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In a new study, researchers analyzed 5 years of federal contamination data from nearly 40,000 samples of chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. Results showed that organic meat is 50% less likely to contain multidrug-resistant bacteria as conventionally grown and produced meat. That may not be surprising given that organic producers are prohibited from using antibiotics. However, the report also revealed that among so-called "split facilities" that process both organic and conventional products, all meat was 30% less likely to be contaminated compared to meat from conventional-only facilities. The new data helps document how drug-resistant bacterial contamination occurs not only at the farm but also in the meat processing supply chain, enabling processors to improve their sanitation standards.
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Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes USDA data to find the fruits and vegetables containing the most and least pesticide residues. This year, strawberries once again top the so-called "Dirty Dozen" list, along with spinach, kale, nectarines, and apples. While health agencies like the World Health Organization recommend avoiding excessive pesticide exposure, the solution isn't to stop eating good-for-you produce. Nutritionists say to choose organic for items on the Dirty Dozen list, since several studies have shown that organic produce contains fewer residues. Or lean more heavily on vegetables and fruits in EWG's "Clean Fifteen" list. This year, avocados top that list, joining sweet corn, pineapples, onions, and papayas. It's the perfect excuse to mash up a bowl of guacamole.
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A new US House Subcommittee report found that popular baby food brands like Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth's Best, Enfamil, and Similac contain high amounts of toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium. These metals can remain in the environment for decades from past pesticide and herbicide use, according to Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. The Food and Drug Administration considers these metals harmful to human health, and babies are particularly vulnerable due to their developing brains. The subcommittee's report said Earth's Best Organics used ingredients that tested as high as 309 parts per billion for arsenic, while Beech-Nut used ingredients testing as high as 913 ppb for arsenic, well over the FDA's 100 ppb limit. The companies claim the report cites outdated data, but Hansen recommends that concerned parents switch to fruits, vegetables, and grains pureed at home.
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Every 5 years, the USDA updates its dietary advice, which also directs funding for federal food and nutrition programs such as military rations and the School Lunch Program. An Advisory Committee studies the latest science and makes recommendations, this year including advice that Americans consume less than 6% of calories from added sugars and drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. The USDA sidestepped those suggestions in favor of earlier ones to limit added sugar to less than 10% of calories a day and daily alcohol to two drinks or less for men and one or less for women. Perhaps lawmakers saw the folly of telling people to cut back on cookies and alcohol during a global pandemic. But they also saw the wisdom of advising Americans on what babies should drink. The new guidelines are the first to recommend feeding only breast milk to infants for at least six months and feeding no added sugar to children younger than 2.
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A new study of 8,000 adults from 50 countries and every state in America found that 27% of participants gained weight since pandemic lockdowns began in March. Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana also found that 20% of participants experienced higher anxiety levels, and 44% said their sleep patterns had worsened. If you're feeling fat, agitated, and sleep-deprived, you're not alone. The upside? Researchers found that 17% of the study population actually lost weight during the pandemic, and 10% said their sleep had improved. If you're among those sleeping more, losing weight, and feeling great during the pandemic, count yourself lucky. And maybe show the rest of us how to do it.