Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wisconsin’s Margarine Ban

margarine
Foodfacts.com commonly receives questions regarding the nutritional status of margarine. As most may know, margarine was seen as the healthy alternative to butter for a few decades due to its lack of saturated fat. However, science eventually caught up and realized margarine maybe the problem rather than the solution. The state of Wisconsin took this news and ran with it, eliminating this butter-like product from restaurants since the 1960s. But now, lawmakers are trying to lift this ban and bring margarine back to the public.

Margarine is primarily composed of partially hydrogenated oils, which was seen as a healthier alternative for a very long time. However, more and more studies began to show that these partially hydrogenated fats are actually trans fatty acids; ones that play a major role in causing cardiovascular disease, arterial plaque buildup, and more likely to cause heart attacks.

Sen. Gordon Roseleip introduced the ban to Wisconsin in the mid 1960s. An advocate for the dairy industry, Roseleip proposed that margarine does not only have an unfavorable taste in comparison to butter, but it also more likely to cause unhealthy results. Which, is true. Whether or not Roseleip did it just to support the dairy council, no one can be too sure, but it was a bold move regardless. The ban has been in place for almost 45 years, and now lawmakers are planning to repeal the anti-margarine bill.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga calls the bill “silly, antiquated and anti-free market.” He’s hoping to have the ban lifted to not only reduce state regulations, but to also save taxpayer money.

What do you think? Is the margarine ban a good thing? Or should people have free choice to use this buttery alternative?

Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann says food industry is OVER-regulated

Photo by New York Times

Foodfacts.com likes to share with consumers the secrets and loopholes involved with nutrition labeling and regulations. We often find that many food companies get away with listing misleading ingredients, or maybe skimping out on food safety protocols. Hence, the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls we’ve had lately. Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has come out to sympathize with food industries, saying they’re OVER-regulated! Check out the article below to learn more!

GOP presidential candidate vows to slash government rules.
Never mind the recent spate of food borne illness outbreaks in America. One of the leading lights of the GOP thinks the government has too much say in how our food industry operates.

Appearing at a family-owned meatpacking plant in Iowa on Tuesday, Michele Bachmann contended that federal food regulations were “overkill,” and hurting small businesses. According to the Des Moines Register:

Her message: slash the excesses of federal rules and restrictions on small businesses.

“Is Washington helping or is Washington hurting?” she asked a crowd of perhaps 10 business owners and employees. “What we’ve heard today from this meat market here in Iowa is that Washington is hurting; it’s no longer helping.”

The visit was relatively short on policy talk and heavier on meat-packing tutorials and small talk between the candidate and Amend employees. But Bachmann focused in on federal regulation, noting that the six-person staff of Amend includes one employee devoted to compliance with federal food-safety regulations.

Gesturing with a binder full of federal requirements, Bachmann said such restrictions held the small business back.

Among the culprits identified by Bachmann: the requirement that meat undergo multiple e.coli tests. She agreed with her host that he should only have to carry out a single test.

Not that we’ve ever had any issues with e.coli in this country. Not at all.

(Max Follmer – Takepart.com)

Some consumers willing to pay more for GMO foods

GMO
Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

According to a recent study done by researcher Wallace Huffman at Iowa State University, research shows that some consumers will pay up to 25% more for genetically modified foods. For the few of you that may not know, genetic modification is basically carrying genes from one organism into another to create a new hybrid product. This became popular within the last 2 decades, and we’re still not quite sure if there are any long-term health implications involved. However, it’s still being done by major biotechnology companies, and apparently some people are willing to pay extra bucks for it.

Why are some willing to pay more money? There has been a lot of hype surrounding antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals. We too recognize that these nutrients can provide an abundance of health benefits, and we suggest getting them from natural sources. However, some fruits and vegetables now undergo intragenic modification (modified within own species, rather than from other species) to take antioxidant properties from other plants, and insert them into new ones. This means that some produce that once lacked a certain vitamin or antioxidant, now has the ability to carry different nutrients.

Some farmers and home-gardeners try accomplishing this through cross-breeding, however this can be very difficult to do with many plants. This is when genetic modification came into play, eliminating the difficulties with cross-breeding.
However, many are still skeptic about purchasing any genetically modified product. Again, we’re not exactly sure of any long-term effects or health implications that this process may cause, because it is still fairly new.

Few studies using animals as subjects have suggested genetic modification to cause renal damage, progressive tumor growth, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular issues. However, these studies have been for the most part small in sample size and brushed off by government agencies.

“The basic idea is that when consumers saw that the intragenic produce had elevated healthful attributes, they were willing to pay more for them,” said Huffman.

What do you think? Would you be more at comfort knowing a genetically modified product was modified with a plant within its own species rather than a plant outside of its species? Or is genetic modification still lacking evidence for you to trust it at all?

Worst Fast Food Stories

Foodfacts.com believes that many consumers may turn to fast foods for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s a financial issue, an addiction to greasy goodness, or just a matter of convenience, millions of people still turn to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and other famous franchises for a quick meal. What we aim to point out is that these foods are made within a matter of seconds, and not always in the most sanitary way. Here are some gross stories that have been reported at fast-food restaurants!
thumbs_up_medium
The “Skin Sandwich”
In 2004, a man was enjoying a chicken sandwich from Arby’s when all of a sudden he pulled out about an inch long piece of skin, which appeared to be from a thumb. After impulsively getting sick, he filed a lawsuit for $50,000 dollars against the restaurant operator of the Arby’s. When health investigators approached the scene shortly thereafter, they interviewed the restaurant manager whom had a bandaged thumb. He claimed that he was slicing lettuce when he accidentally sliced his finger. Although he immediately cleaned the area and disposed of scraps around the slicer, he never threw away the pile of lettuce, which then went on the man’s sandwich. He thought he had taken the appropriate measures to sanitize the area.
chicken-nuggets
“Mousey Chicken”
A Baltimore Popeye’s had been dealing with a rodent infestation in their restaurant for a few weeks. This may not be surprising considering the Baltimore City Health Inspector had shut the restaurant down twice before for pest infestation and unsanitary conditions. What is surprising, the restaurant remained open. A man sat down to enjoy his chicken nuggets, when on his third nugget he also bit into a mouse that had been fried inside the meat. We’re hoping he still hasn’t gone back to this Popeye’s.
7699210-fresh-hot-corn-chowder-food-concept-image
“Nasty Clam Chowder”
A lawsuit had been settled in 2004 which had been filed by a woman who had found a condom in her McCormick & Schmick’s clam chowder. She claims she suffered severe emotional distress after consuming what appeared to be a rolled-up condom. She believes the kitchen staff had deliberately planted the item in her soup after they treated her rudely because she requested to have her soup reheated. The amount that was settled has not been revealed.
staple
“Jack in the Box Surprise”
As many already know, there are occasionally younger people working at fast-food restaurants just trying to earn some spending cash. They may not all be into fun and games, but a few at an Oregon Jack in the Box decided one day to have some fun at customer’s expense. To “amuse” themselves, they planted things such as hair, spit, phlegm, staples, acid and other foreign materials to people’s orders. Watch out where you eat!

“McChicken Head”mcchick
In 2000, a woman stopped on her way home from work to pick up a box of chicken wings for her family at McDonald’s. When she got home she proceeded to open the box and serve the wings when she picked up what appeared to be an unusual looking chicken wing. She then took a closer look and realized it had a beak and eyes. She jumped to the phone to call the restaurant manager, who calmly said “just bring it back and we’ll send it to corporate. We can then either refund you, or give you a new box.” Needless to say, she took the refund. She proclaimed after the incident she now only cooks her meals from home.
band-aid
“Bandaged Quarter Pounder”
In 1994, a man from Virginia Beach was sitting down to enjoy his quarter pounder when he noticed a texture unlike beef. He spit out the hamburger meat to find two used band-aids that had been cooked into his burger. It’s been said he may have had an allergy to the latex in the bandage, but whether or not that’s true, we’re not quite sure.
129_09
“Brain-eating Food”
Now, this may be a myth, but we’ll share it anyway. It is believed that around 2007 a 50 yr old man was eating at a fast-food restaurant that wasn’t exactly following the best sanitary codes. In fact, it was so unsanitary that the man had consumed tapeworm eggs that nearly killed him. We’re not sure of the restaurant, or the meal, but it’s reported that after he was unconscious for eight days after the meal, a doctor found tapeworms in the man’s brain. He could have died from a disease called cysticercosis.

FDA vs. Dr. Oz: Arsenic in Apple Juice?

juicy-juice
Foodfacts.com has been receiving a few questions regarding arsenic in apple juice. Many of you may already be aware that last Wednesday on the “Dr. Oz Show,” the topic of arsenic in apple juice was discussed. Doctor Oz claims that he has had a lab in New Jersey test different brands of apple juice for total levels or arsenic. These results showed arsenic to be at levels in which there may potentially be long-term affects later on. Why these high levels? Dr. Oz later discussed that most apples come from all over the world, but primarily China, which uses high levels of arsenic in their pesticides and soil.

The FDA took to the media to fight back against Dr. Oz’s findings. They claim that organic arsenic is naturally in our air, water, organic soil, and inorganic soil. They claim that Dr. Oz measured for the total level of arsenic, rather than inorganic vs. organic levels of arsenic (which has no relation to organic vs. inorganic fruits and vegetables.) Inorganic arsenic is the type which is likely to cause harmful effects. Organic arsenic is said by the FDA to “go right through our bodies” and is not absorbed to cause any reactions. It is organic arsenic which is in our apple juice, says the FDA.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency allows 5 time less the amount of arsenic and other heavy metal contaminants in our water supply than the amount allowed in apple juice by the FDA. Currently, the FDA doesn’t technically have a tolerance level for this type of contaminant.

Mott’s Apple Juice for instance, contained 55 parts per billion of arsenic contamination. Drinking water is allowed up to 10 parts per billion.

So, who would you believe? FDA or Doctor Oz? Check out this video below to get more background on this heated debate!

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Food Recalls 9/19

queso fresco
Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Del Bueno de Grandview, WA is recalling 16 oz. packages of queso fresco cheese due to possible listeria monocytogenes contamination. Dates marked on the label show September 14 2011. Make sure to dispose of this product and carefully clean the area in which it was kept.

ucm272271

Biting into a Twinkie may never be the same…

hostess twinkies at Foodfacts.com!

Many Foodfacts.com consumers are very familiar with the Hostess brand and their wide variety of cakes and sweets. Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Mini Muffins, and Donettes are just a few of their famous products. What some may not know is that most of these delicious childhood favorites contain beef fat. Why? We’re not quite sure, but we found a response from Hostess to a concerned consumer regarding this issue:
tallow1
Our Hostess Fruit pies contain beef fat. The shortening ingredients noted on our labels are: vegetable (may be soybean and/or canola and/or cottonseed and/or palm oil) and beef shortening. “Beef Fat” when noted, is a very small trace used in the creamy fillings of our cakes for taste. Also, it is used in a trace amount in the vegetable oil frying medium.

Beef fat being used for taste? Sounds ironic for a cake product. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, check the labels to make sure beef fat is not listed as an ingredients. Also, gelatin is normally animal-derived too, so don’t be fooled!

Foodfacts.com

McDonald’s Fatal Soda Fountain CO2 Leak

mcdonalds
Foodfacts.com is saddened to hear the recent news of a woman losing her life after an accident involving a carbon dioxide leak at her local McDonald’s. Soda machines at fast-food restaurants often have carbon dioxide lines running to the fountains to incorporate carbonation. Unfortunately, one of the lines at a McDonald’s in Savannah, Georgia had leaked between the walls and into the women’s bathroom, where the women was asphyxiated. Read below for more details of this sad story.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Carbon dioxide piped through gas lines to a soda fountain leaked in a McDonald’s in Georgia and sickened 10 people, including a woman who later died after being found unconscious in a restroom, police said Wednesday.

Investigators determined a leaky gas line between the walls caused the gas, used to pump carbonation into sodas, to build up a week ago to the point where people inside were unable to breathe.

“It caused what is normally a harmless gas to be pumped into the wall cavity and leak into the women’s restroom,” said Pooler Police Chief Mark Revenew. “At a high level of concentration, it displaces oxygen.”

Firefighters were called Sept. 7 to the restaurant in Pooler, about 10 miles west of Savannah, and two women were found unconscious in a restroom. They were later admitted to a Savannah hospital, where eight others from the restaurant were treated and released. Eighty-year-old Anne Felton of Ponte Vedra, Fla., died the next day.

Investigators initially suspected customers fell ill to noxious fumes from cleaning chemicals. An autopsy found no trace of chemicals in Felton, Revenew said, but it indicated she succumbed to asphyxiation.

The restaurant’s franchisees, John and Monique Palmaccio, said in a statement they “are committed to running safe, welcoming restaurants.”

“We worked closely with the authorities to determine the cause of this incident and we’ve taken action to correct the situation,” the statement said.

The police chief said the owners had replaced the soda fountain’s gas lines and valves and were allowed to reopen the restaurant.

“At this point we don’t anticipate criminal charges,” Revenew said. “It just appears to be a mistake.”

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration is also investigating. OSHA investigators were conducting interviews last week, looking into possible workplace safety violations.

(Huffington Post)

Food Recalls!

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com! Check out the latest food recalls below!
ucm271885
Jensen Farms Recalls Cantaloupe Due to Possible Health Risk
Contact:
Consumer
800-267-4561
recall@rfordcantaloupe.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 14, 2011 – Jensen Farms, of Holly, CO is voluntarily recalling their shipments of Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria. The company is working with the State of Colorado and the FDA to inform consumers of this recall. L. monocytogenes is a bacterium that can contaminate foods and cause a mild non-invasive illness (called listerial gastroenteritis) or a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness (called invasive listeriosis). Persons who have the greatest risk of experiencing listeriosis after consuming foods contaminated with L. monocytogenes are fetuses and neonates who are infected after the mother is exposed to L. monocytogenes during pregnancy, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.

The whole cantaloupes in question were shipped between July 29th, 2011 and September 10th 2011, and distributed to the following states: IL, WY, TN, UT, TX, CO, MN, KS, NM, NC, MO, NE, OK, AZ, NJ, NY, PA. The whole cantaloupes have a green and white sticker that reads: Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads: Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords. If the whole cantaloupe is unlabeled, please contact your retail store for sourcing information. Jensen Farms is requesting any consumer that many have one of these cantaloupes to please destroy the products.

The recall involves only whole cantaloupe shipped by Jensen Farms, and no other commodities are involved. Jensen Farms feels it is prudent to participate in the recall as the State of Colorado has stated (in their September 12th, 2011 press release) that people at a high risk for infection should not eat whole cantaloupe from the Rocky Ford growing region.
“Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third party safety audits, as we have for many years. We continually look for ways to enhance our protocol,” said Ryan Jensen, partner at Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms is a 3rd generation family farm of the Holly, Colorado community.

Consumers with questions may contact Jensen Farms via email at recall@rfordcantaloupe.com or phone 1-800-267-4561 between the hours of 9am and 4pm MST.
basil
Sanith Ourn Farm Issues Voluntary Recall of Fresh Hot Basil Due to Potential Salmonella Risk.

Contact:
Consumer:
Sanith Ourn
(561)449-6660

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 7, 2011 – Sanith Ourn Farm of Indiantown, Fl, is recalling Fresh Hot Basil herb because it may have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections and arthritis.

The recalled Fresh Hot Basil was distributed to retailers and one wholesale location in WA, OR, and RI on August 23, 2011 and August 30, 2011. Hot Basil has a 5 day shelf life.

Three hundred and ninety pounds (390 lbs) of product was shipped in 10 lb. shipping containers marked with FLT DATE of 08/23/11 and 08/30/11. Retailers may have bundled or wrapped the hot basil in small foam trays prior to placing on retail shelves.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

This issue was identified through routine sampling by the Food and Drug Administration.

Consumers who have purchased this product are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company, Sanith Ourn, at (561) 449-6660, Monday through Friday 8 AM to 4 PM, EST.

Avocado Recall

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

An Ontario, CA company is recalling 1,423 cases of frozen avocado pulp and 1,820 cases of avocado halves distributed since June because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Fine Mexican Food Products (FMP) said in a news release that the recall was the result of multiple positive Listeria monocytogenes sample test results in avocado pulp manufactured at the same facility in Peru. FMP has ceased the production, importing and distribution of the product as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company continue their investigation into what caused the problem

There have been no reports of illness related to the avocados.

The recall involves frozen avocado pulp and IQF avocado halves distributed in California since June 2010.

The frozen avocado pulp has an FMP white label on the corrugated shipping carton. The pack size is 2.2 lb. /bag 12 per shipping carton with a product code 00115.

The IQF avocado halves are in 3 lb. /bag 8 bags per shipping carton with product code 00131 and expiration dates of June/July/August 2012.

For more information call Fine Mexican Food Products, Recalls Procedures, at 909- 947-4296.

(Food Safety News)