Major U.S. Restaurant Supplier of Sustainable Seafood Accused of Mislabeling Fish

Brenna Houck wrote . . . . . . . .

One of the U.S.’s biggest and most trusted sustainable seafood suppliers Sea to Table has been accused of falsely advertising and mislabeling its fish. An extensive investigation by the Associated Press found that the New York-based seafood distributor has been marketing seafood as “local“ and “wild caught“ when some of its seafood was actually farmed or illegally caught out of season. In some cases, Sea to Table was sourcing from foreign suppliers known for appalling labor abuses and the poaching of sharks, whales, and dolphins.

In order to trace the fish fraud, the AP staked out fish markets, followed delivery trucks, and conducted interviews with fishermen around the world. In many instances, reporters found that customers received seafood orders with receipts listing boats fishing in local U.S. harbors. However, the boats hadn’t fished in the locations where the fish were purportedly caught in several years.

One Indonesian fisherman named Sulistyo described the horrible conditions he endured working 22-hour days on a boat associated with the Sea to Table supply chain. “We were treated like slaves,” he says, claiming he was paid $1.50 a day and not given enough food and water. His story, and others, mirror a 2015 report by the AP on slavery in the fishing industry, in which crew members on similar ships docking in Trinidad recounted beatings and forced labor. Workers claimed that some of these migrant workers died and were stored in the fish freezers while the boats continued fishing.

Sea to Table owner Sean Dimin told the AP the company was taking the allegations “extremely seriously.” He denied mislabeling seafood and misrepresenting products. When asked about farmed shellfish, Dimin characterized it as “a very small part of our business, but it’s something that we’re open and clear about.” However, shortly after the AP initially inquired for its story, Dimin changed his mind and said he would halt the sale of farmed seafood altogether. He also suspended partnerships with two suppliers associated with the human rights and environmental abuses while Sea to Table performs an audit.

In a statement on the company’s website today responding to the AP report, Dimin placed blame on Sea to Table’s suppliers:


The idea that we could be associated — even very loosely — with an organization that engages in poor labor practices is outright horrifying to us. We work every day to improve the seafood industry’s historically questionable practices. One such way is to source 100% domestic seafood. We would never knowingly purchase fish that doesn’t conform to our exacting standards.

We are unwavering in our commitment to sourcing sustainable, U.S. wild-caught seafood and making it easily accessible to customers across the nation. Sea to Table remains committed to making sure our suppliers are held to the highest level of transparency. There is still work to be done as we continue to be an agent of positive change in the historically opaque seafood industry.


Seafood is notoriously difficult to trace back to its source. One 2016 study by seafood watchdog group Oceana found that a full 20 percent of 25,000 seafood samples collected worldwide were mislabeled. If the labels aren’t correct, that makes it particularly difficult for restaurants, chefs, and consumers that are trying to make environmentally friendly seafood purchases. And it explains why they’d turn to a company like Sea to Table to provide them with a reliable source of quality, sustainably caught seafood — often at a premium.

Over the years, Sea to Table had partnered with sustainable seafood groups like Monterey Bay Aquarium and Marine Stewardship Council and had been highlighted in a variety of publications such as GQ, the New York Times, and Bon Appetit. Sea to Table even managed to dupe Larry Olmsted, author of a definitive book on food fraud, Real Food, Fake Food. Chef Rick Bayless was a customer of Sea to Table and told the AP he was saddened to learn that the stories of working with fishermen in small towns along the U.S. coastline weren’t true. “This throws quite a wrench in all of that,” he says.

Source: Eater

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Deep-fried Stuffed Shrimp with Almond Crust

Ingredients

5-1/2 oz shrimps, peeled, deveined and rinsed
1-1/2 oz water chestnuts, finely diced
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp chicken broth mix
1/4 tsp cornstarch
3 jumble shrimp, deveined and peeled leaving tail attached, rinsed and pat dried
2-1/2 oz almond slices

Method

  1. Puree shrimps to form a smooth paste. Add in water chestnut, salt, sugar, chicken broth mix and cornstarch. Blend well until paste become sticky.
  2. Divide shrimp paste into 3 portions. Wrap jumble shrimp with shrimp paste. Roll it to a ball with the tail sticking out.
  3. Coat shrimp balls with almond slices.
  4. Bring oil to a boil and deep-fry the balls in low heat for 3 minutes or until golden. Drain oil and serve.

Source: Gourmet Do It Yourself

Researchers Develop Automated Robotic Device For Faster Blood Testing

Rutgers researchers have created an automated blood drawing and testing device that provides rapid results, potentially improving the workflow in hospitals and other health-related institutions to allow health care practitioners to spend more time treating patients.

A study describing the fully automated device is published online in the journal TECHNOLOGY.

“This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology,” said Martin L. Yarmush, senior author of the study and Paul & Mary Monroe Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Integrating miniaturized robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing.”

Diagnostic blood testing is the most commonly performed clinical procedure in the world, and it influences most of the medical decisions made in hospitals and laboratories. But the success rate of manually drawing blood samples depends on clinicians’ skill and patient physiology, and nearly all test results come from centralized labs that handle large numbers of samples and use labor-intensive analytical techniques.

So, a Rutgers biomedical engineering research team created a device that includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer. Their device provides highly accurate results from a white blood cell test, using a blood-like fluid spiked with fluorescent microbeads. The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels. The device could provide rapid test results at bedsides or in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices.

“When designing the system, our focus was on creating a modular and expandable device,” said Max Balter, who led the study and holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Rutgers. “With our relatively simple chip design and analysis techniques, the device can be extended to incorporate a broader panel of tests in the future.”

Source: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation Response have Different Effects on Brain Function

A variety of meditation-based programs have been developed in recent years to reduce stress and medical symptoms and to promote wellness. One lingering question is to what extent these programs are similar or different. In a study published in the June issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers, in collaboration with members of the two leading mind-body stress reduction programs, reports the results of their study documenting the different effects these mind-body practices have in the brain.

There are two widely used meditation-based stress reduction courses. One is based on the relaxation response – first described by Herb Benson, MD, director emeritus of the MGH-based Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine – which focuses on eliciting a physiologic state of deep rest, the opposite of the “fight or flight” stress response. The other is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which emphasizes a particular, non-judgmental attitude termed “mindfulness” as key to stress reduction. Although both interventions are based on meditation, the scientific philosophies and meditative traditions upon which each is founded are different, and these differences are reflected in the instructions and exercises taught to patients.

“If the hypotheses proposed by the programs’ creators are in fact correct, they imply that these programs promote wellness through different mechanisms of action,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroscience Research Program, senior author of the current report and assistant professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. “Such a finding would suggest that these programs could potentially have different effects on disease.”

To investigate that possibility, healthy adults with high levels of stress were randomized to two 8-week programs – 18 completed the relaxation response program, and 16 completed the mindfulness program. Both programs successfully decreased stress and increased mindfulness in participants. However, the mindfulness program resulted in further improvements in measures such as self-compassion and rumination, clearly indicating that the programs are not the same, Lazar says.

To further understand the similarities and differences between the programs, the team measured brain activity during a meditation technique common to both programs – a body scan, in which attention is moved sequentially throughout the body to develop bodily awareness. While the relaxation response program instructs participants to deliberately relax each body area as they become aware of it, the mindfulness program just emphasizes mindful awareness and acceptance “without any attempt to change anything.”

Lead author Gunes Sevinc, PhD, a research fellow in Lazar’s laboratory says, “By directly comparing the body-scan meditations, which differed only in cognitive strategy, we were able to identify the brain regions that are involved in mediating the common and differential strategies employed by each intervention.”

The results showed that the strength of neural interaction between brain regions associated with present-moment awareness and bodily attention increased during both types of body-scan meditation. But each program also showed unique patterns of brain activity in line with the different theoretical orientation of each program. The relaxation response body scan strengthened coupling between neural regions commonly associated with deliberate control, including inferior frontal gyrus and supplementary motor areas. Conversely, the mindfulness body scan strengthened coupling between neural regions associated with sensory awareness and perception, including the insula and the pregenual anterior cingulate.

“These findings indicate that the programs are working through different neural mechanisms,” says Sevinc, “The relaxation response program is working more through deliberate control mechanisms, while the mindfulness program is working more through sensory awareness mechanisms. It is somewhat analogous to weight training vs. aerobic exercise – both are beneficial, but each has its unique mechanism and contribution.”

Norman Farb, PhD, of the University of Toronto Department of Psychology, who was not part of the study, says, “Professor Lazar’s neuroimaging study helps us to better appreciate how these seemingly similar practices differ in important ways. Both practices seem to promote access to neural representations of the body, but they differ in how such representations are structured. This study is important for beginning to inform the public about key differences between conceptually similar therapeutic approaches, which may in turn allow people to make more skillful decisions about which practice might be right for their personal improvement.”

Lazar notes that future studies will be needed to determine whether these neural and psychological differences impact specific diseases in unique ways.

Source: EurekAlert!

Mediterranean-style Diet with Lean, Unprocessed Red Meat Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risks

Adopting a Mediterranean-style eating pattern improves heart health, with or without reducing red meat intake, if the red meat consumed is lean and unprocessed, according to a Purdue University nutrition study.

“This study is important because it shows that red meat can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern like a Mediterranean-style eating pattern,” said Wayne W. Campbell, professor of nutrition science. “This study was not designed to promote red meat intake, and we are not encouraging people who otherwise consume a vegetarian-style eating pattern to begin consuming red meat.”

The study is published online at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It was funded by the Beef Checkoff and the Pork Checkoff, with support from the National Institutes of Health’s Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and a National Institutes of Health pre-doctoral training grant through the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue.

“Most healthy eating pattern recommendations include a broad statement to reduce red meat intake,’” said Lauren E. O’Connor, lead author and recent doctoral degree recipient. “Our study compared Mediterranean-style eating patterns with red meat intake that is typical in the United States, about 3 ounces per day, versus a commonly recommended intake amount that is 3 ounces twice per week. Overall, heart health indicators improved with both Mediterranean-style eating patterns. Interestingly, though, participants’ LDL cholesterol, which is one of the strongest predictors we have to predict the development of cardiovascular disease, improved with typical but not lower red meat intake.”

The study assessed the health-promoting effects of a Mediterranean-style eating pattern, without intended weight loss, for adults who are overweight and at risk for developing heart disease. All 41 study participants – 28 females and 13 males – completed three study phases. The phases included a five-week period of consuming a Mediterranean-style eating pattern containing three ounces per day of lean, unprocessed red meat, an amount of red meat the typical United States resident consumes; a five-week return to their regular eating pattern; and a five-week period of consuming a Mediterranean-style eating pattern with less red meat, three ounces twice weekly, which is commonly recommended for heart health. The order of the typical and lower red meat interventions were randomly assigned among participants.

“It’s also very encouraging that the improvements these people experienced – which included improvements in blood pressure, blood lipids and lipoproteins – were noticeable in five weeks,” Campbell said.

The Mediterranean-style eating pattern, which was ranked No. 1 by Consumer Reports, is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A Mediterranean-style eating pattern has clinically proven effects on health especially related to heart health and risks for heart disease such as heart attack or stroke.

“The composition of a Mediterranean-style eating pattern varies across countries and cultures,” Campbell said. “What is common across most Mediterranean regions is consumption of olive oil, fruit, vegetables and legumes, but protein sources depend on what country and geographic region. If they live on the coast, they will eat more seafood, but if they live inland they will eat more red meat.”

Source: Purdue University


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