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McDonald’s Strange Farm-Fresh Chicken Campaign In China

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Nobody goes to McDonald’s in the U.S. expecting to buy chicken nuggets made out of healthy, fairly-treated chickens; they just want crunchy nuggets, no questions asked. Things are a little different in China, where food safety is a major concern, especially after scandals like the one in 2008 where milk and infant formula throughout the country was tainted with melamine, a plastic used to make countertops and dry-erase boards.

In a funny role reversal, western fast-food joints have become places for urban Chinese to make sure their food is of a certain level of quality. To reinforce that notion, McDonald’s has launched the Chickileaks campaign (the actual translation is “unveil the secret of chicken grown”), an initiative that is intended to give Chinese customers more insight into the company’s chicken supply chain.

The campaign features a TV advertisement (a child playing with chicks that will presumably later be ground up into delicious chicken nuggets), as well as a series of online videos showing “reporters” visiting McDonald’s farms and speaking with technicians and scientists that work with chickens, according to Advertising Age. In one of the spots, the “reporters” eat chicken feed to demonstrate just how tasty it is.

The goal is not exactly to convince customers that their chicken was raised in an environmentally-friendly way; it’s to prove that the chicken is safe. When we contacted McDonald’s China, we were told that their emphasis is on food safety, with regularly-vaccinated chicken flocks, the ability to track where chicken flocks come from (presumably in case of contamination), and animal and transport disinfection certificates. We’re not talking about organic, free-range chicken here. It’s more like “don’t blame us” chicken.

“We source from designated suppliers who provide exclusive supply chain management for McDonald’s China. McDonald’s ensures that these suppliers adhere to the strictest precautionary measures and are in compliance with all Government food safety standards,” explained Betty Tian, a McDonald’s China communications representative, in an email.

We tend to believe that McDonald’s is telling the truth about its food safety standards; there is no benefit for the company in cutting corners on this issue. But what we’d really like to see is a day in the life of a Chinese McDonald’s chicken. It may be a safe existence, but it’s probably not too pleasant.

Source: Fast Company



Caramel Coloring In Coke Causes Cancer

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

A few days ago it was revealed that diet soda can trigger strokes in regular drinkers of the sweet fizzy beverages. Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest is petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prohibit what it says is carcinogenic “caramel coloring” (that is, not real caramel but synthetic, chemical “caramel”):

The “caramel coloring” used in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other foods is contaminated with two cancer-causing chemicals and should be banned, according to a regulatory petition filed today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.

The National Toxicology Program, the division of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that conducted the animal studies, said that there is “clear evidence” that both 2-MI and 4-MI are animal carcinogens. Chemicals that cause cancer in animals are considered to pose cancer threats to humans. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found significant levels of 4-MI in five brands of cola.

“Carcinogenic colorings have no place in the food supply, especially considering that their only function is a cosmetic one,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The FDA should act quickly to revoke its approval of caramel colorings made with ammonia.”

Federal regulations distinguish among four types of caramel coloring, two of which are produced with ammonia and two without it. CSPI wants the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the two made with ammonia. The type used in colas and other dark soft drinks is known as Caramel IV, or ammonia sulfite process caramel. Caramel III, which is produced with ammonia but not sulfites, is sometimes used in beer, soy sauce, and other foods.

Five prominent experts on animal carcinogenesis, including several who have worked at the National Toxicology Program, joined CSPI in calling on the FDA to bar the use of caramel colorings made with an ammonia process. “The American public should not be exposed to any cancer risk whatsoever as a result of consuming such chemicals, especially when they serve a non-essential, cosmetic purpose,” the scientists wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

CSPI also says the phrase “caramel coloring” is misleading when used to describe colorings made with ammonia or sulfite. The terms “ammonia process caramel” or “ammonia sulfite process caramel” would be more accurate, and companies should not be allowed to label any products that contain such colorings as “natural,” according to the group.

“Most people would interpret ‘caramel coloring’ to mean ‘colored with caramel,’ but this particular ingredient has little in common with ordinary caramel or caramel candy,” Jacobson said. “It’s a concentrated dark brown mixture of chemicals that simply does not occur in nature. Regular caramel isn’t healthful, but at least it is not tainted with carcinogens.”

In a little-noticed regulatory proceeding in California, state health officials have added 4 MI to the state’s list of “chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.”

.” Under that state’s Proposition 65, foods or other products containing more than certain levels of cancer-causing chemicals must carry warning labels. For 4-MI, that level is 16 micrograms per person per day from an individual product. Popular brands of cola contain about 200 micrograms of 4-MI per 20-ounce bottle—and many people, especially teenaged boys, consume more than that each day. If California’s regulation is finalized, Coke, Pepsi, and other soft drinks would be required to bear a cancer warning label.

To put the risk from caramel coloring in context, CSPI says the ten teaspoons of obesity-causing sugars in a non-diet can of soda presents a greater health risk than the ammonia sulfite process caramel. But the levels of 4-MI in the tested colas still may be causing thousands of cancers in the U.S. population.

Separate from the risk due to caramel coloring, CSPI has been urging the FDA to ban synthetic food colorings, such as Yellow 5 and Red 40. Those dyes cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children, and Red 3 and Yellows 5 and 6 pose cancer risks, according to CSPI. The FDA is holding a Food Advisory Committee review of that issue on March 30–31.

Over the years, CSPI’s efforts have resulted in reductions in the use of, labeling requirements, or limits on Violet No. 1, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, sulfites, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, salt, and olestra.


Lawsuit Alleges Taco Bell Beef Only 36% Meat

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

An Alabama law firm claims in a lawsuit that Taco Bell is using false advertising when it refers to using “seasoned ground beef” or “seasoned beef” in its products.

The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell restaurants contains binders and extenders and does not meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as “beef,” according to the legal complaint.

The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in the Central District of California by the Montgomery law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles.

Attorney Dee Miles said attorneys had Taco Bell’s “meat mixture” tested and found it contained less that 35 percent beef.

The lawsuit on behalf of Taco Bell customer and California resident Amanda Obney does not seek monetary damages, but asks the court to order Taco Bell to be honest in its advertising.

“We are asking that they stop saying that they are selling beef,” Miles said.

Irvine-based Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch (PAYCH) said the company denies that its advertising is misleading.

“Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We’re happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree,” Poetsch said. He said the company would “vigorously defend the suit.”

The lawsuit says that Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” contains other ingredients, including water, wheat, oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch.

What Is A McNugget?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Do you put dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent made of silicone, in your chicken dishes?

How about tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a chemical preservative so deadly that just five grams can kill you?

These are just two of the ingredients in a McDonalds Chicken McNugget. Only 50 percent of a McNugget is actually chicken. The other 50 percent includes corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and completely synthetic ingredients.

Organic Authority helpfully transcribed the full ingredients list provided by McDonalds:

“White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary).

Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch.

Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.”

Source:  Organic Authority

San Francisco Bans Happy Meals

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

San Francisco’s board of supervisors has voted, by a veto-proof margin, to ban most of McDonald’s Happy Meals as they are now served in the restaurants.

The measure will make San Francisco the first major city in the country to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.

The ordinance would also require restaurants to provide fruits and vegetables with all meals for children that come with toys.
“We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. “From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It’s a survival issue and a day-to-day issue.”

Just after the vote, McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud said, “We are extremely disappointed with today’s decision. It’s not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for.”

The ban, already enacted in a similar measure by Santa Clara County, was opposed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was vying to be lieutenant governor in Tuesday’s election. But because the measure was passed by eight votes — one more than needed to override a veto — his opposition doesn’t matter unless one of the supervisors changes his or her mind after the promised veto.

Under the ordinance, scheduled to take effect in December 2011, restaurants may include a toy with a meal if the food and drink combined contain fewer than 600 calories, and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat.

Over the last few weeks, the proposed ban caused a stir online and on cable television, with supporters arguing that it would help protect children from obesity, and opponents seeing it as the latest example of the nanny state gone wild.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose swing vote provided the veto-proof majority, said critics should not dismiss the legislation as a nutty effort by San Franciscans. “I do believe the industry is going to take note of this. I don’t care how much they say, ‘It’s San Francisco, they’re wacked out there.’ ”

Proud, the McDonald’s spokeswoman, said the city was out of step with the mainstream on the issue.

“Public opinion continues to be overwhelmingly against this misguided legislation,” she said. “Parents tell us it’s their right and responsibility — not the government’s — to make their own decisions and to choose what’s right for their children.”

McDonald’s is not the only fast-food chain to offer toys with children’s meals, but because it is so prominent the company has become a key face of opposition to the ban.

Daniel Conway, spokesman for the California Restaurant Assn., bemoaned the ordinance’s passage and contrasted it with San Franciscans’ exuberant feelings after the Giants won the world series on Monday night.

“One day you’re world champions, and the next day, no toys for you,” Conway said.

He said the industry could respond in a number of ways to the ordinance. Some might continue to include toys but charge separately for them. Others might reformulate their meals so that they comply with the law. Restaurants might also simply stop offering children’s meals altogether, he said.

Proud said the company does offer more healthful menu options, including apple slices that can be ordered with kids’ meals instead of French fries.

The vote was held the same day that McDonald’s reintroduced nationwide its McRib sandwich, a pressed pork patty that gets half its calories from fat and has a cult-like legion of fans.

Mar said it would lead the fast-food giant and other restaurants to provide more healthful food for kids. The ban, he said, was crucial to the fight against childhood obesity and the illnesses that go along with it, including diabetes and the risk of heart problems and stroke. The cost of fighting those diseases, he said, will be in the billions.

“It’s astronomical how much it’s going to cost if we don’t address it,” Mar said. “It’s incredible the crisis that’s going to hit us.”

Source: LA Times

KFC Fined After Cockroach, Mouse And Dried Blood Are Found

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was ordered to pay out almost £19,000 today after a cockroach was found eating a chip in one of the busiest branches in Britain.

The insect was seen on a food dispensing counter near takeaway boxes and tongs used to serve chicken by an environmental health officer in a restaurant in London’s West End.

City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard during an inspection at the Leicester Square branch, the officer also saw a mouse, flies and dried chicken blood on the floor.

The Westminster City Council inspector also said there was no hand wash in dispensers in the food preparation area.

‘There was no soap in the ground-floor food preparation room so, on the day of the inspection at least, it was not possible for food preparation staff to wash their hands properly,’ said Michael Goodwin, prosecuting.

The fast food giant admitted breaching five hygiene rules after the inspection in August 2008.

Mr Goodwin said that, four months prior to the inspection, the branch received a ‘specific warning’ from the council voicing concerns about hygiene practices.

David Whiting, mitigating, said the company took the inspection ‘very seriously’.

‘KFC accepts the condition that has been described to you,’ he said.

‘They fell below their own high standards and below legal standards.’

Mr Whiting said that, since the inspection, the outside contractor employed to deal with pest control problems has had its hire agreement with KFC terminated across the UK.

Mr Whiting added that, on the day of inspection, an employee had simply forgotten to refill the soap in the dispensers in the preparation room and there were still places where hands could be washed.

The Coventry Street outlet, which employs 65 people and operates from 10am to 3am, has since undergone a £600,000 refurbishment.

Mr Whiting said that, each day, 1,600 transactions were completed and more than 1,000lb of fries sold in the branch, which is based over four floors and seats 100 people.

At a hearing in April, the firm, based in Woking, Surrey, pleaded guilty to failure to keep the premises clean, not keeping the building maintained and in good repair and not having adequate procedures in place to prevent pest control.

It also admitted failure to ensure that the layout, design and construction permitted good food hygiene practices and failure to ensure that materials for cleaning hands were available at hand basins.

District Judge Howard Riddle today fined the food chain £11,000 for the five offences.

He also ordered it to pay £7,927.80 in costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

Outside court, Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: ‘The standards of hygiene at this restaurant were appalling and simply unacceptable.

‘A fast food chain of the size and stature of KFC should know better, and I am amazed their head office allowed such an important flagship restaurant to decline to these low levels.

‘The restaurant industry is a vital part of our economy, and we will not tolerate any behaviour which could jeopardise it or the safety of our millions of visitors.

‘I hope this case sends a clear signal that we will take firm action against any restaurant which puts the health of its diners at risk.’

Nina Arnott, a spokesperson for KFC said: ‘These charges date back to August 2008, and as soon as we were made aware of the results of the inspection, we took immediate action to bring the restaurant back up to our strict hygiene standards.

‘The restaurant has undergone a complete renovation, and the EHO’s barrister has told the District Judge that there is no longer a concern about these premises.’

Source: : Daily Mail UK

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in The Meat? We’re Gonna Find Out

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Researchers in Flagstaff are looking at what happens when farmers routinely feed antibiotics to the beef, chicken, pork, turkey, shrimp and salmon you might find at the local grocery store.

They’re buying meat and seafood from grocery stores here and in Los Angeles, Florida, Chicago, and the District of Columbia, to investigate what kinds of bacteria live on it.

If past testing for different bacteria is any indication, they could find some ugly stuff: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting you by kitchen cross-contamination, even if you’re a vegetarian living with omnivores.

“We think that it is contributing significantly to the antibiotic resistance problem in people,” said Lance B. Price, a biologist and director of a Translational Genomics (TGen) North unit that does research bearing on human health and the organisms living on us.

Animals in many commercial feeding operations in the United States — Europe, including the world’s top pork producer, Denmark, has banned the practice — feed their animals antibiotics routinely when they are well, sometimes mixed with food, to help them grow faster and remain healthy in crowded conditions.

“In industrial food animal production, one of their standard tools is to use antibiotics,” Price said.

Click to continue »

There is Shit in the Soda

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

The soda machines found in fast food restaurants may be giving you more than you bargained for.  Many of them are delivering a sweet liquid contaminated with fecal bacteria.   Studies show that almost half of all soda dispensed from a sample of 30 machines in the Roanoke Valley Area of Virginia found significant amounts of coliform bacteria — a group of bacteria that indicates the possibility of fecal contamination.

In standard EPA tests of drinking water some bacteria in allowed.  One that is never allowed is Fecal Coliform.  Its not allowed in our drinking water but it is coming out of the soda machine at McDonalds!

Abstract of the Study.

Soda Fountains Squirt Fecal Bacteria, Study Finds (ABC News)