Category Archives: Food Safety

McDonald’s serving up ‘restructured meat technology’ – you want fries with that?

naturalnews.com | Dec 22, 2012

by J. D. Heyes

mcdonalds(NaturalNews) Well, it’s that time of year again when McDonald’s rolls out its venerable McRib sandwich. Tens of millions of Americans will purchase one – or, judging by the nation’s ever-widening belt line, several – but most will do so without knowing all they should know about this popular sandwich.

Besides high caloric content, there are several other reasons why you should avoid the McRib, a boneless pork product smothered in BBQ sauce that famously resembles a rack of ribs, as much as you avoid most of the other “delicacies” served by this fast-food behemoth. In addition, The Blaze reports, there are several “fun facts” about the sandwich you may not have known:

A sandwich ‘built’ from scratch?: The McRib is a product of Rene Arend, who came up with the idea and design of the sandwich. That said, Richard Mandigo, a professor from the University of Nebraska, who developed the “restructured meat product” that the McRib is actually made of.

According to Chicago magazine, citing a 1995 article by Mandigo, “restructured meat product” is described thusly:

Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a “glue” which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a “meat log” of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts. … Such products as tripe, heart, and scalded stomachs are high in protein, completely edible, wholesome, and nutritious, and most are already used in sausage without objection.

Still hungry?

Packed with calories – and ingredients: In a time of labeling, when government entities and the public are pushing for more disclosure, the package for the McRib would have to grow just to list all of its ingredients.

According to the current box labeling, the sandwich consists of just five basic components – a pork patty and BBQ sauce with pickle slices, onions and a sesame bun.

But, as Time magazine points out, a closer examination of McDonald’s own list of ingredients reveals that the sandwich contains a total of 70 ingredients, including azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching component that is often used to produce foamed plastics (think gym mats and the soles of shoes). In fact, “the compound is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive,” says Time. Other ingredients include ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80.

Besides, the sandwich itself contains an incredible amount of calories – 500 at least – along with 26 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 980 milligrams of sodium, nearly half the recommended daily amount of about 2,400 milligrams.

Not a good choice for your heart: The ingredients, combined with a dose of 10 mg of saturated fat (nearly half of the recommended daily allowance), make the McRib an enemy of a healthy heart, say the experts.

“Think about that for a second: When you eat a McRib, you’re eating the same chemical ingredients and compounds in those disgusting yoga mats at the gym. And that’s on top of the fact that it tastes terrible in the first place,” writes Rick Paulas, food editor for KCET, a public television network in southern California. “Which means it’s time to ask: Why are we still eating this?”

That’s a very valid question. In the meantime, that sound you hear is the further tightening of the nation’s belt line.

Nalco’s Corexit Dispersant Makes Oil 52 Times More Toxic

corexit spraying

LiveScience | Nov 30, 2012

by Douglas Main

For microscopic animals living in the Gulf, even worse than the toxic oil released during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster may be the very oil dispersants used to clean it up, a new study finds.

More than 2 million gallons (7.5 million liters) of oil dispersants called Corexit 9527A and 9500A were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to prevent oil from reaching shore and to help it degrade more quickly.

However, when oil and Corexit are combined, the mixture becomes up to 52 times more toxic than oil alone, according to a study published online this week in the journal Environmental Pollution.

“There is a synergistic interaction between crude oil and the dispersant that makes it more toxic,” said Terry Snell, a study co-author and biologist at Georgia Tech. Using dispersants breaks up the oil into small droplets and makes it less visible, but,  “on the other hand, makes it more toxic to the planktonic food chain,” Snell told LiveScience.

Toxic mixture

That mixture of dispersant and oil in the Gulf would’ve wreaked havoc on rotifers, which form the base of the marine food web, and their eggs in seafloor sediments, Snell said.

In the study, Snell and colleagues tested ratios of oil and dispersant found in the Gulf in 2010, using actual oil from the well that leaked in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the dispersant. The mixture was similarly toxic at the various ratios tested, the study found. His group exposed several varieties of rotifers to concentrations of the oil-dispersant mixture likely seen over a large area of the Gulf.

“The levels in the Gulf were toxic, and seriously toxic,” Snell said. “That probably put a big dent in the planktonic food web for some extended period of time, but nobody really made the measurements to figure out the impact.”

The dispersant makes the oil more deadly by decreasing the size of the droplets, making it more “bio-available” to small organisms, said Ian MacDonald, a researcher at Florida State University. “The effect is specifically a toxic synergy — the sum is worse than the parts,” said MacDonald, who was not involved in the research.

A cautionary tale

This is one of the first studies to look at the impact of the oil-dispersant mixture on plankton. A decline in populations of plankton could impact larger animals all the way up to whales, he said. In general, plankton can rebound quickly, although the toxicity to larvae in sediments is concerning, since it reduces the size of the next generation. This ocean-bottom oil slurry could have also impacted other species that spend part of their life cycles here like algae and crustaceans.

“This is an important study that adds badly needed data to help us better understand the effects of oil spills and oil spill remediation strategies, such as the use of dispersants,” said Stephen Klaine, an environmental toxicologist at Clemson University who wasn’t involved in the research. “Species’ differences in the sensitivity to any toxic compounds, including the ones in this discussion, can be huge.”

The results contrast with those released by the Environmental Protection Agency in August 2010. That study found that a mixture of oil and Corexit isn’t more toxic than oil alone to both a species of shrimp and species of fish. However, several studies have found the mixture is more toxic than oil to the embryos of several fish species. The EPA could not immediately be reached for comment.

“To date, EPA has done nothing but congratulate itself on how Corexit was used and avow they would do it the same way again,” MacDonald said.

However, Snell said the dispersant should not be used. It would be better to let the oil disperse on its own to minimize ecological damage, he said.

“This is a cautionary tale that we need to do the science before the emergency happens so we can make decisions that are fully informed,” Snell said. “In this case, the Corexit is simply there to make the oil disperse and go out of sight. But out of sight doesn’t mean it’s safe in regard to the food web.”

“It’s hard to sit by and not do something,” Snell said.”But in this case, doing something actually made it more toxic.”

Toxic Corexit Producer Nalco Dismissed From Lawsuits Over 2010 BP Spill

corexit

Nalco said the claims for exposure-related injuries were preempted by federal law

bloomberg.com | Nov 28, 2012

By Margaret Cronin Fisk

Ecolab Inc. (ECL)’s Nalco Holding Co. unit, which provided a chemical dispersant used to deal with the 2010 BP Plc (BP/) Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has been dismissed from lawsuits over the incident.

BP used the Nalco dispersant to break up oil and reduce the harm to the Gulf Coast following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010. Plaintiffs sued Nalco, claiming the dispersant, called Corexit, was defective and more toxic than the oil itself.

Nalco said the claims for exposure-related injuries were preempted by federal law giving the government authority to direct all actions to remove a substantial spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans agreed, finding today that the claims were preempted by the U.S. Clean Water Act and the National Contingency Plan, which put the government in charge of the response.

“Nalco did not decide whether, when, where, how or in what quantities Corexit was applied in response to the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo Well oil spill,” Barbier said in a 36-page opinion today.

Barbier also said allowing such claims might harm an all- out response to future spills.

“If the court were to permit” the claims against Corexit, even if the product was found to be defective or dangerous, “then during the next substantial spill or ‘spill of national significance,’ the threat of liability might cause the manufacturer of dispersant X to refuse to provide its product,” Barbier said.
‘We’re Ecstatic’

Barbier said he wasn’t considering whether Corexit was toxic or defective, just that the claims against Nalco had to be dismissed as a matter of law.

“We’re ecstatic,” Michael J. Monahan, spokesman for St. Paul, Minnesota-based Ecolab, said today. “Its a vindication of the position we’ve had all along,” he said in a phone interview.

Steve Herman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail for comment on the dismissal.

The lawsuit is part of In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

Agenda 21 – GMO Poison Documentary: Deteriorating health of Americans linked to Genetically Modified foods

When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generations were put at risk by an infant technology.

After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves.

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.

Youtube | Nov 9, 2012  by DocumentaryFeast

Agenda 21 – GMO Poison (Full Documentary) (1/2)

Agenda 21 – GMO Poison (Documentary) (2/2)

Japanese farmers pray for radiation-free rice


Photo credit: AP | Toraaki Ogata drives a tractor to plant rice saplings in a paddy field in northeastern Japan. Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Ogata is back at his rice paddies, 35 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, driving his tractor trailing neat rows of saplings. (May 21, 2012)

Associated Press | May 28, 2012

By YURI KAGEYAMA

FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Toraaki Ogata is back at his rice paddies, driving his tractor, trailing neat rows of seedlings.

He’s living up to his family’s proud, six-generation history of rice farming, and praying that this time his harvest will not have too much radiation to sell.

That conflict is shared by several thousand farmers in more than 17,000 acres of Fukushima, where some of last year’s harvest exceeded government safety standards because of radiation released when the March 2011 tsunami set off the world’s second-worst nuclear accident.

For their rice to be sold, it will have to be tested — every grain of it.

“All I can do is pray there will be no radiation,” Ogata, 58, said last week, wiping his sweat during a break in his 3.7-acre paddy 35 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. “It’s not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled.”

Rice farming is almost sacred in rural Japan, and the government protects farmers with tight restrictions on imports. Many farmers are too close to the nuclear disaster to return to the fields, but others have gotten the go-ahead, even with the risk their harvests may end up being too radiated to ship.

Hopes are high in this major agricultural northeastern state that farmers will meet the unprecedented challenge of producing safe-to-eat rice in contaminated soil.

Following orders from the government, they have sprinkled zeolite, a pebble-like material that traps radioactive cesium, and added fertilizer with potassium to help block radiation absorption. That work is part of the $1.3 billion Tokyo has allocated for decontamination efforts this year.

There had been no time for that last year. Tens of thousands of bags of rice from that harvest were too radiated to be sold. The government bought those crops, which sit in giant mounds in storage.

Rice planting has been banned in the most contaminated areas, but the government allowed it at some farms in areas that produced contaminated rice last year, including Ogata’s. After the October harvest, their rice will be run through special machines that can detect the tiniest speck of radiation.

Ogata is filled with uncertainty. Though the government recently set up a system to buy and destroy his crop from last year, he has no assurances that it will do so again if this year’s rice can’t be eaten.

Radiation is expected to decline year by year. But Ogata and other farmers acknowledge they are in for a long haul.

Radioactive Tuna migrate from Fukushima Japan quake zone across Pacific to California

Levels of radioactive cesium considered safe to eat

MSNBC | May 28, 2012

By ALICIA CHANG

LOS ANGELES — Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away — the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

“We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Radioactive tuna travels from Japan to US faster than wind

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that’s still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.

But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.

One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.
Japan: Fukushima nuclear pool not unstable

Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances — ceisum-134 and cesium-137 — that were higher than in previous catches.

To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.

The results “are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research.

Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren’t able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.

“That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing,” Fisher said.

Pacific bluefin tuna are prized in Japan where a thin slice of the tender red meat prepared as sushi can fetch $24 per piece at top Tokyo restaurants. Japanese consume 80 percent of the world’s Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.

Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.

FDA proposes rules for nanotechnology in food

Associated Press | Apr 21, 2012

by MATTHEW PERRONE

WASHINGTON – (AP) — Regulators are proposing that food companies that want to use tiny engineered particles in their packaging may have to provide extra testing data to show the products are safe.

The Food and Drug Administration issued tentative guidelines Friday for food and cosmetic companies interested in using nanoparticles, which are measured in billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is 100,000 nanometers thick. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers thick.

The submicroscopic particles are increasingly showing up in FDA-regulated products like sunscreens, skin lotions and glare-reducing eyeglass coatings. Some scientists believe the technology will one day be used in medicine, but the FDA’s announcement did not address that use.

The draft guidance suggests the FDA may require food companies to provide data establishing the safety of any packaging using nanotechnology.

Under longstanding regulations, companies aren’t required to seek regulatory approval before launching products containing established ingredients and materials, such as caffeine, spices and various preservatives.

But FDA officials said Friday that foods and packaging containing nanoparticles may require more scrutiny.

“At this point, in terms of the science, we think it’s likely the exemption does not apply and we would encourage folks to come in and talk to us,” said Dennis Keefe, director of FDA’s office of food additive safety.

Keefe said companies are studying whether nanoparticles can reduce the risk of bacterial contamination in certain foods. He said the agency is aware of just one food package currently on the market that uses nanoparticles but did not identify it. He said more are expected in coming years.

The FDA has previously stated its position that nanotechnology is not inherently unsafe; however, materials at the nano scale can pose different safety issues than do things that are far larger.

“This is an emerging, evolving technology and we’re trying to get ahead of the curb to ensure the ingredients and substances are safe,” Keefe said.

In a separate guidance, the FDA laid out suggestions for the use of nanotechnology in cosmetics, a practice which has been in use since the 1990s. Nanoparticles are used in skin moisturizer, mineral make up and other cosmetics.

The FDA has less authority over cosmetics than food additives. Generally, the FDA does not review cosmetics before they launch, and companies are responsible for assuring the safety of their products.

The FDA will take comments on both proposals for 90 days. There is no deadline for finalizing the documents.