Tag Archives: ingredients

Weekly Top 5

At Foodfacts.com we commonly receive requests for healthy snack suggestions, alternatives for different meals, etc. We know many of you share different views on organic, genetically modified foods, sugar, saturated fat, and many other nutrition-related topic areas, but we feel there are always a few items that stand-out in our database that many may find interesting, or even want to try.

This week’s top 5:

Blueberries
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There’s nothing better than picking fresh, ripe blueberries during the summer months. Full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, these berries are considered a “superfood” because of their healthy benefits when eaten. Research has shown that some benefits of eating blueberries include reduced risk of cancers, decreasing the conditions of aging; such as Alzheimer’s, and also preventative of Hepatitis C. Add them to your favorite pies, make them into jam, sprinkle them on your yogurt, drink them in juice form,
or eat them by the handful. They’re great for you!

1311643567_ce732f7e2cRed Bell Peppers
They’re slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and very crunchy. Bell peppers are a great source of vitamins and minerals, mixed in with a great amount of flavor. Known as the “meaty” pepper, this vegetable is commonly added to salads, stews, and also eaten raw. Which is great, because it contains a great amount of carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. The bell pepper has been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation, which then helps to prevent various types of cancers.
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Salmon
This fatty fish has been given much praise and attention for awhile now. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon consumption creates great benefits. Improved cardiovascular function, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation, and some evidence suggests that omega-3 fats may prevent the progression of certain psychotic disorders in high-risk children and adolescents. However, some overlooked features of salmon include the amino acid and protein content, which also provides great health benefits. Some that have been researched are alleviated joint pain, and regulating collagen and minerals within the bone and tissue.
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Spelt Bread
This grain has been around for centuries, and offers a variety of wonderful nutrients that other grains may not be able to provide. This is because it contains B2, a great amount of manganese, niacin, thiamin, and copper. Together, these nutrients are powerful against atherosclerosis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other moderate to severe conditions. Use this grain to make breads, pasta, muffins, and any other meal you desire!
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Whole Wheat Fig Bars
Figs have been a staple in many households for years. Which is a good thing considering that they’re high in potassium, and have a good amount of vitamin C. These fig bars are not only organic, which is an added bonus for many, but they also contain whole wheat flour as their base. Another positive, there are no added sugars.

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:
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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

Natural Vanilla Flavoring from Beavers

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We at Foodfacts.com take much time to research and discover the controversial ingredients present in a great portion of our food supply. Labeling in the US and many other countries continues to stump consumers because there is little specific information regarding the exact information of some ingredients. Often, people are mislead most by the term “natural” when it is present on a nutrition label. However, we want you to think twice before believing these manufacturers, and further educate yourself prior to making food choices.
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Natural vanilla flavoring is used as an additive in a variety of products. Ice cream, seltzer waters, yogurt, candy, milk, bread, and many other products commonly use natural vanilla flavoring to mimic the taste of pure vanilla beans. Some may even think that vanilla bean was used to prepare the product, but unfortunately we can never be too sure. In fact, “natural vanilla flavors” is a listing for an additive you may be unaware of, which is Castoreum.
Brown Cow Yogurt at blog.foodfacts.com

“When castoreum occurs in a food, it does not have to be listed by its name. It is considered a “natural flavor” and may be so designated on a food package according to the Code of Federal Regulations.”

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What is Castoreum?

“Castoreum extract… is a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years. Both the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regard castoreum extract as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

Yes, that definition summarizes that castoreum is derived from glands of a male or female beaver. Although many top manufacturers of flavors and fragrances say castoreum is no longer used as a food additive, few products have found they do contain this ingredient.

Check your labels!

Avocado Spreads on BK Whoppers to Produce More Sales

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Just what we need.. Burger King is now targeting “health-conscious” consumers with the addition of avocado on their whoppers. The avocado industry, they’re thrilled! Instead of promoting these fruits in a healthy-eating campaign, they’re opting for the quickest way to get sales, fast-food. Yikes. Check out the article below to learn more!

Coral Beach — Keeping the avocado in the fast food spotlight, Burger King Corp.’s menu for a limited time includes the California Whopper — and California Whopper Jr. — featuring guacamole.

The guacamole burgers come on the heels of Subway’s summer promotion offering avocado spread on its sandwiches.
Miami-based Burger King is the fourth of the top five quick-serve chains with recent campaigns featuring produce.
Wendy’s introduced a line of salads with fresh berries and apples and McDonald’s announced that its Happy Meals will include fresh sliced apples along with the standard french fries. Starbucks is the only one of the top five not yet in the fresh produce deal.
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Even though the Burger King guacamole isn’t made fresh at each location, California Avocado Commission officials believe the new campaign will keep the fruit in the forefront with consumers.

“By creating the usage concept for consumers and keeping the avocados out there in the eye of the public it can only be a good thing for overall consumption numbers,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president for the Irvine-based commission.

DeLyser said when consumers see restaurants using avocados it reminds them that they can use the fruit at home.

Burger King officials declined to comment on the amount of avocados and fresh produce the chain uses. They also declined to comment on who is supplying the guacamole. A source at an avocado distributing company, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed to J.R. Simplot Co., which supplies frozen french fries for Burger King. Simplot officials declined to comment Aug. 25 on the Burger King guacamole, citing customer confidentiality policies.

Regardless of the supplier, the avocado category will certainly benefit from the Burger King promotion, according to several companies that handle the fruit.

Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce of Oxnard, Calif., said the category has seen 10% annual growth in recent years. Mission Produce handles fresh and processed avocados.

“These are exciting times for the avocado worldwide,” Wileman said. “The growth in Japan is very exciting, and interest in China is growing with the increase of Western influences there, and Chile’s numbers are going through the roof.”

Wileman said there is no way to speculate what volume of avocados Burger King will use with its promotion, partly because the international chain has more than 12,000 restaurants.

R.J. Hottovy of Equity Research said his company stopped following Burger King when the chain went private. However, he said in the restaurant world of today innovative menu items such as the California Whopper are key to driving traffic.
Jose Luis Obergon, managing director of the Hass Avocado Board, Irvine, echoed comments made by Hottovy and Wileman and said the exposure in mainstream America can only be a good thing for avocados.

“The education campaign that the industry started 10 years ago is paying off,” Obergon said. “This will ultimately help maintain good prices because overall demand will increase as more people become familiar with what you can do with avocados.”

Al Ahmer, vice president of sales and production for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., agreed that the Burger King promotion is good news for avocados. He said even if only 1 ounce of gaucamole is used per sandwich it will translate into a large volume of avocados being used.
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“The rule of thumb is for every two pounds of avocados you have about one pound of fruit flesh,” Ahmer said.
The introduction of the California Whopper, which includes Swiss cheese and bacon along with the guacamole, is hitting television screens and billboards across the nation as Burger King says so long to its mascot, The King. No longer will the big-headed character be wielding his scepter or peeping into windows during Burger King’s commercials.

The fast food chain, purchased by the global investment firm 3G Capital less than a year ago, recently switched ad agencies. It ditched Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, the company behind the commercials with what many media observers referred to as that “creepy king guy,” for McGarryBowen, which created a new line of TV spots that reflect Burger King’s new “food-centric” approach.

The new spots started airing nationwide Aug. 20 and feature a montage of shots of fresh avocados, lettuce, tomatoes and other fresh produce being sliced and chopped. The new commercials with upbeat music and limited voice-overs are expected to attract the attention of health-conscious moms.

(The Packer)

How to Stay Away from BPA!

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

(Huffington Post) The more I know about Bisphenol A, the more I realize what a truly sneaky little substance it is.

First I found out it was leaching into my water from plastic bottles, so I stopped buying bottled water and started filling up from the tap. Then I learned that BPA can enter the body through the coating on register receipts, so I started asking the cashier to trash them for me. And, most recently, I found out that because it coats the inside of cans — even those that contain baby formula — the stuff can sneak into our food, too. (So much for mom’s “homemade” black bean soup.)

In fact, a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that 93 percent of us have detectable levels of BPA in our bodies at any given time.

Yikes!

Why should we worry? In a nutshell: BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to cancer, birth defects, brain and nervous system dysfunction, and reproductive abnormalities.

Double yikes.

But now, BPA, your days may be numbered. That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to test you for toxicity and environmental impact, according to UPI. This comes on the heels of a January announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would examine the potential human health effects of BPA in the food supply, and last year’s FDA proclamation that parents should take “reasonable steps” to reduce their infants’ exposure.

That’s good news, because a recent study reported in Endocrine Today linked thyroid disruption to BPA — adding yet another negative impact to an extremely long list of BPA side effects.

The bad news is that those silver bottles we’ve all been filling up — in order to avoid BPA — may actually release up to eight times more BPA than polycarbonate plastic, according to a new study reported by ScienceDirect.

So, what’s a concerned citizen to do? Check with manufacturers to make sure your bottles are made from stainless steel, rather than aluminum lined with epoxy-based resin. Wash your hands after you handle receipts. Limit your intake of canned foods, and look for cans that are “BPA-free.” Then take a look at a series of recipes which doctors say can block the impact of BPA, which we collected for Healthy Child Healthy World’s Eat Healthy section.

Finally, help us urge Campbell’s — one of the largest canned food corporations — to stop using BPA in their cans. Sign our petition telling Campbell’s that BPA is NOT “Mmm mmm good!”

BPA, you’re in our sights. Consider yourself warned.

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.

Someone is standing up to GMO’s in Hawaii

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Foodfacts.com has recently reported the widespread protests and removal of genetically modified crops across the world. Hungary just recently removed thousands of genetically modified crops in an effort to ban this biotechnology from their country. As most may know, Hawaii has some of the most advanced biotechnology practices currently going on. It appears that someone had decided to go against this practice and chop down thousands of GM papaya trees when they had a good chance. Check out the story below to learn more!

(Fox News) Thousands of papaya trees were chopped down on 10 acres of Big Island farmland under the cover of night last month. Hawaii County police said the destruction appeared to be done with a machete, but there are no leads and few clues beyond the tree stumps and all the fruit left to rot.
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“It’s hard to imagine anybody putting that much effort into doing something like that,” said Delan Perry, vice president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association. “It means somebody has to have passionate reason.”

A growing theory among farmers is that the attack was an act of eco-terrorism, a violent protest against the biotechnology used in growing papayas here. Police did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The majority of papayas grown on 170 farms on Oahu and the Big Island are genetically modified.

University of Hawaii scientists developed the genetically modified fruit that’s resistant to a ring spot virus that wiped out production on Oahu in the 1950s and was detected in the Puna district on the Big Island in the 1990s. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are crops whose genetic makeup has been altered to give the plant a desirable trait. The genetically modified fruit is credited with saving Hawaii’s $11 million papaya production industry.

“We wouldn’t have a papaya industry today if it weren’t for the transgenic papaya,” said Alicia Maluafiti, executive director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, which represents the seed industry and protects biotech crop growers. “Without a transgenic papaya restricting the expansion of the virus, that virus would be prevalent today.”

Restricting the virus has also allowed for organic papayas to be grown, she said.

Without the transgenic papaya, the Vitamin C-laden fruit would cost a lot more to enjoy, said Richard Manshardt, a tropical fruit breeder and geneticist at the University of Hawaii who was on the team that developed the genetically modified fruit.

Kevin Richards, director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said he knows of no other crop that relies on biotechnology to save it from disease. Commodity crops such as cotton, soy and corn commonly use genetic engineering in order to make them easier and cheaper to grow.

“Papaya would be unique in the sense where the industry in Hawaii is dependent on biotech,” said Richards. “What you have in Hawaii is a very contained, isolated agro-eco system, which is vulnerable to diseases.”
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He cited international examples of eco-terrorism: activists who took weed-whackers to test crops of drought-resistant wheat in Australia and test plots of biotech eggplants destroyed in the Philippines.

Hawaii’s papayas are held up as an example of how biotechnology can improve access to crops, Richards said.

That’s especially important in parts of the world with a limited food supply, Manshardt said, adding that genetic engineering could be used to protect cassava crops with severe virus problems in Africa and Latin America.

Hawaii farmers had no choice but to grow GMO papayas in order to survive, said Perry, whose organization has raised a $10,000 reward for information on the crop destruction. “Papaya is the No. 1 fruit eaten in Hawaii,” he said.

One of the affected farmers, Erlinda Bernardo, said fellow papaya growers often worry about retaliation from those who are against GMOs. “Most of the product on the island is genetically modified,” she said. “If not, most of the farmers would suffer, there would be more unemployment.”

Bernardo, her husband and four children are preparing to plant again in another area after 3,000 trees worth $15,000 on five leased acres were destroyed. “We’re afraid to plant in that area, so we’re giving up the lease there,” she said. “When you start all over again, you have to wait a year for the papaya to bear fruit.”

Ditch Chewing Gums?

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What do you know about chewing gum? Foodfacts.com presents you with an article that quickly lists some pros and cons of this popular sticky treat. Are you a fan? Or do you stay clear of gum??

In addition to lip chap and my cell phone, gum rounds out my list of essential purse items. But when it comes to chewing gum in general, how much do we really know about these tasty, rubbery pieces we regularly munch on? Are there any benefits to chomping?

Health Benefits

Heartburn relief: In 2005, researchers found that the saliva stimulated by chewing seemed to neutralize the digestive stomach acid that had leaked into the esophagus. It also seemed to help force fluids back into the stomach and therefore provide heartburn relief. Chewing gum — sugarless, of course — for 30 minutes did the trick and can provide relief for up to three hours.

Kills bacteria and freshens breath: Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more saliva you have in your mouth, the less bacteria you will have. Gum that is said to be sweetened with xylitol is said to increase salivation and prevent bacteria from replicating in the mouth. In terms of what flavor to go with, it’s best to stick with cinnamon, as it can actually help to decrease bacteria in your mouth — sugar-free cinnamon, naturally.

Curbs your appetite: A study at Louisiana State University took 115 people who regularly chewed gum and measured their food cravings before and after lunch. The results showed that those who chewed gum three times hourly after lunch, ate fewer high-calorie snacks and reported lower feelings of hunger and cravings for sweeter foods. And who knew that the body burns 11 calories an hour through working the jaw?

Health Risks

Aspartame and sugar content: In an effort to help make gum “healthier” by decreasing its sugar content, many gum companies began replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sorbitol, and xylitol. Although aspartame was approved in 1996 by the FDA for use in foods and beverages, there still remains many conflicting findings about the controversial sweetener. People who have a sensitivity to aspartame may experience neurological symptoms like headaches, dizziness, skin reactions, seizures, and depression. Fortunately for these individuals, there are gums like PUR that are sugar-free, aspartame-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

(Fit Sugar)

Don’t buy ALL organic?

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Foodfacts.com recently stumbled upon an article featured in Prevention Magazine which suggests that consumers don’t need to buy ALL organic. As we notice on a daily basis, a top reason for buying organic seems to be the relationship between 80% of our food supply and GMO’s. Let us know what YOU think about this article!

Foods not worth buying organic
Step into any health food store, and you may feel as though you’ve stepped into an alternate universe: On those earthy-crunchy shelves, you’re likely to find an organic version of just about everything, including cotton candy and chewing gum. White it’s true that organic “junk foods” are better for the planet (possibly due to less packaging or more environmentally sound manufacturing processes), they generally aren’t better for you.

Similarly, certain fruits and vegetables that are available in organic varieties may be just fine in their conventional form. A shopping guide created by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) includes a list of the “clean 15″ the conventional produce selections that are lowest in pesticides and therefore OK to purchase.
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The bottom line is that you needn’t go organic across the board. Here are some items that you can confidently buy in conventional form:

Soda
A six-pack of organic soda can cost $ or more. Yes, it’s made without high-fructose corn syrup, but each can contains 160 calories (20 more than 12 ounces of Coca-Cola Classic) and zero nutrients.

Low Calorie or Sugar-Free Items
If organic sugar-free cookies sound too good to be true, they probably are. Check the label for artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. If you’re trying to keep it natural, you’re better off choosing a non-organic baked treat that’s free of fake sugars.

Seafood
Whether caught in the wild or farmed, fish can legally be labeled organic, even though it may contain contaminants such as mercury and PCBs, according to the Consumer Union. That’s because the USDA has not yet developed organic certification standards for seafood.

Onions
These underground wonders rank lowest on the EWG’s pesticide-load list. Stock up with conventional onions at the supermarket, and store them in a cool, dry place such as a pantry closet or low-humidity refrigerator door.

Frozen Sweet Corn
So much easier to prepare and enjoy than shucking niblets from the cob, and readily available year-round, conventional frozen corn is considered extremely low in pesticides. Use it in soups or cornbread mix.

Tomatoes
More than half of the tomatoes screened by the EWG contained no detectible pesticides, though they were most likely to have evidence of more than one kind of pesticide.

Watermelon

Just over one-quarter of the EWG’s samples showed evidence of pesticides. Ripe watermelons usually are a uniform color inside and shiny outside.

(Prevention Magazine)

Why are there blue chips in your ground beef?

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Foodfacts.com encourages our followers to check any ground beef or meat products for suspicious materials. Recently, a woman discovered what appeared to be blue plastic chips embedded in her ground beef. This has caused a recent recall of the product. Read below to learn more!

A North Carolina-based company has issued a recall of its ground beef product after a consumer found an unexpected ingredient in the product – blue plastic chips.

Vantage Foods of Lenoir, North Carolina is recalling 1,642 pounds of ground beef that may contain the foreign material, announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Friday.

Products included in this Class III recall – the type issued when consumption of the product won’t cause adverse health consequences – were sold in 2-pound trays of fresh ground beef 93/7 under the brand “Lowe’s Foods.”

The packaging is labeled with Establishment number “EST. 34176″ inside the USDA mark of inspection, and a sell-by date of 8/29/11.

The products subject to recall were produced on August 15, 2011 and distributed to retail stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

The problem was discovered when a consumer returned meat to a retail establishment, reporting the presence of blue plastic chips in the product. The store then notified Vantage Foods.

Neither FSIS nor the firm have received any reports of negative health consequences associated with the consumption of the product.
(Food Safety News)