Digest: A schizophrenic FDA, processed-meat worries, and survey says we want good food

The Digest is back! Several months ago, our weekly food-politics news digest went on hiatus. Maybe you missed it, maybe not; we did. So starting today, we’ll do our very darndest to bring you regular roundups of the most Ethicurean-relevant news items. Got a tip? Send it to new Digest editor Elanor via dig...@ethicurean.com.

Slow on the uptake: Two months after dairy products from China contaminated with melamine were found on U.S. supermarket shelves, the Food & Drug Administration finally stops Chinese dairy imports. Too bad China has since admitted that the routine addition of melamine to livestock feed is “an open secret,” putting all animal products at risk. (New York Times)

Good… no, bad… no, good… no… In another stellar example of food-supply policing, the FDA half-reverses its finding that BPA, used in plastic food and beverage containers, poses no human health risks. The switcheroo comes in response to a new study showing that BPA harms human reproductive systems and jeopardizes the success of in-vitro fertilization. (Washington Post)

This little piggy had its DNA spliced: The FDA proposes allowing the sale of meat and milk from genetically modified farm animals, and a Canadian company cheers the op to market EnviroPig, which has been engineered to produce cleaner manure. (Boston GlobeMedill Reports via Northwestern University).  So if 90,000 gallons of EnviroPig manure spills into our local water supply, we can be worry-free?

But at least they have an acronym: Last month the FDA unveiled a “food defense training kit” for food industry employees. Better late than never. And it includes a cute acronym, FIRST, for Follow Inspect Recognize Secure Tell. That should fix things. (FDA)

More meat, fewer babies: A study links increased livestock production to higher infant mortality in the surrounding area. (American Journal of Agricultural Economics, via Eureka Alert)

Want some cancer with that baloney sandwich? The Cancer Project files a petition with USDA to stop serving processed meat through the school lunch and breakfast programs, following the release of studies showing a link between processed-meat consumption and cancer. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

States on steroids: Efforts to ban labels saying “no rBGH/rBST” (growth hormones for dairy cows) and the like just won’t die. The Kansas Department of Agriculture takes up where the legislature said “no” and is proposing a rule banning such milk labels. (Unbossed, Sierra Club)

Eaters speak out: The International Food Information Council’s annual survey finds consumer awareness of sustainable food production jumped 11% from 2007 to 2008. A Consumer Reports poll finds the vast majority of Americans support country of origin labeling (COOL) for food, think the proposal for an “organic” label for farmed fish is a sham, and want the government to do more to protect food safety. (IFIC survey via chainleader.com; Consumer Reports via MarketWatch)

Cleaner water: It appears that pesticide residue in groundwater is decreasing. (Journal of Environmental Quality via Eureka Alert). The Ethicurean wonders, how do we know?

Oh, cluck! Chickens lack diversity: …but use of native species may help guard against devastating illness. (Eureka Alert, National Academy of Science)

Whole grains coming up: Study shows that kids will eat more whole grains if they’re added gradually. (U. of Minnesota)

High price of good food: Yep, junk food is still your best calorie value, even if it’s nutritionally bankrupt. (NYT)

3 Responsesto “Digest: A schizophrenic FDA, processed-meat worries, and survey says we want good food”

  1. This fits perfectly with something I just wrote. Can we really be surprised anymore when they discover that some processing procedue of some kind, that some food or package doctoring, that some chemical spillage or toxic byproduct in our food turns out to be harmful to our health? The wheel was perfect already. Food from the earth (hopefully clean earth), is generally the safest bet.

  2. Greg Massa says:

    I, for one, missed the digest, and am glad it is back!

  3. nanojamb says:

    I’m surprised not to see more stories about Melamine in North American food particularly in the metabolizing of the pesticide cyromazine (used on leafy greens for example) to melamine. There was an article in the New York Times (“Our Home Grown Melamine Problem”) that explored the doping of melamine in fertilizers to enhance nitrogen readings. I think melamine’s prevalence and the pesticide angle was overlooked .