EJToday: Top Headlines
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"British chef and food activist Jamie Oliver ignited a firestorm in January 2011 when he mentioned on the Late Show with David Letterman that castoreum, a substance used to augment some strawberry and vanilla flavorings, comes from what he described as 'rendered beaver anal gland.' The next year, vegans were outraged to learn that Starbucks used cochineal extract, a color additive derived from insect shells, to dye their strawberry Frappuccino® drinks (eventually, the company decided to transition to lycopene, a pigment found in tomatoes)."
"Listeria in cantaloupes. Salmonella in peanuts. E. coli in spinach. Hepatitis A in green onions. In the past decade a rash of tainted food has resulted in thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths. It has also prompted the most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years."
"On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January proposed a food safety rule that lacked a requirement for food makers to actually test for germs. The requirement had been removed by a shadowy White House office known as OIRA -- where industry can lobby in secret to overturn science-based rules such as this one, meant to prevent one million illnesses per year.
"Tucked inside a short-term funding measure that Congress approved Thursday is a provision that critics are denouncing as a 'Monsanto Protection Act.'"
"Several supermarket chains have pledged not to sell what could become the first genetically modified animal to reach the nation’s dinner plates — a salmon engineered to grow about twice as fast as normal."
"Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry."
Tens of thousands of fishermen and activists have written the Food and Drug Administration, which is considering approving genetically engineered salmon as food. They worry the giant fish could escape into the wild and interbreed with natural salmon.
"The antipoverty group Oxfam has come up with a scorecard that evaluates the impact that the supply chains of behemoth food companies have on water consumption, labor and wages, greenhouse gas emissions and nutrition."
"If you order tuna at a D.C. restaurant, chances are half the time you’ll be getting another, less expensive fish in its place. But those odds are better than if you had wanted snapper. Testers nationwide found that 87 percent of the time, restaurants and grocery stores were selling something else under that label."
The labels meant to give consumers confidence in the sustainability of the seafood they buy may be deceptive.
"There's a global campaign to force meat producers to rein in their use of antibiotics on pigs, chickens and cattle. European countries, especially Denmark and the Netherlands, have taken the lead. The U.S. is moving, haltingly, toward similar restrictions. Now the concerns about rampant antibiotic use appear to have reached China, where meat production and antibiotic use have been growing fast."