Saturday, April 25, 2009

Paper banknotes & Gelatin

Paper banknotes

Most banknotes are made of dense 80 to 90 grams per square meter cotton paper (see also paper), sometimes mixed with linen, abaca, or other textile fibres. Generally, the paper used is different from ordinary paper: it is much more resilient, resists wear and tear, and also does not contain the usual agents that make ordinary paper glow slightly under ultraviolet light.

Early Chinese banknotes were printed on paper made of mulberry bark and this fibre is used in Japanese banknote paper today.

Unlike most printing and writing paper, banknote paper is impregnated with polyvinyl alcohol or gelatin to give it extra strength.

Most banknotes are made using the mould made process in which a watermark and thread is incorporated during the paper forming process.

The thread is a simple looking security component found in most banknotes. It is however often rather complex in construction comprising fluorescent, magnetic, metallic and micro print elements. By combining it with watermarking technology the thread can be made to surface periodically on one side only. This is known as windowed thread and further increases the counterfeit resistance of the banknote paper. This process was invented by Portals, part of the De La Rue group in the UK.

Recently this company has introduced many new features to the banknote world including Cornerstone, Platinum and Optiks, all registered trade marks of De La Rue. Cornerstone uses watermarking to reduce the number of corner folds by strengthening this part of the note. Platinum is a special coating to reduce the dirt picked up by banknotes. Optiks is a new thread based security feature that creates a plastic window in the paper which is very hard to copy.

Durable banknote papers

Banknote paper with enhanced durability is a recent development, designed to meet the growing need for popular low-denomination banknotes to withstand extreme wear.

Improved protection against dirt: Manufacturers of banknote paper were quick to recognize the problems associated with dirt and developed a special paper with a thin layer of varnish on the surface to repel soiling. This layer is applied directly to the substrate. The thickness and structure of the paper remain unchanged, thereby preserving the natural feel. The so-called Durable Banknote Papers, which are available in the global banknote market under brand names, such as LongLife, Platinum, Marathon Coated, Diamone, and Flesure, protect banknotes from soiling and environmental incluences, making it possible for them to remain in circulation for longer.

Increased mechanical stability: With new products, such as Synthec and Diamone Composite, banknote manufacturers have gone a step further and responded to the growing demand for higher mechanical stability of the paper—because the longer a banknote stays in circulation, the limper it becomes and the more easily it tears. Synthec substrate, for example, consists of 80 percent cotton fiber and 20 percent synthetic fiber, with the latter being longer and more flexible than the former. The synthetic fibers constitute a dense network within the cotton fiber structure, supporting the banknote like a kind of corset and increasing its mechanical stability. This practically doubles the useful life of the product. Synthec is much less sensitive to climate fluctuations than standard banknote paper. The synthetic fibers are incorporated in the banknote substrate at the sheet formation stage. This has the advantage that all established security features—such as three dimensional watermarks, fluorescent fibers, security threads, or the innovative new varifeye®Synthec substrate, just as they would be with the standard cotton substrate. Optically variable effect inks and foil elements, such as holograms, can be applied to this substrate in the same way as with traditional banknote paper. Public confidence in the established security features, built up over decades, remains intact. To ensure that the banknotes are also protected against dirt, they are given a standard coating of varnish. By the end of 2007, Synthec banknotes will be circulating in three countries, including an African country with different climate zones that has chosen Synthec as a substrate for its lowest-denomination note. In the south of the country conditions are tropical, with a rainy season that lasts for eight months, while the north is very arid and extremely hot, with temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius.
see-through window—can be integrated into the new

Counterfeiting and security measures on paper banknotes

The first kinegram banknote, the 1988 Austrian 5000 Schilling note (Mozart)
The first kinegram banknote, the 1988 Austrian 5000 Schilling note (Mozart)

The ease with which paper money can be created, by both legitimate authorities and counterfeiters, has led both to a temptation in times of crisis such as war or revolution to produce paper money which was not supported by precious metal or other goods, thus leading to hyperinflation and a loss of faith in the value of paper money, e.g. the Continental Currency produced by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, the Assignats produced during the French Revolution, the paper currency produced by the Confederate States of America and the Individual States of the Confederate States of America, the financing of the First World War by the Central Powers (by 1922 1 gold Austro-Hungarian krone of 1914 was worth 14,400 paper Kronen), the devaluation of the Yugoslav Dinar in the 1990s, etc. Banknotes may also be overprinted to reflect political changes that occur faster than new currency can be printed.

In 1988, Austria produced the 5000 Schilling banknote (Mozart), which is the first foil application (Kinegram) to a paper banknote in the history of banknote printing. The application of optical features is now in common use throughout the world.

Many countries' banknotes now have embedded holograms.

Polymer banknotes

The first Australian polymer banknote, the 1988 $10 commemorative issue

In 1983, Costa Rica and Haiti issued the first Tyvek and the Isle of Man issued the first Bradvek polymer (or plastic) banknotes; these were printed by the American Banknote Company and developed by DuPont. In 1988, after significant research and development by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australia produced the first polymer banknote made from biaxially-oriented polypropylene (plastic), and in 1996 became the first country to have a full set of circulating polymer banknotes of all denominations. Since then, other countries to adopt circulating polymer banknotes include Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua and New Guinea, Romania, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam, Western Samoa and Zambia, with other countries issuing commemorative polymer notes, including China, Kuwait, the Northern Bank of Northern Ireland, Taiwan. Other countries indicating plans to issue polymer banknotes include Nigeria. In 2005, Bulgaria issued the world's first hybrid paper-polymer banknote.

Polymer banknotes were developed to improve durability and prevent counterfeiting through incorporated security features, such as optically variable devices that are extremely difficult to reproduce.

The uptake of polymer banknotes has however been comparatively slow with an estimated 1.5% of the Worlds banknotes now using this material. Problems with print durability and the very bulky nature of creased polymer notes rank high amongst the problems limiting polymer uptake. Some countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand have reverted to paper after testing polymer notes in circulation.

Other materials

Over the years, a number of materials other than paper have been used to print banknotes. This includes various textiles, including silk, and materials such as leather.

Silk and other fibers have been commonly used in the manufacture of various banknote papers, intended to provide both additional durability and security. Crane and Company patented banknote paper with embedded silk threads in 1844 and has supplied paper to the United States Treasury since 1879. Banknotes printed on pure silk "paper" include "emergency money" (Notgeld) issues from a number of German towns in 1923 during a period of fiscal crisis and hyperinflation. Most notoriously, Bielefeld produced a number of silk, leather, velvet, linen and wood issues, and although these issues were produced primarily for collectors, rather than for circulation, they are in demand by collectors. Banknotes printed on cloth include a number of Communist Revolutionary issues in China from areas such as Xinjiang, or Sinkiang, in the United Islamic Republic of East Turkestan in 1933. Emergency money was also printed in 1902 on khaki shirt fabric during the Boer War.

Leather banknotes (or coins) were issued in a number of sieges, as well as in other times of emergency. During the Russian administration of Alaska, banknotes were printed on sealskin. A number of 19th century issues are known in Germanic and Baltic states, including the towns of Dorpat, Pernau, Reval, Werro and Woisek. In addition to the Bielefeld issues, other German leather Notgeld from 1923 is known from Borna, Osterwieck, Paderborn and Pößneck.

Other issues from 1923 were printed on wood, which was also used in Canada in 1763-1764 during Pontiac's War, and by the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1848, in Bohemia, wooden checkerboard pieces were used as money.

Even playing cards were used for currency in France in the early 19th Century, and in French Canada from 1685 until 1757, in the Isle of Man in the beginning of the 19th Century, and again in Germany after World War I.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MSG: Is This Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets?

A widespread and silent killer that’s worse for your health than alcohol, nicotine and many drugs is likely lurking in your kitchen cabinets right now. “It” is monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that’s known widely as an addition to Chinese food, but that’s actually added to thousands of the foods you and your family regularly eat, especially if you are like most Americans and eat the majority of your food as processed foods or in restaurants.

MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.

MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

While MSG’s benefits to the food industry are quite clear, this food additive could be slowly and silently doing major damage to your health.

What Exactly is MSG?

You may remember when the MSG powder called “Accent” first hit the U.S. market. Well, it was many decades prior to this, in 1908, that monosodium glutamate was invented. The inventor was Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese man who identified the natural flavor enhancing substance of seaweed.

Taking a hint from this substance, they were able to create the man-made additive MSG, and he and a partner went on to form Ajinomoto, which is now the world’s largest producer of MSG (and interestingly also a drug manufacturer).

Chemically speaking, MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium, and up to 1 percent contaminants.

It’s a misconception that MSG is a flavor or “meat tenderizer.” In reality, MSG has very little taste at all, yet when you eat MSG, you think the food you’re eating has more protein and tastes better. It does this by tricking your tongue, using a little-known fifth basic taste: umami.

Umami is the taste of glutamate, which is a savory flavor found in many Japanese foods, bacon and also in the toxic food additive MSG. It is because of umami that foods with MSG taste heartier, more robust and generally better to a lot of people than foods without it.

The ingredient didn’t become widespread in the United States until after World War II, when the U.S. military realized Japanese rations were much tastier than the U.S. versions because of MSG.

In 1959, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeled MSG as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), and it has remained that way ever since. Yet, it was a telling sign when just 10 years later a condition known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” entered the medical literature, describing the numerous side effects, from numbness to heart palpitations that people experienced after eating MSG.

Today that syndrome is more appropriately called “MSG Symptom Complex,” which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identifies as "short-term reactions" to MSG. More on those “reactions” to come.

Why MSG is so Dangerous

One of the best overviews of the very real dangers of MSG comes from Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.” In it he explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees -- and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.

Part of the problem also is that free glutamic acid is the same neurotransmitter that your brain, nervous system, eyes, pancreas and other organs use to initiate certain processes in your body. Even the FDA states:

“Studies have shown that the body uses glutamate, an amino acid, as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain and that there are glutamate-responsive tissues in other parts of the body, as well.

Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain.”

Although the FDA continues to claim that consuming MSG in food does not cause these ill effects, many other experts say otherwise.

According to Dr. Blaylock, numerous glutamate receptors have been found both within your heart's electrical conduction system and the heart muscle itself. This can be damaging to your heart, and may even explain the sudden deaths sometimes seen among young athletes.

He says:

“When an excess of food-borne excitotoxins, such as MSG, hydrolyzed protein soy protein isolate and concentrate, natural flavoring, sodium caseinate and aspartate from aspartame, are consumed, these glutamate receptors are over-stimulated, producing cardiac arrhythmias.

When magnesium stores are low, as we see in athletes, the glutamate receptors are so sensitive that even low levels of these excitotoxins can result in cardiac arrhythmias and death.”

Many other adverse effects have also been linked to regular consumption of MSG, including:

  • Obesity
  • Eye damage
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue and disorientation
  • Depression

Further, even the FDA admits that “short-term reactions” known as MSG Symptom Complex can occur in certain groups of people, namely those who have eaten “large doses” of MSG or those who have asthma.

According to the FDA, MSG Symptom Complex can involve symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Tingling
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness

No one knows for sure just how many people may be “sensitive” to MSG, but studies from the 1970s suggested that 25 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population was intolerant of MSG -- at levels then found in food. Since the use of MSG has expanded dramatically since that time, it’s been estimated that up to 40 percent of the population may be impacted.

How to Determine if MSG is in Your Food

Food manufacturers are not stupid, and they’ve caught on to the fact that people like you want to avoid eating this nasty food additive. As a result, do you think they responded by removing MSG from their products? Well, a few may have, but most of them just tried to “clean” their labels. In other words, they tried to hide the fact that MSG is an ingredient.

How do they do this? By using names that you would never associate with MSG.

You see, it’s required by the FDA that food manufacturers list the ingredient “monosodium glutamate” on food labels, but they do not have to label ingredients that contain free glutamic acid, even though it’s the main component of MSG.

There are over 40 labeled ingredients that contain glutamic acid, but you’d never know it just from their names alone. Further, in some foods glutamic acid is formed during processing and, again, food labels give you no way of knowing for sure.

Tips for Keeping MSG Out of Your Diet

In general, if a food is processed you can assume it contains MSG (or one of its pseudo-ingredients). So if you stick to a whole, fresh foods diet, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll avoid this toxin.

The other place where you’ll need to watch out for MSG is in restaurants. You can ask your server which menu items are MSG-free, and request that no MSG be added to your meal, but of course the only place where you can be entirely sure of what’s added to your food is in your own kitchen.

To be on the safe side, you should also know what ingredients to watch out for on packaged foods. Here is a list of ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:

Autolyzed Yeast

Calcium Caseinate



Glutamic Acid

Hydrolyzed Protein

Monopotassium Glutamate

Monosodium Glutamate

Sodium Caseinate

Textured Protein

Yeast Extract

Yeast Food

Yeast Nutrient

These ingredients OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing:

Flavors and Flavorings


Natural Flavors and Flavorings

Natural Pork Flavoring

Natural Beef Flavoring

Natural Chicken Flavoring

Soy Sauce

Soy Protein Isolate

Soy Protein




Malt Extract

Malt Flavoring

Barley Malt

Whey Protein






Corn Starch

Citric Acid

Powdered Milk

Anything Protein Fortified

Anything Enzyme Modified

Anything Ultra-Pasteurized

So if you do eat processed foods, please remember to be on the lookout for these many hidden names for MSG.

Choosing to be MSG-Free

Making a decision to avoid MSG in your diet as much as possible is a wise choice for nearly everyone. Admittedly, it does take a bit more planning and time in the kitchen to prepare food at home, using fresh, locally grown ingredients. But knowing that your food is pure and free of toxic additives like MSG will make it well worth it.

Plus, choosing whole foods will ultimately give you better flavor and more health value than any MSG-laden processed food you could buy at your supermarket.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Food Addative to avoid

The additive is unsafe in the amounts consumed or is very poorly tested.

-ASPARTAME (Nutrasweet).
(not legal in U.S.)
-OLESTRA (Olean).

These appear to be safe, though a few people may be allergic to any additive.
(Vitamin C)
-GLYCERIN (Glycerol)
-GUMS: Arabic, Furcelleran, Ghatti, Guar, Karaya, Locust Bean, Xanthan
-POLYSORBATE 60, 65, 80

What is Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a popular product that is used to bleach and lightening the skin. Despite its effectiveness, there is a call to have the product banned. Currently in Europe it has been removed from shelves, but in the United States it can be found in a host of over-the-counter medications.

Hydroquinone has been used to bleach the skin and this often lightens the color of the skin. This practice is common across the globe and according the psychologists the reason why people do this is that white or lighter skinned individuals are more desirable. The use of these products is very common in African, Asian and African-Caribbean communities.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the amount of skin creams that contain hydroquinone on the marketplace. This increase is believed to be the media focusing on the celebrities who have lighter skin. This is translated into the lighter skinned individuals coming across as being more pretty and successful. Many women in countries in Africa are using skin lightening creams as they usually associate fairer skin to be more beautiful. This thinking has infiltrated the thinking of many soci-economic groups. With the increase in people using these creams, governments has taken steps to ban the sale of these products.

Dermatologists who are for the use of hydroquinone often state that the product is very safe to use, especially when it comes to the treatment of skin blemishes. They say if it is followed within specific guidelines that it is safe to use. Proponents against hydroquinone state that the abuse of the product, especially when people try to bleach the entire body can be very dangerous. They often state that there is no safe way to bleach the skin. They state that the toxicity of the creams can lead to a wide array of medical issues and even death.

When a person uses these skin bleaching creams, their skin will begin to appear lighter. However oxidation with the chemicals and the sun will cause the skin to get darker. In an attempt to keep the lighter color, people will increase the use of the creams. It is here that more damage can take place as the chemicals will be able to get into the bloodstream and eventually reach and damage the major organs of the body.

In countries where skin bleaching is common, it can be compared to people who tan in western countries. People often tan their skin because they think the dark golden color looks better. Just like skin bleaching, there are many different risks that are associated with tanning. Skin cancer is prevalent in people who tan a lot. In the end people perceive what beauty is and try to attain that by bleaching the skin.

Hydroquinone and Pregnancy

Many people often want to know if hydroquinone is safe to use while pregnant. Evidence suggests that hydroquinone maybe harmful to a fetus. Great care needs to be taken if you plan on using it. If you are pregnant and are considering using hydroquinone it is best to consult with a doctor. The doctor will be able to tell you all you need to know about this product and your pregnancy.

Warnings for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should be aware that the FDA has placed hydroquinone in the pregnancy category C. This means that there have been no animal studies conducted and no evidence exists on the results of human pregnancy. It is only recommended to use hydroquinone when pregnant once it is more beneficial than the risk.

Warnings for Women Who Breastfeed

There are no studies that exist that indicate that hydroquinone may be excreted into a mothers breast milk. Extreme caution should be taken by women who are breast feeding.


New mothers want to get back to the body that they know after they have had their children. However it is not recommended that they use hydroquinone while pregnant or breast feeding. There is no real evidence that exists that shows the effects it could have on the unborn child or children who breastfeed. Great care should be taken and it should only be used under the care of the doctor.

Hydroquinone and Cancer

Many people have concerns that hydroquinone is a carcinogen. It has been banned in Europe and the FDA in the United States is looking at putting a ban on it also. The reasons behind this are that some evidence exists that it could possibly cause cancer.

Hydroquinone is a chemical agent that is used to lighten the skin. This particular chemical works by stopping the creation of melanin, a pigment found in the skin that gives it color. Most people apply it to get rid or melasma, cholasma, age spots, acne scars, freckles and other skin discoloration.

Over the past couple of years there has been on an ongoing debate as to whether hydroquinone does cause cancer. There is no evidence available that this product directly causes cancer in human beings. However studies have been done on animals and the results showed the growth of cancer in tested animals. It should be noted that some chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals, sometimes does not affect human beings in the same manner.

Hydroquinone is known to metabolize in the liver and this generally causes mutations and DNA damage. It is for that specific reason why it is suggested that hydroquinone is responsible for a wide variety of cancers in humans. Hydroquinone has been linked to certain cancers of the blood such as leukemia and also damage of the kidney. Studies have shown that when used, hydroquinone is absorbed and the released out of the kidneys very slowly. This information highlights that the chemical is stored in the body. The bone marrow breaks the substance down to p-benzoquinone and it is believed that here is the starting place for long term damage.

How Dangerous is Hydroquinone?

There is controversy surrounding the skin lightening agent hydroquinone. Like mercury in the past, hydroquinone is being targeted because of the health concerns. The FDA seems to be flexing their muscles in attempting to ban the substance. Despite this claim, there are many dermatologists who feel that the hydroquinone skin bleaching agent should be available to patients, but on a prescription basis.

Hydroquinone helps to stop the production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment of the skin that allows it to have color. For many years people have been using this product to treat age spots, melasma, scarring from acne, blemishes and skin discolorations.

In recent times, there have been various studies conducted that there is a dangerous side to the use of hydroquinone. There is evidence that points to the product causing cancer and damage to the body’s DNA. Not everyone is convinced by those reports and many medical professionals still view hydroquinone as effective and safe.

Opponents to these studies have made a claim that animal trials were the basis for the results. They state that animal data is totally different from human tests. Many doctors disagree with the study based on the results.

Despite the claim of cancer, other side effects have come about due to the use of hydroquinone. Ochronosis is another side effect that can be attributed to the use of the product. Ochronosis is common in regions where hydroquinone is used on a very high level. This would include countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Researchers have linked the development of ochronosis with combination products that use hydroquinone, phenols, mercury and other acids.

With results like that, researchers have put pressure on the FDA to have the product banned from American shelves. The FDA will have to hear both side as you have some people for the ban, while others are against it.