Thursday, March 30, 2006

Salmonella Spike Prompts USDA Crackdown

Referring back to our "Tainted Meat" article, new information just came out late last February...

Samples in broilers, ground chicken and ground turkey testing positive for salmonella at US slaughter and processing plants have surged since 2002, according to statistics compiled by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Broilers had the highest rates of salmonella, with 16.3 per cent of samples testing positive in 2005, up from 11.5 per cent in 2002. The highest level was reached in 1998, when salmonella was found in 20 per cent of the broilers sampled.

The results have spurred the US Department of Agriculture to propose a more aggressive testing program to bring down the spike in Salmonella cases at processing plants.

"Our goal is to work proactively to reduce the presence of salmonella on raw products before plants develop a pattern of poor performance," USDA under secretary for food safety Richard Raymond stated. "FSIS will more quickly report testing results and target establishments needing improvement, providing timely information to both consumers and industry."

Sugar Prices On The Rise!

Sugar prices in China have soared since November last year after a drought in one of the main producing regions, Guangxi province, halved the sugar cane crop.

The current price for standard grade sugar in the southern regions is RMB4960 (€515) per ton compared to about RMB2000 per ton during the same period last year.

In our home, we've been experimenting with sugar substitutes and have finally found one that is both healthy -- and delicious -- called Blue Agave, an organic nectar from a plant called agave tequilana.

The good news is, it's sweeter than sugar, so when used in baking, cooking and/or beverages, I only need to use half the amount. For example, in most baking recipes 1 cup of sugar can be replaced by 1/2 a cup of Blue Agave.

The bad news is the price. But with the draught, and the soil erosion problems happening in China and elsewhere around the world, the playing field in this market may be levelling out.

Want more info on Blue Agave? Contact us at Best Liquid Vitamins.

New Study Confirms Food Quality Going Down

"Why is it that you have to eat four carrots to get the same amount of magnesium as you would have done in 1940?" asks Dr. David Thomas, a primary healthcare practitioner and independent researcher, who recently made a comparison of government tables published in 1940, and again in 2002. (See our Alarming Comparisons of the Food We Eat article for details.)

A new study headed by David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University believes it's soil erosion -- and it's a crisis that the world is facing.

"Soil erosion is second only to population growth as the biggest environmental problem the world faces," said Pimentel. "Yet, the problem, which is growing ever more critical, is being ignored because who gets excited about dirt?"

Also, pioneering Scottish research into the demineralisation of earth has strengthened the case that unless vital nutrients and elements are placed back into the soil, the quality of food will deteriorate, according to a recent article at FoodNavigator.

"Erosion is one of those problems that nickels and dimes you to death: One rainstorm can wash away 1 mm of dirt," said Pimentel. "It doesn't sound like much, but when you consider a hectare (2.5 acres), it would take 13 tons of topsoil - or 20 years if left to natural processes - to replace that loss."

The study, which pulled together statistics on soil erosion from more than 125 sources, also reports that the US is losing soil 10 times faster - and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster - than the natural replenishment rate.

Pimentel's study on the food and environmental threat of soil erosion is published in a recent issue of the Journal of the Environment, Development and Sustainability (Vol. 8, 2006).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alarming Comparisons In The Food We Eat

If you typically eat well-balanced meals and yet for some reason you haven't been feeling quite as healthy as you once did, it's possible the source of the problem could stem from the actual produce itself.

Some researchers are concerned about the dilution effect, which they claim is becoming a "significant problem" in our nations today.


Fruits and Vegetables: "Recent studies of vegetables, fruits and wheat have revealed a 5 to 35 percent decline in concentrations of some vitamins, minerals and protein over the last half-century, according to scientist Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas."

Meats And Dairy: "The iron content in 15 different varieties of meat has decreased on average by 47 percent, with some products showing a fall as high as 80 per cent, while the iron content of milk has dropped by over 60 per cent. Additionally, magnesium levels have typically fallen by 10 per cent while copper levels have fallen by 60 per cent. Both magnesium and copper are essential for enzyme functioning. This information is according to a comparison of government nutritional tables published in the UK in 1940, and again in 2002 ...research completed by independent rsearcher and primary healthcare practitioner, Dr. David Thomas."

It's no secret that food production has changed dramatically over the past century. But at what cost to our food supply and the nutrients we derive from it that are essential for life?

BLV Health Watch is currently working on a Special Report regarding the dilution effect. In the course of our own research into the topic, we've uncovered some astonishing facts. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Random Facts - Nutrition, Health and Wellness

1. CVD causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion ($202 billion) per year. According to the American Heart Association, 34.2 percent of Americans (70.1 million people) suffered from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2002. (Source)

2. A report from the European Union showed that global fruit and vegetable production was over 1 230 million tonnes in 2001-2002, worth over $50 billion (€ 41 000 million). Asia produced 61 per cent, while Europe and North/Central America both producing nine per cent. (Source)

3. Approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis. Around 206 million working days were lost in the UK in 1999-2000, equal to £18 billion (€26 billion) of lost productivity. (Source)

4. The global tea market is worth about €790(£540, $941) million. Green tea accounts for about 20 per cent of total global production, while black tea (green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation) accounts for about 78 per cent. (Source)

5. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an organization with the mandate "to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the conditions of rural populations of its member countries," is having increasing difficulty in convincing the people who control the purse strings that its annual budget is worth increasing to offset inflation. The FAO's budget for 2004-05 was $749m.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

BLV Health Watch Update

Don't forget to check out our latest online articles:

Understanding Pathogens - An Intro -- March 9, 3:42 PM

GM Farming vs Organic Farming -- March 9, 3:20 PM

Pomegranite Peel Better Than The Fruit? -- March 9, 2:57 PM

The Benzene Cover Up -- March 9, 2:49 PM

Visit through this link to view them now.

Pathogens - Public Education Needed

Some experts believe the public is seriously underestimating the various risks posed by food borne diseases and hazards.

"Experts thought that while the public has a fairly accurate idea of the risks associated with the well-known hazards, Salmonella and E. coli, they believe that they are considerably underestimating the risk associated with the lesser-known microbiological hazards, Listeria and Campylobacter."

In our BLV Health Watch special article titled "Tainted Meat" we touched on the dangers present. Think these microbiological hazards don't exist in USA meat products? Think again. Here are just a few facts to consider:

1. A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00

2. US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%

3. Primary source of Campylobacter bacteria: Contaminated chicken flesh

4. People in the US who become ill with Campylobacter poisoning every day: estimated at more than 5,000

5. American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90%

6. Americans sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: More than 650,000

7. Americans killed from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: 600

8. Increase in Salmonella poisoning from raw or undercooked eggs between 1976 and 1986: 600%

9. 90% of US chickens are infected with leukosis -- chicken cancer -- at the time of slaughter.

Perhaps one of the toughest areas for safety are related to our water supply. One particularly difficult pathogen to detect in our waters (and believed by some experts to be related to Chrons disease) is M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis which according to one study can also be carried to our waters by air.

When you read reports about cooking your meat thoroughly, and about safe handling of meat in your home, take it seriously. The new factory farming methods for producing our meat (and related products) bring with them a host of food safety issues that we all need further education on, in my humble opinion.

Bird Flu Not Over Yet

Bird flu may not be in the headlines as much in recent months, but it's far from over and still spreading.

Two recent reports indicate it's hitting both Southern France and Sweden recently:

Bird flu spreads to France's southern region, By Ahmed ElAmin
06/03/2006 - Avian influenza continues to spread in the EU's largest poultry producer, with the country's agriculture ministry reporting over the weekend that the highly pathogenic type H5N1 had been detected in a dead wild swan in the Camargue wetlands. Source FoodProductionDaily

Sweden detects BSE for the first time, along with bird flu, By Ahmed ElAmin
07/03/2006 - Sweden has been hit with a double blow, becoming the first in the Scandinavian region to detect avian influenza in wild birds, and also finding its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow. ...On 28 February Sweden reported its first cases of bird flu or avian influenza in wild ducks, the same day the country also reported the BSE incident. Since then, more cases of avian influenza have been found in the wild bird population. Source FoodProductionDaily