The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.
Cornucopia’s Take: Cornucopia seeks to help eaters find research on what is healthy and what is not, and the task is harder than you might think. In the case of carrageenan, a thickener and emulsifier often used in processing plant-based beverages and other foods, we found a great deal of compelling evidence that carrageenan makes many people sick. The industry continues to argue otherwise, assuring customers that carrageenan is safe—it is, after all, approved by the FDA. But the studies they use to “prove” carrageenan is safe are all self-funded industry studies, procured by companies with a vested interest in finding their products healthful. You can learn more about carrageenan and the ongoing regulatory debacle around it in our report, Carrageenan: New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes.
Sloppy science meets nutrition research Gulf News by Jane E. Brody
The unstated goal of most company-sponsored studies is to increase the bottom line
Confused about what to eat and drink to protect your health? I’m not surprised. For example, after decades of research-supported dietary advice to reduce saturated fats to minimise the risk of heart disease and stroke, along comes a new observational study of 136,384 people in 21 countries linking consumption of full-fat (read saturated) dairy foods to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
But without dissecting each study included in this meta-analysis, it is not possible to say what might be behind this surprising result and whether you should now resume putting cream in your coffee and whole milk in your cereal bowl. The study may simply mean that consuming the equivalent of three servings of dairy products a day is healthful, not saturated fat per se.
Caution is in order, especially since another new study, this one a randomly assigned clinical trial, found that three weeks on a diet rich in saturated fat caused liver fat and insulin resistance to rise far higher than diets high in sugar or unsaturated fat.
Or maybe you bought into the hype about pomegranate juice as an antioxidant superfood, only to learn from a new book that the health-promoting evidence for this expensive drink derives mainly from $20 million of company-sponsored research. Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: The GMO labeling law crawled out of the swamp in time for Christmas. The USDA will allow QR codes instead of legitimate labeling and, for those who do choose to label clearly, the necessary language is the little-know phrase, “bioengineered food.” Soda and oils made from GMOs are exempt from any labeling. The article below was written by Max Goldberg, the editor/publisher of Organic Insider, a weekly newsletter about the organic industry.
With its New GMO-Labeling Rule, the USDA Has Completely Failed the American Consumer Living Maxwell by Max Goldberg
– Instead of requiring companies to use the on-package labels “Made with GMOs” or “Made with Genetic Engineering”, which would make it easy for consumers, the USDA has done the polar opposite.
Not only are companies not required to use on-package labels, but they can use QR codes instead. As the Center for Food Safety has long argued, QR codes are inherently discriminatory to the elderly, poor, rural and minorities.
And if companies do use an on-package label, it must use the phrase “bioengineered food,” a term not commonly used or understood by consumers. Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: All routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities have been suspended during the ongoing partial federal government shutdown. A small number of inspectors will likely be called back next week without pay to monitor high-risk facilities to mitigate consumer risk.
Government shutdown stops FDA food safety inspections NBC News by Maggie Fox
“There are important things we are not doing,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says.
FDA microbiologist prepares seafood samples blended with an enrichment broth to be tested for microorganisms. Source: FDA, Flickr
The ongoing federal government shutdown has stopped most food safety inspections, but the Food and Drug Administration is planning to resume at least some of them. To do it, the agency will have to force furloughed workers to come back without pay.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he is trying to pinpoint the most essential inspections, while making sure that employees do not suffer too much.
“There’s no question of whether it’s business as usual at FDA,” Gottlieb told NBC News.
“It’s not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances. There are important things we are not doing.”
Foreign food inspections are also continuing, almost as normal, because they’re considered so important. But the FDA has virtually stopped inspecting domestic food production facilities, which could mean threats to the public are going undetected. “We’re doing everything we can to try to maintain our basic consumer protection role. That’s our focus,” Gottlieb said in an interview late Tuesday. Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: Most of us are familiar with the notion that bacteria treated with antibiotics in hospitals, feedlots, and in the course of normal human life are becoming resistant to the antibiotics prescribed to kill them. Why don’t scientists just patent new antibiotics? Unfortunately, the discovery of effective, new, broad-spectrum antibiotics is very difficult and perhaps unlikely. The article below explains the trouble. Cornucopia believes that livestock should never be treated preemptively with antibiotics, a ubiquitous practice in conventional agriculture which is fraught with excessive crowding and potential disease outbreaks.
Scientists keep fighting the microscopic arms race, even though it’s one we might eventually lose
As the summer of 2016 wound down in Colorado, public health officials in two counties issued alerts: people drinking raw milk from a local dairy were getting sick from bacteria called Campylobacter jejuni.
By the end of the outbreak, about a dozen people had fallen ill with diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. One person was hospitalized. Several were sick for more than 10 days, despite the fact that Campylobacter infections typically resolve quickly. Months later, federal public health officials revealed why the infection might have persisted for so long: bacteria they isolated had developed resistance to the antibiotics normally used to treat them.
It’s a story that has become increasingly common. Infections that were once easily treatable now require extraordinary doses of one or more antibiotics. Meanwhile, intravenous antibiotics with nicknames like “last resort” come off the shelf more and more often. These stories portend a bleak future, one in which small wounds could lead to death, a common occurence of a bygone era, say scientists who spoke to C&EN about the antibiotic crisis. Read Full Article »