Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Food News of the Weird

Just for your reading pleasure, here’s some tidbits I unearthed recently about food, industry, and the places they intersect.  In no particular order:

1) Six German states banned Red Bull Cola after the food safety agency in North Rhine-Westphalia (LIGA) found trace amounts of cocaine in the brew.  Austria-based Red Bull claims that no such traces were found in their internal tests, but that if those Rhinelanders thought they found something, well, it was certainly just due to Red Bull’s participation in the common industry practice of including decocainised coca leaf extract to give it that little sumpin’ sumpin’.  Decocainised coca leaf.  Like decaf tea leaves, but with cocaine.  Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has refused to comment on whether it still uses coca leaves in its famous beverage.  Food industry execs, predictably, are trying to quash the concern before it grows.  My favorite quote, from the Time article, is this: “If you start examining lots of other drinks and food so carefully, you’d find a lot of surprising things.”

2)  After studying the bacterial cultures in reusable grocery bags, two independent labs commissioned by (wait for it) the Canadian Plastics Industry Association determined that reusable grocery bags are potential breeding grounds for all sorts of nasty bacteria and may pose a threat to consumer health.  Naturally, many people are all in a flutter over the idea that maybe the throw-away plastic bags were a better idea.  Over here at Simple Spoonful, however, we beg to differ.  Not surprisingly, we have a rather hum-drum, simple solution to the problem…one which doesn’t involve petrochemicals.  It does have two parts, though.  Are you ready?  Okay.  First: don’t buy meat, or at least not much of it. It leaks bloody juices on things, creating a contamination risk.  Second: use cloth tote bags and run them through the washer once a week.  Ta-da!  Disaster averted, environment saved.  Huzzah!

3)  Following in the footsteps of the meat industry (which emphasizes the internal temperature that, say, a hamburger patty must reach to kill the E. coli bacteria present—a result, as Eric Schloesser none-too-gently puts it, of “shit in the meat”), a number of frozen food companies are putting the consumer in charge of the “kill step.” Since several of them are unable to figure out where the salmonella et al is coming from, they are carrying on with business as usual and instead adding very precise instructions for consumers to follow in reheating their products.  Why does this not quite smack of a true solution to me?


3 Comments so far

  1. Mangochild May 27th, 2009 1:57 am

    I too love the Time comment about what is lurking in food at times. It sounds funny, but its true. I saw that NYT article about consumers and the kill-step and posted my thoughts on my blog… it is disturbing, and the solution the companies posed doesn’t much help when consumers are even less able to trace the food source – and why not attack the problem at that real source?

  2. kirbysmom May 27th, 2009 10:17 am

    Yuck, the more I know, the less I want to know………

  3. Kimmus May 31st, 2009 6:07 pm

    Double yuck. Boy am I glad I don’t drink “coke” or eat meat and use washable, reusable bags. Double Huzzah!

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