Tag Archives: FDA

FDA Offers Grilling Tips

 

Photo from U.S. FDA

FoodFacts.com would like to discuss grilling season.

With grilling season just around the corner, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month released a pamphlet with grilling tips for the safe preparation of foods.

E-coli and salmonella are two of the most well-known and common food-borne illnesses in existent, and both illnesses are often contracted through the incorrect preparation of foods. This is especially common in the summer, when grilling is a common means of cooking and the heat outside is high, resulting in a higher chance of bacteria growing within food.

So how can you keep you and your family safe during this fun, but risky, time?

It all begins before you even begin cooking, with proper cleanup and preparation of your work area. Cleaning your food items is also a must, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables.

The means in which you transport your food is also important, and transporting foods in an organized manner could be beneficial. Keeping your cold foods cold, specifically in a cooler with the temperature at 40°F or below, is necessary for preventing bacteria growth. Keep the coolers closed, and don’t cross-contaminate foods such as poultry, seafood and raw meat.

What about the actual grilling process, though? How do you keep your foods safe?

When grilling, it is important to marinate your food safely – keep it in the refrigerator, rather than the counters or outside. Keep already grilled food hot until it is served. Also, and this is very important – cook food thoroughly. To find out proper cooking temperatures, please refer to the FDA link at the bottom of this blog. Finally, when cooking, keep utensils separate to prevent cross-contamination. It might be a good idea to wash utensils after each use to be extra safe.

So, folks, there you have it. Separation, refrigeration, and proper cooking temperatures are the basics.

With that said, we’re wishing you a happy and healthy grilling season from FoodFacts.com!

FDA: http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/Consumers/ucm109899.htm

Mutated Gulf Seafood — Are Consumers Safe?

Photo from Donald Waters/AP Photo

FoodFacts.com will be exploring the effects on seafood following disasters such as oil spills today.

 

Back in 2010, theGulf of Mexicosaw an oil spill unlike any seen in decades. For months, the news covered the BP oil spill, examining the environmental effects of the spill that flowed for months following an explosion of an oil rig.

 

Roughly two years later, the effects on the fish and seafood in the waters are finally being seen, with mutated fish and eyeless shrimp being discovered in the very same waters the oil streamed into.

 

For obvious reasons, this is cause for concern among consumers. The fact that mutated and sick fish reside in those waters begs the question to be asked: are consumers at risk if they purchase seafood that came from the Gulf?

 

Scientists can’t point the finger to the oil spill as the definite cause of the deformities. However, given the history, many are convinced that the fish and seafood are showing illness and mutations as a result of the spill.

 

Rest assured, according to the Food and Drug Administration – the deformities presented in the seafood and fish do not pose any risk to the consumers as sick fish are not permitted to be sold, according to FDA regulations. Furthermore, the FDA has said that numerous testing has been performed and is continuing to be performed even today to be sure.

 

If that wasn’t enough to try and alleviate consumers concerns, the FDA also makes a point of explaining the amount of seafood that would need to be consumed to even reach the level of concern the FDA has regarding the issue, and that amount is even more than eating 9 pounds of shrimp per day for 5 years.

 

So is there cause for concern? As mentioned in previous blog postings, that is all up to the individual consumer and their trust in the government. But regardless of the concern level of Gulf seafood currently, a person should ALWAYS pay attention to seafood safety.

 

That being said, FoodFacts.com would like to wish you and yours and a happy and healthy weekend!

Dioxins — Any “eggscape” from them?

 

Picture credit to FoxNews.com

FoodFacts.com would like to take some time to look at dioxins.

 

Recently, it has been revealed that in Germany, the highly poisonous chemical was found in eggs from a couple of farms in levels that was above the permissible level set.

 

Needless to say, the farms found with those eggs have been sealed off and are not permitted to sell more eggs. That doesn’t mean that eggs containing dioxins haven’t been sold already, though.

 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency webpage, dioxins are a “group of toxic chemical compounds that share certain chemical structures and biological characteristics.” [1] They can be released into the environment in many different ways, including forest fires and certain industrial activities.

 

While many people fail to realize it, most every living creature has been exposed to dioxins in some way, shape or form over time. Dioxins are not reported to be harmful at small levels, but long-term exposure or high levels could result in numerous adverse health effects, including but not limited to cancer. Exposure to high levels of dioxins have also reportedly led to reproductive and developmental problems, according to studies, and an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. While there are no known health effects on those who have consumed dioxins in small doses, more research does need to be done on those who are exposed to low levels of it over long periods of time, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

This isn’t the first time the issue of dioxins has been brought up with regards to Germany. Back in January of 2011, the European Union issued a health alert when officials discovered that animal feed had been tainted with dioxins, which was in turn fed to animals like hens and pigs and contaminating eggs, poultry and pork. Following that health alert, new measures were implemented to keep dioxin ingredients out of animal feed. Because of those new measures, and tests performed, officials do not believe the cause of this exposure was due to animal feed, and are still looking into the cause of the exposure.

 

Is there cause for concern? In Germany, there is reportedly no danger to the public. But it certainly makes everyone wonder what chemicals might be in their foods.

 

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there are always measures being taken to lower dioxin levels in foods. Furthermore, there are regulations in place regarding dioxin emissions when it comes to industrial sources. And over time, reduced dioxin emissions will result in reduced levels of dioxins in foods. That being said, cause for concern more or less rests on your faith in the government and their efforts.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to extend our best wishes!

 


[1] Dioxin. Environmental Assessment. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/nceaQFind.cfm?keyword=Dioxin>

Orange juice secret revealed

FoodFacts knows that orange juice is one of the most popular breakfast choices in the United States, with up to two thirds of all Americans including the beverage in their breakfast routines. We were saddened to learn late last week that on top of coming to terms with arsenic in apple juice, we’ll also have to come to terms with the idea that our premium orange juice is not “All Natural” like we’ve been led to believe.

There’s a “secret ingredient” that is included in any premium, not from concentrate, 100% pure orange juice that manufacturers are not required to put on their labeling.

So the secret’s out and here it is: Premium orange juice (pretty much all of it) is made and then stored in tanks for up to a year. While it’s being stored it loses much of its flavor and needs to be “reinvigorated” with flavor packets. For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as “pasteurized” orange juice. The top brands on grocery store shelves like Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others have always used this practice. The addition of flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate. Consumers have never known about this and are under the impression that the juice they are purchasing is better in both flavor and content than juices mad from concentrates. The “not from concentrate” brands are priced higher than their “from concentrate” competitors. And consumers have felt good about purchasing them believing that they were of higher quality.

But it doesn’t appear to be the case. After the oranges are squeezed and pasteurized, if they’re being used in a “not from concentrate” brand, they are kept in aseptic storage. This means oxygen is removed from the juice in a process called deaeration. It is then stored in tanks for up to a year. Prior to packaging and shipped, flavor packs are added to the stored juice. The flavor packs contain orange byproducts such as peel and pulp which compensate for the loss of taste and aroma. Those flavor packs are also how manufacturers are able to maintain a consistent flavor profile for their juices. Each brand has its own flavor pack formula.

In case you missed the news this weekend, FoodFacts wanted to make sure that our community stays up to date on important issues like this one. While the juice isn’t made from concentrate, it really isn’t “100% pure” like the manufacturers have been leading us to believe. And while the manufacturers are saying that their flavor packs are made from the oranges themselves through the pasteurization process, we understand that the addition of the packs really does defy the claims for the product. Let us know what you think.

“But the label says no trans fat, so it’s fine” … exploring a modern myth

On the FoodFacts Facebook page this week, we’ve looked at products containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil, There are at least a few more “Partially Hydrogenated” oil substances to delve into in terms of food ingredients. But as we looked more closely at the subject, we realized that this is a very important topic for this blog.

We feel very strongly about education and even though trans fat is something you always hear about, we think, perhaps, we all need to be reminded of exactly how it is, or isn’t, being regulated. And that all depends on how you look at it.

First let’s make this point. Any oil listed as a food ingredient that begins with the phrase “partially hydrogenated” signifies the presence of trans fat in the food product it’s included in. It is impossible for the use of any partially hydrogenated oil not to result in a certain amount of trans fat. It doesn’t matter what type of oil is undergoing the process … vegetable, canola, sunflower, cottonseed – it all results in the same thing.

So here’s a random (and partial) ingredient list:
Citric Acid, Glycerol, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Potassium Sorbate, Flavoring Natural, Wheat Flour, Wheat Whole, BHT, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, Barley Malted Syrup, Corn Syrup Malted, Niacinamide (Vitamin aB), Canola Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sunflower Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Iron Reduced,  Salt, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate), Vitamin B6, Whey, Zinc Oxide, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Folic Acid (Vitamin aB), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

And here’s that ingredient list’s corresponding nutrition label:
You’ll note that the Trans Fat line reads 0 grams.

It’s within FDA requirements. The product hasn’t lied, they haven’t made a mistake and they haven’t been mislabeled. But the product still contains trans fat – even though it says it doesn’t.

According to the FDA, any product whose trans fat level falls below .5 grams per serving can list itself as having NO trans fat. Maybe that doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it really can be and it’s really something we should all pay attention to.

There is no RDA for trans fat in the United States. In fact, all we’ve heard is that we should consume as little trans fat per day as possible. It’s just downright bad for us … trans fats add to weight gain and obesity problems, they help clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s even research that points to the contribution of trans fats to the risk of diabetes.

Let’s assume that you have one serving of 5 different food products marked 0 g. trans fat per day. Let’s also assume that each of those servings actually contains .45 g of trans fat. You just consumed 2.25 g of a fat that has no determined level of safety!

The labeling of trans fat is regulated … sort of. Anything over .5 g per serving has to be noted on the nutrition label and anything below that counts as a 0.

Since it’s only a “sort of” regulation, it leads us to determine that until things change, we need to regulate ourselves. Any additional trans fat is unhealthy.

FoodFacts.com wants to keep you focused on your healthy lifestyle. Be a savvy consumer and be able to identify the myriad of products that contain trans fat. Keep reading, but make sure you’re reading more than nutrition labels. You need to read ingredient lists and keep your attention on the words “Partially Hydrogenated”. That’s the key to determining whether or not the product you’re considering actually contains trans fat.

Arsenic and Old News

A while back, FoodFacts.com ran a blog post regarding a report that Dr. Oz released regarding arsenic and its presence in apple juice in amounts that could be potentially dangerous to humans. If you remember, the FDA took to the media to fight back against Dr. Oz’s findings. They claimed 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. Inorganic arsenic is the type which is likely to cause harmful effects. Dr. Oz’s study did not separate out measurements of inorganic and organic arsenic. The FDA said that it was organic arsenic which that was seen in the study. According to the FDA that would make the arsenic in apple juice inconsequential and Dr. Oz’s study just as inconsequential. (As a note, there are a variety of conflicting opinions about the actual safety of organic arsenic.)

Consumer Reports, however has just released its own study showing that the apple and grape juice our kids may be drinking can, in fact have arsenic levels high enough to increase their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, a full 10 percent of the juices tested by the magazine had arsenic levels higher than what is allowed in water by the FDA. The findings in this new report echo the study commissioned by Dr. Mehmet Oz in September of 2011. The FDA was not happy with Dr. Oz’s findings and deemed the study “extremely irresponsible”. Sorry, FDA … but it doesn’t look as though Dr. Oz was the extremely irresponsible party here, at least not at this juncture.

The Consumer Reports study tested 88 samples of 28 apple and 3 grape juices sold around the nation. Included in the test were the popular brands like Minute Maid, Welch’s and Tropicana. Five samples of apple juice and four of grape juice had total arsenic levels exceeding the 10 parts per billion (ppb) federal limit for bottled and drinking water. That brands of juice with at least one sample testing above the 10 ppb mark were Apple & Eve, Great Value, Mott’s, Walgreens and Welch’s.

The brands that scored the lowest arsenic levels were: Welch’s Pourable Concentrate 100% Apple Juice, America’s Choice Apple Juice, Tropicana 100% Apple Juice and Red Jacket Orchards 100% Apple Juice.

Most of the arsenic found in the samples was inorganic (that would be the kind of arsenic universally acknowledged as dangerous). It’s worth noting that although FDA guidelines for water are no more than 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic, the agency standard for juices is higher, at 23 ppb. The level is allowed to be higher because they have assumed that people will consume more water than juice in the course of a normal day. That’s a reasonable assumption — for adults.

Consumer Reports also tested the samples for lead. The results were similar to arsenic. Using the threshold for lead for bottled water, since there is no standard for juice, research revealed that about 25% of the samples had elevated levels of lead (more than 5 ppb).

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports has called on the FDA to set arsenic and lead standards for apple and grape juice. It is recommending 5 ppb for lead and 3 ppb for arsenic and has cited evidence that long-term exposure to arsenic and lead can lead to serious health problems including lung, bladder and skin cancer, increased risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Seems as though Dr. Oz knew what he was talking about back in September. It’s unfortunate the FDA assumed otherwise.

FoodFacts.com will stay on top of this issue and keep you posted as to whether there is any movement by the FDA to change its current standards. We hope they can acknowledge that the majority of apple juice and grape juice in our food supply is, in fact, being consumed by children. We need to understand that one of our most serious responsibilities as a civilized nation is the safety of our kids.

More cantaloupe recalls…

cantaloupe-listeria-outbreak

Foodfacts.com will continuously update you on the latest food recalls! Make sure to check back daily for more updates pertaining to the deadly cantaloupe outbreak.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 6, 2011 – Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, New York is recalling approximately 4,800 individual packages of FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. was not advised of the possible contamination of the cantaloupe it acquired from an independent wholesale vendor until last Thursday, September 27th.

The recalled FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE was distributed in Buffalo, New York and surrounding areas in retail stores and through catering orders.

The fresh cut fruit subject to this recall was sold between August 31, 2011 and September 11, 2011, and consisted of the following products: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays. The packaging in which these products were packed has best-if-used-by dates ranging from September 4th through September 11th. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the cantaloupe processed by Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. Before cutting whole melons for packaging, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. uses stringent procedures to minimize the risk of contamination. The rind of the whole cantaloupe is thoroughly washed with a sanitizing solution before cutting, and after the seeds are removed, the flesh is washed with this same solution before it is cut or sliced. Despite these procedures, which greatly minimize the risk of contamination, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution.

The Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. recall is part of a larger recall involving cantaloupe traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver area store and the Jensen Farms packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 17 different states across the U.S. between July 29th and September 10th. As of Wednesday there were a total of 96 illnesses, including 18 deaths, related to the contaminated cantaloupe sold by Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms earlier issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its cantaloupes after news of the multi-state outbreak. Jenson Farms has ceased production and distribution of the product while the FDA and the company continue their investigations as to what caused the problem.

Consumers having the recalled Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. product in their possession should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or destroy it. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is located at 2928 Walden Avenue, New York 14043. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (716) 684-4300, Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Kraft recalls Velveeta cheeses with thin wire pieces…

kraftshellscheesecups
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls. Check back daily to learn more about the foods we eat everyday!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Northfield, IL., September 30 2011 – Kraft Foods Global, Inc. is voluntarily recalling three varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups with limited “best when used by” dates as a precaution due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces.

The following products are being recalled:

velveeta-chart

For exact product images click here.

Consumers can find the “best when used by” date on the bottom of the package.

No other “best when used by” dates of Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups or any other Kraft Foods products are being recalled.

There have been no reports of consumer injuries or complaints. Kraft Foods is issuing this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.

Approximately 137,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers across the United States. The affected products were not distributed in Canada.

Consumers who purchased affected “best when used by” dates of these products should not eat them. They should return them to the store of purchase for an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations Monday through Friday at 1-800-308-1841.

The affected products were manufactured in Champaign, IL and Lakeville, MN.

Friday’s Food Recalls

http://khq.images.worldnow.com/images/15581886_BG1.jpg
Foodfacts.com brings to you the latest news on food recalls!

True Leaf Farms is voluntarily recalling 90 cartons of chopped romaine because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled product was shipped between September 12 and 13 to an institutional food service distributor in Oregon who further distributed it to at least two additional states, Washington and Idaho. The romaine affected by this recall has a “use by date” of 9/29/11.
ucm273974
No illnesses related to this finding have been reported

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled bags of romaine were packed in True Leaf Farms cardboard cartons and distributed by Church Brothers, LLC, and shipped between September 12 and 13, 2011. All bags carry a “use by date” of 9/29/11. Produce affected by the recall was labeled as follows:

2# bags, chopped romaine – Bag and box code B256-46438-8
Photos of the recalled product can be viewed at www.churchbrothers.com/recall. This recall includes only chopped romaine as described above.
ucm273975
FDA notified the company today that a sample taken as part of a random check from a single bag of chopped romaine tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. True Leaf Farms is working with FDA to inform consumers of this recall. In addition, the company is working with its food service distribution customers to ensure that other romaine products that may be implicated are pulled from the market.

“We are fully cooperating with the FDA, and we are contacting all of our customers to ensure prompt removal of any product potentially associated with the recall,” said Steve Church, True Leaf Farms. “We are committed to conducting this recall quickly and efficiently to reduce any risk to public health.”

Anyone who has in their possession the recalled romaine as described above should not consume it, and should either destroy it or call Church Brothers, LLC for product pickup.

Consumers with questions or who need information may call Church Brothers, LLC, the sales agent for True Leaf Farms, at 1-800-799-9475, or may visit www.churchbrothers.com for updates.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Sucralose in our drinking water???

water-faucet-glass

Foodfacts.com works to find all the latest news and research pertaining to the food we eat, and water we drink. We just recently came across this article which we think many of you would be interested in, regarding a recent study determining that sucralose has been found in 19 different water treatment plants in the US. Read below to learn more!

If you’ve been diligently avoiding the consumption of chemical sweeteners like sucralose, you may be alarmed to learn that researchers have found sucralose lurking in the drinking water supply of more than 28 million Americans.

A recent study tested water samples from 19 water treatment plants in the United States serving more than 28 million people. Researchers analyzed the samples for the artificial sweetener sucralose. Samples tested positive for sucralose in the source water of 15 out of 19 plants. Furthermore, treatment failed to remove the sucralose from the drinking water: sucralose was also found in the finished drinking water from 13 out of 19 plants.

Researchers determined that current water treatment methods fail to effectively remove sucralose from our water supply, leaving millions of Americans to unknowingly consume this artificial sweetener every single day.

Why is Sucralose in Our Drinking Water?

When a person ingests sucralose, a large percentage of it is not broken down and is instead excreted as waste. This waste goes through the water treatment plant, where the sucralose remains intact and goes on to become part of our drinking water supply.

Because sucralose has become one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in commercial soft drinks and snack foods, it is no wonder that it is making an appearance in our drinking water. If sucralose consumption continues to rise, it stands to reason that everyone drinking public water will be ingesting more of this chemical sweetener as well – whether they want to or not.

Sucralose is Not Safe for Consumption

The public should be aware that the majority of the studies on the safety of sucralose are funded by the creators of the most popular sucralose product on the market. The conflict of interest is obvious and the results of these studies are clearly biased in favor of sucralose.

Independent studies aren’t nearly so positive. Questions about the negative impact sucralose has on male fertility, red blood cell count, kidney health, gut flora balance and body weight are serious concerns generated from the results of these studies. Many researchers and health experts are convinced that sucralose should never have been deemed safe for human consumption.

Common sense dictates that any chemically-processed food is unfit for human consumption. The fact that these substances are now running rampant through our water supply is an atrocity that violates our right to choose what we put into our own bodies.

(NaturalNews.com)