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07/06/2011

Scary Food Facts and Tricks to Stay Healthy

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Food Could the food in your fridge be the stuff of nightmares? If you’re not paying close attention to the products you buy—and consume—there’s a chance that you’re overlooking the ugly truth when it comes to your grocery store haul.

While spinach, egg and peanut butter contaminations have all made the headlines recently, there’s plenty more scary stuff that doesn’t make the network news cut. Take, for instance, insect parts and toxic chemicals, which is actually allowed in some foods—um, yuck.

To ensure that your next trip to the market is as green, clean and safe as possible, ShopSmart shares the following tips:

Bugs in your food – It’s simply not possible to grow, harvest, and process food without a few tiny creepy-crawlies hitchhiking along, so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets tolerance levels for what are termed "naturally occurring defects." For example a 24-ounce container of cornmeal can have up to 13 insects, 745 insect fragments, and 27 rodent hairs.

If you discover unwanted visitors in a newly purchased product, return it to the store or the manufacturer for a refund. If you're not sure whether a food is infested, freeze it for four days or heat it in the oven at 140-degree for an hour to kill insects and eggs.

Consuming clones - The FDA does not require labeling on most products that contain genetically engineered plant material or on meat and milk from cloned animals. Genetically modified versions of corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton are widely sold in the U.S.

If you'd prefer to avoid milk and meat from cloned cows and genetically modified plant ingredients, buy organic. Unfortunately, there's no way to avoid consuming some genetically modified ingredients

Carnivore chicken - Livestock feed can include things like cow meat and bones, which might be fed to chickens, pigs, and even farmed fish. And cows might be fed processed feathers and waste from the floors of chicken coops. 

Look for beef or chicken certified organic by the USDA. Claims of "no additives," "no antibiotics," "no hormones," and "no steroids" are less reliable since they can't be verified.

Labels lie - Some labels can outsmart even careful shoppers. "Natural" products might contain high-fructose corn syrup; a food "made with" an ingredient often includes just a smidgen; and a "whole-grain" cereal could lack substantial fiber.

If you want the whole story, you still have to flip to the back label and scan the nutrition facts. Check not just the calories but also serving sizes. And scan the percent of daily values.

Fresh meat - Many supermarkets sell ground beef and steaks packaged with gas that keeps them looking fresh and red for a month or more, even if the meat has spoiled. In that process, used in factory-wrapped (or case-ready) meat, most of the oxygen in the package is replaced with other gases, including tiny amounts of carbon monoxide that react with pigment and keep the meat red.

Ask whether your grocer sells meat packed with carbon monoxide. For fruits, buy locally or at least what's in season. (Frozen fruits and veggies are a good option any time of year because they're usually flash frozen immediately after harvest.)

SOURCE ShopSmart Magazine

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Wonderful tips! This is really helpful information especially for homemakers.

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