Food Allergies? Beware!

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

A new study has come out claiming that many foods are not what they claim they are — they have been adulterated. Pomegranate juice was found to have unlabeled apple or grape juice in it, lemon juice was found to be mostly water, the list goes on.

This seems fairly harmless, even if annoying and illegal, until you realize that many Americans rely on food labels to keep them safe and healthy. If you have food allergies, ingesting even a little bit of a food you are allergic to can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hives, swelling, or even death. Unlabeled ingredients threaten the lives and health of everyone with food allergies.

If you have food allergies, and you experience an adverse (bad) reaction to a food, and you are in the USA, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Food Safety Tips

English: Template for Template:Food safety

English: Template for Template:Food safety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was recently sent some food safety tips to share with my blog readers. These tips are from Compliance and Safety, a company creating safety and training DVDs for the workplace. I’ve excerpted the ones I thought most useful, the rest can be read here.

Always wash your hands and, if needed, the food in question (even if it looks clean!).

  • Use clean water to rinse of fruits and vegetables which don’t need peeled.
  • Wash each lettuce leaf and grape pod individually.
  • Use soap and water for those which will be peeled.
  • Always wash all surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards that came in contact with raw meat and fish.

Keep sinks and counters clean, as clean as possible at all times.

Beware cross-contamination. Keep raw and cooked foods apart. Food safety must always be a priority.

New Peanut Butter Recall #foodsafety

You may have heard of the latest peanut butter recall, I had not until today. Many brands of peanut butter and other nut butters have been recalled, they were all produced at a single factory in New Mexico and were contaminated with salmonella. Many house (generic) brands were produced by this factory and labeled with the house label of the store they were sold at. You can find out if your brand of peanut butter is contaminated at the FDA’s website for food recalls.

Eggs Recalled

228 million eggs across the United States have been recalled because of salmonella. An Iowa producer, Wright County Egg, has announced the recall.

On one hand, my husband tells me it is impossible to feed the population of today with only local foods, that large-scale farming and distribution is a must. On the other hand, news like this makes me want to run to my nearest local egg producer and the farmers market, and buy all my food there. (Of course, thinking about the biggest local farmers market in my area proves my husband’s point, since most of the vendors there are either larger farms, or from the farming areas of the neighboring state, or both.)

I don’t think small-scale farmers are automatically immune to disease outbreaks, but there is something reassuring about knowing that the operation is small enough for the farmer to be hands-on with most, if not all, the crops growing there or animals being raised there.

I know vegan activists will make hay with this outbreak, insisting this is yet another sign that humans should give up eating all animal products. I am on the fence with veganism, and I haven’t given up all animal products yet. I think there is a way to raise animals humanely, although almost all animal raising nowadays does not meet that standard. I think also that humans need protein, and that it is too easy to get too much of the vegetable sources of protein.

But I did not start this post to write about veganism, or its perils and pitfalls. I started this post to let people know about the egg recall and to write a little bit about the perils of mass raising of animals for human consumption. People cannot expect to cram thousands or millions of living animals into tiny little spaces and have them be healthy.

Large-scale farming may be necessary to feed the world’s population, and animal protein may be necessary for human health, but there are better ways to do both than are currently practiced. I am also not convinced that we cannot farm a lot more on local scales, particularly for fruits and vegetables, than we do now.

I want to hear your thoughts on local food production and small-scale farming. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

It never ends

If it’s not one thing, it’s another, for humanity. Wheat rust, the former fungal scourge of wheat, is back. Defeated by the discovery of a gene that conferred immunity to the wheat carrying it (that also increased yields and ushered in the Green Revolution), wheat rust survived in a remote corner of Africa. It has spent the past forty years evolving the ability to infect wheat with the immunity gene.

Eleven years ago, researchers confirmed the existence of the new strain of wheat rust. It has now spread across eastern Africa, to South Africa and Yemen with seven different varieties. It spreads via the air, and is poised to enter Punjab and Australia, both huge wheat growing areas.

Scientists from several countries and organizations have now found several genes that, working together, will again confer immunity. But unlike last time, when the new seeds were also higher-yielding, the new seeds this time will reduce yields slightly. It is unlikely farmers will want to plant them. If they wait until their harvest is destroyed by rust, it will be too late.

There are places where famine has never gone away. But for most of the world, famine is a distant memory, carried away on an over-abundance of food. If the new varieties of seeds don’t work, or aren’t planted, famine will stalk the land again.

I read about this in the July 3rd edition of The Economist. I highly encourage you to read the entire article.

I am very discouraged by this article. Every time I think there might be news that means humanity just might survive the next century or so without reverting to Stone Age technology, then here comes more news that says, no, we’re out of luck (wheat rust, Asia urbanizing in a way that maximizes energy use and carbon dioxide emissions).

June FSIS Salmonella Results Up

I’ve put up the June results of the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service salmonella tests in chicken processing facilities. See my page of the FSIS results for more information.

May FSIS Salmonella Test Results Up

I’m sorry I’m a little late with these results this month, I’m afraid I was behind on my blogging when they came out.

I’ve put up the May 2010 results of the Food Safety and Information Service’s (part of the United States Department of Agriculture) Salmonella tests for broiler chickens in processing plants on this page. Find the originals here (but be forewarned, the site doesn’t archive so you can only see the current month’s results).

April 2010 FSIS Salmonella Test Results Available

I have put up the salmonella test results in broiler chicken processing plants for April 2010 from the Food Safety Inspection Service (part of the United States Department of Agriculture). View the page with the pdfs.

March FSIS Salmonella Test Results Available

The results from the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s March salmonella tests are now available. I have put them up on FSIS Salmonella Results.

February Salmonella Results

Once again, the salmonella test results are available from the Food Safety Inspection Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture.

I have put them up on my FSIS Salmonella Results page. The lists are slightly longer, I believe a couple companies have fallen down the ranks.

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