The Rogues’ Gallery of Food Awards

Damage control: Chinese workers destroy a batch of melamine-tainted milk powder under the watchful eyes of enforcement officers in Shanghai. Photo: source.

My 2008 Food Products Hall of Shame Awards
By: Asinus Asinum Fricat / January 10, 2009

The main award goes to China for the sheer number of melamine-tainted products it manufactured and distributed, and if it was up to me to distribute real food awards (an institution that is sorely needed, IMHO), they’d be the recipients of quite a few more. I sincerely hope China will learn the many, many food safety lessons and review the entirety of their food production lines in a clear and verifiable manner if they want to entice the rest of the world with their foodstuffs. For now, I’m not advocating anyone to purchase any edibles made in China. It will change in due course.

China is not alone in my books. Case in point: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that last year 76 million Americans were struck by food-borne illnesses, and more than 300,000 were hospitalized. Sadly about 5,000 each year succumb to microbial infections.

Follow me to the Rogues’ Gallery of Food Awards.

Best Meat Recall Award: Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing of California agreed to take back more than 143 million pounds of raw and frozen meat when it was found in violation of inspection rules.

Stupidest Food Product (since recalled) Award: Cambrooke Foods® makes “Low Protein Imitation Cream Cheese products in the vain hope that it might fool people into buying it. Because of possible health risks they have recalled as a precaution because some of their products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Best Villain: not enough has been written about the evils of high-fructose corn syrup:

High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High-fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose – another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.

To sum it up colas have truckloads of sugar and hardly any nutrients and may contain caffeine, an addictive drug. And it bloats your body with chemicals.

Consistency Category Award: a perennial food bandit is a packet of sour cream and onion potato chips. The damage: 150 calories for a dozen chips, 10 g fat (of which 3 g is saturated), and a ghastly 210 mg sodium! Empty calories to boot with extra trans-fats and a dash of MSG.

Worst Supporting Category Award: the most common form of bread in America is the mass-produced white, soft doughy bread in plastic bags with a long shelf life. Look at the ingredients in an average packaged white bread and you will see that it contains flour plus sugar, corn syrup (again) and a dozen other ingredients. True bread is simply flour and water with a pinch of salt and yeast. Stick to your local baker, that is if they still exist in your neighborhood!

Special Award for Underhandedness: what Kellogg’s does not want you to know: the company touts that its Special K Fruit & Yogurt cereal combines the crunch of whole grain goodness, the smooth creaminess of yogurt and the sweet taste of berries. Yeah, right! There is more refined rice than whole grain wheat, no berries (just dyed apple pieces), and no yogurt (just yogurt powder that is usually heat treated, killing any beneficial bacteria) in the cereal. And while I’m the Kellogg’s case, I might as well inform you that their “Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Pancakes” is bereft of either “Made with Whole Wheat and Whole Grain” but consist primarily of white flour. Moving along.

Supporting Make-up Award: Anyone for chocolate-laden doughnuts? Consider this then: per unit you get to eat 300 calories, 19 g fat (of which 6 g is saturated). All doughnuts are high in trans-fats, sugar and are extremely calorific. Supermarket versions are the worst!

Sneakiness Award: if you thought that McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips sound healthy, you’re in for a surprise: ounce for ounce, the Selects are no healthier than the chain’s Chicken McNuggets. A standard, five-strip order has 670 calories and 10 grams of artery-clogging fat. That’s about the same as a Big Mac, but the burger has 1,040 mg of sodium, while the Selects hit 1,660 mg!

Best Disguise Award: another calorific horror story is the Chipotle Chicken Burrito (tortilla, rice, pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream, and salsa) It combines a whopping 1,040 calories and 16½ grams of saturated fat in one serving and the burrito is loaded with 2,500 mg of sodium!

Best Fantasy Story Award: EnvigaCoca-Cola/Nestle claims that their new drink combination of caffeine and an antioxidant extracted from green tea will cause people to burn more calories than the drink provides and help them control their weight. In fact, one in five people drinking Enviga burn fewer, not more, calories and long-term studies on the ingredients show no consistent effect on weight. ole!

From the excellent E-coli blog a sister site to Marler Clark’s:

Okay, so 2008 was NOT as big a year for E. coli recalls as was 2007. Total amount of beef recalled last year was around seven million pounds; far less than the 29 million pounds recalled during 2007.

A very interesting site I keep my eyes on is Bill Marler’s blog, published by Marler Clark’s (see sister site above, Check out his 2009 food challenges:

Marler’s Ten Top Food Safety Challenges for 2009

Source / La Vida Locavore

Thanks to Diane Stirling-Stevens / The Rag Blog

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3 Responses to The Rogues’ Gallery of Food Awards

  1. Bill Marler says:

    Thanks for the “Shout Out.”

  2. Glycotech says:

    Sorry to see the 2008 Food Products Hall of Shame published in the Rag Blog. It foolishly starts out as though melamine is a big problem with our food supply, when in truth the blame falls solidly on Archer Daniels Midland and the US Congress who funds them.
    The 5000 people who fall ill due to microbial infections pale beside the major causes of death in the United States, heart disease and cancer. Both rare fifty years ago, before supermarkets and agribusiness took over the food supply. The path of these diseases can be traced around the world as they follow supermarkets, with their need for food that doesn’t spoil, around the world. The reason the food doesn’t spoil is because it contains no nutrients. Bugs leave it alone. And the populations die as the essential nutrients required for life are removed from the food supply. Our $50 billion dollar a year farm bill only subsidzizes junk food. Any food that can be eaten without first being manufactured is ineligable for this subsidy, so real food gets more expensive every year, whild junk food gets cheaper. Now there is a villain.
    I could go along with his best villain, high fructose corn syrup, but here he misses the point. Instead of McDonalds giving out 7 oz cokes, they are 32 oz, due to the enormous government subsidy for corn. Everyone is getting fat, and at government expense. Meanwhile the cost of fruits and vegetables rises, as the cost of junk food falls.

  3. The positive side is we can avoid ‘junk food’ (re the comment that I just read above me).

    As an ‘old fart’ who is incredibly healthy, I didn’t get that way by chosing the wrong foods; eating out – or falling prey to the crap that is promoted in magazines; newspapers, and on television.

    We should think for ourselves, and eat for ourselves as well – and both should be done with proper education and research – it’s just not that difficult.

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