Sunday, August 7, 2011

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone! It's a new week, which means new recipes and new stories from 'Around The Culinary World'. This week features another food recall and...not a whole lot else. This happens from time to time - slow news weeks. Sure, there are stories - but nothing that would fall under the 'can't miss' category. (Which is the whole point of this weekly feature of our blog - little stories that you might have missed during the week, but that you should certainly read). We've still managed to find a few gems amongst the meager pickings. So, let's dive in!

The biggest news story of the week is the massive recall of ground turkey from Cargill. The company is recalling over 36 million pounds of ground turkey, produced in their Arkansas plant from February 20th to August 6th. This recall applies for both their fresh and frozen ground turkey. So far, one person has died and 76 have reported illnesses from the product. The biggest question (for me) is why did it take so long for the company to realize there was a problem? February 20th to August 6th is a timespan a little longer than five months. Clearly if there is something wrong with your production methods - (Which they say there was) one would hope it wouldn't take 5 months to discover. We've talked again and again about FDA regulations and how food production needs to be more tightly monitored, so we won't dive down this road, but I think it's worth noting the long time between problem occurring and company owing up to it. Read more about the recall HERE.

Apparently, I'm not the only one asking Cargill why it took them so long to finally disclose the contamination. The Department of Agriculture would like an answer to the very same question. Cargill reportedly had first learned about some illnesses resulting from their product in March of this year, but spent time 'investigating and researching' the claims. Which...apparently takes five months. There are a lot of interesting facts regarding the investigation and the things the USDA has found in regards to this outbreak so far - you can read the rest of this story HERE.

I for one think Cargill could be in bigger trouble for hiding the issue for so long - this line about investigating and trying to find the problem only works if you're a few weeks behind - maybe a month, behind the first sign of an outbreak. 5 months is unacceptable at that point in time, you are aware there is an issue, but are choosing not to disclose the problem to the public OR pull your product from the shelves. This recall is exhibit A in the argument for higher standards for food producers. Some believe that these big boys can police themselves and will remain accountable because it's the right thing to do - Cargill has shown otherwise. They will hide and cover the issue until in 100% has to be exposed. Maybe there is more to this story - we'll keep an eye on it for the coming weeks, but I hope for Cargill's sake there is something else here that justifies their obvious neglect. Otherwise their image has taken a pretty big hit.

Serving sizes on food packaging has been an issue for a long time. Some companies like to manipulate their nutrition labels to make their products appear more healthy than they really are. Cutting the serving size in 1/2 or even 1/4 of the packaging makes the nutrition look good, but in now way is that practical as most consumers will eat the entire package - assuming it's one serving. The biggest violators of this are canned soup, candy bars, soda bottles - (most of the products that come in smaller sizes, including chips, crackers and beverages). Now, some special interest groups are encouraging the FDA to start regulating serving size. There biggest demand is for products that are typically consumed in one sitting (soda bottles, cans of soup) to disclose the full nutritional information for the ENTIRE contents of the package. Stop hiding behind clever math and be honest with the consumer. Read more about this movement HERE (along with a slideshow of the biggest violators of 'creative serving sizes')

Serving size, 1/4 of the container... riiiiight

Consumer Reports has tested and ranked the best store brand ground coffees. (Yup - this article is pretty much exactly as described...not a whole lot to add there...) Check out the results HERE (Subscription to CR required) or you can get a little preview of the results HERE.

Our 'Well...DUH' story of the week involves Melatonin infused 'sleepy brownies'. Take a wild guess here folks - good or bad for your health? Read all about this (baffling) product and the FDA warning that it comes with HERE. Seriously? Who buys this crap?

There you have it folks, all the news that's fit to blog about for this week. We've got a bit of a modified schedule for you this week. My work schedule is all over the place - making our usual cooking days a little harder to pull off. As such, Maggie will be taking to the kitchen on Wednesday this week and I will be cooking on Thursday. Be sure to stop back in on Wednesday night to see what Maggie's got cooking. Until then,


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