Hash Brown Recall Due To Extraneous Golf Ball Materials

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By Cooking Panda

OK, so this is one of the most bizarre recall notices I’ve ever read.

Every so often, a company or food manufacturer will have to issue a recall of one or more of its items. Typically, something at the factory in which the product is manufactured is suspected to possibly be contaminated with some sort of dangerous virus, and to play it safe, companies recall the product to ensure the safety of its customers.

And sometimes, apparently, products are recalled because they are suspected to contain not viruses, but little chopped-up pieces of golf balls inside of them.

Yup. Golf balls.

In a statement posted by the FDA, McCain Foods USA, Inc. announced a voluntary recall of its two-pound frozen bags of Roundy’s Brand and Harris Teeter Brand Southern Style Hash Browns, saying that they might contain pieces of golf balls.

Seriously!

“McCain Foods USA, Inc. announced today it is voluntarily recalling retail, frozen hash brown products that may be contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product,” the company said. “Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth.”

The products that are being recalled are two have a manufactured date of January 19, 2017, with a production code date of B170119, which you can find on the back of your hash brown packaging.

Obviously, McCain Foods is urging consumers not to ingest any of the potentially contaminated items, and requests that you either dispose of your hash browns or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

As of April 24, nobody has phoned in to report an injury associated with consuming the hash browns, so I guess there’s always a silver living to these types of whacky situations.

Source: FDA / Photo Credit: FDA

Tags: FDA, golf balls, Hash Browns, mccain foods usa, recall
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FDA Says These Pink Pineapples Are Safe To Consume (Photos)

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By Cooking Panda

So here’s a silly little exercise: Imagine your favorite fruit. Really envision it in your mind: its shape, its texture, its flavor, its color, the way it feels in your hand.

Now, imagine that you could change that fruit to taste the same, but be any color your heart desires (the bagel gods turned their normally beige-creation rainbow, after all).

Personally, I’ve hopped on the 2017-popular-food-color bandwagon, and so am imagining all of the strawberries in the land different shades of purple. If you envisioned a pineapple and wanted to turn it pink, however, guess what? You’re in luck!

NBC reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually just declared a new genetically engineered pineapple safe and nutritious, which means that a new pink pineapple made by Del Monte Fresh Produce is safe to be sold, and therefore bought, maybe by you!

“(Del Monte’s) new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene,” NBC reports the FDA as saying. “Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed.”

How cute is that?

The company says that its vibrant pineapple will be labeled as “extra sweet pink flesh pineapple” and grown in Costa Rica.

The only reason that the FDA felt the need to label the genetically engineered plants is because even though they are safe, federal law makes it a requirement to do so.

“We use the term ‘genetic engineering’ to refer to genetic modification practices that utilize modern biotechnology. In this process, scientists make targeted changes to a plant’s genetic makeup to give the plant a new desirable trait. For example, two new apple varieties have been genetically engineered to resist browning associated with cuts and bruises by reducing levels of enzymes that can cause browning.”

Additionally, the FDA claims that human beings have actually been modifying their crops for thousands of years, which has enabled us to grow all sorts of varieties of foods.

Sounds good to us!

Source: NBC / Photo Credit: The Pineapple Patio/Instagram, Colleen McKenzie/InstagramDr. Ava Shamban/Instagram

Tags: cross breeding, farming, FDA, genetically modified, pink pineapple
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Beware: Trader Joe’s Just Recalled Two Hummus Products (Photos)

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By Cooking Panda

Following the great Sabra hummus recall, Trader Joe’s has now issued a statement that two kinds of its hummus spreads have been voluntarily recalled due to the potential of being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

It seems like products with potential listeria infections have been popping up left and right lately, but in case you don’t know what listeria is, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines it as “an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.”

Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus and Trader Joe’s White Bean & Basil Hummus are the two products subject to the recall, with “USE BY” date codes up through and including Dec. 15, 2016.

As of Dec. 1, 2016, there have been no confirmed illnesses from the products, so hopefully everybody is in the clear, even though the company manufacturer noted the contamination on some of the same equipment that was used to make the hummus. 

“All potentially affected products have been removed from store shelves and destroyed,” the statement from Trader Joe’s and the FDA assures.

If you have one of these hummus varieties, make sure to discard the product immediately, or return it to the Trader Joe’s where you purchased it for a full refund.

Additionally, for those who have questions, Trader Joe’s and the FDA encourages consumers to contact Bakkavor Foods at (855) 312-7504, Monday through Friday 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.

Sources: FDA / Photo Credit: FDA

Tags: bakkavor, FDA, Hummus, listeria, recall, Trader Joe's
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Sabra Just Issued A Massive Recall On Hummus!

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By Cooking Panda

Another day, another food recall issued due to a listeria scare.

Sabra dipping company issued a statement on Nov. 19 for a voluntary recall of certain hummus products made prior to Nov. 8, 2016. You might recognize the name Sabra because it’s a pretty dang popular brand — unfortunately, 57 different varieties of hummus have been recalled.

The FDA notes that the recall is due to “Listeria monocytogenes, which was identified at the manufacturing facility but not in tested finished product.”

In case you were wondering, “Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. The company is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.”

So, yeah. Even if listeria wasn’t found in the tested finished products, it’s probably better for us all to play it safe rather than sorry.

If you have a Sabra product with a “Best Before” date spanning through Jan. 23, 2017, then you are urged to discard it. Additionally, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm eastern time, consumers can contact Sabra Consumer Relations at 1-866-265-6761 for additional information.

“We have invested heavily in technology and enhancing our processes and protocols, with guidance and input from external experts, to develop and put in place industry-leading food safety procedures, such as testing finished product from the production line every two minutes for pathogens including listeria,” Sabra said in a statement. “We want to reassure our consumers that our procedures include extensive finished product testing, and no products tested positive for contaminants. We are taking action because consumer safety is a top priority.

“Everyone here is working our hardest to minimize the impact, so we can get back to doing what we love most — bringing the Sabra community delicious fresh foods. The people at Sabra remain committed to producing and delivering great tasting and wholesome hummus made with kitchen fresh ingredients that consumers can enjoy with peace of mind.”

Sources: FDA, Sabra / Photo Credit: Sabra/Instagram

Tags: FDA, Hummus, listeria, recall, sabra
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Help The FDA Define What ‘Healthy Eating’ Really Means

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By Cooking Panda

Most people have their own idea about what constitutes healthy eating.

For many, calories, nutrients, and portion size are all crucial variables to consider when determining whether or not a specific item is a healthy choice.

At the moment, the FDA is working on making sure that food labels in grocery stores accurately reflect the public’s evolving understanding about nutrition. As a preliminary step, they’re asking you, the public, to help them by answering a range of questions about what the term “healthy” should actually mean from a nutrition perspective.

The FDA’s Douglas Balentine wrote in a blog post:

For instance, the most recent public health recommendations now focus on type of fat, rather than amount of fat. They focus on added sugars, which consumers will see on the new Nutrition Facts label. And they focus on nutrients that consumers aren’t getting enough of, like vitamin D and potassium. …

As a first step, we are asking for public input on a range of questions about what “healthy” should mean from a nutrition perspective and how consumers understand and use “healthy” food label claims. …

What do consumers expect of foods that carry a “healthy” claim? What factors and criteria should be used for the new definition of “healthy”? We are also planning to hold public forums to get additional input and inform us of what a broad range of stakeholders and consumers think. This may take some time, but we want to get it right.

If you would like to submit comments and information, you can submit electronic comments on http://www.regulations.gov to docket folder FDA-2016-D-2335.

Submit your written comments to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)

Food and Drug Administration

5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061

Rockville, MD 20852

All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2016-D-2335.

Source: FDA / Photo credit: Healthination

Tags: clean eating, FDA, healthy food, opinion, surveys
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New FDA Guidelines Urge The Food Industry To Cut Back On Sodium

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By Cooking Panda

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new draft guidelines on June 1, which urge the food industry to cut back on the amount of sodium added to processed, packaged and prepared foods.

The new voluntary guidelines recommend sodium limits for more than 100 different processed, packaged, and prepared foods, and are broken into short-term (two-year) and long-term (10-year) goals. The target-goals are set to allow manufacturers ample time to reformulate their products, and allow people to adjust their palates to eating lower-sodium meals.

According to the FDA, the average sodium intake in the United States is approximately 3,400 milligrams per day; however, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Healthy People 2020 advises that people consume less than or equal to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

Additionally, because approximately 75 percent of total sodium intake comes from processed and commercially prepared foods (we’re looking at you, Seamless), the voluntary guidance aims to encourage Americans to achieve the recommended sodium intake by requesting “food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operations to reduce sodium in foods.”

 
 

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in an FDA statement. “Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.” 

Of course, because the guidelines are only voluntary, a variety of health groups have emerged to argue for mandatory standards; while they concede that the voluntary guidelines are a step in the right direction, the worry is that some restaurants and food providers won’t comply.

Michael Jacobson, the head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told ABC News that the government ought to measure how effective the voluntary guidelines work. If the standards fall short of the target, he suggests the FDA set mandatory guidelines.

“It’s disappointing that the FDA is only proposing targets and not formal limits, but in this political climate with a Republican Congress and such massive industry opposition, we’re gratified that the administration is at least coming out with voluntary targets,” Jacobson said.

Sources: FDA (2), ABC News / Photo credit: Flipzon

Tags: FDA, salt, sodium
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Lawsuit Alleges ‘Whole Grain’ Cheez-Its Are Not Healthy (Photo)

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By Cooking Panda

A class action lawsuit filed against the Kellogg Company alleges that Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are nutritionally the same as the original version, which is “false and misleading.”

“Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are virtually indistinct nutritionally from Cheez-It Original crackers,” reads the complaint, as reported by Munchies. “They contain only one gram of dietary fiber per serving. Neither Whole Grain variety increases whole grains beyond half, as recommend by the [2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans].”

The main ingredient of the whole grain crackers is enriched white flour, which is the same as the original version.

“Thus, Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are not predominantly whole grain, despite the reasonable expectations that Kellogg has created by distinguishing Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers from other crackers in the ‘Cheez-It’ product line by denominating them ‘WHOLE GRAIN,'” the complaint continued.

While no one expects any version of Cheez-It crackers to serve as diet food, a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional labels of both crackers does appear to prove a point. Although the whole grain crackers have slightly more fiber and sodium with less calcium than the original crackers, both labels are virtually identical. 

“Consumers are seeking out whole grain foods, and expect that when they see the words ‘whole grain’ on the package that whole grain is the main ingredient,” explained Maia Kats, litigation director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Kellogg’s Whole Grain Cheez-Its have more white flour than whole grain. It’s effectively a junk food, and Kellogg is taking financial advantage of consumers who are trying to make better decisions for their health.”

According to an FDA document from 2006, the organization has no enforceable rules regarding what can be considered a “whole grain” product. As Kellogg’s did not claim the crackers were 100 percent whole grain, it is unclear whether or not any regulations were broken.

“[The] FDA has not defined any claims concerning the grain content of foods,” the document stated, according to Munchies. “However, the agency has established standards of identity for various types of cereal flours and related products… including a standard of identity for ‘whole wheat flour’ and ‘whole durum flour.'”

Kris Charles, spokesperson for the Kellogg Company, said the lawsuit is “completely without merit” and their nutritional labels are “accurate and in full compliance with FDA regulations.” 

Sources: Center for Science in the Public Interest, Munchies / Photo credit: Center for Science in the Public Interest, Munchies

Tags: Cheez-Its, FDA, Kellogg's, Lawsuit, Whole Grain
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Michelle Obama Reveals Major Changes to FDA Nutrition Labels (Photo)

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By Cooking Panda

The Food and Drug Administration has made its biggest changes to food labels in 20 years.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who is also the honorary chair of Partnership for a Healthier America, revealed the significant upgrades that will be on the food labels of approximately 800,000 products.

“Very soon, you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator, or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you are buying is actually good for your kids,” she said at the organization’s Build a Healthier Future Summit, as reported by Food Navigator.

Among the various changes, “Added Sugars” is provoking the most controversy. Until now, consumers had no way to know how much of the sugar in any given food was natural, such as from fruit, versus an added sweetener like high-fructose corn syrup.

“Besides helping consumers make more informed choices, the new label should also spur food manufacturers to add less sugar to their products,” stated the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which supports the initiative along with the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

Opponents of the change argue that all sugars are the same, whereas the FDA countered by saying the change will help consumers determine foods that are nutrient-dense and limit products with added sweeteners.  

“A line disclosing added sugars with a corresponding percent Daily Value on updated Nutrition Fats labels should help consumers reduce their risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease,” added the CSPI.

“Having the added sugars will shock people into realizing how much sugar they’re eating,” said Michael F. Jacobson, president of the organization, as noted by Vox.

The new labels will also display the calorie count in a larger, easier-to-read font, and will adjust the serving size to be closer to what consumers actually eat. Under the nutrients of interest section, vitamin D and iron will replace vitamins A and C, as few people tend to lack the latter compared to the former.

Most food manufacturers will need to comply with the new label by July 26, 2018. Companies with less than $10 million in annual sales will be granted another year to make the change.  

Sources: Food Navigator, Vox / Photo credit: Joyce N. Boghosian/Wikimedia Commons, Vox

Tags: added sugars, FDA, Michelle Obama, nutrition labels, serving size
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New Deadline Requires Restaurants To Post Calorie Counts Of Food

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By Cooking Panda

A new federal deadline of May 5, 2017 will require U.S. restaurant owners to post the calorie counts of the food they sell, as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka Obamacare), reports Metro.

The regulation aims to help consumers make more informed choices about their nutrition and intake, since Americans reportedly eat and drink approximately one-third of their calories away from home, reports Metro.

Food retail establishments with 20 or more locations will be required to list calories on menus and menu boards. The regulation will also apply to vending machine operators with 20 or more units.

The postponement from the initial December 1 deadline was contained in final guidance from the Food and Drug Administration released on May 5; Fox reports that we can thank lobbyists for Domino’s Pizza Inc., convenience stores and supermarkets for the delay; additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at the weakening rule in February.

“I’m hopeful that the date will stick,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, as reported by Fox.

Due to the rule’s delayed start date, some early critics such as McDonald’s have already been displaying caloric and nutritional information for years in compliance with rules set by California, New York City and other jurisdictions, reports Metro.

Although the new requirements might be viewed as unnecessary or burdensome to some chains, the upside to food retail establishments ensuring menu transparency is immense. Just think about the man who died after consuming a curry laced with peanuts — surely, he could have benefited from knowing more about what was in his food.

Credit: Metro, Fox News / Image Credit: US_FDA/Twitter

Tags: calorie counts, FDA, restaurants
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FDA Finally Acknowledges That Pop-Tarts Are Not A Health Food

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By Cooking Panda

The FDA is finally catching up with the times. After 22 years, the government agency has finally announced plans to update its definition of “healthy,” taking into account new research that has rendered its current demarcation sorely lacking.

Despite the fact that the fundamental tenets of food science and nutrition have changed dramatically over the past two decades, the FDA has not changed its guidelines for “healthy” food since 1994. While recent research suggests that fat is important to a balanced diet, the present definition excludes everything with a high fat content, from avocados to salmon. Today, scientists and doctors alike agree that such rules are not only outdated, but also unhealthy, encouraging consumers to forgo potentially nutritious foods.

Even worse, the 1990’s rules include no guidelines concerning added sugar. Recent research suggests that sugar can lead to everything from obesity to diabetes, even causing addiction under certain circumstances. Strangely enough, however, under the current definition, high-sugar foods such as Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes are considered “healthy.”

In 2016, almost no one believes that sugary cereals are more nutritious than salmon, and yet it has taken the FDA 22 years to incorporate such scientific facts into their official rules for healthy eating. Thankfully, the Administration has announced that it will seek input from a variety of sources and experts in crafting its new definition. In the meantime, employ common sense when choosing foods, and remember that no matter how delicious they may be, Pop-Tarts are not a health food!

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Source: Grub Street / Photo credit: Thrillist

Tags: FDA, healthy, Nutrition, pop-tarts, Sugar
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