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‘Antibiotic-free’ pork has the same rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

We really do try to Pollan it up and do the whole “eat food, not too much, mostly plants" bit. But “mostly plants” obviously means “sometimes bacon.” And maybe the farmers' market wasn't open, so we bought that bacon at the store. Oh, but it was good bacon! "Raised without antibiotics" bacon! That's something, right?

Nope, not really, according to a new study from a group of University of Iowa scientists. This group tested 395 samples of pork from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Of those, 6.6 percent had creepy, drug-resistant staph bacteria (shorthand: MRSA) on them. And there was no difference, statistically, between the normal pork products and the ones raised with alternative, antibiotic-free methods.

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Will the Butterball raid yield any real results?

The Butterball facility in North Carolina that was raided on Thursday. (Photo by Mercy for Animals.) If turkey were beer, Butterball would have the brand power of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors combined. From six plants, the company produces 1 billion pounds of turkey each year and exports the meat to over 50 countries. Given this dominance, the Butterball brand has been a priceless asset to the company -- until Thursday morning. At about 9:00 a.m., officers from the local sheriff's office raided a Butterball semen collection facility in Shannon, N.C. (Industrially bred Broad-Breasted White turkeys must be artificially inseminated to reproduce.) …

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Fast food chains give up ‘pink slime’ meat product

McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Burger King just stopped using a product popularly known as "pink slime" in their burger meat. The "slime" comes from the tiny bits of beef in leftover fatty trimming. Those bits are doused with ammonia in order to kill E. coli and are then made into human food. Or “human” “food.” The resulting "meat" isn't necessarily unsafe -- in fact, industry people are bitching about how food activists are making them reduce food safety, to which we say if your meat needs to be doused with ammonia to make it safe to eat then maybe you …

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The bad food news of 2011

We continue digesting this year's food politics coverage below -- only this time we take account of the things that didn't go so well. (Tired of bad news? See the year's good food news instead.) 1.  Food prices have gone up, and more people need help feeding their families The fact that 46 million people -- about a seventh of the U.S. population -- now receive food stamps (i.e. help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) should be enough to tell us that something is wrong with America's food system. But thanks to the way public food assistance is …

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Your mom was right: Don’t eat raw cookie dough

I know, I know, it's so good. But a study of a 2009 E. coli outbreak, led by CDC researchers and state health officials, has traced the contamination back to prepackaged raw cookie dough. Turns out ready-to-bake is not the same as ready-to-not-bake-and-get-right-to-the-eating. Ugh, god, what are we supposed to scarf when we get dumped then? You'd think CDC researchers and cookie dough manufacturers alike would just be like "you knobs, there are uncooked eggs in there, just don't eat it until it's been baked." I mean, if someone ate raw prepackaged hamburger patties and got sick, nobody would be …

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Eating rice raises risk of arsenic exposure

Sometimes it just feels like we should give up eating, particularly if "we" are "pregnant women." A new study links rice consumption with higher levels of arsenic in the bloodstream, which can increase the risks of infant mortality and low birth weight. Most arsenic exposure comes from water, and the study found that 10 percent of its subjects' tap water had levels of arsenic higher than the EPA allows. But rice is also better at absorbing arsenic from water than most other crops are. And while China is on top of this (not surprisingly), the U.S. and the E.U. have …

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Don’t look now, but some turkey has antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Not to put a damper on your Thanksgiving or anything, but there are two new studies showing that drug-resistant bugs like MRSA are showing up in farmed meat, including turkey. Farm animals get fed a cocktail of antibiotics, which can create resistant strains of bacteria. It's been hard (though not impossible) to determine whether that's happened in the U.S., but these studies are more evidence that it has. One study found 27 staph-tainted samples among 165 samples of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Only two cases, both pork, were MRSA, but the non-MRSA staph, which included seven tainted turkey samples, …

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No Secret Farm Bill and other things to be thankful for

Mark Bittman has provided the ultimate Thanksgiving guide for anyone interested in making our broken food system work again. His exhaustive list of the 25 people or groups for which he is most thankful is a must-read.* It starts with nutritionist and food system reform pioneer Marion Nestle and ends with "anyone who's started a small farm in the last five years, and anyone who's supported one; anyone who cooks, and especially anyone who teaches others to cook." That covers a good portion of Grist readers, I'd like to point out. So good on all of you, too. Heaven knows, …

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Most honey isn’t really honey

Chances are, that stuff sittng in the plastic bear in your pantry doesn't technically qualify as honey. The FDA requires honey to have microscopic particles of pollen, which allow the honey to be traced to its source so regulators can be sure it comes from safe origins. But nearly all of the honey that's sold commercially in the U.S. has been filtered to get rid of that pollen. It could basically come from anywhere. And that means it's not honey, according to the FDA's definition. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered …

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