Scary Food

Trix are for kids

As in U.S., European food giants use shenanigans to continue marketing junk to children

Big burger, little bugger: Fast food marketing to small children knows no borders.Photo: (C) sean dreilingerI just returned from a two-day meeting in Brussels. I was asked to participate with other experts from around the world (mostly from Europe) to address the problem of cross-border marketing of unhealthy food to children. In the age of satellite TV, the internet, and other technologies, one country’s standards may be insufficient to protect children from being exposed to junk food marketing. Because the meeting was not open to the general public, I cannot share all of what was discussed (the standards are still …

Skippy dippy

The real scandal of ‘reduced-fat Skippy peanut butter spread’ isn’t the salmonella

Just say no.Photo: Bill CorCorrected: See below. —— Skippy, a brand owned by European food giant Unilever, has issued a recall of its “reduced fat” peanut butter products. Evidently, they have become tainted with salmonella — an unhappy echo of the widespread 2009 salmonella outbreak from salmonella-tainted “peanut paste.” But the real scandal with Skippy® Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy® Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread isn’t that some unwanted pathogen somehow found its way into the finished product. The problem is the stuff that Unilever quite intentionally injects into its “peanut butter spreads” — and …

Meat the new boss hog

Factory-farmed pork: it’s the inspirational other white meat!

Be inspired!: Near a giant hog factory in North Carolina, downed pigs fester while sprayers spread untreated manure onto fields. Photo: Steve WingPork has a new-and-improved slogan. In an announcement that is guaranteed to avoid mockery or satire, the National Pork Board (NPB) has shifted from declaration to exhortation. No longer will pork’s tagline be “The Other White Meat.” From this day forward, the NPB demands that, as regards pork, we must “Be Inspired” (via NPR): Board officials said after nearly 25 years, it was time to move on from the old message that compared pork to chicken and instead …

Fat chance

The last days of the low-fat diet fad

The low-fat trend finally appears to be on its way out. The notion that saturated fats are detrimental to our health is deeply embedded in our zeitgeist — but shockingly, the opposite just might be true. For over 50 years the medical establishment, public health officials, nutritionists, and dietitians have been telling the American people to eat a low-fat diet, and in particular, to avoid saturated fats. Only recently have nutrition experts begun to encourage people to eat “healthy fats.” This past December, the Los Angeles Times reported that excess carbohydrates and sugar, not fat, are responsible for America’s obesity and …

brand news

Your healthy alternative food may just be the same crap in different packaging [SLIDESHOW]

Looking to lower your impact? Here’s your cheat sheet. GoodGuide offers greenness and social responsibility ratings, via web or app, for tens of thousands of products, including food, clothing, toys, and cleaning supplies. Obviously, it’s massively useful to be able to look up a brand on your phone and see its health and environment score before you buy. But there’s another interesting side effect of the GoodGuide website: Because it scores companies and not just products, you can use it to find out who owns your favorite brands. Even if you don’t trace your meal all the way back to …

Super (gross) bugs

Flies and cockroaches carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria from factory farms, study finds

A fly’s paradise: Near a giant hog factory in North Carolina, downed pigs fester while sprayers spread untreated manure onto fields. Photo: Steve WingWhat sort of antibiotic-resistant pathogens are growing on factory farms, along with all the cheap pork chops and chicken wings? And what level of threat do they pose to our health? Well, we know that in total, factory-farm animals consume a jaw-dropping four times as many antibiotics as do people in the United States, thanks to diligent reporting by Maryn McKenna and Ralph Loglisci and work by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). And we know that a kind …

Do not eat this!

6 things you should never put in your mouth [SLIDESHOW]

We enjoy our food, even odd food like kale chips. And we are neither snobby nor necessarily squeamish, but when we find “food” that, on the surface or under the ingredient list, makes us cringe, it is our duty to share. You are welcome. Duck, duck, gross Photo: Dindin Lagdameo Balut is a fertilized duck (or chicken) egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Are we wrong for wondering what men won’t eat if it’s considered an aphrodisiac? Most people eat the egg around the fetus and then snack down the baby duckling bones and all. While …

C is for Cruelty, and it's not good enough for me

Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?

Yet another reason to feel bad about waking up in a pile of crumbs.Photo: Josh KenzerIt’s Girl Scout cookie season, but Michigan scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva are finding other ways to support the organization’s mission of “building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place” than selling those famous Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Many varieties of Girl Scout cookies include palm oil, the No. 1 culprit behind deforestation in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. When Madison and Rhiannon found out that Girl Scout cookies were destroying the forest homes of endangered wildlife …

Big can o' whoop-ass

Aspartame is not the only thing in diet cola that can kill you

What evil lurks in that can of refreshment?Photo: Jeff GoldenTurns out, it’s not just the fake sweetener in Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke that might cause cancer; it’s also the coloring agent. The cans these beverages come in aren’t so healthy, either. Modern-day commercial colas (both diet and regular) get their characteristic dark hue from something manufacturers call “caramel color.” On Wednesday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest formally petitioned the FDA to ban the chemicals that fall under that ambiguous label, on the grounds that they’ve been shown to be carcinogenic. Wait, the FDA is allowing a …

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