Thursday, March 1, 2018

Do You Really Want to Know?

A few months ago I attended the national conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Chicago. Always interested in our food supply, I sat in on a panel of experts that are responsible for insuring our food products are safe. 

You know that feeling that you can un-see what you've seen? You can't unlearn what you know. Yeah, it's like that.

For the next hour I learned about the horrific things that are found in our foods. This occurs on a regular basis whether we know it or not.  These governmental watchdogs try to put a stop to it, but the skeptic in me wondered what gets past the pros? This particular session focused on our seafood supply. Even now I shudder to think about the "near misses" I've had when trying to eat. So far it hasn't killed me.
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But I keep thinking, you never know.

Or can you? When I got back I signed up for the Food Safety and Inspection Service produced by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. That's a mouthful, but this site provides regular emails that alert me to recalls and unsafe foods before it hits mass media.  I figure it's my duty as a health professional to protect my family and my community, and trust me, if I thought it was a critical issue, I would be sounding the alarm. 

A lot of it has to do with undeclared allergens or foreign suppliers failing to complete inspections. Our panel of experts said a lot of times it's about passing off an expensive fish fillet for a cheap ones. Sometime the buyers can't even tell and I'm sure consumers can't. I wonder if we ever really know what we are getting.

Today's recall notice: 

Washington, March 1, 2018 - Sensenig Turkey Farm LLC, a Lititz, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 1,925 pounds of turkey sausage products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The products contain wheat and soy, known allergens, which are not declared on the product label. The raw breakfast turkey sausage items were produced on various dates from Sept. 25, 2017 to Feb 26, 2018. 

Well, first of all I'm wondering why this food is so old? It was made in September? Strike one. Next, I want to know why there is wheat and soy in a meat product? How much grain can go into sausage before it has to be labeled as something other than meat? Strike two. And strike three, it is mislabeled and I'm not getting what I think I am paying for. I hate that.

Here is the link in case you want to stay up nights wondering when you're luck is going to run out with the next mouthful of food: 

 All kidding aside, we live in a country that for the most part, provides a safe environment for consumers. While others struggle to find clean water each and every day, we walk to the nearest faucet for ours. We have access to organic foods if we so desire. Or like me, and many others, we dig up our back yards, shun herbicides and pesticides, and harvest foods knowing exactly where they come from. No middle man, except Mother Nature.