 2016…
At a recent conference, executives from legacy food companies agreed that consumers want to buy clean, healthy food and that this isn’t just a fad – it’s here to stay. Iconic food brands are now on a “real food journey”, removing artificial additives and eliminating harmful farming practices (like routine antibiotics). They are moving in the right direction and they aren’t alone. The good food revolution is in full force thanks to the Food Babe Army, activist organizations and countless consumers that are taking back their health!
When I look back on 2016, one of the things I’m so proud of is seeing the public become increasingly aware of the unethical tactics employed by the food and chemical companies to mislead consumers. Thanks largely to the work done by consumer interest groups like U.S. Right to Know, Food and Water Watch, Center for Food Safety and The Cornucopia Institute we now see exactly how companies use front groups, scientists, and other paid experts to conduct covert public relations for them. The Food Babe Army has been very instrumental in spreading the word and we are creating a better informed public! We now know why they are attacking us for simply asking for healthy food and how to fight back. There are some big revelations on this front to come next year, and I couldn’t be more proud of the amazing work that we are doing together. The Food Babe Army Rocks!!!
Campbell’s labels GMO ingredients (January 7, 2016) – The new year started out with a bang when one of the largest food corporations in the U.S. announced they will begin labeling GMOs on all of their products, which include Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Plum Organics and V8, and they anticipate that labeling will be complete within “12 to 18 months”. We had previously exposed the GMOs in their products here, and the Food Babe Army showed our thanks to Campbell’s for being the first major brand to label the GMOs in their products in the U.S.
All the letters you sent to Campbell’s thanking them for labeling GMOs – So nice of them to acknowledge our efforts!
Vani Hari named one of “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2016” by The Daily Meal (January 27, 2016) – I was honored to make this list as one of “the watchdogs, the inspirers, the facilitators” of the food movement in America. This is a win for ALL OF YOU in the Food Babe Army who share our posts, investigations, petitions, and vote with your dollars asking for a safer and healthier food supply. You are a force like no other!
Starbucks publishes drink ingredients for first time in history – Sometime in January, we noticed that Starbucks quietly added ingredient lists for their drinks to their website. This is a campaign that we have been working on since 2012 (see here, here, here, and here) and these posts have been shared hundreds of thousands of times. Starbucks used to claim that their ingredients were “proprietary” and refused to disclose – so this is a huge win for transparency!
Mars removes artificial colors from candies (February 5, 2016) – The maker of M&M’s, Skittles, and Starburst will remove all artificial colors from all of their products (excluding pet foods) within the next 5 years. Renee Shutters (an activist consumer) and The Center For Science In The Public Interest petitioned to remove the dyes from M&M’s, and received over 217K signatures!
Vani Hari named one of “The 13 Most Powerful Women in Food” by The Daily Meal (February 19, 2016) – Pretty surreal a food activist was on this list with Oprah Winfrey and the CEOs of major food companies!
Perdue’s chicken strips go antibiotic-free (February 26, 2016) – Perdue announced that they would eliminate chicken raised on antibiotics from their chicken strips and nuggets sold in grocery stores by June 2016. This just goes to show that it doesn’t need to take YEARS to accomplish this! This makes them the largest supplier of antibiotic-free chicken strips in the U.S. Yet, this is still only a portion of the chicken that Purdue produces, so I am still waiting for them to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics across their entire product line. We have campaigned along with dozens of consumer interest groups to to stop the dangerous routine use of antibiotics on farms and we are slowly chipping away at it (see here, here, here, here, and here).
The Food Babe Way is released in paperback! – My first book, The Food Babe Way, was a #1 bestseller & New York Times Best Seller – selling more books than any other book the week that it was released in 2015. I have continued to be astonished by all your support, generous love and am humbled and forever grateful for every single person that has read this book and have helped to spread the word and get this message out. The Food Babe Way is for anyone who’s tired of the food industry hijacking their taste buds and wants to take matters into their own hands and become their own food investigator, nutritionist, and food activist. There’s a way to survive and look good without dieting, and this book contains the 21 essential habits that I taught myself to take control of my health. It is now available in paperback online here.
At The Natural Living Expo in Boston, MA
In-N-Out Burger commits to stopping routine antibiotic use (March 2, 2016) – On February 24th, I joined over 50 public interest and consumer advocacy groups in sending a letter to In-N-Out Burger, asking them to phase out the routine use of antibiotics across all of their meat supply chains (as well as using beta-agonists and growth hormones) and also to provide a more healthful and sustainable grass-fed option on the menu. The following week, In-N-Out Burger responded by telling reporters, “Our company is committed to beef that is not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine, and we’ve asked our suppliers to accelerate their progress towards establishing antibiotic alternatives.” Although they stated they are moving in that direction, they have not provided a timeline, so this fight is not over. Here’s more about what’s in their food.
General Mills labels GMO ingredients (March 18, 2016) – Two days after the DARK Act was initially defeated by the Senate, General Mills was the first company to announce that they will label GMOs on all of their products within the U.S. Their product line includes Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Chex, Progresso, and Fruit By The Foot. Will they keep this commitment now that the DARK Act was revived and signed into law in July?
Kellogg’s & Mars both label GMO ingredients (March 21, 2016) – Just a few days later, both of these companies followed suit by announcing they will also label GMOs in their products throughout the U.S. within months.
ConAgra labels GMO ingredients (March 22, 2015) – Quickly on their heels, ConAgra said they will also begin adding labels to products nationwide by July – their brands include Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Hunt’s, and Marie Callender’s.
Campbell’s eliminates BPA from cans (March 28, 2015) – Campbell’s announces they will transition to BPA-Free cans by the mid-2107 in the U.S. and Canada. They are the largest canned soup maker in the U.S., so this is huge!
Del Monte joins the Food Babe Army (March 29, 2015) – Del Monte told reporters that they will begin to “move away” from GMOs and that they would add “non-GMO labels” to their products that don’t contain them. When I thanked Del Monte on Twitter for their decision – they told me: “We are happy to join your #FoodBabeArmy!”… these brands are listening to us!!! The biotech companies were not pleased and a fake grassroots movement (astroturf campaign) was launched – which I revealed here.
Showering Little Food Babe With Love (Nov 2016)
Taco Bell ditches antibiotics (April 18, 2016) – Taco Bell issues a press release announcing they will no longer serve chicken raised on medically important antibiotics in the U.S. by 2017. This follows a letter that over 80 organizations (including Food Babe) sent to Taco Bell’s parent company (Yum! Brands) in January, urging them to commit to a strong antibiotics policy.
Nestle removes GMOs and artificial ingredients from ice cream (April 20, 2016) – Nestle cleans up their ice cream as they ditch GMOs and growth hormones from many of their ice cream products – their brands include Dreyers, Edy’s, Haagen-Daz, Outshine, Skinny Cow, and Drumstick. They also said they’d eliminate other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, artificial flavors and colors from many of these products.
Dannon eliminates GMOs from yogurts (April 27, 2016) – Dannon announced that they are moving away from synthetic ingredients and would remove GMOs from Dannon, Oikos and Danimals yogurts starting in July. Instead of just removing GMO ingredients (like sugar from GMO beets) from their ingredients, they are taking it a step further to ensure that the milk comes from cows that are not fed GMO feed. This is a HUGE and outstanding commitment given that the vast majority of GMO crops are fed to farm animals. They also committed to labeling GMOs in their remaining products – and are holding strong, despite being attacked by the industry!
Moms Across America Launched Organic Awareness Campaign (April 24, 2016) – This billboard was in 191 locations across 35 cities. “This is a health solution not only for consumers, but for our earth. 1 out of 2 U.S children have a chronic illness. Studies also show organic improves the health of farmers, the quality of the soil, water, plants and reduces climate change.”
Pizza Hut removes controversial preservatives and switches to antibiotic-free chicken (May 31, 2016) – Pizza Hut began making big changes to their ingredients which include removing BHA and BHT from all of their meats and removing preservatives from cheese by March 2017. They also have plans to get rid of additional unnecessary additives and preservatives in their food by 2020. Most importantly, they will stop sourcing chicken (as a pizza topping) that was raised on human antibiotics by March 2017 – now they just need to include their chicken wings and other meats in this policy! We raised awareness of the preservative BHT when we petitioned Kellogg’s and General Mills to remove it from their cereals in 2015.
Adweek names Vani Hari one of the 30 Most Influential People in Food! (June 5, 2016) – I was over the moon to be considered on the same list as my favorite foodies Anthony Bourdain and Ina Garten – even more so, considering the attention to our good food movement activism!
In June, I completed a whirlwind book tour in Spain for the Spanish version of my book, The Food Babe Way (El método Food Babe). Overseas, Monsanto and pro-GMO proponents do not easily influence the government and the media with their propaganda – it was refreshing to be around people not scared to report the truth about the chemicals in our food. I was able to spread our message widely in Spain and reached so many people in a short amount of time! Here’s some of the press we received:
- yodona: “¿Sabes lo que comes? El método Food Babe“
- La Vanguardia: La activista de la alimentación que hace sonrojar a la industria: “Los que deciden qué es saludable obedecen al marketing”
Meeting the Food Babe Army all across Spain!
Pepperidge Farm releases non-GMO Goldfish Crackers (June 2, 2016) – Pepperidge Farm introduces a new version of Goldfish Crackers made with organic wheat and non-GMO ingredients. They are still selling the old GMO-filled Goldfish though, so check those labels!
Panera Bread removes more artificial ingredients (June 15, 2016) – Ditches artificial ingredients in their grocery store products (which include soups, breads, deli meats, coffee and salad dressings). These will no longer contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives and artificial colors. This is in addition to the changes they started making in their restaurants last year, which includes stopping the routine use of antibiotics in their meat!
Campbell’s plans for antibiotic-free chicken (July 21, 2016) – Although they didn’t disclose a timeline, Campbell’s announced that they will not allow their chicken suppliers to add antibiotics to their feed, water or vaccines. This will include their entire line of brands, such as Swanson.
McDonald’s starts to clean up their buns and McNuggets (August 1, 2016) – Following their commitment to eliminate human use antibiotics from their chicken, they announced the removal of artificial preservatives – sodium phosphate, TBHQ – from their famous Chicken McNuggets and some breakfast items. They will also be removing high fructose corn syrup from all of their buns! They likely made this move after they received double digit sales increases when they reformulated their Egg McMuffin last year with simpler ingredients. This just goes to show that it pays off to improve their products with better ingredients!
Cheez-It’s indicates they will remove TBHQ (August 26, 2016) – Our facebook post exposing the TBHQ in Cheez-It crackers went viral with over 12 million views and 185,000 shares. This synthetic preservative is a form of butane (a very toxic gas) and has been linked to vision disturbances, liver enlargement, childhood behavioral problems, and stomach cancer in animal studies. New research coming out of Michigan State University links it to the rise in food allergies, which has prompted more research. Although the FDA allows TBHQ in America, it is banned for use in food in other countries including Japan. Cheez-It took notice and responded that they are “actively testing a number of natural alternatives” to TBHQ – but how many more people will continue to consume TBHQ before they change it?
In September, I spoke at the Hawaii-Center for Food Safety’s event called the “Ethics of Eating”. The Center For Food Safety is a nonprofit organization that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture with work focusing on the public health impacts of the pesticides and herbicides used on GMOs, and because of this, they are heavily targeted by the biotech companies who are profiting off of these chemicals and technologies. Despite unethical efforts by the biotech industry to disrupt my talk, we had a packed house and standing room only! We streamed the event live on Facebook and it was a huge success. Thank you Hawaii-Center For Food Safety for the incredible hospitality and of course, for hiring additional security to keep the event on track!
Ethics of Eating Talk at The University of Hawaii, 09/15/2016
Healthy Futures SALT Salon hosted by The Center For Food Safety, Honolulu, Hawaii
Stouffer’s simplifies ingredients in their lasagna (September 6, 2016) – Nestle reformulated their recipe and removed autolyzed yeast extract (hidden MSG), carrageenan, dextrose and bleached wheat flour from their Stouffer’s Lasagna. I’ve highlighted the harmful effects of hidden MSG and carrageenan several times in the past and it’s nice to see companies are starting to remove these unnecessary additives from their products!
Schuman introduces “True Cheese” without cellulose (September 6, 2016) – Schuman introduced a new “True Cheese” label that verifies a product is made only with milk, cultures, salt and enzymes. This was in response to the scandal regarding alarming amounts of cellulose added to some shredded cheeses. Ground breaking research links this additive to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems.
Jell-O ditches artificial colors in new line (October 5, 2016) – A new line of Jell-O gelatin and pudding mixes without artificial colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives was released. In 2014, I broke down the toxic ingredients in conventional Jell-O, including artificial colors like yellow #5 that requires a warning label in Europe, and the artificial preservative BHT. The Food Babe Army shared this investigation so much that it was read by millions of people over the last couple years. Informed consumers like us stopped buying JELL-O and look what they had to do! Beware that the old toxic version of JELL-O with artificial colors and BHA is still in stores and this is just a new line that they have created – so continue to check the ingredient list on any product you buy!
Buitoni goes non-GMO (October 25, 2016) – Buitoni announced that they will remove the GMOs from their pastas and sauces.
Carrageenan to be removed from organic food (November 17, 2016) -The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) declares that carrageenan will no longer be permitted in organic food by 2018. I wrote about this additive in organic food back in 2012, which is commonly found in almond milks, coconut milks, soy milks, creamers, cottage cheese, ice cream, deli meat, and dozens of other products. It’s been shown to be a dangerous and potent inflammatory agent (and possible carcinogen), so it has no business being in our food. This is a HUGE win for consumers. Thanks goes out to The Cornucopia Institute for leading this charge and to everyone who campaigned to make this happen!
The Food Babe Army storms the internet! Our most viral blog post of the year with over 5 million views exposed the alarming amount of the weedkiller glyphosate found in U.S. foods after it was tested by a FDA registered food safety laboratory, commissioned by Food Democracy Now and The Detox Project. The Food Babe Army really pulled through on this, and although the mainstream media failed to cover this very important information, you all shared this post so much that it spread like wildfire and millions of people are now informed.
We are winning the fight for a safer and healthier food supply.
Every time you purchase food, tell a friend something new you learned about food, sign a petition, read an ingredient list or contact a company directly, you are taking an act which makes you an activist. Together, with the power of our collective voices, we are shaping the marketplace and creating a new demand for real food.
Ask your friends and family to join our movement!
Let’s encourage each other to keep going! PLEASE SHARE THIS POST with everyone you know and ask them to join the Food Babe Army! When we work together to demand better food, companies have no choice but to change – and we need all hands on deck in the coming new year.
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I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings! Are you as fired up as I am?
P.S. There are so many other amazing moments from 2016 – please share your top favorites in the comments below!