Skip to content

FDA allows contaminated food to stay on shelves

You got your blueberry in my chocolate!

“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

“You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”

It’s a cute scenario when it’s advertising Reese’s peanut butter cups, sure. But what if we make a few substitutions–all of which can be found on grocery store shelves across the country?

Here’s one: “You got your blueberry ice cream in my chocolate ice cream!”

It’s not necessarily dangerous, but it’s certainly puzzling. Look on the label for your favorite chocolate ice cream, and what you won’t find are a few hidden ingredients–bits of other flavors from mislabeled batches mixed in. In small amounts, they can easily be blended into the color and flavor of chocolate, and companies are able to avoid waste and, of course, loss of profit.

How about this: “You got your irradiated live bugs in my dried figs!”

Yep–manufacturers can just zap those creepy-crawlies and leave them in the packaging for unsuspecting consumers to find. Sure beats paying workers to pick out all those dead bugs doesn’t it?

Here’s another one for you: “You got your salmonella in my flavor enhancer…but then you heat-treated it and sold it anyway!”

That’s right–the FDA allowed Las Vegas company Basic Food Flavors Inc. to heat-treat batches of hydrolyzed vegetable protein when salmonella was detected in them. Then, with the FDA’s blessings, those reprocessed batches were packed up and shipped out to be added to everything from snack foods to soups.

These examples are all related to a practice so common that just about all food producers do it: reworking mislabeled, imperfect, and sometimes flat out tainted food into saleable product. It’s a process the FDA calls “reconditioning”–and it’s totally allowed and completely untracked. In fact, the FDA couldn’t even provide an estimate of the number of requests for reconditioning they receive each year.

With practices like this allowed, is it any wonder that we get food recalls and warnings about salmonella and other contamination on an almost daily basis?

With that in mind I have a couple of suggestions for the FDA.

First how about tracking the companies that engage in “reconditioning”–and requiring those companies to reveal their practices on their packaging so consumers have some choice in the matter?

Next, let’s end this practice of relying on irradiating foods as a safety net and start having some actual attention paid to how food is handled and processed.

There’s just one little hitch in my plan. The FDA has already made it clear that they accept this practice because it allows companies to continue making a profit. Our safety and wellbeing is clearly not the concern here–giving us yet one more great reason to avoid processed foods and typical grocery-store fare.

P.S. Have you ever heard you should stop taking your herbal supplements before surgery? Keep reading for the real scoop.

Sources:
“A second chance for faulty food? FDA calls it ‘reconditioning’,” MSNBC Vitals (vitals.msnbc.msn.com)

“FDA: Moldy applesauce repackaged by school lunch supplier,” MSNBC Vitals (vitals.msnbc.msn.com)