The Top 7 Foods Avoided by Food Safety Experts

Dec 10 2009 - 11:24am
Canned Tomatoes

Liz Vaccariello, Editor in Chief of Prevention Magazine, recently interviewed several experts on food healthfulness and safety. She asked, “What foods do you avoid”, and was surprised by some of the answers.

1. Canned Tomatoes, Canned Soup, Canned Green Beens
Recently, Consumer Reports magazine found the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in the resin lining of many common food brands. BPA is used for food preservation, but is a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to many illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Consumer Reports found the highest levels to be in canned green beans and soups. Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A (BPA) states that acidic foods such as tomatoes can also cause the BPA to leach into the food, at a rate that exceeds 50 micrograms per liter. Dr. Vom Saal recommends choosing tomatoes in glass bottles or Tetra Pak boxes.

2. Corn-Fed Beef
Cows evolved eating grass, but today’s farmers feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten the animals faster for slaughter. A recent study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that corn-fed beef is lower in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, and potassium than grass fed beef. It is also higher in saturated fat. A study from Purdue University found that corn fed beef contains higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which may encourage inflammation in the body and may lead to bone loss. Grass-fed beef can be found at specialty grocers, farmers markets, and nationally at Whole Foods.

3. Microwave Popcorn
A big danger from microwave popcorn is burns from the steam that escapes when the bag is opened. Two chemicals in microwave popcorn have been linked to serious illness. In January 2008, the top four manufacturers removed diacetyl as a butter-flavoring agent in the products because it was linked to lung injuries. ConAgra Foods, General Mills, and the American Pop Corn Company (that sells Orville Redenbacker, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time) have changed their recipes to exclude diacetyl.

More recently, chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been found to be a part of the lining of the bag, which leaches into the food during microwave cooking. This chemical has been linked to infertility in a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals are linked to liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, says “[PFOA] stay in your body for years and accumulate there.” Some larger manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but until then it is best to make popcorn using canola oil in a covered saucepan or skillet.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes and Carrots
Root vegetables absorb the pesticides that wind up in the soil. In the case of potatoes, they are also treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. The potatoes are treated once more at the processing plant to delay sprouting. Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board, says that washing will not remove all the chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh of the vegetables, and encourages the purchase of organic produce.



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Your reasoning against farmed salmon is generally unfounded. There are good producers that feed and raise fish organically. We should encourage farmed over wild fish consumption or we soon won't have the choice.