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According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, 17% of Americans say that they are on a diet. That's up from 14% ten years earlier. Over the same time period, obesity rates climbed to 42% of Americans, up from 34%. The takeaway? At least we're aware of our growing waistlines. Now, if only dieting could help the situation more.
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According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 3,000 additives are used in foods to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf life, among other functions. Some are simple ingredients like salt and sugar, while others are complex chemical compounds such as acesulfame potassium. In a new review, Consumer Reports weighs the pros and cons of FDA approved additives such as carrageenan, nitrites, phosphorus, and various artificial sweeteners. subscription model
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The City Council of Berkeley, California, passed an ordinance preventing grocery stores from stocking candy and soda in checkout lines, and encouraging them to stock fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Under the ordinance, the first of its kind, grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet cannot sell products with more than five grams of added sugars or 250 milligrams of sodium per serving at checkout aisles, where junk food is often at the eye level of children. The new ordinance goes into effect March 1, 2021.
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A recent peer-reviewed study published in JAMA Oncology followed 1,171 colon cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Researchers found that those who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day were more likely to live longer than those who did not drink coffee. Patients who drank more than three cups a day had an even greater likelihood of longer survival, and results held true for both caffeinated and de-caffeinated coffee drinkers.
According to Chinese authorities, samples of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil to Shenzhen as well as the outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in Xi’an have both tested positive for the novel coronavirus. In response to the finding, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement with the reminder that “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also stated “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging.” Brazil’s Aurora meat company that sold the chicken said they were never formally notified of the contamination by Chinese authorities. For the past several months, China has screened all meat and seafood entering major ports, and since June it has suspended meat imports from places like Brazil. Countering the WHO and FDA statements, Li Fengqin, head of the microbiology lab at the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, said that the chance of new infections from contaminated frozen food should not be ignored. Fengquin linked an outbreak in June to the popular Beijing food market, Xinfadi, where the virus was traced to imported salmon. In its latest update to that outbreak’s investigation, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it still has not determined how the virus made its way to the Xinfadi market.
A recent peer-reviewed study analyzed pesticide levels in four American families for six days while they were on a non-organic diet and then six days on an entirely organic diet. The switch to an organic diet reduced levels of a common weedkiller, glyphosate, by 70% in those six days. In 1983, the Environmental Protection Agency listed glyphosate as a potential carcinogen, but aggressive marketing of Roundup (the most popular brand of glyphosate) to farmers and homeowners has only increased its use since. Since the 1970s, the percentage of the U.S. population with detectable amounts of glyphosate in its blood has skyrocketed from 12% to 70% in 2014. In the new study, researchers detected glyphosate in every participant, including four-year-old children.
After the World Health Organization also determined that glyphosate is a likely carcinogen, thousands of farmers, pesticide applicators, and home gardeners filed lawsuits linking their diagnosed cancers to Roundup use. The first three of those cases settled in favor of the plaintiffs, leaving Bayer (Roundup’s new owner after it purchased the previous owner, Monsanto, two years ago) with $2 billion in damages to pay. Despite Bayer agreeing to pay a total of $10 billion in settlements for another 95,000 cases, the company was granted permission in a recent court case to continue selling Roundup. Under the terms of the settlement, glyphosate will still be sold for use on yards, school grounds, public parks, and farms without a safety warning. The European Union announced this summer its plan to cut pesticide use in half by 2030 and a move to make at least 25% of its agriculture organic. However, glyphosate use in the U.S. is increasing, and the new study’s researchers emphasize the importance of organic food in reducing the body’s levels of the potential carcinogen, particularly among children.
The Bluegrass Provisions Co. of Crescent Springs, Kentucky has produced and distributed sausage products with a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, according to the Department of Agriculture. Listeria is a disease-causing bacteria, and if consumed it can have harmful effects such as listeriosis, an infection that primarily affects older adults, and severe illness in those who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems. The following 14 ounce, 6-piece packages are included in the USDA health alert: “BLUE GRASS METTWURST”, “WALNUT CREEK FOODS Smoked Sausage”, Lidl “SMOKED BRATWURST”, and Lidl “SMOKED BRATWURST WITH CHEESE, all with a freeze-by date of July 23rd, 2020.
Red onions that were potentially contaminated with salmonella were shipped to all 50 states as well as Canada, according to health officials. Last Saturday, Thomson International in Bakersfield, California, recalled all red, white, yellow and sweet yellow onions shipped from May 1 to the present due to concerns of contamination according to the Food and Drug Administration. Onions were sold in cartons and mesh sacks with brand names including Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Kroger, Food Lion, Hartley’s Best, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Imperial Fresh, Onions 52, Majestic and Utah Onions. Packaging photos of the onions can be found on the FDA’s website. The FDA teamed up with the CDC to investigate whether an outbreak of salmonella newport infections could have been connected to the onions. As of now, the FDA has not found a source of contamination. According to the CDC, officials have reported 640 illnesses and 85 hospitalizations in 43 states, and no reported deaths.
Walmart, Kroger, Publix, and Giant Eagle grocery stores across the U.S. have also recalled at least 50 ready-to-eat products that contain the onions, including salads, pizzas and hoagies.
About 38,400 pounds of ground beef has been recalled due to its failure to be presented for U.S. import re-inspection. The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced JBS Food Canada ULC is recalling the “raw, frozen, boneless beef head meat items” imported on July 13 and “further processed by another company into ground beef products.” The recalled meat came in 80-pound boxes with eight 10-pound chubs of “Balter Meat Company 73/27 ground beef” with “Use by/Freeze by” dates of Aug. 9 or Aug. 10. Pack dates read “072020, 072120 or 072220.” The recall has been classified as a “Class 1” recall by the USDA, defined as a “health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”