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Posts Tagged ‘safety’

The more I learn about what’s in our food, the more concerned, and outraged I get. I spent this morning immersed in Friends of the Earth‘s report on ‘Out of the Laboratory and onto our Plates: Nanotechnology in Food & Agriculture’. Scary stuff! Consider this:

Friends of the Earth’s new report finds that untested nanotechnology is being used in more than 100 food products, food packaging and contact materials currently on the shelf, without warning or FDA testing . . .

‘Nanofood’ describes food which has been cultivated, produced, processed or packaged using nanotechnology techniques or tools, or food to which manufactured nanomaterials have been added.
Nanomaterials can be used as more potent food colorings, flavorings and nutritional additives, antibacterial ingredients for food packaging, and more potent agrochemicals and fertilizers.  For example, nanomaterials can be in the packaging around your crackers, provide the color of the meat you buy, and supply the added nutrients in the shake you feed to your toddler . . .

Nanomaterials are an untested new technology and not well researched. The long term repercussions of using them in our food are not known. Nanoparticles have been shown in preliminary studies to be more chemically reactive than larger particles and when they find their way into our bodies, they can potentially wreak havoc. We also don’t know how much we can safely ingest without harm, but we do know that some studies have already shown that nanomaterials can adversely affect our immune system . . .

Nanofood - Friends of the Earth image
Nanofood – Friends of the Earth image

Here is the list of companies engaged in nanofood technology, many of them popular household names:

food-and-agriculture-companies-engaged-in-nanotechnology-rd

And the result is:

nanomaterials-in-foods-and-beveragesand this:

nanomaterials-in-food-packagingnanomaterials-in-food-packaging-02and this:

nanomaterials-in-food-additivesFor now, until the FDA and the USDA get their act together, it seems that we, the people, are  once more on our own, when it comes to food and our health. The good news is, there are a few actions we can take:

  • Avoid consuming highly processed foods and beverages
  • Favor organic whenever you can
  • Exercise your rights as a citizen and petition elected officials to ban nanofood altogether.
  • Circulate this article in the citizen media – Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc

Your health, and the health of your children is at stake.

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Too busy with the faltering economy, healthcare, global warming, and other pressing issues, U.S. legislators are putting food safety reforms on the backburner. That’s unfortunate, considering this recent statement from the Food and Drug Administration Science Board, that it can “no longer fulfill its mission without substantial and sustained additional appropriations.” I was shocked to learn that   only 1% of most imported food gets inspected. Also, the current legislation does not require food manufacturers to disclose sourcing for ingredients used in processed foods. The implication  is, unless sticking to natural, non processed, domestic foods, there is  no way of knowing for sure what’s in our food.

Confused shopper in grocery store - Ralph Bijker, Flickr image

Confused shopper in grocery store - Ralph Bijker, Flickr image

Watchdog organizations such as Food and Water Watch, Environmental Working Group, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Center for Science and Public Interest, and Food Policy Institute, are doing what they can to alert consumers, each with a slightly different take and focus. The result is a confusing picture, that can be reduced to 14 relatively simple steps: 

  • Eat at home where you have more control over food supply
  • Avoid processed foods with ingredients of unknown origin
  • Avoid foods with non natural ingredients
  • Buy domestic products
  • Buy organic eggs, poultry, meat, and dairy
  • Cook well eggs, poultry, meat, and high risk veggie – green onions 
  • Stick to organic for produce with high pesticity index
  • Buy fish from safe fish list
  • Avoid raw oysters
  • Avoid food requiring excessive handling such as pre-cut fruit, deli cold cuts
  • Scrub and wash all vegetables and fruits in soapy water, including packaged, pre-cut items
  • Limit canned foods because of lead/plastic lining contamination risks
  • Buy organic versions of corn, soy, canola, and cotton based products
  • Stay clear of trans fats and saturated fats

Did I miss anything?

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Have you tried sorting out the information on fish? Which kind can you eat without worrying about mercury, PCBs, chlorinated pesticides, dioxins, furans, PBDEs, and other nasty contaminants? You would think there is one central place with all that info, neatly packaged into one pocket size guide. There is. Actually, there are, and that’s the problem. Several sources, all with different recommendations:

3To be safe, I guess I will just stick to the ones they all agree on: anchovies, catfish (farmed), clams (farmed), crab (Dungeness), crawfish (domestic), mackerel (Atlantic), oysters (farmed), salmon (wild, Alaska), sardines (Pacific, domestic), scallops (bay, farmed), squid (Pacific, domestic), tilapia (farmed, domestic), trout (fresh water, farmed). 

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