Wednesday, February 29, 2012

U.S. Lags European Countries in Fighting Food Fraud, Related Health Risks

Where is the U.S. government... specifically the USDA and FDA... when it comes to protecting Americans from food fraud?  Conspicuously absent, compared to most European countries, it seems.

"'Food fraud' has been documented in fruit juice, olive oil, spices, vinegar, wine, spirits and maple syrup, and appears to pose a significant problem in the seafood industry.  Victims range from the shopper at the local supermarket to multimillion companies," per the Washington Post

Contrast the U.S. government's shielding of product sales over consumer protections with strike actions taken jointly in late 2011 by ten countries: Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Under the auspices of Interpol-Europol,  police, judges, customs agents, and food regulatory officials in the ten countries enforced Operation Opson during the week of November 28, 2011, by seizing "hundreds of tons of counterfeit, fake and substandard food and beverages, including champagne, cheese, olive oil and tea, across 10 countries in Europe."

Operation Opson seizures from stores and markets, airports and seaports included the following, per Europol:

  • 13,000 bottles of substandard olive oil
  • 30 tons of fake tomato sauce
  • 30,000 counterfeit candy bars
  • 5 tons of substandard fish and seafood
  • 77 kg. of counterfeit cheese
  • 12,000 bottles of substandard wine

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don't Blame Dr. Oz! Support Bill to Remove Arsenic from Apple Juice

Don't blame it on Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame, as the FDA certainly did. 

Aware of shoddy FDA standards for arsenic levels in most beverages but water, Dr. Oz paid for testing of apple juice by an independent toxicology laboratory.

And there it was: proof of high levels of arsenic, a deadly toxin, in popular, store-bought apple juices, the juice drink of choice of U.S. moms for their babies.

How did the FDA react?  With alarm for public safety? With expanded testing, to reconfirm
these dire results?

Nope. With an intimidating  letter to Dr. Oz, questioning his science and threatening to expose Dr. Oz as "irresponsible and misleading" if he aired the results on his daytime TV show.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beware the Bargain Bagel: Scary, Stealth Ingredients; Undisclosed Animal Products

I was chagrined when Ron, my husband, bought Stater Bros Country Harvest Blueberry Bagels last week.  They were the least expensive bagels on the local grocer's shelves, and budget matters in our home. He was proud to find a bona fide bargain, of course.... and with blueberries! 

My mistake. I'd included bagels on the shopping list, and forgot to be specific: fresh bagels from the store bakery or local bagelry.  At minimum, store-bought bagels made without additives or preservatives. (And made with whole grains, if possible.)

Real bagels made with real ingredients, not industrial-made food. Not fake food.

Ron's bargain bagels are a perfect example of modern industrial food, packed with additives, preservatives, dyes, and fillers to produce a cheap "bagel" with white-bread texture. 

Like Stater Bros Country Harvest Plain Bagels (pictured here), ingredients for the blueberry bagels include:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FDA Poised to Approve Genetically Modified Fish Despite Public Uproar

Ready to feast on the world's first fake salmon?

Hungry to savor the "first genetically modified animal approved for widespread commercial production and human food," in the  words of Dr. Anne Kapuscinski, Dartmouth College Professor of Environmental Studies?

If YES, then 2012 might be your lucky gastronomic year, as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is quite anxious to approve AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon... dubbed "Frankenfish" by its many critics... and the FDA apparently doesn't give a damn what the public thinks.  

About GMO Salmon
Briefly, AquaBounty Technologies has engineered a fast-growing Atlantic salmon by "artificially combining growth hormones from an unrelated Pacific salmon with DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eelpout. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Scam in America

Olive experts estimate that between 50% and 80% of extra virgin olive oil in U.S. grocery markets is not really extra virgin.  In fact, much of the olive oil sold to Americans isn't even produced from olives... and is purposely mislabelled.

Further, the USDA is fully aware of this ongoing fraud, yet has failed for years to notify the public and has done precious little to deter the great olive oil hoax.

Chris Kimball, founder of America's Test Kitchens, recently commented on his weekly radio show, "EVOO clearly doesn't mean anything since most EVOO in American markets are not extra virgin...." He added that buying olive oil in grocery stores is "a complete crapshoot."

Here's the deal in a nutshell: the U.S. retail market for olive oil is largely unregulated, thereby allowing European olive growers to freely dump their crummiest-quality crops in the U.S., usually in fancy, high-priced bottles with impressive labels to attract naive buyers.