Food in the News

More Tips on Reading Food Labels

all natural yogurtYes, we know that it's smart to read the labels on food--the big print and the small--before we put the package in our grocery cart, but sometimes labels are misleading.  "Reduced salt," for example, may mean that the quantity of salt has been lowered from ridiculously high to just very high.  Here are some recently-published food label tips that can help you be a sharper shopper.

Undeclared Allergens Cause Four Recalls

food recallI received email notification of several food recalls within the past week. They were a reminder that not all food recalls are the result of discovered contamination.  There are many reasons for recalls other than contamination. The recalls listed below will be of interest to you if you (or someone you serve meals to) is allergic to one of these common allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. If any of these are used in any processed food, the government requires food producers and processors to include that allergen in the ingredients list on the package label. These 8 food categories account for about 90% of allergic reactions, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Among the recent recalls was one BIGGIE--nearly 2 million pounds of food recalled. This one got some major news media attention, so let's start with that.

Trans Fat, Your Years are Numbered

crackers, Shake 'N BakeThe FDA has taken a bold step toward banishing a murderer in our food--trans fat.  Here's the opening attack of the Nov. 7 announcement by the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:  "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. A final decision would mean that the use of these oils in the food supply would be phased out over a number of years.  Removal of PHOs from the food supply could prevent up to 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year." 


So will trans fats vanish overnight?  Not so fast.

Use-by dates under attack! Can they be defended or improved?

milk sell by dateNever thought I'd see the day when shelf life matters became big news in the popular media.  Nor did I expect use-by dates to become a source of humor.  But, thanks to a well-publicized new report--jointly issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, (the NRDC) and Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic--use-by and sell-by dates are finally getting the attention they deserve. 


Way back in 2010, Shelf Life Advice published an article entitled "It Says Use By Tomorrow, But You Don't Have To."  Since that year, about 2 million people have visited Shelf Life Advice. But, sadly, we haven't made a dent in the national confusion about so-called expiration dates on food. Now, perhaps, the country is about to enter a new era.  This new report--The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America--not only tells what's wrong with the food dating system but also recommends solutions to the problem. 

Hot Comfort Foods for Winter; "Hot" Food Trends for 2014

snow treeJanuary generally inspires a burst of reports on these topics: 1) what to consume to do battle with cold weather and/or viral cold miseries; and 2) what food trends will be served up in the coming year. Let's find out what the news media have been saying lately on both topics.

FDA's New Plan: Decrease Antibiotics in Livestock

chickenOn December 11, the FDA made an important announcement: a proposal to curtail indiscriminate use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.  This voluntary policy won't totally eliminate the danger of becoming ill with an antibiotic-resistant germ, but, still, it could be a big step in the right direction. The following Q/As explain the reasons for the new policy, what will happen next, and why.

Just in Time for New Year’s Eve, Getting High Makes Headlines

liquorWhat and how much can you drink and still be a safe driver?  Is holiday drinking good or bad for your health? Should designated drivers eschew alcohol and drink energy drinks instead for a feel-good New Year’s Eve?   Researchers have some answers to these important questions.

Don't Eat These Specialty Meats!

specialty meats recall

SECOND UPDATE on Yauk Specialty Meats Recall, December 16:

Yauk’s Specialty Meats is expanding its recall to include an additional products produced under insanitary conditions, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The products being recalled now are in addition to the various meat and poultry products that were recalled on Dec. 9 and Dec. 12, 2013.


The products subject to this expansion of the recall can be identified by the establishment number “Est. 20309” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection and include these brands:



  • “Corner Post Meats” hams and bacon
  • “Old Style Sausage” Smoked Andouille Sausage
  • “Old Style Sausage” Smoked Kielbasa Sausage



UPDATE on Yauk Recall: December 12

Yauk’s Specialty Meats, a Windsor, Colorado establishment, is expanding its recall to include an undetermined amount of various meat and poultry products that were produced under unsanitary conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The products being recalled are in addition to the approximately 90,000 pounds of various meat and poultry products that were recalled on Dec. 9, 2013.


Products subject to this recall expansion bear the establishment number “Est. 20309” or “P-20309” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection.  To see the list of brand names involved in this recall, click on the link listed under "sources" below.

Ready-to-Eat Chicken Salad and Wraps Recalled

food recallIt's another large recall with a resulting foodborne illness outbreak. On November 10,  Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, California company recalled 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wraps (with fully-cooked chicken and ham) that may be contaminated with the bacteria E. coli O157:H7, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.


FSIS said that it is uncommon to find E. coli 0157:H7 in poultry products. Since this is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause serious illness, FSIS is advising anyone who has the possibly contaminated product to discard it. 

Recent Recalls on Ready-to-Eat Products, Turmeric Spice Powder, Organic Cheese, and Ground Beef

food recall

Oct. 26: Secondary Recall on Reser's Fine Foods

Reser's Fine Foods, Inc. initiated a recall of select products on October 22, 2013 due to the potential of selected products being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On October 26, 2013, Reser's expanded its initial recall to cover a broader group of products.  n response to the expanded recall, Taylor Farms Florida, Inc. ("TFFL"); Taylor Farms Illinois, Inc. ("TFIL"); Taylor Farms Maryland, Inc. ("TFMD"); Taylor Farms Texas, Inc. ("TFTX"); and Taylor Farms Tennessee, Inc. ("TFTN") are voluntarily issuing a secondary recall on a limited number of deli products that contain components implicated in Reser's expanded recall.  To see the new list, click here.

Update on Reser's Fine Foods recall (Oct. 26, 2013):

For the latest list of products involved in this recall, click here. 


Recalls are actions taken to remove products from the market because they are a health risk. Recalls may be issued on a firm's own initiative, by government request, or by a government order under statutory authority.  Among the batch of recent recalls, one is a whopper--involving more than 100,000 pounds of product.  Another recall was due to the discovery of high levels of lead in a spice.  If any of the following recalled products are currently in your kitchen, discard the item or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.


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