Grocery Store News: What a week for food safety

Wow, what a week for disturbing product recalls! Too much has been going on with the mis-handling of processed foods for me to ignore the subject this week.

Here are some details on recent FDA discoveries of food contamination. This recent information serves to solidify what we should already know. If you didn’t make it yourself, you never know what will be in what you are eating. My challenge to you this month: try to live without processed and refined foods. Buy products not composed of multiple ingredients (i.e, broccoli, apples, brown rice, etc…). Buy organic or hormone-free products and store them / prepare them appropriately. Chances are likely that you will feel better and be at less risk of food induced health threats. This news is scary. Be very afraid, but use that fear to force yourself to prepare your own healthful, nourishing food. This is a wake-up call to us that we cannot trust the mega corporations that currently are at the helm.

Peanut Recall (January 23, 2009) Sources: www.fda.gov and www.usatoday.com

The government Tuesday accused the peanut butter manufacturer tied to a nationwide salmonella outbreak of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations.

Peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has been tied to the salmonella outbreak that has sickened 501 people in 43 states and is believed to have contributed to eight deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration said that its inspection of the PCA plant in Blakely, Ga., found records of 12 instances in which plant officials identified salmonella in ingredients or finished products. The products should not have been shipped, the FDA says. PCA took no steps to address cleaning after finding the salmonella, says Michael Rogers, director of the FDA’s division of field investigations.

“This outbreak is hitting children especially hard”, says Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control. “Half of those stricken are younger than 16, and 21% are under 5”, Tauxe says. While PCA’s peanut butter was sold in bulk to institutions (hospitals, schools, retirement homes), its peanut paste has been used as an ingredient in many, many snack foods (natural products included) as well as pet food.

The FDA says it has not found the exact outbreak strain in the plant, but it has been found in tubs of peanut butter made at the plant, considered the sole source of the contamination.

Some of the snack foods we, as the more naturally minded community, may have in our cupboards are: Lara Bars ~ Peanut Cookie, Clif Bars ~ All bars with peanuts in the ingredients (Peanut Butter Builder’s Bars, Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch, Kids Z-Bar Peanut Butter, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Peanut Toffee Buzz), Luna Bars ~ Nutz over Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie, Mojo Bars ~ Mixed Nuts, Mountain Mix, and all bars with peanuts listed in the ingredients and other products from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

For a complete list of recalled products, visit this web page:http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall

Mercury Found in High Fructose Corn Syrup (January 28, 2009)

Quantities of mercury have been found in high fructose corn syrup, the ingredient that has replaced sugar in many of our processed foods. Reports have also come out that the FDA knew about traces of the toxic substance in food, and sat on the information.

Mercury in high fructose corn syrup affects many of the most popular foods in America, including yogurt, soda, candy, juice and jelly. Even a small amount of it can be unhealthy. “Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.” The Corn Refiners Association is disputing the results of the study, but a watchdog group’s study turned up similar results. More research is needed to determine exactly which foods are affected, but some of the foods tested were from the brands Hershey’s, Quaker, Hunt’s, Manwich, Smucker’s, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, and Yoplait. We’ve already read that high fructose corn syrup can contribute to obesity and diabetes. With this recent scare, will people take a turn away from processed foods to more natural eating habits? Or have processed foods become an irreplaceable part of the American diet?

Source: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/

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