Oops. I owe the American Herbal Products Association an apology for my previous post about its position on irradiation, which I got completely backwards. As Rebecca correctly points out, the AHPA has asked the FDA to deny a petition to allow herbal supplements to be irradiated. Its arguments against this use of irradiation are thoughtful and compelling: the proposed doses of radiation are higher than used on other foods; current good manufacturing practices will keep contaminants under control and irradiation will mask breaches in those practices; and “the United States will become the dumping ground for poor quality herbal ingredients from around the world, since irradiation of herbal ingredients is not permitted in many countries.” Let’s hope the FDA turns down the petition and accepts the AHPA’s arguments. And please accept my apologies.
I seem to be on an e-mail list for The Perishable Pundit who writes about happenings in the produce industry. Today’s posting has an interview with someone on the receiving end of an FDA request for a voluntary recall of fresh basil contaminated with Salmonella. The FDA found the Salmonella in routine testing, but what happens next must be frustrating for all concerned. It’s an interesting object lesson in why we need farm-to-table food safety procedures so companies do their own testing and this sort of mess doesn’t happen. In the meantime, watch out for fresh basil.
Here’s the latest posting, this one on what it will take to get kids to eat better.
The New York City health department has just released a summary report on what it does. It’s hard to read online (light blue and red print) but it does have a section on what the department is doing about obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. But nothing is in the table of contents about the calorie-labeling initiative, probably because that plan is still under litigation. If you want to know more about public health in NYC, this is a good place to start.
A new analysis of all kinds of studies on the use of calcium to prevent fractures is just out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results? “calcium intake is not significantly associated with hip fracture risk in women or men…[results] show no reduction in hip fracture risk with calcium supplementation, and an increased risk is possible.” It sure would be nice if it were that easy to prevent fractures but bone strength requires a good diet containing ALL nutrients, not just calcium (with or without vitamin D), as well as plenty of physical activity, so these results should not come as a surprise. The bottom line: eat healthfully and move!
If the previous post was about taking off fat, this one is about putting it on. Ray Sokolov, a former editor and food writer for the Wall Street Journal, had some fun with the USDA’s food composition data base (click on Search and take it from there). He estimated the calories in a main course from Mario Batali’s Babbo and Thomas Keller’s Per Se. I doubt the comparison is fair, but it sure is fun. Guess which one had the most!
The trouble with the Internet is that it is unedited and not well sourced. So I offer this one with some skepticism. Another joke? Well, it’s a great-looking boat and something has to be done with 10 liters of fat removed during liposuction. I guess.
NOTE: Correction to this post. I must have been asleep when I wrote it. Sorry!
Apparently, the Herbal Products Association has petitioned the FDA to allow herbal supplements to be irradiated at doses high enough to kill contaminating bacteria. The American Public Health Association says this is not a good idea. I don’t think so either, of course. I call irradiation a “late-stage techno-fix,” meaning that it takes dirty products and sterilizes them. Shouldn’t the dietary supplement industry get its act together and produce clean supplements to begin with?