Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Reason To #EatOrganic

OJ Fungicide Results Come In, FDA Says 11 Samples Tested Positive For Carbendazim 

In the middle of July, the FDA ignited a firestorm in the normally placid orange juice industry when it announced that it would halt imports of foreign OJ due to possible contamination by carbendazim, a widely used fungicide that's been banned for use on oranges in the U.S. since 2009. It quickly became clear that the FDA did not consider the fungicide levels an imminent threat, calming some fears, and orange juice from Canada was approved for entry almost immediately. But the testing continued.
A big batch of fungicide test results came in at the end of last week. It seems as thought the state of affairs could be worse. Of the 40 samples that have been tested so far, 29 came back negative for carbendazim. That leaves 11 samples that came back positive.
Six out of the 11 were sourced from Canada, and the rest were from Brazil, though Food Safety News noted that most of the OJ imported from Canada is actually originally from Brazil. (You can't grow oranges in Canada's frosty climate.) The good news is that even the positive tests indicated that fungicide levels are not high enough to cause harm to human health.
FDA spokesperson Siobhan Delancey explained the fate of the positive samples in an email to the Huffington Post:
We tested 11 samples (one sample per shipment) but two of those (Citri Agroindustrial and Sucocitro Cutrale) withdrew their shipments and took them back. The other nine shipments are in detention, and the companies have 90 days to either arrange for shipping back or for destruction. If they choose to make arrangements for destruction, FDA witnesses it to ensure it was done.

Now that those companies are on import alert, any shipments will be "detained without physical examination," meaning that they go into detention automatically, until they can demonstrate that they are in compliance with our regulations (i.e, no carbendazim).
That said, the FDA has no plans to recall any orange juice that's already made it to store shelves. It will only do so if it finds a sample with at least 80 parts per billion of the fungicide. So far, the highest concentration discovered has been 52 parts per billion.
The next major round of test results will be released on this Friday, February 3rd.
Until then, below is the list of all companies whose orange juice has tested positive. Several of these companies had more than one sample test positive, though we repeat that none of the juice has been found to contain dangerous levels of the fungicide:
  • Citri Agroindustrial S/A (Brazil)
  • Sucocitrico Cutrale LTDA (Brazil)
  • A. Lassonde Inc. (Canada)
  • Nestle Professional Vitality (Canada)
  • Sun Pac Foods Ltd (Canada) 
  • Super Pufft (Canada) 
- Joe Satran 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Artichoke

Artichoke is a winter season edible flower bud of the Mediterranean region known since ancient times for its medicinal and health benefiting qualities. Botanically it belongs to the thistle family of Asteraceae, of the genus; Cynara. The scientific name is Cyanara scolymus

Artichoke contains the flavanoid Cynarin, which reduces cholesterol production by the liver and expels sluggish cholesterol out of the liver and gallbladder, thus stimulating liver bile production and flow, which in turn is used to breakdown fat.  It lowers elevated blood lipids (fats) such as serum cholesterol and triglycerides.  It raises good HDL cholesterol level and protects the liver and enhances liver function. Cynarin is reputed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. - Nutrition & You

Chemical Food Additive Of The Week - Acesulfame K

A Brief History: 
A chemical derived from acetoacetic acid, acesulfame K (or acesulfame potassium) discovered by Karl Clauss in 1967. It adds sweetness to foods without calories or fat. It is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and is marketed as as Sweet One and Sunett. The human body cannot metabolize it, making it calorie-free. 

Dangerous Components: 
Methylene chloride is used as a solvent in the manufacturing of acesulfame K. In other industries, methylene chloride is most often used as a paint stripper, a degreaser and as a propellant agent. It has applications in the food industry, such as decaffeinating coffee and tea.
Side Effects: 
Long-term exposure to Methylene Chloride in Acesulfame K may cause headaches, depression, mental confusion, liver and kidney complications, nausea, vision issues and cancer. 
Acesulfame K stimulates the release of insulin and exacerbates feelings of low blood sugar. As with other artificial sweeteners, it may confuse your body's satiety signals and cause you to eat more. It also may trigger cravings for excessively sweet products. 

The Fruit Of The Week - Apple

Apples are obtained from a medium sized tree belonging to the rosaceae family. Apples scientific name is Malus domestica. The apple tree is originated in the mineral rich mountain ranges of Kazakhstan, and is now being cultivated in many parts of the world. 
Apples are rich in antioxidant phyto-nutrients flavonoids and polyphenols. The total measured anti-oxidant strength (ORAC value) of 100 g apple fruit is 5900 TE. One important flavonoid in Apples is Epicatechin. - Nutrition & You

Epicatechin lowers the risk of hypertension, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease by increasing nitric oxide activity within the body. Nitric oxide acts to dilate blood vessels, hinder the formation of blood clots and prevent the accumulation of white blood cells on the inner lining of blood vessels. These processes improve blood flow and reduce blood vessel injury. - Livestrong

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Reason To #EatOrganic

McDonald's Finally Ditches 'Pink Slime' In Burger Recipe 
McDonald's said this week that it was no longer using the controversial ground beef additive known as "pink slime" in its hamburger recipe. Taco Bell and Burger King have also reportedly repudiated the "slime," which consists of spare beef trimmings that have been treated with ammonium hydroxide to make them safe and at least semi-palatable.
The move came after "Food Revolution" and "Naked Chef" star Jamie Oliver made public calls for chains to abandon the "slime," which has been manufactured by Beef Products Inc since 2001. Some are pointing to his advocacy as a central factor behind McDonald's decision.
Even if Oliver was the most prominent critic of "pink slime," though, he wasn't alone. The New York Times raised serious doubts about "pink slime" in a 2009 investigation of the product. It was also criticized in the 2010 documentary "Food Inc."
Part of the criticism stems from a general sense of disgust. People don't like hearing that they're eating spare trimmings of beef from strange parts of a cow. Nor, for that matter, do people like to hear that they're eating ammonia.
The USDA, for its part, approved of the ammoniated beef trimmings. In 2007, when it mandated increased testing for most ground beef, it specifically exempted "pink slime," even though the ammoniated beef comes from the parts of the cow most likely to harbor pathogens. The USDA argued that the beef's ammonia treatment would kill any bacteria lingering in the beef.
And there's some evidence that the USDA wasn't wrong to call "pink slime" safe. Indeed, a Jan. 9 editorial in Food Safety News argued that the public backlash against pink slime had more to do with fear-mongering on the part of figures like Oliver than with any rational assessment of the product itself.
That said, the Times found evidence that linked Beef Products' ammoniated beef to dozens of cases of salmonella and E. coli, so there's at least a fighting chance that it's less safe than conventional beef. Moreover, using "pink slime" only cuts the price of ground beef by about three cents a pound. Aren't you willing to pay less than a penny more for your quarter-pounder to avoid gambling with your health? - Joe Satran

Brief History of Organic Agriculture

Organic production has been practiced in the United States since the late 1940s. From that time, the industry has grown from experimental garden plots to large farms with surplus products sold under a special organic label. Food manufacturers have developed organic processed products and many retail marketing chains specialize in the sale of "organic" products. This growth stimulated a need for verification that products are indeed produced according to certain standards. Thus, the organic certification industry also evolved.
More than 40 private organizations and state agencies (certifiers) currently certify organic food, but their standards for growing and labeling organic food may differ. For example, some agencies may permit or prohibit different pesticides or fertilizers in growing organic food. In addition, the language contained in seals, labels, and logos approved by organic certifiers may differ. By the late 1980s, after an attempt to develop a consensus of production and certification standards, the organic industry petitioned Congress to draft the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) defining "organic". 
The National Standards on Organic Agricultural Production and Handling (NOP rule) was issued on December 21, 2000, by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.  The standards in the NOP rule are similar to most of the standards organic producers and handlers currently use, and are intended to be flexible enough to accommodate the wide range of operations and products grown and raised in every region of the United States. The Organic Foods Production Act and the NOP rule require that agricultural products labeled as organic originate from farms or handling operations certified by a state or private agency that has been accredited by USDA. Neither the Organic Foods Production Act nor the NOP rule address food safety or nutrition. - EPA 

Here Are Some Of The Common Toxins In Foods

Acesulfame K 
Sugar substitute found in pudding, chewing gum, non-dairy creamers, instant coffee mixes, tea mixes and gelatin desserts. May increase cancer in humans. 
Genetically Modified, synthetic sugar substitute. People report dizziness, headaches and even seizures. Scientists believe it can alter behavior due to altered brain function. Long term effects of this genetically modified organism on human health has not been studied or tested. Found as a sweetener in foods and some body products, such as shaving gel.
Banned in other countries, these two preservatives are considered carcinogenic but remain in U.S. manufactured foods that contain oil as they retard rancidity. Found in foods and body products. 
Coal Tar Dyes – (includes D&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 33, etc.) 
Even though their carcinogenicity has recently been proven, the 1938 Act includes a specific exemption for them. Severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, nervousness, increased risk of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Found in bubble bath, hair dye, dandruff shampoo, toothpaste and foods. 
An additive that tastes like butter causes a serious lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn workers’ lung. Found in foods, especially microwave popcorn. 
High Fructose Corn Syrup/HFCS
High fructose consumption has been fingered as a causative factor in heart disease. It raises blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. It makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process. 
Monosodium Glutamate/MSG 
MSG is an excitotoxin, which causes nerve damage and allergic reactions. Found in hundreds of foods, often under other names. 
Neotame is a reformulated aspartame that will require smaller amounts than aspartame to achieve the same sweetness. Neotame, like aspartame, contains aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther. Animal studies reveal aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion. People who are sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) experience similar reactions to aspartame, and people who are sensitive to aspartame experience similar reactions to MSG. People who currently react to MSG and/or aspartame should expect to react similarly to Neotame. Found in soft drinks, pharmaceuticals, processed foods of all kinds. 
While fat-free, this additive has a fatal side effect: it attaches to valuable nutrients and flushes them out of the body. Some of these nutrients, called carotenoids, appear to protect us from such diseases as lung cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Olestra replaces fats in ‘fat-free’ foods .
Potassium Bromate 
An additive that increases the volume and crumb of bread, is banned worldwide except in the U.S. and Japan. Considered carcinogenic. 
Propylene Glycol 
Kidney damage, liver abnormalities, inhibits skin cell growth, damages cell membranes causing rashes, surface damage and dry skin.
Absorbed into blood stream and travels to all organs. Many glycols produce severe acidosis, central nervous system damage and congestion. Can cause convulsions, mutations, and surface EEG changes. It is derived from petroleum products. The Material Safety Data Sheets on propylene glycol warns against contact with eyes, skin and clothing. It also says inhalation can cause irritation of nasal passages, ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Research also shows that it alters cell membranes and causes cardiac arrest. Found in shaving gel, lotions, shampoo, conditioners, foods, deodorant. 
Sodium Nitrite
Makes meat look red rather than gray, and gives meat an overly long shelf life of months. Clinically proven to cause leukemia, brain tumors and other forms of cancer. - Pure Zing
Ill elaborate on these Toxins more later on...

Standards for Organic Meat & Dairy

Poultry: Poultry products must be from poultry that has been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life.
Milk: Or milk products must be from animals that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than 1 year prior to the production of the milk or milk products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic.
The producer of an organic livestock farm must provide livestock with a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage, that are organically produced and handled.

The producer of organic livestock MUST NOT, use animal drugs, including hormones, to promote growth.
Provide feed supplements or additives in amounts above those needed for adequate nutrition and health maintenance for the species at its specific stage of life.
They CANNOT feed livestock plastic pellets for roughage, feed formulas containing urea or manure and/or feed mammalian or poultry slaughter by-products to mammals or poultry. - USDA

What is Organic?

"Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used." - USDA