The FDA finally released its BPA report. The good news is that the FDA now admits that BPA—the endocrine-disrupting, heart disease-causing ingredient in plastic food packaging and can linings—isn’t entirely safe (contradicting the agency’s statement from 2008 that it was), particularly for infants and children. The bad news? There’s not much the agency can do about it. Here are the immediate, limited steps the FDA feels it can take “to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply”: Read more

On Friday, leaders from the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislation to establish a federal ban on bisphenol A (BPA) in all food and beverage containers. The bills, which are identical, are sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Read more

Whenever the media reports an outbreak of Avian flu or Ebola, I invariably receive a flurry of panicked calls from patients wondering whether their cough or chill heralds San Francisco’s first case of that disease. While I can never be certain, geography alone allows me to offer a hefty dose of reassurance. Recent reports of salmonella-tainted peanut butter have generated a similar barrage of patient calls from anyone experiencing a stomach grumble.  Hopefully most of these calls represent nothing more than dyspepsia or a passing virus, however I feel less confident offering blanket reassurances.  Read more

As the U.S. faces continued peanut butter product food recalls and seven deaths due to the recent salmonella outbreak stemming from Georgia-based Peanut Corporation of America, other bad news about our failing food system broke in the heartland. Last week, University of Iowa researchers published the first study documenting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in swine and swine workers in the United States.
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Food contamination is a tricky subject, particularly for advocates of nutritious, real food.  This is because the problems of food safety always come down to a problem of unmanageable scale. Due to our nation’s belief in the economics of growth, proponents of the current food system are not receptive to alternatives, such as Michael Pollan’s recent suggestion to decentralize. Read more