The labels on your milk, meat and produce can tell you a lot more than the nutritional information if you just know what to look for on the sticker.
Lifehacker has a solid break out of what various marketing terms mean in relation to products. The two key points are that organic is one of the only strongly regulated words (and there's still some gray area) and that terms like natural and grass-fed don't actually say much about the conditions in which an animal was raised.
A new survey in the March edition of Consumer Reports suggests that consumers should wash packaged greens or salad even if the packaging states that it has been pre-washed.
The consumer advocacy group used an independent lab to test 208 bags of salad from 16 brands sold in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. It discovered that 39 percent contained high levels of coliforms, a potential indicator of fecal contamination. The study did not find disease-causing bacteria,such as E.Coli, listeria or salmonella.
When it comes to the safety of ground beef, the Barf Blog wants meat producers to turn platitudes into packaging labels.
In response to a recent slate of ground-beef recalls, producers at all phases of meat processing have come out to defend the industry's safety practices. For example, there was this letter to the editor in The New York Times from Jeremy Russell, the director of communications for the National Meat Association:
"The American food safety system is the highest standard in the world, and our ground beef is the safest," writes Russell.
If that is the case, the Barf Blog wants companies to reassure consumers by explaining exactly what has happened to the product they are buying.
BPA was MIA, but now it's back under the microscope of the FDA.
The Food and Drug Administration updated its position Friday to reflect concerns over bisphenol-A's potential effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, infants and children. Previously the FDA's position was that the current levels of BPA used in food packaging didn't require further investigation.
As the Pitch reported in 2008, University of Missouri scientist Frederick vom Saal and his team had exposed the dangers of the chemical, which was commonly used in hard-plastic packaging, food cans and water bottles. The controversy over the chemical made headlines over concerns that it could be toxic as it leached into food or water. There was a run on stainless steel water bottles and a lot of talk that BPA should be banned from packaging. Big box retailers stopped selling baby bottles made with BPA. But with differing reports on the potential toxicity of the chemical, the fate of BPA was left to the free market with consumers helping to guide company's actions.
If you want to know where it's safe to eat, the Kansas City Health Department has released the annual Grade A Food Excellence Awards for 2009. This list recognizes cafeterias, institutions and restaurants that "go above and beyond" when it comes to sanitation and food safety.
The Health Department uses seven criteria that cover the certification of workers, business permits and correction/or avoidance of violations. The single most important measure on the list is easily #7:
7. Establishment was not identified as a source of Food borne illness within the last year.
Ever dreamed of putting your lips up to the soda fountain and depressing the drink lever? Don't do it.
The Smithsonian Food & Think Blog links to a disturbing study from the International Journal of Food Microbiology that analyzed the "microbial population," on 30 soda fountain machines.
Amid concerns over recent E.coli outbreaks, the New York Times continues to investigate the safety of using ammonia to kill salmonella and E.coli bacteria as part of beef processing.
At the center of the story is Beef Products, Inc., the South Dakota company that introduced the ammonia treatment for its beef trimmings, which are used primarily as filler in hamburger patties. The Times tries to sort through how the meat is classified and distributed in an effort to understand how processed beef is monitored by the government's school lunch program and food safety inspectors.
Citing concerns about potential E.coli contamination, the National Steak and Poultry Company, an Oklahoma-based meat processor, voluntarily recalled 248,000 pounds of beef on Christmas Eve. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the recall in connection with a Centers for Disease Control investigation into an outbreak of E.Coli 0157:H7 related illnesses in six states: Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota and Washington.
The recalled products all have the establishment number "EST. 6010T" inside the USDA mark of inspection and were packaged on October 12, 13, 14 or 21. A complete list of products is available at National Steak and Poultry's Web site. As of yet, the only indication as to where potentially tainted meat was sent is a note on the site that it was distributed to "restaurants nationwide."
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