Are You Grilling Your Way to Cancer?

Posted by Admin | Posted in Be Healthy, Beef, Food Safety, For Fun, FYI, Science and Technology, Seasonal | Posted on 20-08-2012

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Asking me to cook is like asking me to defend a man on trial: I just can’t do it. I suppose it’s not just my own inherent ineptitude—some of those necessary background skills are missing (like law school or, say, learning to use the oven). As a kid, I learned to barbecue, and that’s about where my culinary ability comes to a violent halt. As such, grilling is a staple in my diet, and I’ve always believed it to be health-friendly.

But here’s the problem: research associates two carcinogenic byproducts with barbecuing red meant, poultry, lamb, pork, and fish. As cooking temperatures increase, meats produce a compound composed of creatine and sugar, both natural to meats. The longer these meats cook and the higher the heat, the more these compounds form. As such, overcooked and char-grilled meat is particularly carcinogen-forming.

The second risk is the exposure to polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a molecule composed of hydrogen and carbon. Most exposure occurs by breathing air that’s been contaminated by wild fires or coal tar or grilling. As fat drips onto the coals or hot surface of the grill, smoke carries the PAHs to your food (and lungs).

  • Avoid overcooking and keep the heat low.
  • Flip your food frequently to avoid burning.
  • Buy thinner cuts of meat.
  • Trim the fat to reduce the chances of carcinogenic compounds forming.
  • Keep your grill clean by turning up the heat and closing the lid for about 10 minutes after every use.


–Whitney Nelson


BPA Debate Continues Despite FDA Decision

Posted by Admin | Posted in FDA, Food Safety, FYI, In the News | Posted on 20-04-2012

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Since the 1960s, Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used in plastic beverage containers and the sealants in metal food cans. Concerns about the safety of this chemical were raised when research showed that small amounts of BPA leak into food and beverages from their containers, possibly posing a health hazard to consumers. You probably have noticed “BPA free” labels placed on reusable water bottles in response to this research. However, the FDA recently issued a consumer update that claims there is no convincing evidence to support the supposed hazardous nature of BPA. The FDA has stated that the trace amounts of the chemical that may enter the body are not a cause for concern because they are “rapidly metabolized and eliminated.” The FDA also recently denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban the use of BPA in some products.

Consumer safety organizations, a number of scientists, and other opponents of the FDA’s decision and statement regarding the safety of BPA are concerned about the validity of the FDA’s research. According to Frederick Vom Saal, a BPA expert from the University of Missouri-Columbia, the FDA is essentially ignoring “all independent academic science” that has researched and shown the dangers of BPA. The agency’s research is also being questioned because it may have failed to detect BPA levels in human blood that could pose health hazards. Laura Vandenberg, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University, participated in a study that showed how chemicals like BPA can negatively affect hormonal signals even in small doses. She argues that the FDA has rejected studies like her own and “the majority of the data that is available [about BPA] in favor of two highly flawed studies.”

It is clear that the FDA’s statement has failed to solve the BPA debate. As with any other controversial topic, consumers should research various sides of the issue and make an informed decision about whether to trust products containing BPA, especially when their health is possibly on the line. The FDA does say that consumers who “want to limit their exposure to BPA” should avoid plastic containers that have the recycle codes 3 or 7 written on the bottom.

Madelyn Tucker


To Serve or Not to Serve “Pink Slime”

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Be Healthy, Beef, FYI, In the News, Kids, USDA | Posted on 15-03-2012

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Pink Slime

The topic of school lunch “mystery meat” has recently spread beyond children’s playground banter into serious discussions amongst concerned parents, mainstream media, and food safety organizations. After a recent report by ABC National News claimed that “pink slime,” or Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) cannot be considered ground beef, activists have been fighting to ban the “slime” from school lunches and supermarkets. Although McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King discontinued the use of LFTB in January, the USDA is set to purchase about 7 million pounds of LFTB through the company Beef Products Inc. to be used for the National School Lunch Program, causing outrage amongst many concerned parents.

So what is so bad about this “pink slime” besides the awfully unappetizing nickname? The process of making LFTB begins by separating fat from beef trim — the “waste” meat trimmings from higher quality beef cuts that are usually used to make ground beef. To complete the separation, LFTB producers heat the beef trim to approximately 100 degrees F and spin it to remove the fat. Because beef trim is especially susceptible to E. coli and salmonella, producers also treat the “slime” with ammonia gas. The USDA and FDA consider ammonium hydroxide to be a “processing aid,” not an ingredient, eliminating the need to list it on labels. Many consumers are worried about the hidden nature of this chemical and its effect on nutritional value. However, reports by the FDA maintain that ammonia is safe to consume, as it is part of “normal metabolic processes and play[s] an essential role in the physiology of man.”

Despite this reassurance, hundreds of thousands signed an online petition to ban the meat from school lunch trays, and later today the USDA is set to announce that schools will soon have the choice of serving 95 percent lean beef patties made with LFTB or less lean ground beef made without it.


Madelyn Tucker

Caramel Coloring: The Victim of a Fraudulent Scare Tactic

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Be Healthy, FDA, Food Safety, FYI, In the News | Posted on 06-03-2012

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Caramel Coloring

Less than a month ago, the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest submitted a petition to the FDA, insisting a ban of 4-MEI, a chemical commonly found in the caramel coloring in sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The group claims that 4-MEI is a cancer-causing substance. However, the American Beverage Association warned consumers in a statement issued on March 5th that the CSPI is merely using “scare tactics” to present “outrageous” claims not grounded in scientific fact. The association also ensured that the “FDA, European Food Safety Authority and Health Canada consider caramel coloring safe for use in foods and beverages.”

The fraudulent claims made by the interest group were grounded in California’s recent motion to add 4-MEI to its list of carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. This addition was based on a single study performed on lab mice and rats, not humans. According to the American Beverage Association’s press release, “a person would need to drink more than 2,900 cans of cola every day for 70 years to reach the lowest dose levels mice received in the single study upon which California based its decision.” In other words, the study does not present enough scientific evidence to support the ban of caramel coloring or to prove that it causes cancer. Therefore, the CSPI’s petition will not affect the production or distribution of caramel-colored beverages.

Perhaps the only valid claim made by the consumer group is their warning about the possibility of weight gain and development of diabetes caused by excessively drinking sugary soft drinks. However, until research proves otherwise, the leading public health organizations insist that caramel coloring does not put one at risk for cancer.

As for me, after such a heavy discussion, I really could go for an ice cold Coca-Cola.


Madelyn Tucker



Is ‘Tasting the Rainbow’ Safe?

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Food Safety, For Fun, FYI, Online Resource, Seasonal | Posted on 28-02-2012

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As I was thinking about my St. Patrick’s Day plans and wondering what type of food I could dye green to really mess with the heads of my party guests, I started questioning the safety of color additives — even those already found in my food, toothpaste, and favorite lipstick. Chances are, if you pick up any consumer product nearest you, you’ll see a combination of Yellow 6’s and Blue 1’s listed on the ingredient label. Is there any reason to be concerned about these seemingly innocent splashes of color?

Color additives used in the United States are regulated by law. The FDA must approve color additives found in food, dietary supplements, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. Action can be taken against companies that violate color additive regulations. However, the FDA warns consumers that “there is no such thing as absolute safety of any substance.”

Although color additives are found in a wide variety of products, a pigment approved for one intended use is not necessarily approved for other uses. In addition, color additives that are injected into the skin have never been approved, even though many tattoo parlors claim that their inks contain colors that are in compliance with FDA specifications. Similarly, permanent makeup and henna tattoos contain colors that are not FDA approved. However, these pigments are not necessarily dangerous.

Overall, there is probably no reason to be concerned about the green in your mouthwash or the red in your ketchup unless you are allergic to the additive. However, color additives sold or marketed outside of the United States are not subject to the same restrictions and regulations. Many imported cosmetics are detained due to color additive violations, so use caution when buying colorful beauty products abroad.

Color Additives

For more information on this, hit up the FDA source link below.


Madelyn Tucker