1 in 6 Americans become sick from foodborne illness each year, and like a norovirus infection, the blame is easy to spread around. Where does foodborne illness happen, and does it matter? Doug Powell of Barfblog (previously) notes that peer reviewed studies claim in-home food safety failures account for anywhere from 15 to 90% of food poisoning cases, which is enough variance to make anyone shrug. But what do we really know when it comes to foodborne illness? Read on for a stomach-turning romp through what food safety research tells us about a question as old as Ask Metafilter. [more inside]
How to ensure food and drink water safety during a flood or other natural disaster, courtesy of the FDA and the USDA.
Testing by Food Safety News has shown that more than 75% of the honey being sold in the United States does not qualify to be labeled for sale as "honey". [more inside]
But beyond the disgust element was another more important question concerning borax: was it actually safe to eat? This troubling issue was the reason why squad members were imbibing the compound at Christmas, the reason for the Poison Squad experiments themselves. Established by a famously outspoken, crusading chemist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Harvey Washington Wiley, the squads were also meant to answer another, larger question: were manufacturers actually poisoning the food supply?
From steroid-spiked pork to glow-in-the-dark meat to recycled cooking oil collected from sewers: China wrestles with food safety problems. 'China's food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre': 'In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie.' 'Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded "like landmines" after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.' 'Until recently, directions were circulating on the Internet about how to make fake eggs out of a gelatinous compound comprised mostly of sodium alginate, which is then poured into a shell made out of calcium carbonate. Companies marketing the kits promised that you could make a fake egg for one-quarter the price of a real one.' [more inside]
Combining two of Metafilter's favorite topics, Scientific American has an edited excerpt from Modernist Cuisine on the arbitrary and political nature of food safety guidelines. Yes, AskMetafilter, you can (probably) eat that!
bites "is a unique comprehensive resource for all those with a personal or professional interest in food safety. Dr. [Doug] Powell of Kansas State University, and associates, search out credible, current, evidence-based information on food safety and make it accessible to domestic and international audiences through multiple media. Sources of food safety information include government regulatory agencies, international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), peer-reviewed scientific publications, academia, recognized experts in the field and other sources as appropriate." (Description from website.) The folks responsible for bites also run the more entertainingly named barfblog.
A noted food contamination trial lawyer lobbies for legislation to enhance food safety with, among other things, a T-shirt encouraging Congress to put him out of business. William Marler, who has successfully litigated a number of food contamination cases involving children sickened by E. coli, salmonella and botulism, is supporting the passage of Senate legislation which would tighten food safety inspection procedures. Similar legislation passed the House earlier this year. Not everyone likes it -- and among the groups concerned are some local organic farmers and consumers.
Do you still have some leftovers from Christmas hiding in the back of your fridge? Are you wondering if you should eat it? This is a site dedicated to that very important question. [more inside]
The Bush administration has vowed that it will fight to keep meatpackers from voluntarily testing all of their cows for mad cow disease. Currently, the Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows. Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of their cows, but larger meat companies have objected, fearing that they might need to test their own cows to stay competitive. The Agriculture Department has also argued that potential false positives could harm the meat industry. Meanwhile, the president, under pressure from the cattle industry, is serving more beef to various visiting foreign statesemen and lamenting that mad cow fears are preventing the Chinese from enjoying American beef: “They need to be eating US beef. It's good for them. They'll like it.” When China rejects our food, shouldn’t we be worried?
Melamine found in almost half of all Chinese food imports now on the banned list. The Food and Drug Administration is enforcing a new import alert that greatly expands its curtailment of some food ingredients imported from China, authorizing border inspectors to detain ingredients used in everything from noodles to breakfast bars. The FDA has also announced that melamine laced products have found their way into the human consumption cycle via poultry and pork. Interesting to note that the budget for FDA inspections is at it's lowest level ever, and that only 1% of all imports actually get inspected.
So cute, I could just eat 'em right up! (pdf) Nothing's better for teaching your kids than a good activity book. Perhaps you prefer turkey or fish to veal. Before your delicious meal, practice food safety. And after, remember the importance of dental hygiene.
I know we're all contemplating leftovers today, so I thought some food safety music would be appropriate. Dr. Carl Winter's website includes lyrics, video clips, and streaming audio of such songs as "A Case of Norwalk", "Don't Get Sicky Wit It", "I Sprayed It On The Grapevine", and "Beware La Vaca Loca."
"It's safe to bite when the temperature is right!" "Thermy (TM) is the messenger of a national consumer education campaign designed to promote the use of food thermometers, developed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)." Have you ever used a food thermometer when cooking at home?
Let's end this newly formed urban legend now. The 'penis' in the Ora Potency Fruit Punch was just a fungus. At least quality control can keep body parts out.
Like the rest of Europe, Germany is going through a histrionic BSE scare. So Germans switched to sausage and pork. And then they were told pork contains anabolic steroids. So they switched to venison. And then they were told it might have BSE too. So the Germans, who hate veggies, are starting to "starve." And raid zoos for meat. Hey, where'd all this paté come from?