In Pictures: Desserts of Amando Roppongi in Japan

Fig and Jelly Parfait

Pear and Tea Jelly Parfait

Fig and Pear Sundae

Ring Choux

Strawberry Ring Choux

Shine Muscat Ring Choux





A Skittles Lawsuit Raises Questions Over Titanium Dioxide — a Legal Food Additive in the U.S.

Shauneen Miranda wrote . . . . . . . . .

A California man, who claims Skittles candy contains a “known toxin” that makes it “unfit for human consumption,” is suing the manufacturer, Mars.

That ingredient — titanium dioxide — is just one of the thousands of legal food additives in the U.S. In his lawsuit, Jenile Thames says Mars failed to warn consumers about the potential dangers of the ingredient, which is used as a color additive in Skittles.

According to the Center for Food Safety, Mars said in 2016 that it would phase out the use of titanium dioxide in its products over the next five years.

“Safety is of paramount importance to Mars Wrigley. Titanium dioxide is a common colorant widely used across many industries and in everyday products, including many foods,” said Justin Comes, the company’s vice president of research and development, in a statement to NPR.

Comes said the company’s use of titanium dioxide fully complies with FDA regulations.

“While we do not comment on pending litigation, all Mars Wrigley ingredients are safe and manufactured in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements established by food safety regulators, including the FDA,” Comes added.

What is titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide is a white, powdery mineral used in a variety of everyday products, including sunscreen, cosmetics, plastics, toothpaste and paint. In food, titanium dioxide can appear in anything from candy and sauces to pastries, chocolates, chewing gum and other sweets as a color additive.

Titanium dioxide has been used for decades to whiten certain foods, though it has many other features.

What makes titanium dioxide harmful?

A European Food Safety Authority report in 2021 declared that titanium dioxide “could no longer be considered safe” as a food additive.

The agency could not rule out “genotoxicity” — damage to DNA — from consumption of titanium dioxide particles and that they could accumulate in the body, although the absorption was low.

The European Commission decided in February to ban the use of titanium dioxide as a food additive. The ban will take full effect in August.

The additive builds up inside the body and “whenever you have accumulation to something that’s in so many foods, you can get to really harmful levels that raise concerns,” says Tom Neltner, a chemical engineer and lawyer who serves as senior director of the safer chemicals initiative at the Environmental Defense Fund.

That type of buildup could alter DNA, which creates potential concerns about cancer and other health issues, he said.

“That doesn’t mean [titanium dioxide] is carcinogenic, it just means we’ve got to be careful, and the fact that it gets into the body and is retained in the body is important,” Neltner said.

Neltner said the Environmental Defense Fund and other NGOs are working to prepare a color additive petition — a legal way of asking the Food and Drug Administration to review titanium dioxide for safety.

Why is titanium dioxide allowed in the U.S.?

A spokesperson for the FDA told NPR that while the agency cannot comment on pending litigation, the agency continues to allow for the safe use of titanium dioxide as a color additive in foods under certain conditions, including a quantity that does not exceed 1% of the food’s weight.

The FDA regulates food and color additives under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, enacted in 1938.

The 1958 Food Additives Amendment to that set of laws meant that all food and color additives must get pre-market review and approval from the FDA.

Over 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be in foods and food contact materials, according to a 2018 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The FDA spokesperson told NPR that “the available safety studies do not demonstrate safety concerns connected to the use of titanium dioxide as a color additive.”

“Federal regulations require evidence that each substance is safe at its intended level of use before it may be added to foods,” the spokesperson said, adding that FDA scientists continue to review new information to determine whether the substance is no longer safe under the act.

But, I love Skittles. Should I stop eating them?

There are many foods on the U.S. market that contain titanium dioxide apart from Skittles.

However, the makers of many candies and foods are careful to avoid using titanium dioxide in their foods as a color additive.

“There are plenty of candies that don’t have titanium dioxide, so people have choices, and they can read the list,” Neltner said.

Environmental and dietary health researchers face difficulties in tracing back health impacts to one specific exposure, especially when involving color additives like titanium dioxide.

“When I started out, we thought that a lot of these chemicals came from products … and over time, we’ve really realized that we’re exposed to a lot of these chemicals through diet, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here,” said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician, environmental health specialist and a professor at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Sathyanarayana has focused much of her career on chemical exposures and how they affect child development.

“But what we don’t know and what is really frustrating is: What are the long-term health impacts of these small exposures over time,” she added.

Neltner also expressed concerns over the impact of color additives like titanium dioxide on children’s health.

“We’re most worried about children’s health because that’s when their immune system, the nervous system, their body — is growing so rapidly, that you have to get it right,” he said.

Source: npr





Mid-summer Afternoon Tea of Hotel Pullman Tokyo

The price is 3,300 yen (tax included).

Lounge Junction (ラウンジ ジャンクション)





CDC Eases COVID Social Distancing Guidance in the U.S.

Robin Foster wrote . . . . . . . . .

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it has loosened its COVID-19 social distancing recommendations as the American public learns to live with the virus in its midst.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools — like vaccination, boosters, and treatments — to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti, author of a report on the new guidance, said in a CDC news release.

“We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” Massetti added.

“As transmission of SARS-CoV-2 continues, the current focus on reducing medically significant illness, death, and health care system strain are appropriate and achievable aims that are supported by the broad availability of the current suite of effective public health tools,” Massetti’s team wrote in its new guidance.

Changes to the guidance include de-emphasizing the 6 feet of social distancing that the CDC has advised since early in the pandemic. Instead, the agency advises Americans on what settings are riskier based on crowds, poor ventilation and personal risks such as health issues and age. An emphasis will also be put on building ventilation to stop the spread of many respiratory illnesses, the agency said.

Although the CDC still asks people who are sick with COVID-19 to isolate, the guidance would ease recommendations for anyone who is simply exposed to an ill person. Instead of being asked to stay home for at least five days, those individuals should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5, the CDC said. However, the guidance also suggests that exposed persons take extra precautions around people at high risk for severe disease for at least 10 days.

The agency did fine-tune its advice for those who fall ill with COVID: If you have moderate illness (shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing), severe illness (hospitalization), or a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10, instead of day 5.

If you are unsure if your symptoms are moderate or severe, or if you have a weakened immune system, talk to a health care provider for further guidance, the agency said.

If you have ended isolation, and your COVID-19 symptoms worsen or you test positive again, you should restart your isolation at day 0. Talk to a health care provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation, the agency advised.

The reasons for the changes include a high level of underlying immunity, with 95% of Americans having had the virus or having been vaccinated against it, as well as changes in public opinion about the precautions.

Experts agreed the new guidance appears to be a reality check.

The relaxed guidelines are “a concession to realism, to the way that a lot of people are handling this,” William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told the Washington Post. While he noted that the new guidelines are “entirely reasonable, my major concern is whether they will continue to be entirely reasonable given the unpredictable dynamics of the virus.”

“I think the question is, is the CDC finally saying, ‘Look, we’ve done what we can do to contain the most acute phases of this pandemic,'” Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told the Post. “So are they just finally saying that it is time for us to sort of take a step back and think about putting this back to the individual person?”

Regardless, the CDC’s recommendations are not mandates. Local government, states and school districts can still set their own guidelines.

About 42% of the U.S. population currently lives in areas with a high level of virus in the community, according to the CDC.

The new guidance was published in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Source: HealthDay





Irish-style Scones


3 eggs, divided
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1/4 cup finely chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon water
orange marmalade
whipped cream or crème fraiche


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly grease large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  3. Beat 2 eggs, cream and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
  5. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in dates and raisins. Add cream mixture. Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Knead dough with floured hands four times on lightly floured surface.
  7. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Pat into 8-inch circle. Gently score dough into six wedges with sharp wet knife, cutting three-fourths of the way into dough.
  8. Beat remaining egg and water in small bowl. Brush lightly over dough.
  9. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack. Cut into wedges. Serve warm with marmalade and whipped cream.

Makes 6 scones.

Source: Irish Cooking Bible

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