- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Interview with FDA Spokesperson - Part One
Interview with FDA Spokesperson - Part One
For some time now I have been wondering what are the specific responsibilities of the F.D.A. – the Food and Drug Administration? So I went to their official website to examine their mission statement. It reads as follows:
"FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation."
That seems to be forthright. The F.D.A, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for protecting the public health by – among other things – overseeing our food supply. That’s their official mission
However, after you read what I have learned, you may begin to believe that F.D.A. actually stands for Filthy Disgusting Additives that this credulous agency allows to be added to our food supply. True! I am not joking.
I anticipated interviewing a genuine FDA official to find answers, but they all appeared to be on vacation. So I have created a fictitious representative as a spokesperson to voice their thoughts since I can read their minds long distance. (See my hubs "Interview with Channing Tatum" and "Interview with Genghis Khan" if you doubt I can accomplish that feat.)
Let’s call this representative Mr. I. M. Clueless. And let’s look at seven disgusting, repellent, repugnant, distasteful, loathsome additives approved by the F.D.A.
#1 – Pink slime in your hamburger
me – Let’s get right down to business, Mr. Clueless. Everyone was shocked when we learned about a mystery substance, pink slime, hiding in processed meat.
Mr. Clueless – Just a moment! I am insulted by that term, pink slime. The substance you refer to used an additive with ammonia to prevent hamburger from rotting too quickly. Beef trimmings were heated, compressed and then exposed to bacteria-killing ammonia.
To try to make the meat ‘safer,’ industry typically puts the beef through an ammonia gas bath. What is wrong with that?
me – Now be honest, Mr. C. Would you want your odds-and-ends hamburger dipped in ammonia before you ate it? I rest my case.
Healthy Hint: If you want a safer option, search for organic, pasture-raised meats which you can generally buy directly from local farmers.
At the hospital I won’t have to phone 'ya' . . . if you don’t eat hamburger sprayed with ammonia. (You can groan now.)
#2 – Bug juice in your candy
me - Let’s look at some other nasty, gross, disgusting additives that the FDA approves in the food we eat. What about bug-juice in some of the candy we buy?
Mr. Clueless – Are you referring to the resin secreted by the lac insect?
me – Yes, I am referring to the small, gray insect which turns red when crushed. It is known as the Dactylopius coccus which is often incorrectly referred to as a beetle.The female secretes a substance called confectioner’s glaze. It’s used to make the hard shell on many candies shiny.
Mr. Clueless – Well, for your information that shellac resin is also used to coat medicated pills and coffee beans and to provide a waxy sheen on apples.
me – Thank you, that’s very comforting information.
Mr. Clueless – And if it were not for this plentiful desert beetle, I mean insect, found in Mexico and South America, we would not have carmine, the red food coloring for fruit juice as an example. And for the red color in many cosmetics.
me – Unfortunately, you are correct.
Healthy Hint: Be careful what you eat in any case . . . and what you use to decorate your face.
#3 – Mushrooms a la maggots
me – How do you feel about eating mushrooms accompanied by maggots – those tiny, rice-shaped fly larvae that feast on rotting foods?
Mr. Clueless – I’ll have you know that the Food and Drug Administration legally allows up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce can of mushrooms.
me – Maggots may be useful in the medical world and they do constitute a source of protein.
But most people think it's gross and disgusting to eat them unknowingly with mushrooms. I prefer fresh mushrooms with onions myself.
Healthy Hint: This is just a tiny suggestion . . . examine mushrooms before ingestion.
Is nothing sacred?
#4 – Beaver anal gland juice for flavor
me – Even juice from an anal beaver would be preferable. But this substance known as castoreum produced by the beaver's anal gland is bitter, smelly, and orange-brown in color.
In nature, it is combined with the beaver's urine and used to mark its territory. Double Ugh!
Mr. Clueless – For years, castoreum has been used by processed food companies here and abroad as a flavoring for strawberry, raspberry and vanilla flavors in a variety of candy, chewing gum, gelatin, pudding and ice cream.
me – True, and this gross ingredient does not show up on their labels. Instead it is listed as natural flavoring. Natural, yes, as well as gross. (laughing out loud)
Mr. Clueless – What the devil are you laughing at?
me – I was just thinking … what adventurous scientist discovered this use … and how?
Healthy Hint: Take a look at the labels on food products you purchase. The term, ‘natural flavoring,’ is used extensively without further explanation. (See “MSG and Fat Rats and Us”)
Candy flavored from a beaver gland that's anal . . . by many folks would be considered insane-al.
Book about Food Additives
#5 – Human hair or duck feathers in your food
me – Many people get upset when they find a single hair in their food. That’s why it’s so traumatic to learn that L-cysteine, an amino acid made from dissolved human hair or duck feathers, is found in so many of the baked goods we eat.
Mr. Clueless – L-cysteine is an important ingredient used as a commercial dough conditioner to improve the texture of breads, bagels, rolls, pizza and cookie dough and other baked goods.
Some L-cysteine is synthesized in laboratories but most of it comes from a cheap and abundant natural protein source – human hair.
me – Where does all this hair come from?
Mr. Clueless – Most of the hair is gathered from the floors of hair salons and barbershops in China. Other cheap sources of L-cysteine include duck or chicken feathers, cow horns and petroleum byproducts.
me – I’m sorry I asked. It also occurs to me that eating something derived from the human body violates Muslim beliefs. And human hair and duck feathers pose an ethical dilemma for vegans, too.
Healthy Hint: If you want a healthier option, you can avoid ‘L-cysteine’ by eating products that are Kosher or gluten-free.
Avoid eating food with hair from a head . . . by learning to bake your bagels and bread.
#6 – Fish bladders in your beer
me – I hate to be the one to tell you this, since it may remove the happy from your happy hour, but you ought to know this largely unpublished news. The bladders of fish are widely used in the beer and ale brewing process.
Mr. Clueless – You are correct. A form of collagen called isinglass is made from the dried swim bladders of fish. This substance clumps with the yeast in the beer and then sinks to the bottom of the barrel, allowing for a much clearer brew.
Healthy Hint: Because isinglass combines with the dregs of the barrel, it usually can’t be detected in the final product.
Don't be upset by beer with a fish bladder . . . the more that you drink, the less it will matter.
#7 – Flame retardant in your soda
me – A synthetic chemical called BVO is a flame retardant that slows down the chemical reactions that cause a fire. It has been banned in food throughout Europe and Japan. Why does the FDA allow it to be added to Mountain Dew and other citrus-flavored drinks?
Mr. Clueless – Reports from an industry group in 1977 helped the FDA establish what it considers a safe limit for BVO in sodas.
me – Yes, but that data is more than 35 years old.
Mr. Clueless – True, but BVO is only found in 10% of the sodas sold in the U.S.
me – That’s no excuse whatsoever. A few teenagers who went on soda binges have needed medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders. Those are all symptoms of overexposure to bromine.
Mr. Clueless – Without an emulsifier such as BVO, the flavoring would float to the surface. The FDA limits the use of BVO to 15 parts per million in fruit-flavored beverages.
me – But a recent study by the National Cancer Institute states that sodas are the largest source of calories for teenagers between the ages of 14 to 18. That indicates a lot of soda is being consumed by our youth.
Take a look at the list of ingredients on a Mountain Dew bottle and you will note BVO, brominated vegetable oil, is listed. Other popular sodas containing BVO are Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade, or Fresca Original Citrus.
Healthy Hint: If you don't want to drink soda with BVO . . . choose Pepsi or Coke instead and you're good to go.
Thank you, Mr. Clueless, for your involuntary but significant participation as a spokesperson. I may need you again when I gather additional information to report on your noble agency’s endorsement of the following:
• Staph bacteria in meat • Medicated fowl • Cellulose in cereals • Paint chemicals in salad dressing • Cloned genes in cheese • Sex hormones in milk • Fake food dyes • Evil popcorn bags (True!)
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2012. Rev. 2015. All rights reserved.
Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Includes most-needed, valuable information for older workers.
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