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News for July 14, 2010

Hydrocarbons in Cereal Stoke New Debate Over Food Safety

When Kellogg Co. pulled about 28 million cereal boxes from store shelves last month, the company said only that an "off-flavor and smell" coming from the packaging could cause nausea and diarrhea. But the culprit behind the recall is a class of chemicals now making news in the Gulf of Mexico: hydrocarbons, a byproduct of oil.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported yesterday that the hydrocarbon methylnaphthalene, which the government has yet to evaluate for human carcinogenicity, was behind the recall. For EWG and other public-health advocacy groups, the appearance of a chemical missing consistent risk data in popular products such as Apple Jacks strengthens the case for food safety reform -- an issue that remains stalled in the Senate.

READ MORE (New York Times) ]

Salsa, guacamole dips tied to food poisoning: CDC

Contaminated salsa and guacamole dips are common causes of food poisoning in restaurants, and food workers need to take greater care, researchers told a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting on Monday.

They said nearly one of every 25 traceable outbreaks of foodborne disease between 1998 and 2008 began with one of the increasingly popular dips, which are made using onions, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, herbs and other ingredients.

READ MORE (Reuters) ]

Regulating tomatoes

Tomatoes - lovely, juicy summer tomatoes! Aren't we all thrilled for their long-awaited arrival? However, my excitement dims when I consider the potential intrusion on our tomato sandwiches with the proposed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Section 419 of Senate Bill 510 proposes rules to establish "science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities." If you think the local farmer will be exempt from these regulations, be assured that the legislation states in Sec. 419(a)3(A) that it shall be flexible for various types of entities engaged in the production and harvesting of raw agricultural commodities, including small businesses and entities that sell directly to consumers. So sadly, my favorite roadside stand will have to comply with new regulations that cover all functions of its business. This legislation will be a serious intrusion to our way of life in Caswell County and all across our great nation.

READ MORE (Caswell Messenger) ]

Tainted cereal exposes soggy food-safety system

On June 25, Kellogg's issued a "voluntary recall" of 28 million boxes of its breakfast cereals, including Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, and Honey Smacks. The company revealed it had detected an "uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package" of the suspect cereal and warned of "possible temporary symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea" from eating it.

Before we plunge our spoon into this cereal bowl of trouble, let's ponder the enormity of the recall. A box of cereal contains about 12 servings. That means Kellogg's recalled enough cereal to serve breakfast to 336 million people -- sufficient for every man, woman, and child in the United States, with more than enough left over for every single Mexico City resident.

READ MORE (Grist) ]

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