Hummus with pine nuts recalled over possible listeria contamination

Marketside classic hummus with pine nuts is among the products being recalled.

Story highlights

  • Three brands of hummus made by House of Thaller are being recalled
  • The pine nuts may be contaminated with listeria
  • Listeria can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant women and elderly people

(CNN)Three brands of hummus produced by House of Thaller are being recalled for potential listeria contamination. All three brands — Fresh Foods Market, Lantana and Marketside — have pine nuts on top and come in 10-ounce packages.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based House of Thaller is recalling the hummus products because ingredient supplier HVF Inc. informed the company that the roasted pine nuts may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.
The products were distributed from April 18 to June 13 in the United States and on April 20 in Canada.
Lantana white bean hummus with pine nut and herb topping.

Fresh Foods Market artisan hummus with pine nuts.

Consumers can check whether their product has been recalled by looking at the “USE BY” date and lot code, which starts with the letter W, on the top. The full list of expiration dates and codes is available on the US Food and Drug Administration’s website.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious infection called listeriosis if people eat food contaminated with the bacterium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1,600 people get listeriosis every year, and about 260 die from the infection. Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, confusion and loss of balance.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems are at a much higher risk of problems from listeriosis. Listeria has been known to cause miscarriages, stillbirths and premature delivery in pregnant women.
There have been no reports of consumers becoming ill from the hummus. However, anyone who has bought one of the recalled products should not eat it, and those with more questions can contact the House of Thaller Customer Service Center at 855-215-5142.
“No other brands or flavor varieties produced at our manufacturing plant are affected by this recall,” House of Thaller said in the recall announcement.

New Study Confirms That Coconut Oil Is Alarmingly High In Saturated Fat

It’s time to stop turning to coconut oil to make your brownies healthier.

Coconut oil, it turns out, is not the health food people think it is. This oil might be stocked on the shelves of your health food store, but a recent report released by the American Heart Association suggests that this might be a mistake.

You’re not alone in this misconception. An AHA survey found that 72 percent of Americans considered coconut oil a health food. But coconut oil, it turns out, is shockingly high in saturated fats. And saturated fat ― even though some elements of its effects are up for debate ― isn’t good for you no matter how you slice it.

In fact, 82 percent of the fat found in coconut oil is saturated ― that’s significantly more than olive oil, which clocks in at 14 percent and canola oil, which contains a mere seven percent.

The AHA reviewed existing data on saturated fats and found that in seven out of eight studies, coconut oil actually increased LDL cholesterol ― the bad cholesterol ― which is a cause of cardiovascular disease. The findings were so clear that Frank Sacks, the report’s lead author, told USA Today, “You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body.” Roger that.

You’re better off sticking to oils that are lower in saturated fats such as the aforementioned olive oil. Olive oil, some studies suggest, helps good cholesterol do its job. And we can all use help with that.

Lead found in 20% of baby food samples, especially juices and veggies


Pediatricians and public health researchers know they have to be on the lookout for lead exposure from paint chips and contaminated drinking water. A new report suggests food — particularly baby food — could be a problem, too.

The Environmental Defense Fund, in an analysis of 11 years of federal data, found detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples. The toxic metal was most commonly found in fruit juices such as grape and apple, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots, and cookies such as teething biscuits.
The organization’s primary focus was on the baby foods because of how detrimental lead can be to child development.
“Lead can have a number of effects on children and it’s especially harmful during critical windows of development,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, who was not involved with the report. “The largest burden that we often think about is neurocognitive that can occur even at low levels of lead exposure.”
Lead can cause problems with attention and behavior, cognitive development, the cardiovascular system and immune system, Bole said.
The samples studied were not identified by brand, and the levels of lead are thought to be relatively low. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.
In a draft report released earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that over 5 percent of children consume more than 6 micrograms per day of lead — the maximum daily intake level set by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993 — in their diet.
This surprised Tom Neltner, Environmental Defense Fund’s chemicals policy director, who has spent 20 years researching and working to reduce lead exposures. His further analysis of the EPA report was that food is the major source of lead exposure in two-thirds of toddlers.
This spurred the organization to examine data from the FDA’s Total Diet Study for specific sources of exposure for kids.
In the resulting report, released Thursday, Neltner found that the baby food versions of apple juice, grape juice and carrots had detectable lead more often than the regular versions. Researchers could determine how frequently contamination occurred, but not at what levels.
Percentage of food samples containing lead

Grape juice, baby: 89%, regular: 68%

Apple juice, baby: 55%, regular: 25%

Carrots, baby: 44%, regular: 14%

Source: Environmental Defense Fund

According to the FDA, lead makes its way into food through contaminated soil, but Neltner suspects that processing may also play a role.
“I can’t explain it other than I assume baby food is processed more,” Neltner said.
The Environmental Defense Fund report notes that more research on the sources of contamination is needed.
FDA has set guidance levels of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for candy and dried fruit and 50 ppb for fruit juices. The allowable level for lead in bottled water is 5 ppb.
Concern over fruit juices flared up in 2012 when Consumer Reports found that 1 in 4 samples of apple and grape juices had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb.
“The FDA is continuing to work with industry to further limit the amount of lead in foods to the greatest extent feasible, especially in foods frequently consumed by children,” read an agency statement in response to the report. “The agency is in the process of reevaluating the analytical methods it uses for determining when it should take action with respect to measured levels of lead in particular foods, including those consumed by infants and toddlers.”
Neltner said he’s glad the FDA is working on the issue but wants them to “get it done. Move quicker.”
The Environmental Defense Fund isn’t recommending that parents avoid certain foods or brands for their children but does advise that they consult their pediatrician about all means of lead exposure.
“In many American communities, the most significant route of lead exposure is from paint and soil,” Bole said. “Avoiding all sources of exposure of lead poisoning is incredibly important … but the last thing I would want is for a parent to restrict their child’s diet or limit their intake of healthy food groups.”
She added that pediatricians recommend limiting or eliminating fruit juices from children’s diets, anyway, for nutritional reasons. “There are good reasons to limit juice other than this particular report,” Bole said.
But she said she wouldn’t want parents to avoid root vegetables altogether. “The benefits of those nutritious foods far outweigh any risk,” she said, especially in the context of where kids are most exposed to lead.
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In response to a request for comment, Gerber said that samples of its baby foods and juices “consistently fall well within the available guidance levels and meet our own strict standards.” And samples of Gerber juices were all below the EPA standard for drinking water.
“We know parents may be concerned about a recent report on lead in foods and want to reassure them that Gerber foods and juices are safe,” the statement read.
The Environmental Defense Fund report was ultimately directed at the food industry and FDA in the hopes of getting limits and standards updated.
But lead in paint and drinking water shouldn’t fall by the wayside, Neltner said. “You’ve got to deal with this issue on multiple fronts.”

Is Lead in the U.S. Food Supply Decreasing Our IQ?

The environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on June 15 released a study about dietary lead exposure, with a focus on food intended for babies and young children.

Using a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) database of food samples, EDF reported some pretty worrying numbers, most remarkably in fruit juice samples intended for children. For example, 89 percent of the baby food grape juice samples had detectable levels of lead in them.

As researchers who served as independent reviewers on the EDF report, we think it raises important concerns about the safety of our food supply. Since EDF primarily focused on exposure (whether lead was detectable or not), we were interested to see if we could get a better sense of the magnitude of risk. Specifically, we examined potential IQ loss and the percentage of samples with high lead concentrations.

Why is lead in our food and beverages?

Most of us are probably familiar with the dangers of chipping and peeling lead paint. And the Flint water crisis has brought lead pipes to the forefront of our minds.

But food is a source of lead exposure most of us probably aren’t thinking about. Soil contamination is a known source of lead in food, but the EDF report also raised the possibility of contamination occurring via the use of lead-containing materials during food processing.

Eating lead-contaminated food increases the level of lead in the blood. Chronic, low-level exposure to lead during childhood can harm mental and physical development. For each microgram (µg) per day of dietary lead intake, blood lead levels increase by about .16 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), though there is individual variation in how much lead is absorbed through the gastroinestical tract. A microgram is one millionth of a gram – a very small unit of measure.

There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Even low blood lead levels can harm child development and behavior. In May 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the definition of elevated blood levels in children from 10 to 5 μg/dL.

This revised definition reflects findings from a 2012 National Toxicology Program Report that concluded a wide range of adverse health effects are associated with blood lead levels less than 5 μg/dL. These included “decreased academic achievement, IQ, and specific cognitive measures; increased incidence of attention-related behaviors and problem behaviors.”

The FDA has set limits for lead in the form of maximum parts per billion (ppb) for certain foods. The FDA reports that these differences in limits are due to what is considered achievable after food processing. The American Academy of Pediatrics has the lowest recommended limit at 1 ppb for school drinking water.

Lead Limits in Juice and Water. (image: Environmental Defense Fund)

How many of the samples had detectable levels of lead?

EDF analyzed more than 12,000 test results from the 2003-2013 FDA national composite food sample data (the Total Diet Study). The Total Diet Study is an FDA “market-basket” survey of typical foods eaten by U.S. consumers and is used to assess average nutrient intake and exposure to chemical contaminants.

EDF did an exposure analysis (detection/nondetection), and reported the percentage of samples within different food types that tested positive for lead. Twenty percent of the samples designated by the FDA as baby food had detectable levels of lead in them, compared to 14 percent for regular foods.

This type of analysis is similar to measuring accident rates in workplaces, or even visits by children to the medical staff in schools. As with the lead data, increases in these numbers alert organizations to potential problems, but they don’t give enough indication to pinpoint the exact nature of the problem.

Even without specifics on the magnitude of the risks involved, when a lead exposure issue is flagged, it’s good practice to reduce the exposure – as a way to guard against associated negative health impacts such as decreased intellectual function.

How might this be affecting our IQ?

These data alone aren’t enough to indicate what the likely health effects are. Ultimately, the risk depends on how much contaminated food a child will eat through his or her childhood, and how much neurological damage this ends up causing.

Based on EPA estimates of average childhood dietary lead exposure, we are roughly dealing with a less than 1-point decrease in IQ in the adult population than it might otherwise be.

In its analysis, EDF calculated an 0.38 average IQ loss from dietary lead based on the following assumptions:

Recall that the 2012 National Toxicology Program Report cited a wide range of measurable health effects occurring with blood lead levels less than 5 μg/dL. For comparison, we are talking about an average increase of 0.46 μg/dL blood lead levels from dietary exposure alone.

Though the estimated reductions in IQ here may seem low, they are not insignificant – in some cases, small losses in IQ might make the difference, for example, in the type of career one leads and subsequent lifetime earnings.

How many of the samples tested above specific lead concentrations?

We went back to the same FDA data EDF used, looked at the measured amounts of lead, and then plotted the percentage of tested baby food products with lead concentrations above certain amounts.

This type of plot gives a ballpark idea of the percentage of the baby food being sold in the U.S. for certain levels of lead. But the data need to be treated with caution, as many of the measurements were below the Limit of Quantification (LOQ), meaning that they may not be particularly accurate.

Average dietary lead exposure for young children is around 2.9 µg/day, which approximately equates to daily levels in food at about 2.9 ppb (assuming average consumption of about 1 kg of food). Our analysis shows the percentage of baby food samples testing at higher levels. Eighteen percent of the baby food samples tested above 5 ppb lead, which is the amount the FDA allows in drinking water. This percentage decreased in accordance with the lead concentration: 9 percent of the samples tested above 10 ppb lead; 2 percent tested above 20 ppb lead; and less than 1 percent tested above 30 ppb lead.

Percentage of baby food samples with lead concentrations greater than a given level.

Where do we go from here?

Even though these are not life-and-death type risks, we believe there is no room for complacency. The FDA sets limits for lead in food, but the current limits are based on levels that can be reliably measured and are considered achievable after manufacturing processes. However, a May 2017 FDA fact sheet on lead in foods states that a Toxic Elements Working Group will be developing a risk-based approach. Establishing limits based on risk would help further curb the impacts of lead on society.

The good news is that this is possible. Many of the samples tested by FDA are already either lead-free (according to the limits of detection in the analyses used) or have low lead content. It should be possible to expand the number of products that fit into these categories, simply by understanding what some companies do right and replicating it.

The bottom line is that, even with relatively few products on the market with relatively high quantities of lead, the health risks from this metal are insidious, which means the more we do to eliminate it from our food supply, the better off we’ll be.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Keri Szejda is a postdoctoral research associate at Arizona State University.

Andrew Maynard is the Director of the Risk Innovation Lab and professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. He is currently co-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology, and on the Board of Trustees of ILSI North America. Andrew is the recipient of the 2015 Society of Toxicology Public Communication Award.

Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 Billion

Amazon agreed to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, in a deal that will instantly transform the company that pioneered online shopping into a merchant with physical outposts in hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.

The acquisition, announced Friday, is a reflection of both the sheer magnitude of the grocery business — about $800 billion in annual spending in the United States — and a desire to turn Amazon into a more frequent shopping habit by becoming a bigger player in food and beverages. After almost a decade selling groceries online, Amazon has failed to make a major dent on its own as consumers have shown a stubborn urge to buy items like fruits, vegetables and meat in person.

Buying Whole Foods also represents a major escalation in the company’s long-running battle with Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, which has been struggling to play catch-up in internet shopping. On Friday, Walmart announced a $310 million deal to acquire the internet apparel retailer Bonobos, and last year it agreed to pay $3.3 billion for and put Jet’s chief executive, Marc Lore, in charge of Walmart’s overall e-commerce business.

“Make no mistake, Walmart under no circumstances can lose the grocery wars to Amazon,” said Brittain Ladd, a strategy and supply chain consultant who formerly worked with Amazon on its grocery business. “If Walmart loses the grocery battle to Amazon, they have no chance of ever dethroning Amazon as the largest e-commerce player in the world.”

The idea of Amazon, a company founded 23 years ago on the premise of shopping from the comfort of a computer screen, moving forcefully into the crowded field of brick-and-mortar retail, with its limitations on selection and lack of customer reviews, once seemed ludicrous. But in the past several years, the company has dabbled with stores, opening or planning more than a dozen bookstores around the country.

Amazon Is Trying to Do (and Sell) Everything

The company’s $13.4 billion deal for Whole Foods is the latest signal of Amazon’s ambitions to have a hold on nearly every facet our lives — like the computer servers that power our favorite websites and the food we eat.

In Seattle, it recently opened two grocery drive-through stores where customers can pick up online orders, along with a convenience store called Amazon Go that uses sensors and software to let shoppers sail through the exits without visiting a cashier.

The addition of Whole Foods takes Amazon’s physical presence to a new level. The grocery chain includes more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and Britain with sales of $16 billion in the last fiscal year. Mikey Vu, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Company who is focused on retail, said, “They’re going to be within an hour or 30 minutes of as many people as possible.”

Founded in 1978 in Austin, Tex., Whole Foods is best known for its organic foods, building its brand on healthy eating and fresh, local produce and meats. It has also long been caricatured as “Whole Paycheck” for the high prices it charges for groceries. That conflicts with a core tenet of Amazon, which has made low prices part of its mission as a retailer.

Analysts speculated that Amazon could use its $99-a-year Prime membership service, which gives customers free, two-day shipping and other benefits, to offer Whole Foods customers a better price on groceries, as it does for books in its bookstores. The stores could also serve as an advertisement to get more customers to sign up for Prime; in September the financial firm Cowen & Company estimated that Prime had 49 million subscribers in the United States, representing about 44 percent of households.

Amazon has been on a multiyear offensive to open warehouses closer to customers so it can deliver orders in as little as two hours, and Whole Foods stores will further narrow Amazon’s physical proximity to its shoppers. The stores could become locations for returning online orders of all kinds. Amazon could also use them to cut delivery times for online orders.

The $13.4 billion deal, which does not include net debt, immediately raised questions about whether Amazon’s experiments with automation, like the cashier-less checkout technology it is testing in its Amazon Go store, could eventually lead to job losses at Whole Foods stores.

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said in a statement. “That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods.”

Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, said it has no plans to use the Amazon Go technology to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods and no job reductions are planned as a result of the deal. Whole Foods workers are not unionized.

The move to buy Whole Foods is a further sign of the outsize ambitions of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and founder, who came under fire from Donald J. Trump during the presidential campaign last year, when Mr. Trump said Mr. Bezos had a “huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much.”

Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, declined to comment about whether its antitrust division saw any issues with the proposed acquisition. Law professors who specialize in antitrust said it was unlikely regulators would block the deal.

“One question would be, does an online seller of groceries compete with a brick-and-mortar grocery store, and I think the answer is ‘yes, at some level, but that overlap is probably not terribly great,’” said John E. Lopatka, a professor of antitrust law at Penn State University.

If the deal goes through, Amazon and Whole Foods will still only account for about 3.5 percent of grocery spending in the United States, making it the country’s fifth-largest grocery retailer, according to estimates by John Blackledge, an analyst at Cowen & Company.

Groceries are purchased five times a month on average by shoppers, compared with the four times a month Amazon Prime customers typically shop on the site and two times for people who do not have Prime memberships, Cowen estimates.

“If you open up groceries, it could increase the frequency,” Mr. Blackledge said.

For Whole Foods, the deal represents a chance to fend off pressure from activist investors frustrated by a sluggish stock price as it has faced fierce competition from Costco, Safeway and Walmart, which have begun offering organic produce and kitchen staples, forcing Whole Foods to slash prices. Money managers, unhappy with the pace of the turnaround effort, have pushed for more, taking aim at the board, its grocery offerings and its pricey real estate holdings.

In response, Whole Foods has revamped its board and replaced its chief financial officer. Gabrielle Sulzberger, a private equity executive, was named the company’s chairwoman. Ms. Sulzberger is married to Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and publisher of The New York Times.

Investors are betting there may be other buyers interested in Whole Foods, and by late Friday the company’s shares rose above Amazon’s $42 a share offer, nearly 30 percent higher for the day. Amazon closed at $987.71 a share, up 2.4 percent.

Even with the bigger physical presence Amazon will gain through Whole Foods, it will have far less reach than Walmart and its Sam’s Club warehouse chain, which together account for about 18 percent of the grocery market. Walmart has almost 10 times the number of stores as Whole Foods does.

“We feel great about our position, with more than 4,500 stores around the country and fast growing e-commerce and online grocery businesses,” Greg Hitt, a spokesman for Walmart, said in a statement.

Eating fried potatoes linked to higher risk of death, study says


(CNN) How your spuds are cooked is key to your health. People who eat fried potatoes two or more times a week double their risk of an early death compared to those who avoid them, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.

Eating potatoes that have not been fried was not linked to a similar early mortality risk, the researchers noted.
“Fried potatoes consumption is increasing worldwide,” warned Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.
In 2014, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person, according to the National Potato Council. Of that total, 33.5 pounds were fresh potatoes, the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the majority of processed potatoes Americans eat are French fries.

Trans fats in fried potatoes

Veronese and his colleagues have been tracking 4,440 people aged 45 to 79 over a period of eight years to study osteoarthritis. This research team decided to momentarily set aside the main issue of osteoarthritis and look at participants’ consumption of potatoes.
Even though most of us may have assumed that fried potatoes could be unhealthy for us, there is “very limited” scientific data on this issue, Veronese explained in an email.
So the researchers divided study participants into subgroups based on how frequently they ate potatoes each week. Over the eight years, a total of 236 of the participants died. Analyzing the data for each group, Veronese and his team found that those who ate fried potatoes two to three times each week doubled their chance of dying early compared to those who ate no fried potatoes.
French fries, potato chips, hash browns — and any other preparation requiring a fryer — are all included under the umbrella of “fried potatoes,” Veronese explained.
Age or sex of participants did not influence the result, but the data showed men were more likely than women and younger participants were more likely than older participants to enjoy the fried food.
The study is observational, meaning the researchers simply tracked the behavior of a group of people and found an association between one behavior — eating fried potatoes — and another factor — early death. Because it is an observational study, Veronese and his co-authors note it cannot be said that eating fried potatoes directly causes an early mortality — it would require more research to draw such a firm conclusion.
“Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes,” said Veronese. Trans fat has been shown to raise the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Yet, he also added that “other important factors,” including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and use of high quantities of salt might also play a role in the early death of those eating two or more portions of fried potatoes each week.
National Potato Council CEO John Keeling said the “study isn’t relevant to the general population” since the data was collected for an osteoarthritis study and includes only patients with arthritis. “Potatoes are inherently a very healthy vegetable,” said Keeling in an email. He said a medium-sized potato is 110 calories, has no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, and provides nearly a third of the daily vitamin C requirement with more potassium than a banana.
“How the potato is prepared will impact the calorie, fat and sodium content,” said Keeling, however the basic nutrients remain “no matter how it is prepared.”
Based on the data in the study, Keeling said, “it is very much a stretch to brand fried potatoes, or any other form of potato, as unhealthy.”
Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that the new study provides “no evidence” that potato consumption in and of itself may increase the risk of an early death. Larsson was not involved in the new study. Instead, it may be the “other factors” suggested by Veronese himself.
“Fried potato consumption may be an indicator of a less healthy (Western) dietary pattern which is associated with increased mortality,” said Larsson, who also conducted a study of potato consumption. Her study did not find an increased risk of cardiovascular disease linked to eating potatoes.

Understanding acrylamide

The potential danger when eating fried starchy foods, such as French fries, is acrylamide, said Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Schiff was not involved in the study.
Acrylamide is “a chemical produced when starchy foods such as potatoes are fried, roasted or baked at a high temperature,” explained Schiff in an email. The browning process is actually a reaction that produces this chemical one shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and considered toxic to humans, said Schiff. Acrylamide is also a potential cause of cancer, she said.
“You can reduce your intake of acrylamide by boiling or steaming starchy foods, rather than frying them,” said Schiff. “If you do fry foods, do it quickly.”
She also suggested you “go lighter” since “the darker the food, the more acrylamide it may contain.”
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Finally, Schiff said that potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator because this could lead to producing more acrylamide when the potatoes are later cooked.
“Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables for a healthier alternative,” said Schiff.
Veronese said he hopes his new study will suggest to everyone that consuming fried potatoes “could be an important risk factor for mortality. Thus, their consumption should be strongly limited.”

Shocking Study Finds Water of 15 million Americans Contains Cancerous DuPont Chemical

A newly-released study and supplementary map show that 15 million Americans are exposed to toxins in their drinking water. The study, released in early June as a collaboration with the Environmental Working Group and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University, revealed that the issue is present in 27 states across the country.

The study focused on drinking water contaminated by particular types of perfluorochemicals also called PFCs. According to a publication from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, PFCs are a “large group of manufactured compounds” that are primarily used to make surfaces resist stains, water, and grease.

PFCs are largely found in products including stain-resistant carpeting, non-stick cookware, firefighting equipment, and food packaging. The National Institutes of Health notes that PFCs are slow to disintegrate and that some PFCs take years to leave the body.

“Poly- and perfluoroalkyl acids (PFASs) are ubiquitous in our lives,” an editorial from Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D, NIEHS director and  Philippe Grandjean, M.D., D.M.Sc. of of the Harvard School of Public Health stated regarding long-chain types of PFCs. “These chemicals are used as surfactants and as water and oil repellents in a variety of consumer products such as cosmetics, food packaging, furnishings, and clothing. Since their initial marketing more than 60 years ago, extensive research has demonstrated that the long-chain PFASs are highly persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (Buck et al. 2011). As a result, they are being phased out in many countries.”

The Environmental Working Group characterizes PFCs, particularly PFASs, as a serious public health issue. Their study describes the widespread presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two forms of PFCs recognized as harmful, as a “contamination crisis.” PFOA is a PFC found in Teflon, and PFOS is a PFC found in products such as Scotchguard.

The EWG study has been followed by the creation of an interactive map, based on new information as well as federal and public data, detailing the locations where drinking water has been contaminated. According to EWG, the new map is “the most comprehensive resource available to track PFC pollution in the U.S.”

The study’s press release notes that for 25 years, the EPA has not added any new contaminants to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The release pointed out a $671 million settlement paid earlier this year by DuPont and Chemours after residents in West Virginia and Ohio sued the companies for polluting drinking water with PFOA, a compound used in Teflon.

According to EWG:

The map focuses on the most well-studied fluorinated compounds – perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. Because of their nonstick, waterproof and grease-repellent properties, these and closely related chemicals were used in hundreds of consumer products and industrial applications, including cookware, outdoor clothing, food packaging and firefighting foam. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention have found PFOA or PFOS in the bodies of virtually all Americans, and these chemicals can be passed through the umbilical cord from mother to fetus in the womb.

EWG’s study added that federal enforcements to minimize levels of long-chain PFCs do not exist, and “there is no ongoing national-level testing of PFCs in drinking water.” The EPA has set health advisories for PFOA and PFOS.

An earlier study, conducted by Harvard University in 2016, illustrated similar numbers regarding the presence of the chemicals in the United States’ water supply. The Harvard study found PFASs in water supplies in 33 states serving over 16 million people. That study showed that “66 water supplies serving 6 million people had at least one water sample at or above the EPA’s safety limits,” according to PBS.

This article originally appeared on The Free Thought Project.

Iran sends 5 planes of food to embargo-stricken Qatar

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has sent five planes of food to Qatar, Iran’s national carrier told AFP on Sunday, days after Gulf countries cut off air and other transport links to the emirate.

“So far five planes carrying perishable food items such as fruit and vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tons of cargo, while another plane will be sent today,” Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said.

“We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand” from Qatar, Noushabadi added, without mentioning if these deliveries were exports or aid.

Three ships loaded with 350 ton of food were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency quoted a local official as saying.

The port of Dayyer is Iran’s closest port to Qatar.

In the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, on Monday announced they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism.

Iran has urged Qatar and neighboring Gulf countries to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

The Islamic republic has also opened its airspace to about 100 more Qatari flights a day, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned Qatari planes from their air space.

The new flights have increased Iranian air traffic by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

How Fanta was Invented in Nazi Germany

Fanta is for many the definitive orange soda. Popular worldwide, the brand has always been owned by Coca-Cola. But the drink was actually created in Germany, and owes its existence to ingredient shortages during Second World War.

The Nazi past of Fanta wasn’t particularly well known until very recently.

Before Pepsi cancelled a badly thought out advert in April featuring Kendall Jenner breaking up tensions at a protest armed with a can of Pepsi, Fanta had its foot-in-mouth moment when it publicized its National Socialist origins with a 2015 ad to mark its 75th birthday.

In the advert, a narrator explains how the “smart heads” at Coca Cola invented Fanta in Germany because there was a shortage of the ingredients needed to make Coke, making no mention of the fact that ingredients were scarce because the Allies had embargoed the Germans during the war.


The narrator then goes on to say that to celebrate the drink’s 75th birthday “we’re bringing back the feeling of the good old days.”

A spokeswoman from Fanta says that the advert wasn’t necessarily referring back to the 1940s.

“We wanted to remind our consumers of their childhoods. For example the design we used of the classic annulated bottle comes from the 1960s.”

The advert was quickly discontinued, but the jewish outcry had already caused offence to many who had seen it.

The actual history behind the creation of the drink is sometimes misunderstood. Legend has it that Hitler wanted his troops to drink the finest oranges from his fascist ally Italy, but the truth is more mundane.

Coca-Cola was growing rapidly in Germany and the rest of Europe in the pre-war years. Between 1933-39 the numbers of crates of Coke sold in Germany rose from about 100,000 to 4.5 million per year, and 50 factories were built to meet demand, according to Zeit.

The brand was so popular that it became one of the official sponsors of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

But after war broke out in 1939 it became increasingly difficult to transport the syrups needed to make Coke to the German factories due to various embargoes on imports into the Reich. Because of this, production of Coke ceased in Germany during the war.

Max Keith, the head of the company in Germany, didn’t want to give up altogether though, so he got together a few readily available ingredients.

The recipe included scraps and leftovers from various industrial processes. Whey was used from milk factories and scraps of various fruits, mainly apples, from the fruit pressing factories were added with various other ingredients to make the drink they called Fanta.

The orange Fanta we know today only became flavoured with citrus fruits in the 1950s. A bottling plant in Naples, Italy, started producing and selling Fanta orange in 1955, using locally sourced citrus fruits, a spokeswoman told The Local.

The story behind the name is also very interesting. Die Presse reports that Fanta originated from the German word Fantastisch, meaning fantastic. The name was chosen in collaboration with Coca Cola HQ in the US, who weren’t impressed by the product and thought it needed an exciting word to sell it.

But the drink proved vastly popular with the German public, although it was only introduced to the rest of the world several years after the war, reaching global popularity by the 1970s.

Tuna Recalled in California, Oklahoma and Texas over Hepatitis A Fears

On May 1, the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA that a sample of frozen tuna cubes from Indonesia tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. On May 2, the FDA contacted the Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC, a subsidiary distributor of Hilo Fish Company, to obtain additional information related to the positive tuna sample. Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC initiated a product recall because the affected product had been distributed to its customers in Oahu, Hawaii (U.S. mainland and other Hawaiian Islands were not affected by the recall). The state of Hawaii embargoed the lot that tested positive and the FDA confirmed the sample was positive.

On May 16, Hilo Fish Company notified the FDA that it had submitted samples of additional shipments held in its cold storage facility in Hawaii to a private laboratory for testing and received additional positive results for the hepatitis A virus. Imported tuna products from this facility were sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood and were distributed to restaurants and other retail locations in CA, NY, OK, and TX. The New York State Department of Health and the FDA verified that product shipped to New York was not sold to the public. The FDA’s investigation in connection with these firms is ongoing.

  • On May 18, Hilo Fish Company began recalling tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. that tested positive for the hepatitis A virus.
  • While the CDC is not currently aware of any illnesses linked to these products, it is advising post exposure prophylaxis (PEP)for unvaccinated persons who may have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna within the past two weeks.
  • The FDA is providing a list of establishmentsin TX, OK, and CA that may currently have potentially contaminated tuna in commerce to help alert consumers that may be at risk of the hepatitis A virus. Contact your health care professional if you believe you have been exposed to contaminated tuna.
  • The current recall resulted from follow-up after the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA of a frozen tuna sample, sourced from PT Deho Canning Co.,which tested positive for hepatitis A on May 1, 2017. The initially recalled product has been removed from circulation and the newly recalled frozen tuna lots were not shipped to Hawaii, but were shipped to the mainland U.S.

Consumers may be at risk of contracting a hepatitis A infection due to the consumption of potentially contaminated frozen tuna distributed by Hilo Fish Company and sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company (Lots F5-6 Soui Dau Industrial Zone, Can Lam Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam) and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. (General Santos Fishport Complex Tambler, General Santos City, 9500, Philippines). The CDC reports no illnesses to date.

The FDA is collecting additional frozen tuna samples and increasing its screening measures and testing for imported seafood for these companies.

In addition, the agency has prepared a list of restaurants and other retail locations that received the recalled frozen tuna. The agency will continue to update this list as its investigation continues. To protect the health of consumers who may have eaten contaminated tuna and require post-exposure prophylaxis, the FDA has determined that it is necessary to make public the names of these businesses as part of the recall.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus . It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A can be spread when a person ingests the virus from contaminated food or water. The virus can also be easily passed from an infected person to other unvaccinated family members, sexual partners, and close contacts.

Symptoms in adults include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. People with hepatitis A may not have symptoms until 15 to 50 days after consuming a contaminated food or drink. CDC reports that while the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children, vaccination rates are lower than for other recommended childhood vaccines. Unvaccinated children can become ill and not have symptoms.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.