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Entries in Food (6)

Wednesday
Apr102013

US Families Waste 20 Pounds of Food Each Month, Study Claims

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- On average, families in the United States throw away 20 pounds of food each month, an amount worth approximately $2,000 annually for a family of four.

John Floros, the dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University, found in a new study that in the United States, nearly four out of every 10 pounds of food produced annually is tossed in the trash. That figure includes food thrown away by members of households, restaurants, supermarkets, and other food-service providers.

Floros, who presented his study at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, included uneaten and spoiled food, as well as food thrown away after being prepared.

According to scientists, food decomposition releases methane gas into the air. Methane gas is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and fosters global warming.

Floros' study comes to the conclusion that a reduction in food waste could solve global challenges by "providing more food to a growing population, reducing greenhouse gases, and reducing the amount of freshwater needed to grow crops."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan222013

EXCLUSIVE: Group Finds More Fake Ingredients in Popular Foods

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's what we expect as shoppers -- what's in the food will be displayed on the label.

But a new scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.

"Food products are not always what they purport to be," Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News.

In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News on Tuesday, USP warns consumers, the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.

USP, a scientific nonprofit that, according to their website, "sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide," first released the Food Fraud Database in April 2012.

The organization examined more than 1,300 published studies and media reports from 1980-2010.  The update to the database includes nearly 800 new records, nearly all published in 2011 and 2012.

Among the most popular targets for unscrupulous food suppliers?  Pomegranate juice, which is often diluted with grape or pear juice.

"Pomegranate juice is a high-value ingredient and a high-priced ingredient, and adulteration appears to be widespread," Lipp said.  "It can be adulterated with other food juices…additional sugar, or just water and sugar."

Lipp added that there have also been reports of completely "synthetic pomegranate juice" that didn't contain any traces of the real juice.

USP tells ABC News that liquids and ground foods in general are the easiest to tamper with including:

  • Olive oil: often diluted with cheaper oils
  • Lemon juice: cheapened with water and sugar
  • Tea: diluted with fillers like lawn grass or fern leaves
  • Spices: like paprika or saffron adulterated with dangerous food colorings that mimic the colors

Milk, honey, coffee and syrup are also listed by the USP as being highly adulterated products.

Also high on the list is seafood.  The number one fake being escolar, an oily fish that can cause stomach problems, being mislabeled as white tuna or albacore, frequently found on sushi menus.

National Consumers League did its own testing on lemon juice just this past year and found four different products labeled 100 percent lemon juice were far from pure.

"One had 10 percent lemon juice, it said it had 100 percent, another had 15 percent lemon juice, another...had 25 percent, and the last one had 35 percent lemon juice," Sally Greenberg, Executive Director for the National Consumers League said.  "And they were all labeled 100 percent lemon juice."

Greenberg explains there are indications to help consumers pick the faux from the food.

"In a bottle of olive oil if there's a dark bottle, does it have the date that it was harvested?" she said.  

While other products, such as honey or lemon juice, are more difficult to discern, if the price is "too good to be true" it probably is.

"$5.50, that's pretty cheap for extra virgin olive oil," Greenberg said.  "And something that should raise some eyebrows for consumers."

Many of the products USP found to be adulterated are those that would be more expensive or research intensive in its production.

"Pomegranate juice is expensive because there is little juice in a pomegranate," Lipp said.

But the issue is more than just not getting what you pay for.

"There's absolutely a public health risk," said John Spink, associate director for the Anti-Counterfeit and Product Protection Program (A-CAPPP) at Michigan State University.  "And the key is the people that are unauthorized to handle this product, they are probably not following good manufacturing practices and so there could be contaminates in it."

Spink recommends purchasing from "suppliers, retailers, brands, that have a vested interest in keeping us as repeat customers."

Both the FDA and the Grocery Manufacturers Association say they take food adulteration "very seriously."

"FDA's protection of consumers includes not only regulating and continually monitoring food products in interstate commerce for safety and sanitation, but also for the truthfulness and accuracy of their labels," the FDA said in a statement to ABC News.

Most recently the FDA issued an alert for pomegranate juice mislabeled as 100 percent pomegranate juice, as well as one for the adulteration of honey.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America told ABC News in a statement that "ensuring the safety and integrity of our products -- and maintaining the confidence of consumers -- is the single most important goal of our industry," and that their members have "robust quality management programs and procedures in place, including analytical testing, to help ensure that only the safest and highest quality products are being offered to consumers."


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov222011

Expensive Turkey Day: Travel and Food Costs Up from Last Year

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With 42 million Americans planning to travel this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, many are in for a big surprise, because the cost of celebrating Turkey Day has shot up.

The typical family looking to travel this holiday season will see hikes in airfares, gasoline and even the traditional Thanksgiving bird.

For the family that thinks they’ll save a bundle by driving to the family feast, taking the car might be the wrong choice -- gas prices have risen about 50 cents per gallon from last year’s rates.

And flying doesn't fare much better -- airfares are up more than 10 percent from last year.

Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for Orbitz.com, said the smart action to take -- as usual -- is to book in advance.

“Typically, as you get closer to the holiday period, the travel prices do increase, because it is such a compact travel weekend and travelers are going to be traveling over such a short period,” she said.

Those looking to stay at a hotel will be hit too, with hotel prices up nearly 5 percent from 2010's prices.

But even if you choose to avoid traveling, you still won't escape added expenses.  The Farm Bureau estimates the cost of the classic Thanksgiving dinner is up 13 percent from last year.  The cost of a turkey is now up $3, pumpkin pie is up 41 cents and stuffing is up 24 cents.

The reason being: rising fuel prices. The cost of gasoline ultimately affects everything that gets transported to store shelves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

MRSA 'Superbug' Bacteria Found in Detroit Meat

Chad Baker/Photodisc/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- First they were riding on bedbugs. Now, drug-resistant superbugs are showing up in supermarket meat. Raw beef, chicken and turkey from Detroit grocery stores contained methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a sinister strain of bacteria that doesn't respond to typical antibiotics, researchers reported Wednesday.

It may sound scary, but it's no reason to go vegetarian, experts say.

"We've known for a long time that raw meat and poultry purchased in supermarkets can be contaminated with bugs that can make us sick, like salmonella and E. coli. As long as we clean our hands and our utensils and we cook the food, we kill the bacteria," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "Even though this is a new bug, that shouldn't change anything. It should just reinforce all those messages."

The study, reported online Wednesday in Emerging Infectious Diseases -- the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's journal, is not the first to find MRSA in meat. But very few have ever come out of the United States, so it's making headlines nationwide.

"Previous studies have shown MRSA in pork and beef, but we found MRSA poultry in our study," said report author Dr. Yifan Zhang, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Wayne State University in Detroit, who said she was surprised at the stir her study created.

"The most important thing in this study is, we don't want to scare people," Zhang said. "Overall, the U.S. food supply is safe."

"Wash your hands before and after handling meat, and if you have cuts on your hands, wear gloves," she said, adding that normal soap and cleaning products are sufficient to kill the germ.

MRSA infection rates -- in hospitals and the community at large -- have declined in the past decade, according to CDC statistics. Nevertheless, the study raises important questions about where the meaty MRSA is coming from -- the animals or the humans who handle their meat.

Most healthy people are not at risk for a Staphylococcus aureus infection. In fact, one in three people carries the bacteria on their skin or in their nose and never knows it. But the finding of MRSA in grocery meat should serve as a reminder to keep clean and cook well, Schaffner said.

"We should always remember: The food in our supermarket is not sterile. We live in a germy world and we have to respect that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb052011

Runners Take 'Krispy Kreme Challenge' to Benefit Children's Hospital

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Thousands participated in this year's Krispy Kreme Challenge in North Carolina on Saturday, as runners were required to eat a dozen of the company's glazed doughnuts and run two miles to the finish line.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge is an annual student-operated race; it began in 2004 as a dare between 10 North Carolina State students and now raises money for the North Carolina Children's Hospital at Chapel Hill, N.C.

“There are a few people who can't quite keep the doughnuts in them,” said Sudeep Sunthankar, co-chair of the challenge.

Each runner runs two miles from the N.C. State Belltower to the Krispy Kreme store on Peace St. in Raleigh, consumes 12 doughnuts and runs 2 miles back.

This year about 72,000 donuts were consumed by more than 6,000 participants, and the race raised $40,000 for the hospital, according to ABC station WTVD in Raleigh.

One glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut is an estimated 200 calories -- 2,400 calories total for the challenge.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec242010

What's on the President's Christmas Day Menu?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KAILUA, Hawaii) -- When dinner time rolls around on Christmas Day, the first family will be in for a mouthwatering treat.

The Obama family will have Christmas dinner at their beachfront rental home in Kailua, Hawaii. The menu features steak, roasted potatoes, and green beans, all topped off with pie for dessert.

The Obamas are expected to be joined by family for dinner, including the president’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng and her family.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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