spinach

  1. The double standard on food safety

    When raw milk is even suspected of containing bacteria -- even when no one has been sickened -- the feds trumpet it as proof positive that all fresh dairy everywhere is dangerous.

    It's pure nonsense, as I just told you.

    The government's own numbers show you're far more likely to get ill from eating foods like spinach and meat than raw milk -- but when those foods are found crawling with bacterial filth, you don't hear boo from health officials.

    They're too busy covering it up!

    In late December, for example, the feds quietly recalled 228,360 pounds of spinach contaminated with potentially deadly E.coli O157:H7 with NO PUBLIC NOTICE at all.

    They didn't mention it for more than a month -- and when they finally did, it was in a fine-print notice hidden deep inside a long list of federal announcements.

    Shocking? Not at all -- this kind of thing happens all the time. But that's not the only way the feds protect big food processors.

    Just a couple of months ago, 68 people were sickened and at least 20 were hospitalized after a bacterial outbreak in 10 states linked to a salmonella outbreak at Taco Bell.

    But the CDC refused to name Taco Bell in its report. It was only listed as "restaurant A."

    The feds did everything they could to protect Taco Bell despite the fact that the company is a serial offender, linked to at least three outbreaks in the past six years.

    On the other hand, my outrage on this one only goes so far. If you eat at Taco Bell, you're pretty much asking for it in the first place.

    The contaminated produce is another story, because unless you have your own farm, you have to rely on the supermarket to feed your family. To keep yourself protected from this kind of contamination, I suggest soaking all fruits and vegetables in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide for at least 20 minutes and then rinsing with water.

    Don't worry -- you won't taste it a bit.

  2. FDA approves irradiated produce

    FDA approves irradiated produce

    Does your salad glow in the dark? You might want to hit the lights and check, because for the first time ever, the FDA is allowing fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce to be zapped with radiation in order to kill bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.

    Puts a whole new spin on "nuking" your food, doesn't it? The goal, as with most wrongheaded ideas, is to "protect" consumers. And as usual, the FDA has chosen incorrectly. Are you surprised?

    After years of being on the fence about food radiation, I re-examined my stance back in 2003 and did some in-depth research on the issue. What I saw wasn't pretty. The fact is, irradiation turns even the most nutritious foods into junk foods. While it's true that the process kills the fungi, parasites, and bacteria that can cause spoilage and disease, this it also obliterates the good stuff in food, too. These discoveries put me squarely in the anti- irradiation camp. And I've been there ever since.

    Luckily, I'm not alone. Many food safety advocates have also bashed the FDA's decision to allow produce irradiation, pointing out - as I did years ago - that it decreases the taste and nutritional value.

    Of course, the FDA has taken the polar opposite side of the argument.

    Dr. Laura Tarantino, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, said irradiation made no significant nutritional or safety changes to spinach or lettuce.

    The FDA's announcement of this decision comes hard on the heels of this summer's nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Saint Paul, which sickened hundreds. Of course, the source of this most recent outbreak was traced to a farm in Mexico where they won't be irradiating the produce.

    So I guess the FDA wants to ensure that only domestic produce is rendered nutritionally empty, tasteless, and possibly toxic. Nice.

    What's more, the studies conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have found that many of the outbreaks and sickness associated with tainted produce are the result of viruses which CAN'T BE KILLED by the irradiation process. So irradiation is a double whammy - useless AND dangerous!

    Unfortunately, the awful process of irradiating food is nothing new. For years, the FDA has allowed the irradiation of beef, poultry, eggs, spices, and even oysters. But the market is small because these foods need to carry labels that let consumers know they've been exposed to high doses of radiation.

    As a result, people tend to steer clear. Because even though the public at large may not know the details of just how bad irradiation is for food - they know it doesn't sound natural. Consumers are never as stupid as the high-and-mighty FDA would like to believe they are.

    But the FDA, in its infinite stupidity, is said to be considering downgrading or removing the labeling requirement on irradiated food.

    Now you know I always err on the side of natural first. So what I wonder is why the FDA would opt to let food processors zap food with a shocking amount of radiation when there are natural solutions to the problem of food contaminates? According to Smith DeWaal of CSPI, the FDA "is choosing to have a high-tech, expensive solution to a problem that really starts on the farm."

    It's clear to me that the FDA has allowed Big Agriculture to install an expedient solution. The alternative would be for this sluggish and notoriously under-staffed bureaucracy to put its agents in the field and do the hard work of controlling food contamination the right way - at the source.

    Instead, the FDA took the easy route - as it often does - and our food will be less nutritious for it.

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