Tag Archives: stumble upon

A Miracle Fruit?

miracle-berry
Foodfacts.com recently came across this article in TIME magazine regarding a “miracle fruit” that changes sour into sweet. How? Read below to learn more!

If you have any foodie friends, you’ve probably heard of miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum), a native West African berry that looks like a cranberry, but acts like a psychedelic for your taste buds.

Eat the miracle fruit on its own and it doesn’t taste like much of anything. But let the juices coat your mouth, then consume sour foods — like lemons, limes, goat cheese, beer, vinegar, pickles — and a remarkable thing happens: they all taste sweet.
“Beer tastes like sweet juice. Lemon tastes like sweet orange,” Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo told Discovery News.

The fruit’s effect lasts for an hour, and like other trippy experiences, it’s more fun to do it in groups. So adventuresome eaters seek out “flavor tripping parties” during which people pop a berry, then gorge on all manner of sour foods. Guinness beer tastes like chocolate. Tabasco sauce tastes like “hot doughnut glaze,” as one flavor tripper was quoted as saying in this story in the New York Times.

This week, Abe reported the key to miracle fruit’s magic. To figure it out, Abe’s research team used cell cultures to test human taste receptors at various pHs. According to Discovery News:

The key ingredient in the fruit, a protein known as miraculin, binds strongly to the sweet taste receptors on our tongues, Abe reported, but it does not activate the receptors at neutral pH.

When acid is introduced, the miraculin protein changes shape in such a way that it turns on the sweet receptors it is bound to, creating a sensation of ultra-sweet without affecting the other flavors in the food.

After the acidic food is swallowed, miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but it remains bound to the sweet receptor for up to an hour, ready to receive a new acid trigger. The strong binding explains the molecule’s lasting effect.

Abe said the sweet-making power of miraculin was stronger than nearly all other known sweeteners. Given that it’s calorie-free, of course there has been no shortage of interest in developing it into a commercially usable sweetener. Perhaps it will be in Japan, where the production of a purified miraculin extract is currently being sought. As for the U.S., however, a 1974 ruling by the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of an extract.

(TIME)

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?

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!
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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.
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“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.
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“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.
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“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.
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“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.
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“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!

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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.

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