What You Can Do To Protect Yourself…

by Dina Eliash Robinson

…While Waiting For Congress To Act As Public Outcry Pushes It To Strengthen Product Safety (Recalled foods list below can help)

Proving that commonsense is the least common among human senses, Congress—urged by corporations—has spent years starving such agencies as the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Product Safety Commission of the resources they needed to protect the public from harmful goods.

Only after injuries (and some deaths) caused by tainted foods, toxic toys, and other lethal products led to the loss of consumer trust and forced the recall of goods worth millions of dollars, did regulation-averse corporations realize that consumer protection also protected their pocketbooks, as well as the global economy.

And so, after years of lobbying (read: campaign contributions) by business-friendly legislators and Administrations to weaken the FDA, USDA, CPSC, etc., importers and domestic producers of mistrusted goods are suddenly finding themselves on the same side as consumers. Together they might just succeed in pressuring Congress to fund the hiring of a great deal more federal inspectors, the opening of additional, fully-equipped testing labs, and the revving up of watchdogs agencies to full speed.

But since the wheels of Government grind ever so slowly, it is up to all of us to take care of our safety and health. Luckily, learning to be more self-sufficient can be quite exhilarating. All it takes is vigilance (a combination of caution and mindfulness), and self-education consisting of a fair amount of reading and listening. Keeping an open mind when exposed to contradicting information about food safety and nutrition, helps develop the ability to tell straight talk from hidden self-interest and hype.

All of us bloggers at the FreeRangeClub are here to help make it all easy for you. By collecting information from reliable sources—including from experts in the fields of food safety, healthy eating and gourmet cooking—selecting what’s important, and fact-checking it before it’s posted.

Starting Now…

• You may want to take a look at from time to time. This web site tracks FDA and USDA recalls. While quite often goods are recalled long after problems have been discovered, the information can still be valuable—especially when your neighborhood grocery store might have missed or ignored the recall order.

In recent weeks…

• About 5,500 pounds of basil grown in Mexico and sold throughout the U.S., was recalled because of indications that it might have been infected with salmonella.
• Weis Baker’s Baskets of fruit miniatures were recalled because they contained undeclared allergens—in this case, walnuts.
• The FDA warns consumers NOT to eat raw oysters harvested from the West Karako Bay Section of Growing Area 3 in Louisiana.
• Whole Foods Market has expanded its allergy alert to all the varieties of its “365” brand Organic Everyday Value Swiss chocolate bars (probably because they contain undeclared nuts).
• Canned GFS Fancy Blue Lake Cut Green Beans were recalled by the New Era Canning Company—due to “possible health risks.”
• Royal Seafood Baza, Inc., recalled its Dried Roach Fish—due to “possible health risk.”
• The 8 oz. Wegmans Bouillabaisse Seafood Sauce was voluntarily recalled by the producer.
• Cedarlane Natural Foods issued an allergy alert on undeclared casein being present in its Cedarlane Low Fat Bean Rice and Cheese-style Burritos.
• There is an alert on undeclared sulfites in “King” brand dried Turkish apricots sold by Kadouri International Foods, Inc.
• Undeclared sulfites are also in “King Chief” brand dried kudzu.
• Back To Nature Foods Company recalled its Ginger Rice Thins crackers. Reasons not specified.
• Bags (1.5 oz.) of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips sold in North Texas were recalled by Frito-Lay, because of undeclared milk content.
• Trader Joe’s issued a voluntary recall for its 12 oz. Pinjur.
• The California Department of Public Health warns everyone to NOT drink Metromint Flavored Water. Distributor, Soma Beverage Company has recalled the product.
• Queso Fresco / Fresh Cheese is contaminated with Listeria.
• Mexican candy was recalled last month by the San Antonio Company.
• Undeclared sulfites allergy alert was sent out by Prosperity Resources International, Inc., for its “Golden Flower”-brand dried lily bulb.
• Similar allergy alert for undeclared sulfites in its “Golden Lion”-brand dried natural herb, Hylocereus Undatus Britt, was published by Blooming Import, Inc.
• Here’s a bit of bad news: A month after the United States lifted its ban on beef and cattle imports from Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency posted an alert on its web site that a new mad-cow case has been discovered in the Canadian province of Alberta. The CFIA, however, assures us that no part of the animal has been allowed to enter “the human food or animal feed system.” An attentive reading of this item reveals the scary fact that in spite of regulations and repeated promises to consumers that animal parts are no longer allowed into the feed of cattle—which are the strictly herbivorous—it seems that this cannibalistic practice, which is the suspected cause of the mad-cow outbreak, is still being continued. We’re looking into the matter and will get back to you as soon as our persistence breaks through the bureaucratic double-talk we’re encountering.
• Stay tuned.
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