When the egg industry challenged Hampton Creek, a company selling a product it calls Just Mayo, many people scoffed at yet another Goliath v. David battle. According to a report today, the egg industry trade group’s president has stepped down as a possible consequence of her effort against Hampton Creek.
The issue is whether the words “mayo” or “mayonnaise” legally refer to a product that must contain egg. From a legal standpoint, the law seems to favor the egg industry: The federal government established standard definitions of common words on food labels so that consumers have some chance of knowing what is inside a package. “Mayonnaise” is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations at 21CFR169.140, which clearly says that mayonnaise must contain egg and may not include food colorings to simulate egg. What is not so clear is whether the word “mayo” is covered by the same law, which only refers to “mayonnaise.” This is the stuff lawyers love and drives most people nuts.
In the meantime, consumers still can make their own decisions.
While it’s always good to be wary of public education campaigns driven by commercial interests, a new effort by the food industry to communicate about preventing food borne illness by improving home food safety has a few worthy elements. The new “Mythbusters” campaign aims to increase safe food handling in homes, which are the source for about 9% of food-related sickness in the United States each year. Commercial or restaurant kitchens are the source for most food borne disease, accounting for about seven times more cases than private kitchens.
The skeptic in me questions why backers like Foster Farms, Cargill, and the trade associations representing manufacturers of most of the food items that wind up in grocery stores and commercial kitchens, want to shine the light on home kitchens more than safety improvements in industrial food processing. To be fair, the large companies do pay attention to food safety, and I am unlikely to ever be completely comfortable eating factory-farmed, processed products. If they are doing their part, then asking consumers to be careful with home food safety, too, probably makes sense.
Food prepared in home kitchens accounts for a lot of illness, but it’s a minor factor compared to restaurants or delis where many people can be exposed to contamination. Based on 10 years of data, the CDC estimates that nearly 7 out of every 10 cases of food borne illness are traced to restaurants, 1 out of every 10 to foods prepared in a private home, and the rest are attributed to caterers or institutional kitchens.
The project’s website has fact sheets, videos, and other resources to help families keep their home kitchens and the foods they eat safer. For example, a safe school lunch flyer reminds people to use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables and use insulated bags, freezer gel packs or a frozen juice box to help keep lunches safe after they go out the door.
Washington state health authorities safe trying to determine how more than 55 people were sickened with salmonella in recent weeks. Two were hospitalized.
Preliminary investigation suggests whole pig roasts at private events may have been a common factor in the salmonella cases.
Health officials recommend that pork should be cooked to at least 145 degrees before being served. Even when cooked, food can be contaminated if such things as utensils, cutting boards, or hands are used to handle raw meat and cooked meat without proper washing between each.
Place the pasta in a 10" or larger skillet. Add cold water to cover. Add salt generously. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Continue cooking until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Add additional cold water if necessary.
While pasta is cooking, dice the squash and onion. Cut the green beans (or snap peas) into 1/2-inch pieces.
Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat, then add vegetables. Add salt and pepper and toss. Cook for about 5 minutes.
When the pasta is nearly ready, drain any remaining water. Add the vegetables to the pasta in the large skillet, toss.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that pieces of rubber from a conveyor belt were found in this turkey sausage product that is being recalled.
Gourmet Culinary Solutions, a Statham, Ga., establishment, is recalling approximately 495 pounds of turkey sausage products that are part of a frozen entree that also contains French toast sticks and peaches. The entrees may be contaminated with foreign materials.
“You drove from New York City to Quebec to get some cheese,” asked the obviously skeptical Canadian border guard. He allowed me to proceed after I gave the only right answer: “There are many outstanding cheeses made in Quebec, sir.”