On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will withdraw its approval for three chemicals used to make grease, stain, and water repelling food packaging and consider banning seven food additives used in both “artificial” and “natural” flavors. While the news may have gotten lost during the first post-holiday weekday, it’s worth noting. And it raises much larger questions about one of the agencies with the most control over the safety of what we eat. Here’s what you need to know. Read more
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This story was written and originally published by Reveal, a new public radio show and podcast from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Learn more at revealnews.org.
This looks like a humble black work boot with a filthy white sock over it. But it actually is a secret weapon in the fight against salmonella, a microscopic bacteria that can make people sick.
It’s one of many things farmers in Denmark have started doing since surging human illnesses prompted the country to no longer tolerate the bacteria in its chicken. It’s pretty simple: Danish farmers wear the socks over their boots when they’re in chicken houses to gather samples of the bacteria in the chickens’ poop. Read more
Food forests and edible landscapes are popping up in cities all over the nation, leading to a kind of urban foraging renaissance. But should foragers be worried about lead and other heavy metals in the food they’re finding?
Researchers at Wellesley College recently teamed up with Boston’s League of Urban Canners (LUrC) to find out. LUrC members frequently forage for food in Boston-area fruit orchards, and when one of their members tested high for blood lead levels recently, the group turned to Dan Brabander, a geoscience professor at Wellesley College, for answers. Read more
If you buy bread in Toronto, Paris, or Rio de Janeiro, it cannot by law contain the chemical potassium bromate. Yet if you eat baked goods in the U.S., you may be eating this substance unknowingly. Potassium bromate is used to whiten and strengthen dough, to reduce mixing time and enhance rising—but it was also classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a possible human carcinogen in 1999 after it was found to cause kidney and thyroid tumors in lab rats. Read more
Fertilizing crops with biosolids—a combination of human, commercial, and industrial wastes otherwise known by critics as “sewage sludge”—is a common but controversial practice.
On the one hand, municipalities argue, it is much more environmentally sound to recycle nutrients that would otherwise be sent to landfills. The use of these fertilizers also cuts down on the amount of man-made fertilizers needed to boost crops and keep soils healthy. Read more
Salad greens have been getting a bad wrap in the news lately. Not only are pre-cut greens notoriously risky from a food safety perspective (Since the 2006 E. coli outbreak, all bagged lettuce now gets triple washed, but a 2010 Consumer Reports study says that spinach and other greens still harbor dangerous bacteria), but they also require considerably more water and other resources than head lettuce. Worst of all: A great deal of it goes to waste. According to the Washington Post, as much as 1 billion pounds go to waste every year. Read more
Move fast and break things. That’s a phrase famously used by Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, which has also become a slogan adopted across Silicon Valley, where CEOs espouse the philosophy that every imperfect idea will show its true nature over time and making mistakes can be the only way to move forward. Read more
International trade agreements may seem like a long way from what you’re making for dinner. But the two agreements on the table this spring–the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—could have a profound impact on the food we eat.
The agreements have been negotiated behind closed doors and could be submitted to Congress soon. In the case of the TPP, it could even happen this week. If Congress approves what’s called “fast-track” authority, the agreements would have to be voted on as is–without any changes. And just this morning, Reuters reported that the U.S. lost its appeal to the WTO for repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for meat.
Civil Eats spoke to experts to find out what consumers need to know about these agreements. Read more
Chances are high that you or someone in your family has at least one piece of nonstick cookware in the kitchen. And if you eat take-out food, you’ve probably encountered packaging treated to resist grease, oil, and moisture. What this means is that it’s extremely likely that highly fluorinated chemicals—which are specially engineered to create these durable coatings—are part of your everyday life. Read more
Over the past two weeks, grocery stores in every region of the United States and Canada have been taking frozen organic spinach–and a host of products ranging from frozen dinners to spinach dip–off their shelves. All the spinach in question, which may have been contaminated with Listeria, comes from a single California-based vegetable processing company. Read more