U.S. FDA Warns of Dangers of Liquid Nitrogen in Food, Drinks

You risk serious injury if you consume or handle food and drink products where liquid nitrogen is added just before consumption, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Friday.

These products — which have names such as “Dragon’s Breath,” “Heaven’s Breath” and “nitro puff” — are available in food courts, kiosks, state or local fairs, and other places where food and drinks are sold.

Examples of such products include liquid nitrogen-infused colorful cereal or cheese puffs that emit a misty or smoke-like vapor, and alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks prepared with liquid nitrogen that emit a fog.

Liquid nitrogen isn’t toxic, but its extremely low temperature can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or consumed, the FDA said in a news release. Inhaling the vapor released by liquid nitrogen in food or drinks can also cause breathing problems, especially among people with asthma, according to the agency.

“The main issue is that liquid nitrogen must be fully evaporated from food or beverage before it is served,” explained Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“In liquid form, it can cause burns to the mouth, esophagus and upper airway, leading to perforation or rupture of the organs — which could be deadly,” Glatter said. “It may also cause burns of the fingers or hands when it is handled in the liquid state.”

And people with asthma or lung disease who inhale the vapors might experience constriction of their airways, triggering an asthma attack or worsening of their lung disease, he added.

“Beyond this, it may also lead to inflammation in the lungs and aspiration, which can reduce the ability to breathe, as well as trigger infections such as pneumonia,” Glatter said.

In fact, the FDA said it has received reports of severe and life-threatening injuries caused by liquid nitrogen in food and drinks, and also reports of breathing problems.

“With state fairs upon us, parents and teens need to understand the potential risks of foods such as nitro popcorn and nitrogen-infused cereals, which promise excitement and thrill but may end with a trip to the emergency department,” Glatter noted.

People who’ve suffered an injury after handling or consuming food or drinks prepared with liquid nitrogen should consult a health care provider, and also consider reporting their injury to MedWatch, the FDA’s safety reporting program, the agency said.

Source: HealthDay

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U.S. Appeals Court Orders EPA to Ban Chlorpyrifos, a Pesticide Known to Harm Children

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping a widely used pesticide on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure can harm babies’ brains.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.

A coalition of farmworkers and environmental groups sued last year after then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era effort to ban chlorpyrifos, which is widely sprayed on citrus fruit, apples and other crops. The attorneys general for several states joined the case against EPA, including California, New York and Massachusetts.

In a split decision, the court said Thursday that Pruitt, a Republican forced to resign earlier this summer amid ethics scandals, violated federal law by ignoring the conclusions of agency scientists that chlorpyrifos is harmful.

“The panel held that there was no justification for the EPA’s decision in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children,” Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote in the court’s opinion.

Michael Abboud, spokesman for acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, said the agency was reviewing the decision, but it had been unable to “fully evaluate the pesticide using the best available, transparent science.”

EPA could potentially appeal to the Supreme Court since one member of the three-judge panel dissented from the majority ruling.

Environmental groups and public health advocates celebrated the court’s action as a major success.

“Some things are too sacred to play politics with, and our kids top the list,” said Erik Olson, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The court has made it clear that children’s health must come before powerful polluters. This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities.”

The attorneys general of California and New York also claimed victory.

“This is one more example of how then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt skirted the law and endangered the health of our children — in this case, all because he refused to curb pesticide levels found in food,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California said in a statement.

Chlorpyrifos was created by Dow Chemical Co. in the 1960s. It remains among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with the chemical giant selling about 5 million pounds domestically each year through its subsidiary Dow AgroSciences.

Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for Dow, said chlorpyrifos is a critical pest management tool used in countries around the world.

“We will continue to support the growers who need this important product,” Schmidt said.

Chlorpyrifos belongs to a family of organophosphate pesticides that are chemically similar to a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany before World War II.

As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of the pesticide.

Under pressure from federal regulators, Dow voluntarily withdrew chlorpyrifos for use as a home insecticide in 2000. EPA also placed “no-spray” buffer zones around sensitive sites, such as schools, in 2012.

In October 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide’s use on food. A risk assessment memo issued by nine EPA scientists concluded: “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

Federal law requires EPA to ensure that pesticides used on food in the United States are safe for human consumption — especially children, who are typically far more sensitive to the negative effects of poisons.

Shortly after his appointment by President Donald Trump in 2017, Pruitt announced he was revering the Obama administration effort to ban chlorpyrifos, adopting Dow’s position that the science showing chlorpyrifos is harmful was inconclusive and flawed.

The Associated Press reported in June 2017 that Pruitt announced his agency’s reversal on chlorpyrifos just 20 days after his official schedule showed a meeting with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris. At the time, Liveris headed a White House manufacturing working group, and his company had written a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump’s inaugural festivities.

Following AP’s report, then-EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said that March 9, 2017, meeting on Pruitt’s schedule never happened. Bowman said the two men had instead shared only a “brief introduction in passing” while attending the same industry conference at a Houston hotel and that they never discussed chlorpyrifos.

However, internal EPA emails released earlier this year following a public records lawsuit filed by The Sierra Club suggest the two men shared more than a quick handshake.

Little more than a week after the conference and before Pruitt announced his decision, the EPA chief’s scheduler reached out to Liveris’ executive assistant to schedule a follow-up meeting.

“Hope this email finds you well!” wrote Sydney Hupp, Pruitt’s assistant, on March 20, 2017. “I am reaching out today about setting up a meeting to continue the discussion between Dow Chemical and Administrator Scott Pruitt. My apologies for the delay in getting this email into you — it has been a crazy time over here!”

Subsequent emails show Hupp and Liveris’ office discussing several potential dates that the Dow CEO might come to Pruitt’s office at EPA headquarters, but it is not clear from the documents whether the two men ever linked up.

Liveris announced his retirement from Dow in March of this year.

Pruitt resigned July 6 amid more than a dozen ethics investigations focused on such issues as outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease for a Capitol Hill condo linked to an energy lobbyist.

Bowman, who left EPA in May to work for GOP Sen. Joni Ernest of Iowa, declined to comment on her earlier characterization of the March 2017 interaction between Pruitt and Liveris or what “discussion” the internal email was referring to.

“I don’t work for EPA anymore,” Bowman said.

Current EPA spokesman James Hewitt said, “We stand by our statement from last year.”

Source : Time

Glyphosate in Roundup Weed Killer Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars

See large image . . . . .

Source: EWG, from tests by Eurofin Analytical Laboratories

*EWG’s child-protective health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate in food is 160 ppb.

** ND = none detected

*** Two product samples tested both had 20 ppb glyphosate concentration.

**** Lucky Charms Frosted Toasted Oat Cereal with Marshmallows. Marshmallows were manually removed from the samples prior to shipping to the lab and testing for glyphosate.


Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings.

Read more at Environmental Working Group. . . . . .

Norway’s Food Safety Authority Warns Not to Eat Raw Oyster from Southern Nordic Fjords

Lefteris Karagiannopoulos wrote . . . . . . . .

The southern Nordic fjords are heating up as Europe boils, and bacteria there are flourishing, infecting swimmers and seafood, including oysters that can take months until they are safe to eat again, Norway’s food safety authority said.

The warm waters in southern Norway and Sweden have accelerated the reproduction of the vibrio bacteria, a species that can cause vibriosis, an illness with symptoms as simple as diarrhea and stomachache but which can also be fatal.

The water in Norway’s southern fjords reached 24 degrees Celsius, about 4C higher than average for the season, and the bacteria in the local sea ecosystem have been traced in much larger quantities than usual.

They have already infected the wounds of several swimmers in the Oslo fjord, where people have arrived in droves to beat the heat, but they can also infect people eating raw seafood, the food safety authority said.

“Eating raw oysters is common for Norwegians. People go to cabins during the summer, dive for oysters and eat them… It can take months for raw oysters to be safe again as the water needs to cool,” the authority’s seafood safety head Lise Rokkone told Reuters.

The fjords are rich with trout and salmon at certain times of year, but eating raw fish should also be avoided, said Rokkone, days after the authority issued an oyster consumption warning.

The extreme heatwave that hit the Nordics this summer has also affected cattle feed, she said, forcing many farmers to either seek feed from Northern Norway or import.

Infected oysters are not however the only heat-related inconvenience Norwegians have to face this summer.

As well as an outdoor barbecue ban barring everyone from heading outside to cook, the number of snake bite incidents has doubled from last year as more people spend time in the forest, while drivers have to be careful in tunnels, where reindeer have taken to sheltering from the heat.

Last week, the Norwegian church even asked believers to light candles and pray for a change in the weather.

Source: Reuters

To Rinse Or Not To Rinse: How Washing Some Foods Can Help You Avoid Illness

Jill Neimark wrote . . . . . . .

This spring, millions of Americans worried that salad was no longer safe to eat: The U.S. was hit by the largest E. coli outbreak in a decade, with 172 people in 32 states sickened by contaminated romaine lettuce. Eighty-nine of those individuals were hospitalized, and at least five died.

Would rinsing lettuce have prevented the outbreak? Likely not, because the E. coli organism that caused the outbreak is so hardy that only a few bacteria are necessary to cause illness. And E. coli can survive in frozen or refrigerated temperatures. It is only destroyed through cooking or pasteurization, according to Colorado State University.

Rinsing does help prevent other illnesses associated with food. But it can sometimes cause more problems by splashing bacteria onto sinks and countertops. As summer and outdoor eating events beckon, here are some tips on what foods to rinse, how to rinse, and why.

Rinse your rice.

Rice is grown in flooded paddy fields, and naturally takes up arsenic in the water and soil. According to plant and soil scientist Andrew Meharg, author of the book Arsenic & Rice, soaking rice overnight, then rinsing thoroughly, reduces arsenic by up to half. If you wish to flush out another 30 percent of the remaining arsenic, cook the rice in five parts water to one part rice. In addition, rinsing rice helps remove some of the starch that can cause it to get gummy when cooking. Keep in mind that rinsing rice may reduce the levels of folate, iron, niacin and thiamin, by 50 to 70 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and that the largest risk for arsenic exposure from rice is for those who eat it several times a day.

Rinse beans and grains, especially if you suffer from celiac disease.

Rinsing grains removes debris and dirt. Rinsing is especially important for those suffering from celiac disease. Recent studies, which NPR reported on last April, suggest that accidental gluten exposure, even among celiacs following a gluten-free diet, is more common than thought. One way to be “glutened” is through inadvertent cross contamination of a gluten-free food. Grains and beans may be grown near wheat, barley, or rye; they may also be rotated with those gluten-containing crops; or they may become contaminated during processing, transport and packaging. In fact, it’s even legal for some beans to contain stray grains: The Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration allows lentils to contain a percentage of foreign grains.

Wash your produce thoroughly.

Back in 2005, dietitian Sandria Goodwin and her colleagues at Tennessee State University examined different home washing methods for produce. They found that soaking apples, tomatoes and lettuce in water and then rinsing thoroughly under running water significantly reduced the amount of microorganisms present. However, Goodwin tells NPR that, “Nothing makes produce completely harmless except sterilization (which changes quality characteristics), so if people want to consume raw foods, there is always a risk.” Case in point: the E. coli outbreak we mentioned above.

Don’t rinse your chicken.

As NPR reported five years ago, rinsing raw chicken before cooking it is a “bad idea, because it raises the risk of spreading dangerous bacteria found on raw poultry all over your kitchen” Back then, the advice provoked a “small #chickensh*tstorm,” since chicken washing was so common — even Julia Child recommended it, saying she thought it was safer. The advice not to rinse your chicken still holds today, according to Cleveland Clinic dietitian Laura Jeffers, who writes in a list of food prep do’s and don’t’s: “Any bacteria will be killed during the cooking process.” Cooking the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is sufficient. Similar rules apply for all raw meat and for eggs: Don’t wash, but do cook to the appropriate temperature.

Other useful advice:

Clean your counter tops, cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water before peeling or cutting produce. Wash your own hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food. Use a vegetable brush to scrub produce with a hard rind or firm skin, such as potatoes, carrots, melons and apples. Make sure your washing water is at least 10 degrees colder than your produce, to inhibit bacteria further. Patting dry with paper towels helps reduce bacterial load. Chemical washes, bleaches or detergents are not recommended by the FDA, as produce may absorb them.

While our food supply is among the safest in the world, bad things sometimes happen. Most healthy people will completely recover from a foodborne illness within a short period of time.

Source: npr