February 8, 2017 Leave a comment
February 8, 2017 Leave a comment
January 15, 2017 Leave a comment
How much did you pay for that slice of halibut sashimi? What about those two pieces of red snapper? According to a study published in the journal Conservation Biology on Friday, you likely paid too much. This may be frustrating news for sushi lovers, but it’s good news for flounder lovers: Any time you’ve been served halibut in a sushi restaurant, rest assured that you probably ate flounder. But the problem is much broader than just this one substitution. Demian Willette, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Los Angeles , and his colleagues found that 47 percent of the samples they collected were mislabeled. That means your odds of getting the sushi you ordered are slightly better than a coin toss.
If you think this is an issue associated with lower-tier sushi joints, think again. Willette and his colleagues had their undergraduate students gather samples over four years from 26 sushi restaurants that were rated highly by customers on Zagat and Yelp in the greater Los Angeles area. They used a genetic testing technique called DNA barcoding, in which particular portions of DNA can be used to identify an individual as part of a species, to verify the identities of the samples. All of the restaurants had at least one incident of mislabeling during the four year period, with an average mislabeling rate of 45.5 percent.
November 28, 2016 Leave a comment
The National Organic Standards Board voted unanimously last week to update its U.S. standards to ban ingredients derived from new genetic engineering techniques from certified organic products.
The vote served as a recommendation by the NOSB to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. The board says it will ensure ingredients that are derived from new GE techniques will not wind up in organic certified foods and beverages.
“The NOSB is clear that GMOs do not belong in organic,” Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, told TriplePundit. “In the absence of strong federal regulations on the labeling and commercialization of genetic engineering, the organic standard continues to provide consumers with a transparent and clear way to avoid GMOs in the food they eat.”
One of the new GE methods the board is concerned about is synthetic biology, which designs and constructs new organisms to either produce something they would not normally produce or to edit DNA to stop certain traits from being expressed, according to FOE.
Some synthetic biology ingredients are ending up in food and consumer products without sufficient labeling, just as traditional GE ingredients do. GE ingredients in general lack adequate oversight, the group insists. And some are labeled as ‘natural,’ which is incredibly misleading to consumers. Although a few states passed mandatory GE labeling laws, the federal requirements are murky. Back in August, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that preempts state GE labeling laws, virtually striking them down with what many call a lackluster federal labeling requirement. Read more of this post
November 7, 2016 Leave a comment
Food imported from China and labeled “organic” is anything but.
With more and more people learning about the importance of eating healthy and safe produce, consumer demand for all things “organic” has skyrocketed. In the US alone, annual organic food sales have grown by 20% and the increased demand is significantly outpacing domestic supplies, forcing many grocers and food vendors to look internationally to keep their businesses stocked. Most of these organic imports are grown in the European Union, where organic standards are weaker than those of the US. However, many of these “organic” products are from China, whose food industry standards for safety and quality are notoriously low. Much of this “organic” produce grown in China is so unsafe, that the farmers who grow it won’t eat it themselves. Isn’t that the whole point of choosing organic in the first place?
September 15, 2016 1 Comment
The Food and Drug Administration, under public pressure to start testing samples of U.S. food for the presence of a pesticide that has been linked to cancer, has some early findings that are not so sweet.
In examining honey samples from various locations in the United States, the FDA has found fresh evidence that residues of the weed killer called glyphosate can be pervasive – found even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate. All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States.
Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Other international scientists have raised concerns about how heavy use of glyphosate is impacting human health and the environment.
September 6, 2016 1 Comment
Reports out of South Carolina have indicated that when officials approved the spraying of local farmlands with insecticide to prevent the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitos, it accidentally wiped out millions of bees too.
The insecticide in question, called Naled, is known to be “highly toxic” to bees, and these vital pollinators appear to be the latest collateral damage in the fight against Zika.
In response to the ensuing outcry from local farmers after last Sunday’s bout of aerial spraying in Dorchester County, the local administrator’s office announcedthat the state health department had reported four travel-related cases of Zika virus in the Summerville area of Dorchester County on Friday 26 August.
While the health department reported that no one has been infected from a local mosquito bite to date, Dorchester County officials justified the accidental bee cull on the grounds that the mosquito population remained a threat.
“Dorchester County is concerned about the safety of its citizens,” a statement from the County Administrator’s Office reads. “This includes protecting citizens from insect bites from pests such as mosquitoes that carry viruses including West Nile and Zika.”
February 25, 2016 Leave a comment
The “average” American farmer earns an income above most Americans—but that’s often because they’re hustling in a second-job off the farm, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week. Read more of this post
September 9, 2015 Leave a comment
Poultry company Perdue Farms will buy natural meat maker Niman Ranch, which is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s biggest pork supplier and a brand name on U.S. restaurant menus, the two companies said on Tuesday. Read more of this post
September 2, 2015 Leave a comment
Cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy—mad cow disease—have been reported in Brazil as recently as 2014. When a cow was found to have died from the neurogenerative disease, which humans can contract by eating meat from sick animals, in 2012, a number of countries suspended beef imports from Brazil as a precaution. The United States was not among them. Read more of this post