Thursday, September 23, 2010

Choice of Words Causes Confusion Over FDA Order On 2 Milk Products

The recent order of the Food and Drugs Administration for the recall of 2 milk products for babies has stirred some controversy over the use of the term "recall".

The FDA basically wanted Mead Johnson to pull out of the market its Alactagrow Bibo milk supplement and Sustagen Jr. Milk Drink Powder Vanilla flavor. The reason: non-compliance to the standard fat-level content for food for infants and young children.

The problem is the general public has been accustomed to hearing the term "product recall" used in reference to products deemed unsafe for human consumption. This is a fact that didn't escape Mead Johnson. It immediately came out with a clarification that its two products were safe for consumption.

Here's the official statement from Mead Johnson's president taken from the company's website:
Mead Johnson Nutrition clarifies issues on Philippine FDA order

In response to an administrative recall order from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove current supplies from distribution and sale, Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) Philippines assures consumers that there is no safety issue with the products Alactagrow® and Sustagen Junior®.

The Philippine FDA has issued a Class III order, the lowest level, which is used for products that have technical compliance issues. The regulatory definition of a Class III order specifically states that the use of or exposure to the product “is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.”

Safety is Mead Johnson’s highest priority and the company spares no effort to comply with the laws of all of the countries in which it operates. All of the company’s products are produced in accordance with the CODEX Code of Hygienic Practice for Foods for Infants and Children.

The Philippine FDA said it was issuing the order because the fat content in the products is below the new standard listed in the revised CODEX Standards for Follow-Up Formula, which it has recently adopted in the Philippines.

When the Philippine FDA recently adopted additional CODEX regulations applying specifically to follow-up formulas, Mead Johnson proactively cooperated and has stayed in frequent communication with the Philippine FDA to ensure that Mead Johnson products would continue to be available for the families that use them, and in compliance with the new regulations. The process of reformulating the products so that they comply with the new CODEX regulations is elaborate and requires considerable time so Mead Johnson requested a renewed Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) prior to the end of the product’s term. CODEX is an international organization that develops and promotes food standards.

Our company is committed to bringing safe, effective, nutritious and high quality products to meet the nutritional needs of the Philippines’ children.

We were surprised by the recall orders, but we are committed to resolving the issue with the Philippine FDA so that Mead Johnson can continue to offer the children in the Philippines the many nutritional benefits of Alactagrow and Sustagen Junior.

All of our products currently sold in the Philippines, including Alactagrow and Sustagen Junior, have passed stringent Philippine FDA health and safety requirements and are considered to be safe for consumption and of high quality. While the fat level requirement does not relate to the safety or quality of the product, Mead Johnson is taking steps to meet that requirement also.

Mead Johnson is launching today a reformulated version of Alactagrow that meets the new regulatory requirements. Work is also underway to develop an updated version of Sustagen to meet the revised standards.

Mead Johnson is committed to its mission to nourish the world’s children for the best start in life. Our company is involved in efforts to address malnutrition through a country-wide feeding and growth-monitoring program called Feeding Hope in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the non-government organization Kabisig ng Kalahi. In addition, since 1991 Mead Johnson has provided sustained support to children afflicted with rare metabolic diseases.

Consumer health and collaboration with the government and the Food and Drug Administration are Mead Johnson’s top priorities.

Paul Andrew Richards
President, Mead Johnson Nutrition

For more information, you may call Mead Johnson through 841-8222 and 1800-18885861.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FDA Outlaws 5 Beauty Products For High Mercury Content

Here's another warning from the Food and Drugs Administration.

The FDA has deemed unsafe for human use 5 beauty products from Japan and Taiwan. It has ordered a ban on the 5 products. FDA inspectors have been instructed to start confiscating the products all of which were found to have mercury content way above the set limit.

The products are:

  • St. Dalfour Beauty Whitening Cream
  • Beauty Girl Papaya & Hawthorn Essence
  • Beauty Girl Ginseng & Green Cucumber
  • Beauty Girl Essence Aloe Pearl
  • Beauty Girl Olive & Sheep Essence

According to information online, long-term exposure to mercury may produce such symptoms as peripheral neuropathy or itching, burning or pain on the skin, skin discoloration and swelling.

You can read more about mercury and the dangers it poses in this Wikipedia entry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Omega-3 Margarines - Health Claims More Like Health Hopes

Marketing and advertising have always been at odds with science and sticking with just the facts.
Embellishment, selective omission, even claims that are unverified even as advertisements carrying them are published, do not come close to running the gamut of tactics used to convince people to buy products that almost always start as an overpromise and often end up underdelivering.

One particular example is the benefit of the essential fatty acid or good fat omega 3 supplemented from a variety of sources like fish, flax seeds, walnuts, or olive oil, or simply taken in pill form, having been long touted as heart-protecting by counteracting the effects of the bad fats in the diet. There are a lot of companies in the world today claiming/asserting/offering a significant possibility that their omega 3 enriched product will lower the risk of heart disease – long before it is actually proven. With more and more people gaining access to information via the internet, the number of so-called do-it-yourself doctors or those who try to address their own health concerns without consulting a doctor, is also growing every year. There is plenty of information available online, though nothing beats actual testing.

Consider the following report with the current finding that omega 3 enriched margarines developed by Unilever failed to prevent repeat heart attacks, taken from

Omega-3 margarines fail to help in heart study

STOCKHOLM, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Giving patients with a history of heart attacks a margarine enriched with omega-3 oils in addition to standard drugs appears to make no difference to their chances of having a repeat attack.

A 40-month study of more than 4,800 patients showed taking low doses of omega-3 fatty acids in margarine did not significantly reduce rates of serious heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, Dutch researchers said on Sunday.

The finding raised questions about the benefits of omega-3, which has been shown in previous studies to make for healthier hearts. The margarines used in the study were developed for the researchers by food and consumer goods giant Unilever (ULVR.L).

Doctors, however, are unlikely to rush to change clinical practice. Many already prescribe omega-3 fish oil capsules, including GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK.L) Lovaza, to reduce triglycerides, a type of blood fat linked to clogged arteries.

"It will be viewed as a largely negative study and people who are enthusiasts for omega fatty acids will continue to be enthusiasts and people who are sceptics will continue to be sceptics," said Scott Wright of the Mayo Clinic in the United States, who was not involved in the research.

Daan Kromhout of Wageningen University, who led the study, told the European Society of Cardiology the lack of efficacy might reflect the good background drug treatment patients were receiving, with 85 percent on cholesterol-lowering statins, as well as blood pressure and blood-thinning tablets.

"We found the cardiovascular mortality rate in the study population was only half that expected, probably because of their excellent treatment," he said.

"This may also be why the rate of major cardiovascular events during follow-up was no lower in the fatty acid groups than in the placebo group."

All the men and women in the Dutch study were aged between 60 and 80 and had suffered a heart attack roughly four years previously.

They were randomly assigned use of one of four margarines on bread instead of their regular spread -- one containing no extra omega-3 fatty acids; one with 400 milligrams a day of extra eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); one with 2 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); and one with a combination of EPA-DHA and ALA.

Fish like salmon, herring and sardine are a common source of EPA-DHA, while ALA is found in vegetables including soybeans, flax seeds and walnuts.

Despite the overall negative results, researchers did find there was a reduction in repeat heart attacks and other cardiovascular events in women who took ALA margarine, although this was not statistically significant. Diabetes patients also showed a possible benefit.

Unilever, whose margarine brands that contain omega-3 include Flora and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, said the lack of benefit seen with EPA and DHA was surprising, considering the weight of evidence published to date.

"The results indicate that more investigation is required into the efficacy of vegetable omega 3, but do not question the current authoritative dietary recommendations and advices for omega 3 intakes on which our products are based," the company said in a statement.

The results of the study, which was supported by the Netherlands Heart Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and Unilever, were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Instead of taking the report at face value, it is better that some key points or questions be raised.

Specifically, the study leader attributes to a supposedly high level of drug care the failure of the omega 3 enriched margarines to prevent subsequent heart attacks, which gives rise to a few questions:

Does it mean that supplemental omega 3 is worthless for preventing heart attacks unless drug care is suboptimal or sub par?

Are the observed and measured improvements from omega 3 intake from margarines so marginal compared to the effects of the drugs administered that it seems unnecessary to add the omega 3 enriched margarines in the diet in the first place?

Why conduct a study that does not isolate omega 3's supposed beneficial effects, i.e., why were the test subjects taking drugs that could skew the results and make the effects of the drugs indistinguishable from the effects of the omega 3?

This study design appears to have ensured success of at least one of the means to counter heart disease, because if the design were different, like say, there is no effective drug care given and the omega 3 enriched margarines still fail to make a statistically significant difference towards preventing future heart attacks, the failure would be definitive – a nightmare for the “healthy” brands involved. In the end, the recommendation of “more investigation needed” gives the brands involved in the study the chance to still ride on consumer preconceptions and continue selling.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Don't Believe In Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty

If you're like me, tired of all the tricks companies play in trying to convince people to buy their product, you'll be able to relate to this post.

Years ago, Dove, a brand of topselling moisturizing soap, created an ad campaign that they say encourages women to be comfortable in their own skin and ran ads that had models who looked more average in body shape and facial features, i.e., more average-looking compared to the usual ultra-fit and gorgeous models we see in other commercials. It's called the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a campaign that wanted to convince women to be confident and comfortable with themselves and the way they are. They even had what they called the Dove Self-Esteem Fund that downplays the Western concept of beauty of models with very little bodyfat and flawless skin in preference of being proud of however one might look, whatever shape she might be in.

Some have criticized Dove's marketing for being completely contradictory to the messages that other brands Lynx (Axe in the Philippines) and Fair and Lovely (skin whitening product marketed in different countries) send consumers. Lynx is criticized for consistently objectifying women, while Fair and Lovely is a product for women who want to do away with their dark complexion. All these three brands are owned by Unilever. While I also understand how inconsistent Unilever now appears having diametrically opposed positions depending on which kind of consumer is asking about it (be yourself for Dove target consumers, be thin and sexy for Lynx target consumers, don't be dark for Fair and Lovely target consumers ), something else became the deal-breaker for me. Actually, there are two deal-breakers.

It has become widely known, at least among more thinking circles, that despite all the confidence-building, patronizing and pandering the Dove brand has been able to do on a huge global budget, the immediate following years raised the problem that this campaign poses the following risks:

(1) the risk of completely removing the ASPIRATIONAL aspect that is important in making women spend more money on other beauty and personal care products; and

(2) the risk of turning the Dove brand into a soap brand for fat people.

How sincere was that, right?

Today Dove is back to focusing on moisturizing and price-offs, at least as far as commercials in the Philippines are concerned.

Well, now that that's out in the open, and we now know that the real beauty in Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty was actually photoshopped, I can't ask for a better nail in the coffin.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beware of Double Standards

What does the word standard mean? One of the definitions according to is
an accepted or approved example of something against which others are judged or measured;

something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.
Standards give us the bases of determining the safeness or unsafeness of an action, a decision, or a product. Standards give us markers that tell us what lines not to cross when doing so poses safety risks that might be unacceptable.

From this you could already deduce what double standard means, but let's take an actual definition anyway. defines double standard in quite clear ways as

any code or set of principles containing different provisions for one group of people than for another

a set of principles that allows greater freedom to one person or group than to another

A set of principles establishing different provisions for one group than another
I brought up the subject of double standards on this post because I came across a document that factually tells of double standards practiced by a company that makes billions of dollars annually selling consumers fast-moving consumer goods. I think you'll agree that when you eat something or use a certain product in daily life you expect these products to be safe and of acceptable safety standards. Would you still believe in the safety standards applied by a manufacturing company if they have been found to practice double standards?

I found this document from Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) that contains information on controversial business practices of Unilever, a company that happens to claim it adds vitality to life. As early as 2001 there has been an issue with mercury pollution at the former thermometer factory owned by Unilever located in Kodaikanal India. More than 7 tons of waste material generated by the factory's operations was contaminated with mercury which is highly toxic. The mercury pollution had severe spoiling effects on the environment nearby, and public protests demanded Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) to take full responsibility. With mercury safety standards lacking in India, the Dutch soil clean-up standard for residential areas of 10mg/kg mercury level was initially taken as the standard for HUL to meet. That standard would soon be dropped in preference of adopting 25mg/kg mercury level, a result of HUL having successfully lobbied to use a different standard for India. Unilever doesn't mind a high margin for mercury contamination in Indian soil, but would never accept such a low safety standard on Dutch soil; this clearly smacks of keeping double standards.

Read the brief report for yourself here.

When a company profits heavily from selling consumers worldwide a large portfolio of products deemed perfectly safe and without risks associated with regular usage or consumption, I'd expect that it has no place for double standards anywhere in its practices. But seeing this casts doubts about how the same company could avoid applying double standards in other aspects of its operations. We can only cross our fingers that there are no double standards when it comes to the safety of their products we use everyday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beware of Low-Priced Pond's, Nivea Products

Think you're getting more than your money's worth with that dirt cheap Pond's and Nivea cream? Think again. You might be buying a counterfeit item.

The Bureau of Customs has intercepted a shipment of counterfeit cosmetics from China including knockoffs of those 2 brands.

Other fake items in the shipment were various Jergens, Loreal and Mac cosmetics.

I'm just lucky I'll never have to worry about potentially dangerous cosmetics such as those Pond's whitening creams confiscated by BOC.

As far as I know, men are still expected to go around with their faces untouched by creams and all that sh!t.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pinoy home-cooked meals are no longer free from MSG

We generally don't use any MSG when cooking at home. Our family is very much aware that every time we eat out, we probably get a lot of MSG from the cooked food we buy. We do make a conscious effort to avoid using MSG, so we worry a little less about health risks associated with it.

I do find a little disturbing this current trend of openly promoting the use of MSG. In past months I hardly ever paid attention to the advertising, but now that I stop to think about it, I do recall that Ajinomoto has been aggressively promoting the umami-taste concept that glutamates deliver, Maggi has been encouraging consumers to sprinkle Magic Sarap on fried egg and rice, and Knorr has been trying to create the impression that its Real Sarap product brings a “real” goodness to food owing to some real herbs and spices in its mix. The first brand tries to persuade you with science, the second brand with an unapologetic approach that simply extends to the home what is already happening in tapsilogans everywhere, and the third brand pitching “real” deliciousness even though the primary source of such deliciousness is still the MSG (i.e., if you remove the MSG and left only the “real herbs and spices,” will the improvement in taste still be significant or marginal?). At least the first two do not have any pretensions of being something they're not.

With products like these, who needs skills in the kitchen, right?

Kidding aside, this home invasion of MSG is not a good thing. It's the lazy way to make your family like your cooking. It's too much of a shortcut in trying to make your kids eat more. It certainly won't make you a better cook, parent or spouse.

Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a flavor enhancer that has caused adverse reactions known as MSG symptom complex on some individuals who have some degree of sensitivity to its presence in food. Throbbing headaches, a burning sensation at the back of the neck, even chest pain have been reported to follow the ingestion of MSG-laden foods. Though many people don't show any adverse reactions of this sort, concern over any risks MSG may pose on health still prevails partly because large doses have indeed been found to destroy brain cells in developing mice – the very reason why MSG is kept out of foods for babies.

The home is the only place left where today's children could avoid MSG and be healthier for it. Learn to cook better for them if you really love them.

(By the way, remember that post I wrote about the list of product ingredients telling you that there is more of the first ingredient than the second, there is more of the second than the third, there's more of the third than the fourth, and so on? Well, both Maggi Magic Sarap and Knorr Real Sarap have MSG second only to salt on the list out of many ingredients. So whatever herbs and spices are supposedly in these mixes, there's less of them than there is MSG.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In case you didn't know, Best Foods Mayo Magic contains aspartame

If you have phenylketonuria, steer clear of Best Foods Mayo Magic. It contains aspartame, an artificial sweetener that is used instead of sugar because it has 200 times the sweetness of sugar.

Side effects from the use of aspartame have been clinically proven to occur even on those who do not have phenylketonuria, such as an increase in frequency and severity of headaches, and exacerbated depression in those who have it. Up to a hundred different symptoms of adverse reactions following aspartame consumption have been reported, and there have been studies that found aspartame use associated with increased cancer risk. There are also studies that did not find a link between aspartame use and cancer, so to this day it is hotly debated, but the risks cannot be ignored or dismissed. Aspartame is commonly used in “diet” beverages and sugar-free drinks as well.

Avoidance of aspartame entirely should give you peace-of-mind.

For more information on aspartame and health issues associated with this artificial sweetener, visit the following web pages:

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Pepsodent TV Ad Sneaky and Misleading

Have you seen the latest Pepsodent television commercial? It's the one that says Pepsodent is better than other toothpastes because it has more calcium. Next time you have the chance, take a good look at it and you'll notice a few odd things:

(1) They used computer graphics to show two pearls with cracks. One pearl retains its cracks, the other has its cracks filled up in a way similar to how grouting is done to fill gaps between tiles.

(2) You hear the ad mention more calcium at the same time you see the cracks filled on one pearl.

(3) Look at the pearl that stays cracked at that moment calcium is being mentioned while the other pearl's cracks get filled. There's a small caption saying that the pearl that keeps cracked shows what happens with toothpaste WITHOUT FLOURIDE.

See the problem?

While it was saying that Pepsodent is better because it has more calcium, it was using visual cues that refer to the benefit of FLUORIDE, not calcium. The visual was making this comparison: NO FLUORIDE versus WITH FLUORIDE, not LESS/NO CALCIUM (other toothpastes, supposedly) versus MORE CALCIUM (Pepsodent), yet the audio at that exact moment the cracks was pitching Pepsodent's greater calcium content.

Like a high tech sleight of hand, that was just misleading and plain dishonest on Pepsodent's part.

Plus, we already know that ALL of Pepsodent's real competitors DO HAVE FLUORIDE. Where's Pepsodent's edge now, honestly?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meat Is Murder

When I was a kid barely out of elementary, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing the actual slaughter of a pig. It was a violent sight and really quite messy.

I wasn't able to eat meat for at least a month after that.

Just a couple of weeks ago, my doctor advised me to cut down on my meat consumption and to have more vegetables in my diet. I think I just might follow her advise especially after seeing the following.

Annotated by Sir Paul McCartney, who happens to be vegetarian, the following video provides a peak into the brutality that goes on in slaughterhouses.

The video you are about to see can be quite disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Find out more at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lady's Choice brand recycles another mayonnaise brand's slogan

For a number of years we've become accustomed to the following taglines from leading mayonnaise brand Lady's Choice:

  • It's time for real.
  • I choose real.

Sounds like a Lady's Choice-led revolution, a step away from the usual, something to stand up for and believe in, right? Then what's this?

Hellmann's Mayonnaise is Unilever's substitute brand name for Best Foods in other countries, and we find here that it uses the same slogan. There is no revolution, no movement, no paradigm shift. Other than milking the slogan, I don't know what to call it. (I don't see this as any different from the false revolution another big company is trying to enjoin mothers with, saying that kids these days don't get enough fruits and veggies based on the food pyramid. So what do they do? They tell moms to buy their milk brand. Huh?!)

Is it really about eating healthy, "real" food? Last time I checked, mayonnaise is used on hotdogs and other types of sausage, and even coldcuts from odd parts of the animal that people wouldn't eat any other way. Mayonnaise is used as dip for french fries, hashbrown, anything deep fried. It even fattens up an otherwise healthy salad. Nothing "real" there except the struggle between Unilever and Kraft to try and OWN the word "real" in the mind of consumers when they think of dips and dressings.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When consumers complain, companies should listen -- well.

While looking for additional information on underarm deodorants and antiperspirants, I stumbled upon an interesting comment thread.

It's about a specific variant of Dove deodorant formulated for people with sensitive skin, which as some users noticed seem to have been reformulated much to their "irritation".

What got my attention here is the story about how the product manufacturer, Unilever, responded to a user's complaint.

Here's the story from The Consumerist.

It's worth noting that most of the commenters on that thread we're really pissed about having a difficult time finding a deodorant that doesn't irritate the skin.
I think deodorant makers should seriously consider phasing out their antiperspirants in favor of milder deodorants.

August 11, 2010 9:52 AM
Moderate |Flag for review

I'm pissed about the changes in this product, also. It was the only one I had found that didn't leave my kid looking like a burn victim under her arms. We'll be searching for a new deodorant that doesn't have all the additives and perfumes.

If you happen to be an antiperspirant user, do consider switching to milder deodorants. Those antiperspirants are bad for you. Love your underarms. Don't kill your kili-kili.

BIR Plans To Steamroll Vat on Toll Without Regard For Consequences

BIR plans to immediately steamroll toll tax without regard for consequences.

I came across a news article today saying that Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue insists on pushing through with slapping the EVAT on toll fees beginning August 16, 2010. Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Senator Ralph Recto on the other hand spoke against the planned toll taxation saying that besides deviating from newly elected president Mr. Noynoy Aquino's campaign promise of not imposing new taxes, taxing toll is impractical, so much so that it was not covered by the EVAT Law, hence there has never been a tax on toll up to this point.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who is himself an expert in tax law, takes the same stand as Recto, saying that imposing tax on toll, which is different from taxing common carriers on air and sea, has no legal basis. I am glad to see Recto and Enrile call on BIR to make a more thorough evaluation of its plan to tax highway toll rather than steamrolling its haphazard implementation by the beginning of the coming week.
Recall that the operator of the South Luzon Expressway had already announced its plan to hike its non-EVAT toll rates by 250 per cent on the same day the BIR wants to see the toll tax implemented, which means road users will be paying three and a half times what they used to pay for toll, PLUS the proportionate EVAT applied to before the tax rate is applied. This will raise the logistical costs required to transport any and all products that have to traverse the SLEX, which in turn will effect a spike in the net prices that end-consumers will have to bear.

What worries me is how the BIR, clearly “under new management,” takes noticeably Machiavellian approaches to fulfill its role as tax collector. At first it thoughtlessly floated the idea of taxing micro-vendors – pedicabs, tricycles, street vendors – clearly without a critical eye on the largest tax evaders and looking at the exact opposite direction. Now the bureau wants to go full speed ahead on this toll tax without considering how its amassing of extra funds will succeed by subjecting the Filipino people to hiked prices on food, necessities, everything. The wealthy won't feel it much as usual, but the poor will see more people join their plight in hunger. If only the per capita income of this country can jump that high that fast as well. If only.

Way to go, BIR and the second Aquino administration! Way to go.

Woe is the Pinoy consumer.

Napurnadang Sinangag, MSG, and Unsolicited Advice

I was looking at liquid seasonings in the supermarket and saw that they all have monosodium glutamate or MSG plus some other flavor enhancer or spices. Despite my having looked forward to buying a bottle to use on my breakfast sinangag, I hesitated, and finished shopping without buying any liquid seasoning. I already get more than my fair share of MSG when I eat out with family and friends.

Thanks to the internet there is now a greater public awareness of possible health risks associated with MSG consumption. Though I won't tackle the details of such health risks now on this post, I do have a little advice for those who figure they should avoid MSG as well.

When avoiding products with MSG, check the label. The law requires that the presence of MSG be indicated on the ingredients panel of the product label, so see if you'll find it there.

If for some reason, MSG is just unavoidable, here's an invaluable tip: The earlier an ingredient is mentioned on the ingredients panel of a product label (specifically on standard English language labels that read left to right), the greater the quantity of that ingredient by weight compared to the ingredients that follow it.

This means if you have four ingredients mentioned, say, water, salt, soy sauce, and monosodium glutamate, shown in that order, then for that product there's more water than salt, there's more salt than soy sauce, there's more soy sauce than monosodium glutamate.

So when looking at two competing products that have similar ingredients, you'll want to pick the product that places MSG as close to the last as possible.

BTW, this confirms my earlier suspicion that Knorr seasoning has MSG. And to think when I was a kid I used to consume bottles of it like it was some kind of beverage.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ipad vs. Kindle

I've been considering buying a Kindle for some time now. Most of my friends however say I should just buy the Ipad. Well, I would but my reason for even thinking of buying an ebook reader is to get back to serious reading.

For the longest time, I've been doing most of my reading through my trusty laptop. Unfortunately I find that I cannot fully concentrate on finishing any of my ebooks whenever I'm logged on because of the distractions easily available through the internet.

It seems to me that if I buy the Ipad I will just end up browsing the internet as well or playing games. Clearly what I need is something that won't distract me from my reading thus my preference for the Kindle.

I'm not so sure though if I should go ahead and purchase one. My practical side is telling me the price of the Kindle and even the Ipad is too much.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. What do you think?

Incidentally, as I was searching for cheap entertainment over at YouTube I came across the following video. Do you think I should take the advice it gave?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't Kill Your Kili Kili

Do you love your armpits? I mean really love them like some other vital part of your anatomy like your head?

That's the unfortunate fact about our armpits. We don't love them enough to take really good care of them. We normally just notice them when they get all sweaty and smelly. By then, most of us would think the prudent thing to do is to shower our armpits with love through generous slatherings of antiperspirant.

I was like that too. I was a regular user of antiperspirants that is until I realized that the formulation of these products seem to be getting stronger and stronger.

The first time I ever used an antiperspirant I initially thought it was humanity's greatest invention. With just one application my armpits remained dry for at least three days. I thought what an easy way to keep my armpits all fresh, clean and dry. I also thought it was quite economical considering its promise of "24-hour protection."

That antiperspirant was indeed a Godsend for the first two days. No sweat indeed and of course no embarrassing odors. My satisfaction didn't last long though because on the third day my armpits became very itchy and tender. I also developed some small bumps. It was irritated to say the least.

I would later learn that commercial antiperspirants are bad news. I found out that armpit irritation was not uncommon among users of these products. As I researched more about it, I also learned that preventing armpit sweat was quite unnatural. By the way, did you know that sweat is naturally odorless and that it is not what is causing our armpits to smell like patis (fishsauce)?

I won't get into the details right now. If you want more information click on the links I will provide below.

I have since stopped using antiperspirants. I specifically avoid the one that promises "it won't let you down."

Nowadays, I just let my armpits sweat because that's more natural. However, I do use milder deodorants so I don't smell like a caveman.

There are lots of mild deodorants available in the market. You can easily find them at alternative health stores. Don't bother looking for them in groceries and supermarkets because you won't find them there.

In my case I buy mine from a neighbor who's into direct selling. Though priced a little higher than commercial deodorants, the deodorant my neighbor sells is the healthier option and, come to think of it, actually costs just about the same as commercial deodorants in the long run. One stick lasts for about six months under normal use. In one year, I just consume two sticks. If you want to know what deodorant that is click here.

And here are the links as promised.

article part 1
article part 2
article part 3
article part 4

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pasig River: It's Not Your Backyard

Many years ago I attended a seminar. One of the speakers was Architect Felino Palafox Jr. He talked about reviving Pasig River.
He pointed out that the river became the way it is because people treated it as if it were part of their backyard. To illustrate his point he said that the factories along the Pasig River were all facing away from the river. He added that what faced the river were the "backyards" of those factories complete with those pipes where all sorts of waste material routinely come out. Of course we all know where those garbage go.

Palafox said by simply changing the orientation of the factories and other structures along the river significant improvements can be achieved. To stress the point, he asked "Would you let garbage pile up in front of your house?"

Last year I took a short vacation with some relatives in Bangkok, Thailand. One of the highlights of that trip of ours was a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River. As we were cruising along, I noticed that all of the buildings on the bank had their main entrances facing the river. These include hotels and various historical sites.

here are some videos from youtube.

Here's a "day" version:

This is not to say that there's no pollution at Chao Phraya. I really don't know. What's clear to me is that it is a lot cleaner than Pasig River.

So, what do you think? Would treating Pasig River as the frontyard do wonders for the dead river?

Dr. Tam's Miracle Tea

If you've ever experienced being constipated you would know that it sucks. Going through days or a whole week without evacuating your bowels of all those accumulated junk can be such a frustrating experience. You feel bloated, irritated, sluggish and shitty.

Some of my friends have been telling me about colonics. If you don't know what colonics is it is a procedure whereby you insert a flexible tube into your butt and irrigate your colon with fluids. For many, the preferred one is a coffee mixture. Here's a site that provides some info on this: .

Personally, I don't think I'm ready for such a procedure. I'd rather just take laxatives. However, our neighborhood natural healer -- yes we have one of those -- tells me that pharmaceutical laxatives can also do more harm than good. He recently recommended to me a product made of natural ingredients. It's called Dr. Tam's miracle Tea. I bought one last Sunday from Dr. Tam's store in Tiendesitas.

You know what I liked about this particular product? It really helped me rid myself of all that doodoo stuck in my gut. There's just one downside. It will really make you shit your pants.

I drank a very small amount of the tea Sunday night; maybe about a quarter of your standard drinking glass. The following morning, I was awoken by a very strong urge to poo. It was so strong I almost did not make it to the toilet in time.

Anyway, I did my thing and, boy, was I shocked with what I saw! The toilet bowl was almost overloaded with crap. It felt good. Really good.

I went back to bed to get some more sleep. However, after just a few minutes I felt the urge again. So I went back to the toilet and as before I released a big mound of garbage. What a shocker!

But, wait, there's more. The whole routine repeated itself for at least three more times. All in all I ended up taking a dump five times in one hour. Shit! I never thought I had that much doodoo in my system.

So there that's the downside. If you're going to take Dr. Tam's miracle tea just make sure you consider that you will be taking more than the usual number of trips to the toilet.

If that's not going to be a problem then I highly recommend that you try it out. I never thought taking a dump would feel so heavenly.

For more information on Dr. Tam's Miracle Tea, go to their website at

Mass Transportation

I'm not sure if this topic falls under consumer concerns. But I figured why not? Transportation is a part of our lives not only as consumers but as people living in a world that requires us to not remain in the same place all the time.

I believe this topic is also timely especially now that the operations of the Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems are in the news again.

If you haven't heard, the Department of Transportation and Communications has said that an increase in MRT and LRT fares is inevitable. Here's an excerpt of a report from the online version of the Manila Bulletin (

"The government can no longer continue subsidizing the fares. It now has to share the burden with the passengers. If we base the issue on the users' pay principle, the users who enjoy the facility will have to pay for the cost the facility needs to survive. This is just and fair," he said.
In Malacanang, President Aquino said Friday the government will likely reduce subsidies in the mass railway system in Metro Manila due to dwindling public funds.
The President said he is already studying a proposal to adjust the fares of the Metro Manila’s light railways at the level of commercial buses. At present, public utility buses plying Epifanio delos Santos Ave. (EDSA) charge their passengers higher fares compared to riding the MRT along the busy highway.
If you're anything like me you'd probably approve of this inevitable fare increase. Yes, it will hurt our pockets, but, if it will help improve the facilities of these two aging mass transport systems, I'm all for it.

Speaking of mass transport systems, do you realize that, contrary to popular notion, we need more buses not fewer. Of course I'm not talking about colorum buses but duly registered ones running under a disciplined and organized system. Something like this:

Going Green: Is it For Real?

I left a comment last night on ta post over at  It's about Unilever and its supposed shift to greener operations.

I personally do not believe the company has done enough to offset the negative impact of its operations on the environment. There's still much to be done.

In an attempt to add a dissenting view of the press release entitled "Unilever Philippines: Green makes good business", I posted a little comment.  Unfortunately, up to now my comment appears to be still under moderation. It's also possible it was deemed inappropriate.

While thinking about my comment's status, I realized that big companies like Unilever clearly have some control over how they are reported on media. The possibility is very real considering that these big companies are among the biggest sources of revenue of media companies.

Just imagine how it would be for a media company to keep a balanced view. Can you imagine the Kapuso and Kapamilya networks going all out in airing negative reports about companies such as Univeler. If they were to do such a thing they could easily lose out on much needed advertising revenue from these companies.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from that press release:

Greener operations. One notable effort is the company’s wastewater treatmentfacility in its manufacturing plant in Paco, Manila which has been in place since 1994. Wastewater from plant operations go through several processes—including a bath of germ-killing natural bacteria—to make sure that nontoxic residue reaches the nearby 25-kilometer waterway which ultimately flows into the Pasig River. The whole system is so effective that, in fact, the treated water also becomes the habitat of the company’s koi fishes. Unilever Philippines has also heavily invested in solid waste management. In 2003, it began Project Eliminate to minimize the need for an on-site landfill. Through conversion and recycling programs, the company completely cleared the dumpsite within two years, and now uses the extra space as a parking lot. Recently, the company won the Grandmaster award at the country’s first Zero Basura Olympics for another one of its solid waste management initiatives. The project makes use of “green” technology to convert waste sachets and other plastic packaging materials into powder material used in making bricks and pavers that are then donated to Gawad Kalinga to help build homes. 
So what's your take on this issue? Do you agree that Unilever's operations are "green" enough?

I wonder what Greenpeace has to say about this.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sex in Advertising

There's no denying it. The truth in advertising is that sex sells. Be it on TV, radio, print, or the internet, if you want your company to be noticed, sex is the way to go.

But should you as a company owner take this path in your effort to promote your company? If you believe that there's no sense in reinventing the wheel then you probably should. But should you considering that in this day and age all we ever see in media is sex, sex and more sex? Can you not be different?

I'm no hypocrite. I just don't think it's good that media is inundated with too much sex especially since our children also have access to them. Have you ever thought how sex-laden advertising messages affect how our children see the world around them?

Here's an interesting video that drives home my point.

Bad Food

What is it about restaurants serving all-Filipino cuisine?

In the past 6 weeks alone, I have been invited to dine at two different restaurants. On both occasions, our group went for the eat-all-you-can promo.
Without going into to much details, I'll just say that the food at both restaurants sucked.

We have no complaints about the service, the cleanliness and everything else. It's just the food. They didn't taste great at all. Some of the food also tasted as if they were not prepared using fresh ingredients.

I sincerely hope those two restaurants would improve their offerings for their sake.  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Knorr and the Art of Saying Something Without Really Saying Anything

It's funny how some companies communicate. In some of their marketing communications they can be saying a lot of things without really saying anything. It's like they're deliberately hiding certain information. I found this out today as I was doing research on my favorite food seasoning, Knorr.

I was cooking and I realized I have been consuming at least two small bottles of Knorr seasoning every month. It wouldn't have been anything at all, but just the other day I read that most seasonings contain MSG or  monosodium glutamate. I'm not exactly a health nut but having a friend who was recently diagnosed with kidney problems I'm now a little bit concerned about my own diet.

By its name alone MSG seems like bad news. This was confirmed by what I saw all over the internet. According to various articles, MSG poses some health risks.

Anyway, I stumbled upon a webpage for Knorr seasoning and I found this rather strange response to the simple question: Do Knorr products contain MSG?
Do Knorr products contain MSG?
If MSG is present in a product either directly added or as a component of another ingredient, it will be listed on the label as MSG or monosodium glutamate. It is never hidden under any other ingredient listing. Knorr's practice is to use MSG only when we believe it is necessary to formulate the best tasting product. 
We wish you and your organization much success.
Ain't that a little weird? They could have just answered in the negative or affirmative instead of providing such a roundabout response. Oh well, I guess I will just have to do away with Knorr seasoning for now or at least until I get to the grocery and do an actual label check.

For now I just want to say that MSG is bad news for your health. It's best to avoid it.

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