Thursday, August 25, 2011


It has recently come to my attention that the FDA is allowing food to be sourced from Japan, even in close proximity to the Fukushima, Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Three major corporations have stated that they are sourcing ingredients from Japan: Kellogg's, General Mills, and PepsiCo. These companies combined produce a vast proportion of the products on our store shelves today. There are probably more companies doing the same, these are just the ones I know about.

I was also surprised to learn from the report below which was prepared for Congress that as of 2008, China had become the third largest source of US agricultural and seafood imports. Additionally, as stated in the report below, these imports increased roughly fourfold from 433,000 metric tons (MT) and $1 billion in 1997 to 2.1 million MT and $4.9 billion in 2007. I was not aware of this either.

Furthermore, currently labeling laws do not require companies making products that are processed, meaning where at least one ingredient is mixed with another, from lotions to sunscreens, makeup to toothpaste, from shampoos to conditioners to foods and medicines that we consume to disclose where those ingredients are sourced from. Put simply, for example, in a box of cereal, I have no idea if the ingredients in that box that make up that cereal are from the United States, China, or Fukushima, Japan or all three. I just have no idea.

Companies that market single ingredient items are required to list country of origin. For example, if I go to the store today, I can purchase a bag of peas and turn over the bag to find where those peas are sourced from. On the other hand, if I go to the store today and purchase a bag of peas mixed with carrots, this rule to let me know country of origin no longer applies. In the second case, corporations are not required to disclose the country of origin on those peas and carrots since it is processed, two ingredients mixed together. To inform consumers, both single item products and processed products should be held to the same standard. The labels of both products should list the country of origin for ingredients.

Under current law, companies that make processed items are able to simply list the ingredients on the labels and print on the labels "Distributed by... somewhere, USA" or "Manufactured in somewhere USA" or "Made in the USA" whereas in reality, in most if not all cases, one or more of the ingredients in these products are sourced from somewhere outside the United States.

Current labels of processed goods do nothing to help me make informed decisions for my family. As mentioned "Distributed by somewhere USA", or "Manufactured In somewhere, USA" or "Made in USA" gives me absolutely no information as to the country of origin of the actual ingredients that formulate that product.

As a citizen who wants to be an informed consumer, I am asking for the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to be modified to include the The Consumer Right To Know Act whereby as a consumer I have the right to know the country(ies) of origin of the ingredients from processed goods, just as I already have the right and ability to know country of origin information with single ingredient items like frozen peas or fresh fruit.

To be clear, I am not asking for the labels on processed products to specify the country of origin for each ingredient. For example, I am not requesting labeling of the country of origin of sugar in a particular processed food, or of a particular chemical in sunscreen. I understand that some companies do not want to disclose what they consider to be proprietary information.

However, I do want to be an informed consumer whereby labeling on the packaging tells me any country that is the source of any ingredient in the product. If, for example, a certain item has ingredients sourced from three different countries, say, China, United States, and Brazil, then companies under the Consumer Right to Know Act, would be required to state on their label “Product of China, USA, and Brazil.”

If for some reason that is too difficult for companies to do--some may say our sourcing countries change too frequently to do this-- then an alternative option under The Consumer Right to Know Act is for companies of processed items to list their products on their company website under a tab called “Consumer Right to Know”. This will be presented in the form of a spreadsheet whereby one column has the product name and in the next column over, the corresponding up-to date country(ies) of origin for the ingredients composing that product. Product lists must be updated as sourcing information changes. Furthermore, under the Consumer Right to Know Act, the website information must have information as to when the website was updated last. Additionally, if companies choose the second option, to post country of origin for ingredients in a product on their website, they must state on their packaging label, “For information on the country(ies) of origin of the ingredients in this product, visit ____ and then give the website address. This will enable costumers to know exactly where they need to go to get the information they are seeking.

Lastly, another issue has come to my attention regarding product labeling. It is the issue having to do with genetic modification.

Genetically modified ingredients are making their way to our shelves in the United States and we have no idea where they are going. While genetically modifying corn might make it more disease resistant, some families may choose to not consume it. Genetically modified salmon may make for more meat, but some consumers may choose not to eat it. Some studies have suggested eating genetically modified food is not good for our health. For some people consuming a genetically modified product doesn’t make one bit of difference. Put simply, as consumers we have the right to know what items are genetically modified so that if we feel as consumers we don’t want to consume them, we can make that choice. As it stands now, we don’t always know because companies are not currently required to put it on their labels, so we don’t have a choice.

As noted on the Center for Food Safety’s website, The FDA relies on the very companies that have a financial interest in bringing these biotech crops to market to assess their safety. FDA has stated, "Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety" of gene altered foods. Congress must step up and fill the gaping regulatory hole left by the FDA to protect American consumers by requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The Center for Food Safety goes on to say that genetically engineered foods are required to be labeled in the 15 European Union nations, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries around the world. If food makers like Kraft and Kellogg's can label the products they sell in these countries, they can certainly do it in the U.S.

I am not alone in this. According to the Center for Food Safety, a recent poll released by ABC News found that 92 percent of the American public wants the federal government to require mandatory labeling on genetically engineered foods. As ABC News stated, "Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare." I hope you will listen to me and the other 92 percent of the American public who want mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered foods including labeling on finished meat products to indicate if the meat is genetically engineered and/or if that finished meat product was ever fed genetically engineered food.

In summary, I am asking for better labeling laws so as a consumer I can make informed choices for my family. Thank you for supporting the rights of your constituents to be informed consumers by supporting and/or co-sponsoring a revision to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to include the enactment of The Consumer Right to Know Act. Thank you.

SIGN THE PETITION at the top of the page to the right then SHARE with all those you know and love. Takes 2 minutes tops. Let's send a message to our reps loud and clear, this needs to be changed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PETITION -Time for Change

Here's a loaf of bread. Looks good enough to eat right?

What if I told you it was Made in the USA. You'd still eat it, right?

How about if I told you it was made in the USA but there were ingredients in that bread that were sourced from somewhere within close proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that is still leaking nuclear cancer causing material into the air, water, and soil today? It doesn't look so appealing anymore does it.

Here's the problem: Companies are hiding behind Made in USA or Manufactured in the USA to make us think that we are getting something nice and wholesome from the United States of America whereas in reality this tells us absolutely nothing about where the ingredients formulating the product have actually come from. I don't know where the ingredients from that bread are coming from. Your guess is as good as mine! You could be consuming something from the USA or something from around Fukushima, Japan (and big companies are actually doing this! blog on Corporate Responses). I just don't know.

This has got to change. You and your family have the right to know where the ingredients are coming from in everything you consume.

I've written the letter saying as citizens we want this changed. We want to know the country of origin of the ingredients that make up the products we consume. See blog titled The Letter.

I wrote the letter, now I need your help to sign it, sign the petition on the right to tell your congressperson you want this changed, and after you sign, tell all your friends and family to sign and then share with those they know and love. This can't stop with you or me. Others have a right to know too. Start by signing the petition yourself. Let congress hear you want change. It is the signatures that will get the attention of Congress so please be sure to sign. Really if we can prevent cancer causing material from entering our food supply I think all of us should take the 2 minutes to SIGN the petition and then SHARE on FB or email with all those you know and love. It's really important to take care of each other.

In addition to notifying us about countries of origin, I also included in there a piece that would require companies to let us know if a product contains any genetically modified ingredients.

SIGN THE PETITION - takes less than 2 minutes at the top of this page- then pass along to ALL those you know. It is our right to know where what we are eating is coming from and if it has been genetically modified in any way.

PLEASE keep letting everyone you know about this so we can get this changed. The more signatures the more likely it will be to become law! Don't let it stop with you!

Stay tuned...

UPDATE Thursday August 25, 2011

I just signed the petition "The U.S. Senate: Require labels on consumables to include country of origin of ingredients." Please support our efforts by adding your name.

SIGN THE PETITION on the top right hand side of this page then SHARE with all those you know and love. Takes 2 minutes tops. Let's get this done.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chernobyl VS Fukushima - 60 Minutes Video & Interview with a Chernobyl Worker

Just ran across this video. It was run on Australia's version of 60 minutes. Good to know there's somebody out there feeling like Fukushima is still worth paying attention to. Please watch this. For the health of our families, we better pay attention too, especially given the fact that the FDA is saying we can source food from around there...

(copy and paste the link below into a new window so you won't lose your place in the blog)


Just watch below if it comes up for you. You'll need to X the commercial , then use the scroll bar on the bottom of the frame to move the frame to the middle and then move the top scroll bar a little bit down to get to a good spot to watch it.

Watching the above video and reading the article below from the San Francisco Chronicle really solidified for me the notion that the FDA should not be giving the green light for food companies to source food for our consumption from Japan.

Some companies have the good sense to say no thank you even though the FDA has said it is okay.

Unfortunately some big companies like Kellogg's, General Mills, and PepsiCo, the big 3 that seem to own almost everything in our supermarkets, from Gatorade to Rice Krispies, from Rice-A-Roni to Cheerios, from Nature Valley Granola Bars to Betty Crocker Products to Doritos, Eggos, Progresso Soup, and many, many, more products (check out their websites for their full product lines if you are interested to know), are all currently sourcing from there. They are sourcing raw ingredients, basic ingredients, that then get mixed into our food supply.

What are these things that they are sourcing? I have no idea. They can't tell me. They have said they source raw ingredients from there, anything more they can't tell me. It's proprietary information. One company even told me that even their own managers don't know where specific ingredients are coming from. Not sure why all the secrecy? Seems to me our food supply chain should be transparent, not some highly guarded secret.

In short, you and I don't know if the raw ingredients coming out of Japan is the rice in Rice Krispies, the sugar in Gatorade, the oats in Cheerios, the flavorings in Rice-A-Roni, or the spices in Quaker apples and cinnamon hot cereal, we just don't know because they won't tell us and because our currently labeling laws don't require them to tell us (see the other blog on crazy labels).

As I side note, did you know medicines are also being produced around that area as well? I picked up some Benadryl the other day at target. It was the premeasured spoon version. I flipped over the box and it said made in Japan. I called the company and told them I was concerned about this. They told me not to worry, it was far enough away from Fukushima. I said give me the name of the city and I'll make that decision. They said they didn't know the name of the town which was interesting to me. On the one hand they said it was far enough away, on the other hand they didn't know the name of the city where it was being made.

I did end up getting a call back on that. I was told it was being made at a plant in Toyama, Japan. While on the opposite coast from Fukushima, it is only approximately 160 miles away according to my calculations. The soil and water supplies are contaminated for hundreds and hundreds of miles away according to some experts. How can it be safe to make anything at that plant only 160 miles away? In my mind there's a chance of contamination somehow in either the making of the product or even in transporting the product from one area to another. Again the question I keep asking myself over and over...why are we risking it?? How about taking that manufacturing job to another plant located somewhere else in the world? Is there something wrong with that idea?

The same company, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, owns Zertec (parent company Johnson and Johnson). Don't know if Zertec is being made there too? I think there might be other drugs being manufactured in Japan as the FDA talks about medicines in their statement, I just don't know what they are nor do I know what cities they are being processed in.

I also wonder about ingredients for shampoos, makeup, lotions, toothpaste, sunscreens, baby care products, are any of those coming from Japan? While these are all not things that we ingest directly, they are things that we put on skin (or in our mouth in the case of toothpaste) that can get absorbed into our body. I'm not an expert on cancer causing materials by any stretch of the imagination, so I have no idea if it would matter health wise if cancer causing chemicals were mixed in and then we spread it on our skin or the skin of our families. Would that potentially be cancer causing? I don't know but it did cross my mind.

To be fair to General Mills, PepsiCo, and Kellogg's, and McNeil Healthcare, there are probably other large companies that are also sourcing from Japan as well. However, the companies mentioned here are ones where I have spoken with a customer representative personally about their sourcing.

In case you are curious to know, General Mills, PepsiCo, and Kellogg's also all get ingredients from China. Again, they won't disclose where those ingredients ultimately end up. Instead they say they can't tell me, that's proprietary information (see blog on Corporate Responses).

Chernobyl cleanup survivor's message for Japan:
'Run away as quickly as possible'

Dana Kennedy, AOL News, March 22, 2011
Pictures published courtesy of Natalia Manzurova as part of this original article located at

Natalia Manzurova, one of the few survivors among those directly involved in the long cleanup of Chernobyl, was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told to report to the wrecked, burning plant in the northern Ukraine.

It was just four days after the world's biggest nuclear disaster spewed enormous amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Manzurova and her colleagues were among the roughly 800,000 "cleaners" or "liquidators" in charge of the removal and burial of all the contamination in what's still called the dead zone.

Natalia Manzurova, shown here in 1988 in the "dead zone" of the Pripyat, is one of the relatively few survivors among those directly involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl.
She spent 4 1/2 years helping clean the abandoned town of Pripyat, which was less than two miles from the Chernobyl reactors. The plant workers lived there before they were abruptly evacuated.

Manzurova, now 59 and an advocate for radiation victims worldwide, has the "Chernobyl necklace" -- a scar on her throat from the removal of her thyroid -- and myriad health problems. But unlike the rest of her team members, who she said have all died from the results of radiation poisoning, and many other liquidators, she's alive.

AOL News spoke with Manzurova about the nuclear disaster in Japan with the help of a translator on the telephone Monday from Vermont. Manzurova, who still lives in Ozersk, was beginning a one-week informational tour of the U.S. organized by the Beyond Nuclear watchdog group.

AOL News: What was your first reaction when you heard about Fukushima?
Manzurova: It felt like déjà vu. I felt so worried for the people of Japan and the children especially. I know the experience that awaits them.

But experts say Fukushima is not as bad as Chernobyl.
Every nuclear accident is different, and the impact cannot be truly measured for years. The government does not always tell the truth. Many will never return to their homes. Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They'll worry about their health and their children's health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn't harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they've lost. What they lost can't be calculated.

What message do you have for Japan?
Run away as quickly as possible. Don't wait. Save yourself and don't rely on the government because the government lies. They don't want you to know the truth because the nuclear industry is so powerful.

Natalia Manzurova, now 59, has suffered a variety of ailments since she worked at Chernobyl, but she says she is the only member of her team still alive.
When you were called to go to Chernobyl, did you know how bad it was there?
I had no idea and never knew the true scope until much later. It was all covered in secrecy. I went there as a professional because I was told to -- but if I was asked to liquidate such an accident today, I'd never agree. The sacrifices the Fukushima workers are making are too high because the nuclear industry was developed in such a way that the executives don't hold themselves accountable to the human beings who have to clean up a disaster. It's like nuclear slavery.

What was your first impression of Chernobyl?
It was like a war zone where a neutron bomb had gone off. I always felt I was in the middle of a war where the enemy was invisible. All the houses and buildings were intact with all the furniture, but there wasn't a single person left. Just deep silence everywhere. Sometimes I felt I was the only person alive on a strange planet. There are really no words to describe it.

What did your work as a liquidator entail?
First, we measured radiation levels and got vegetation samples to see how high the contamination was. Then bulldozers dug holes in the ground and we buried everything -- houses, animals, everything. There were some wild animals that were still alive, and we had to kill them and put them in the holes.

Were any pets left in the houses?
The people had only a few hours to leave, and they weren't allowed to take their dogs or cats with them. The radiation stays in animals' fur and they can't be cleaned, so they had to be abandoned. That's why people were crying when they left. All the animals left behind in the houses were like dried-out mummies. But we found one dog that was still alive.

Where did you find the dog and how did he survive?
We moved into a former kindergarten to use as a laboratory and we found her lying in one of the children's cots there. Her legs were all burned from the radiation and she was half blind. Her eyes were all clouded from the radiation. She was slowly dying.

Were you able to rescue her?
No. Right after we moved in, she disappeared. And this is the amazing part. A month later we found her in the children's ward of the (abandoned) hospital. She was dead. She was lying in a child's bed, the same size bed we found her in the kindergarten. Later we found out that she loved children very much and was always around them.

How did working in the dead zone begin to affect your health?
I started to feel as if I had the flu. I would get a high temperature and start to shiver. What happens during first contact with radiation is that your good flora is depleted and the bad flora starts to flourish. I suddenly wanted to sleep all the time and eat a lot. It was the organism getting all the energy out.

How much radiation were you subjected to?
We were never told. We wore dosimeters which measured radiation and we submitted them to the bosses, but they never gave us the results.

But didn't you realize the danger and want to leave?
Yes, I knew the danger. All sorts of things happened. One colleague stepped into a rainwater pool and the soles of his feet burned off inside his boots. But I felt it was my duty to stay. I was like a firefighter. Imagine if your house was burning and the firemen came and then left because they thought it was too dangerous.

When did you discover the thyroid tumor?
They found it during a routine medical inspection after I had worked there several years. It turned out to be benign. I don't know when it started to develop. I had an operation to remove half the thyroid gland. The tumor grew back, and last year I had the other half removed. I live on (thyroid) hormones now.

Why did you go back to Chernobyl after getting a thyroid tumor?
Right around the time of my operation, the government passed a law saying the liquidators had to work for exactly 4 1/2 years to get our pension and retire. If you left even one day early, you would not get any benefits.

Really? That seems beyond cruel.
It's why the nuclear industry is dangerous. They want to deny the dangers. They kept changing the law about what benefits we'd get because if they admitted how much we were affected, it would look bad for the industry. Now we hardly get any benefits.

Did your health worsen after you finally finished work at Chernobyl?
I was basically disabled at 43. I was having fits similar to epileptic fits. My blood pressure was sky high. It was hard to work for more than six months a year. The doctors didn't know what to do with me. They wanted to put me in a psychiatric ward and call me crazy. Finally they admitted it was because of the radiation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corporate Responses


Currently food and other big manufactures like Colgate-Palmolive hide behind "Made in USA or Manufactured in USA" whereas the actual ingredients are coming from cheap places like China and cancer causing nuclear contaminated Japan. We know for sure that China plays a big role in ingredients for our food supply because a report to congress states that number being 4.9 Billion dollars a year (and that was for 2007--the trend has been more and more every year).

China had become the third largest source of US agricultural and seafood imports. Additionally, as stated in the report below, these imports increased roughly fourfold from 433,000 metric tons (MT) and $1 billion in 1997 to 2.1 million MT and $4.9 billion in 2007. I was not aware of this either.

The best part? If you try to inquire if anything in a product you eat regularly has ingredients from China or Japan in it, they won't tell you!! They say its "proprietary", none of your business. So if you want to protect yourself or your family from eating ingredients from China or Japan, you can't, because they wont tell you.

This goes for other things like makeup, shampoos, toothpaste, and sunscreen too. We slather sunscreen on our kids every summer and bathe in chemicals. From where? That stuff gets absorbed into our skin. We have no clue where all that is from. Think about that for a minute. Where are all those ingredients from that we eat, that get absorbed into our skin through makeup and sunscreen? Do you know? Call your favorite company and ask them. Chances are good they won't tell you and that's not right.

It's not right that we live in a free county and we don't have access to that basic information. If you agree that this is an outrage, SIGN the petition on the right and then share with all those you know and love.


Right now corporate america has the upper hand. They don't want truth in labeling because their profit margins on anything with China in it, for example, will go way down. In fact, most people probably wouldn't buy it anymore if they knew the truth and corporate knows that. But the more signatures we get on the petition, the more likely we will be to tip the scale in our favor which is really where it should be. We need truth in labeling. The more signatures on the petition we get, the more likely our representatives will be to listen up to what WE , The People want, instead of what big corporations want in order to protect their bottom line.


Kelloggs - Contacted Early August 2011

Was informed that they do source from China. Said they get some vitamins from China but wouldn't tell me which ones. Not for sure, but my guess is they might source other things from China as well. I said if I am concerned about my child getting sick from an ingredient from China what should I do? She said I have been with the company for over 10 years and have never said this before, but if you are concerned about the possibility of your child ingesting something from China, then you should avoid Kellogg's products all together. I think that was one of the most honest answers I have ever heard.

Here's why having China in our food supply without us even knowing it is very concerning.

Followed up on August 19,2011 to see if Kellogg's is sourcing from Japan.

Why is getting ingredients for our food supply from Japan a bad idea? Think March 11, 2011. Fukushima. One of the worst nuclear disasters known to man. Its bad. Read more at link.

I spoke with a different representative and was told that Kellogg's is a global company and they do source from Japan as well. He couldn't find that I had called before in his history. Not sure why that was the case? He said he would document in the current case number that I had called before but that there was no record of it.

Furthermore, in terms of knowing which products have ingredients from which countries, I was told managers don't even have access to that information. Why is this?? I feel like our food supply should be transparent. This sounds very secretive and its not just Kellogg's. They are just an example of what seems to be going on across the board.

At least in my book, everyone should have the right to know the potential countries of origins of the food they consume. To protect proprietary information, we don't need to know where the sugar comes from, where the vitamins come from, etc. just where the potential country of origins might be of the ingredients used to make the product. After all, companies make decisions as to what countries they are willing to work with.

If for whatever reason companies can't list what countries the ingredients are sourced from inside their box, then at the very least put the same information on all your boxes. Simply list the countries that your company is willing to do business with on all your packages.

Here's the kicker, because of this whole proprietary issue, I have no idea for example, where the rice in rice krispies is coming from. Is that from the USA? China? Fukushima, Japan? I have no idea.

Quaker Oats (Parent Company PepsiC0) Contacted Early August 2011

What follows is a note from PepsiCo in response to a question I had regarding sourcing information for Quaker Oats.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to tell you where Quaker Oats products are from. We'd like you to know that our products all of our products are made in North America (United States and Canada). Also 100% of our crop grains, including oats, corn, rice and wheat are sourced in North America. However, ingredients (other than grains) such as flavoring and spice blends are purchased from many different suppliers around the world. Specific country information isn't available to us at this office. In addition, we'd like you to know that we work closely with our suppliers to ensure the safety of all the materials we use to manufacture our products. You can be assured that we use only quality ingredients that are safe and wholesome. All of our suppliers, regardless of their location/country, must: * Meet all applicable US food laws. * Have an approved audit by PepsiCo or approved audit firm which includes all quality documents. * All incoming ingredients are tested prior to use at our plants. With specific reference to you concerns about ingredients which may be sourced from Japan; * PepsiCo’s Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs team is closely monitoring any potential issues related to the safety of raw material we purchase from Japan. * PepsiCo has taken proactive steps to further ensure the safety of raw materials we purchase from Japan, including strict surveillance of all food and beverage ingredients produced near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. * Our suppliers have confirmed that despite the recent disaster, the materials we purchase are safe and suitable for consumers. * Please know that safety is of the utmost importance to us here at the PepsiCo and we will remain vigilant in ensuring that all of our products are safe for our consumers. Quaker Consumer Relations A Division of PepsiCo

Did you hear that..."Our suppliers have confirmed that despite the recent disaster, the materials we purchase are safe and suitable for consumers. * WHAT?? doesn't take a nuclear scientist to figure out that can't be good. They rely on these people whose livelihoods depend on keeping this whole facade going to tell them what is safe for US to eat and drink??? Come on. Cancer is all over the place there. Let's be real.

I emailed back the following note in response to the above note:

Thanks for the note. How about China? Do you source from China? If so, what is china sourcing from there?
It is stated below, PepsiCo has taken proactive steps to further ensure the safety of raw materials we purchase from Japan, including strict surveillance of all food and beverage ingredients produced near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.I need a list of all the food and beverage ingredients produced in Japan, near and far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, along with the list of all products those ingredients from Japan are eventually used in. Thank you.

To which I got this response:

Thank you for re contacting us. As we have explained in our previous email; All of our suppliers, regardless of their location/country, must: * Meet all applicable US food laws. * Have an approved audit by PepsiCo or approved audit firm which includes all quality documents. * All incoming ingredients are tested prior to use at our plants. This would include China. That said, a list such as you describe is not available. Additionally, such information is proprietary and would not provided to anyone outside the company. Quaker Consumer Relations A Division of PepsiCo
I sent a follow up note that said this:

Thanks for your response. I need your help with something. If as a considered mom, I am not comfortable with the idea of my family consuming things from in and around Fukushima and China what should I do?

After thinking about it some more I sent another note that said this:

One more item that i need your help on. I'm unclear as to how my request is proprietary information. I can see how if maybe I was saying where do you get your sugar from, where do you get your food coloring from, etc. Giving me those kind of details could be proprietary. But that's not what I am looking for and I apologize if I did not make myself more clear before. What I was looking for is simply a list of your products that contain one or more ingredients from Japan and/or China. I understand and respect the company's proprietary rights to not disclose to me where particular ingredients are sourced from.

To which I have yet to receive a response. I will update as soon as I get a response.

Here is a link to the Pepsi-Co shopping list that PepsiCo has on their website. It is a good resource to get to know what Pepsi-Co owns. I had no idea they had so many products until they responded to me when I asked about Quaker.

General Mills Contacted Today (August 18, 2011)

Just got off the phone with GM and asked them if they source from China or Japan. They said it is a possibility. The rep went on to say they source from both China and Japan. She read a corporate statement that said they are only sourcing from Japan in areas that have been deemed safe. Wonder who deems it safe? The Japanese government??? All roads seems to lead there. Instead of listening to the Japanese government who has never been through this before and who has an incentive to keep their exports going, the FDA needs to be listening to nuclear specialists who know about the cancer causing stuff in things over there. See my other post...

The GM rep went on to tell me they couldn't tell me where the ingredients in Cheerios are sourced from. I asked if they could tell me if they source from China or Japan in Cheerios, she said no due to proprietary rights. I pressed her further and said I don't want to know if they get their sugar from Japan and vitamin E from China, I respect their proprietary information, that I am not a spy for Post Cereal, I simply want to know if there is anything in the food I'm giving to my kids from either of those countries.

She said she would ask and then get back to me.

Here's my point: we have the right to know at all times where our foods are coming from. The fukushima accident just brought to light, front and center, the flaw of our product labeling requirements (see my other blog on the subject). In essence, I shouldn't have to call GM to find out if they are sourcing ingredients from Japan or China for Cheerios. I should be able to flip over my box of Cheerios and see it right there.

I don't need to know that the sugar is from Brazil, vitamins from China, wheat from USA, etc., (corporate america would push back on that calling it proprietary information, and I'm okay with that, I can respect that).

What I am asking for is something different. All I need to know is does anything, any of the ingredients in a package (don't need to know the specific ingredient), contain an ingredient from China or Japan, or even the USA or Brazil. We should know. Some people may want to avoid food from the USA, some might want to avoid food from China, some might want to avoid food from Brazil or Japan. As concerned citizens of our health and well-being of our families, we have a right to know so that we can decide on a personal basis what is best for our families to consume and for christ sake I should be able to know if Cheerios, the very first food we give to babies in our country, has something from China or Japan in it.

Dannon Contacted Today (August 18, 2011)

Spoke with a rep. She told me that they source their dairy products from around their factories located in a couple of different states around the US and that that makes up the majority of their products (I guess saying that is supposed to make me feel good about the other stuff coming from other places, maybe for some saying that the majority of something coming from the US is good enough).

I followed up by asked about where the other ingredients are coming from. (After all, if my family or yours gets sick from something sourced from somewhere else, it doesn't matter how much of it it was, just that it was ever in there in the first place). Then she offered up that dannon sources from all around the world and was about to give me the corporate line about proprietary information, but I stopped her. I've heard that line one too many times. I said I just need to know if anything in their products are sourced from Japan or China and if so which products might have something from either of those countries. She said that information was not available to her, that she would get back to me shortly. I'll update this as soon as I hear anything.

August 19, 2011- Followed up with Dannon

Same response. Can't tell you anything about where we get anything from. Proprietary Information. The only thing they would tell me again is that the main ingredient they have is the dairy and that that comes from farms around their plants. I told them other companies have been willing to say what countries their corporations are sourcing from when I ask the question. Still nothing. I asked them to push it up the chain to get an answer. Said they would but couldn't promise that the response would be any different. Again, why the secrecy?? I don't get it and if they are going to be so secretive, why not be secretive also about the dairy farms around their plants? Why isn't that proprietary information too? What's so different about that? Maybe they own all those farms which means no one else can then go to those same farms so they don't have a problem with consumers knowing about that. I guess they think everyone who calls their consumer information line is a spy for another company trying to gain access to their secret sourcing information. Sorry to sound so sarcastic but I'm feeling like this proprietary information, can't tell you what you are eating kind of thing, is a little over the top.

September 2, 2011 - Update on Dannon

I will NEVER buy another Dannon yogurt again. This company has been the absolute WORST when it comes to telling me anything. Why the secrecy? Are they not proud of who they are choosing to do business with? I love the way they focus on the milk as the primary ingredient, that that should put warm fuzzies in our heart since that is from the USA. But what about everything else?? If the other ingredients are coming from unhealthy places, it doesn't matter if it is the majority or minority ingredient, it will still make people sick. UNREAL!! I look at their yogurt now on the grocery store shelf and have nothing but complete disdain. Check out the follow up emails over the last couple of days:

August 31, 2011

Thank you for contacting the Dannon Company, Inc. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our products. You had asked us for specific information on the country of origin of our ingredients, stating your concerns about ingredients sourced from China or Japan.

Please be assured that your comments have been shared with the appropriate individuals. At Dannon, we take great care to ensure that the highest standards are met in everything we do. In our products, packaging, marketing and advertising, we strive for excellence. When a valued consumer like you takes the time to contact us, we do take it seriously. 

We would also like to reassure you that food safety and quality are our primary concerns with all of the ingredients we select and use in Dannon products, regardless of their country of origin. We purchase ingredients from various sources. Milk, which is the primary ingredient in our products, comes from local farmers that are within a few hundred miles of our plants in Minster, Ohio, Fort Worth, Texas and West Jordan, Utah. We source some of our other ingredients, such as fruit, from many regions of the world based on regional seasonality and availability. Before purchasing any ingredients, a Dannon ingredient supplier must be approved through our rigorous and comprehensive supplier approval program which is part of our food safety requirements and is managed by our corporate quality team. All ingredient suppliers meet these rigorous safety and quality standards.

We also have rigorous food safety standards and quality audits to ensure the safety and quality of all of our ingredients regardless of their country of origin. Additionally, we have strict food safety measures in place and we will continue to monitor our ingredients and suppliers on an on-going basis to ensure the quality that you have come to expect from Dannon products.
We have no additional information on specific countries of origin to share at this time. Details about our ingredient suppliers are proprietary and sources are subject to change according to our Company's business needs.

To which I wrote back:

Just to clarify, I am not asking specifically where Dannon sources their pineapple from or where Dannon gets strawberries from. That would be proprietary information. What I am asking for is not that. I am simply asking does Dannon choose to do business with China and/or Japan. Again, I am not asking specifics of what is coming from there, just asking if it is done. Dannon needs to step up to the plate and be honest with its customers in the same way that other companies have.

I know for example that PepsiCo sources from both China and Japan.
Kelloggs does the same
So does General Mills.

Now I am asking the same question to Dannon. It is a plain and simple question that deserves a plain and simple answer. Under the freedom of information act we as customers have the right to know if Dannon is doing business with China and/or Japan.

Thank you in advance for being honest with your customers,

Dannon's Response Sept. 2, 2011 Thank you following up with us. We sincerely understand your concerns, and these have been shared with the appropriate members of our Company.

However, our sources are subject to change according to our Company's business needs. Details about our ingredient suppliers are proprietary. We have no additional information on specific countries of origin to share at this time.

I got to thinking about this...why is Dannon so secretive and another yogurt company like Stonyfield so transparent?

Sarah Lee Products Contacted Today (August 18, 2011)

Spoke with a Sarah Lee representative. This must be the day for minimizing everything because she said only 3% of their ingredients come from abroad. Once again, couldn't tell me where. The problem with that 3% is that while the % seems small, if it gets spread throughout the product line as a basic ingredient, like a vitamin or a spice, then the amount of things that has a potentiality of something from Japan or China becomes much, much greater. Furthermore, if you believe that consuming something from China or Japan could make you sick, the possibility of that happening also increases as that 3% is put in across the product line. Is this happening? I don't know for sure. It's proprietary information.

I asked about my Sarah Lee bread and any other products that might have an ingredient sourced from China or Japan. Again, she didn't have access to that information. She would have to forward that on to whomever and then get back with me. I'll post any update as I get it.

MARS (September 6, 2011)

(My note here sent on 9/1/2011)

Our family has committed to not consuming items from China or Japan. Does Mars source any ingredients from either of these two countries? I am not interested to know where mars gets their sugar for example as that is propriatary information. I would just like to know simply if Mars does business with either of these two countries. Smuckers has offered a short list of products that do not contain ingredients from these countries in them. If you could provide a short list like that, that would be great. We'd like to continue eating Mars products wherever we can. Thank you.

(Mars response received 9/6/11/2011

In response to your email regarding MARS CHOCOLATE NORTH AMERICA.

Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately, the information you are requesting is considered confidential and proprietary; therefore, it is not available for distribution or publication.

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America

FRIENDS?? I'm not friends with a company that can't be honest with me about whether or not my kids are consuming something from China or cancer riddled Northern Japan when they eat their products. NO MORE M&Ms,SNICKERS,Uncle Ben's Rice, or anything else in their product line for us!!!

Stonyfield Organic Contacted Today August 19, 2011

Spoke with a rep. I asked him if they source anything from China or Japan.

In terms of sourcing from China, he said that the one thing he knew off hand that they source from China is the Stevia plant. I asked what that can be found in and he said pretty much all the products that have zero percent fat in it and it does say on the label that it contains Stevia (but not that it sourced from China).

I asked him to double check to see if anything else is being sourced from China and/or if their policy on sourcing from Japan has changed. He said last time he checked they were not sourcing from Japan.

I will update this as soon as I hear back.

Update: Here is a note I received this afternoon

Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding ingredients sourced | |from China or Japan. None of our ingredients are imported from Japan, and | |only organic stevia is currently imported from China. I'm also including | |some statements regarding both Japan (from the time of the Fukushima | |incident) and China, below. | | | |Japan: | |Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your question about | |radiation and milk. We care just as much as you about protecting health, | |the environment and upholding the standards of organic food, and you can | |be | |assured that we are vigilant in our watch of the impact from the recent | |events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. | | | |Stonyfield is located in New Hampshire, and the majority of the milk we | |use | |to make our organic dairy products comes from organic farms located in New| |England and the North East. Stonyfield sources 100% of its milk from | |Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative with a 23-year commitment to | |providing foods that are produced without toxic pesticides, synthetic | |hormones and antibiotics. Over the years Organic Valley has built the most| |comprehensive milk quality assurance program in the country. In recent | |weeks, they have added yet another component to their extensive program: | |the ability to detect the presence of radiation in milk. Analysis is being| |conducted on milk packaged prior to the March 11, 2011 events in Japan to | |establish normal radiological baselines, and milk being produced today is | |being compared against those baselines. | | | |While there is currently no reason to believe American dairy is unsafe, | |should the situation change, these monitoring efforts will allow us and | |Organic Valley to take appropriate action. We are carefully monitoring our| |milk as a precautionary measure, and we will continue to monitor our | |products to make sure they remain safe for our consumers. | | | |******************* | | | |China: | |Due to the lack of US supply to meet our needs, in 2006 we bought some | |USDA | |certified organic strawberries from China. We took our due diligence | |beyond | |what is required by statute (and even beyond our own existing quality | |systems), and hired 3 separate inspection agencies to perform audits | |(organic compliance, labor practices and food safety) so that we could | |have | |additional assurances that we were getting a product that we could feel | |confident met our standards. We are now using the same rigorous process | |for | |sourcing our organic stevia. | | | |We are proud that we played a role in improving worker conditions as part | |of the review process; however, we do not source our strawberries or any | |other ingredient other than our organic stevia from China.

Coca-Cola (SEPTEMBER 15, 2001)

Didn't realize this but coke has over 3,500 different beverages in its production line. Here are some pictures of some of their products.

Here is the response I received from them today:

Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. We appreciate your interest and the opportunity to respond.

The Coca-Cola Company has an uncompromising commitment to product quality and safety. As the world’s largest beverage company, we source a myriad of ingredients from most of the world’s markets. We use sophisticated analytical testing methods to ensure the purity and safety of ingredients used in our products.

All of our suppliers are monitored to ensure that their operations meet our strict quality standards. In all countries in which we operate, we adhere to local government safety regulations and our own rigorous quality control standards. We are confident that when you purchase a product from The Coca-Cola Company, you are buying a safe and wholesome beverage.

We source several ingredients from China/Japan but it is our Company policy not to disclose what ingredients we source from these markets for competitive reasons.

If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

To which I responded,

Thank you for your initial response. Are you sourcing from Japan? (I didn't see the part that they said they do source from Japan before I wrote my response)

Here's my concern. I have spoken to nuclear experts and they have said that there is no test to detect what is called "hot particles", tiny, cancer causing particles. While geiger counters can pick up the bigger particles, there is no test that the nuclear specialist know to detect those "hot particles" that cause cancer. Does your team know some way to detect those? Thank you.

I am awaiting their response.

Colgate Palmolive- (January 6, 2012)

Correspondence with Colgate Palmolive. Let's stop playing games. It is a simple question and deserves a simple answer (2nd attempt at getting an honest answer).

Once again:

Is it possible that Colgate Palmolive has suppliers here in the US that use ingredients from China? Or do you know your suppliers well enough here in the states to know for sure that nothing in your lines of products from suppliers here use ingredients that originated China?

In short, can Colgate Palmolive be considered a "Chinese Free" company when it comes to ingredients in their product lines?

Your previous response of "Colgate does not manufacture products in China for the U.S. Markets nor source ingredients from suppliers located in China for these products." makes it sound like China is not in the supply chain, but then when I asked

Is it possible that Colgate Palmolive has suppliers here in the US that use ingredients from China? Or do you know your suppliers well enough here in the states to know for sure that nothing in your lines of products from suppliers here use ingredients that originated China?

Your response is to direct me here

So what you are saying is that it is possible that there are suppliers here in the US that are sourcing ingredients from China for your product lines? I'm confused.

I'd appreciate a straightforward honest answer. Again, it is a very simple question that deserves a simple answer.

Note: When I tried to send the above respond back to the email where I was directed to that general statement I was blocked from doing so. I called them and they said they were having computer problems that they weren't intentionally trying to keep me from responding.

They told me over the phone they've said all they have to say and they won't tell us what is truly going on b/c they know people would be really mad about all they get from China. In fact, the only thing they could for sure verify that does not have China in it at this point is their toothpaste (I'm still waiting for that in writing). If that is true, my guess is it would be b/c of the outrage from the toothpaste scandal a couple of years back.

I hope people will start being outraged at the fact that these companies refuse to tell us where their ingredients that we consume are coming from. Its really our right to know what's in the things we use from soaps to makeup to toothpaste are coming from and we really don't want it to be China for this reasons. We shouldn't be left in the dark like this!

Right now corporate america is winning with their continued intentional deception as exhibited so clearly in this correspondence.

I hope this changes in 2012

Wonder Bread Contacted Today- Parent Company Hostess (August 22, 2011)

I didn't realize that Hostess owns wonder bread. Their rep told me that hostess products are made in USA AND all the ingredients also come from the United States. It sounds too good to be true. I hope it is true. I asked for it in writing. I will post the email when I receive it.

And here it is...

Thank you for your inquiry.

We are always happy to help our consumers with their research. All of our products are made in the U.S. All of the ingredients used in our products are also all sourced in the U.S.
Again, thank you for contacting Hostess Brands Incorporated.

I'd like to see more companies be transparent and tell us as consumers where the ingredients are coming from.

Maybe we could even reel in some of the outsourcing of our food ingredients. Seems it would be SOOOO much easier to manage.

We wouldn't need all the inspectors around the world.

There are organic farms in China right now sourcing organic food for us! Why can't those organic farms be here??

We could give more USA farmers money to grow our food instead of allowing cheap and not always healthier foods from other countries to push american farmers out of work, which has been happening a lot lately.

Hire more workers here in the US to process our foods.

Don't pay for as many FDA inspectors to fly all over the world to monitor the food supply (hoping they do that now...not for sure??)

Relieve the FDA workers of having to monitor all this stuff from around the world.It is way too much! When I talked to an FDA employee about this, she said now you understand why many FDA inspectors don't sleep well at night.

As far as I am concerned we should stop outsourcing so many of our food ingredients to other countries when so much of what we eat can be produced right here at home. That would create some jobs here which is another plus. Our food might even be healthier b/c we would have a smaller area to monitor instead of being stretched out so thin all around the world.

Seems it would be good for everyone, well almost everyone... I'm sure corporate america wouldn't like this idea. They want to go wherever it's cheap.

Help take control of this. Sign the petition.