Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop called out for unsubstantiated and deceptive health claims

Anyone who likes Coldplay enough to marry the front man is immediately suspect.

Because Coldplay really, really sucks.

So does Goop.

Gwyneth Paltrow‘s lifestyle advice for the richly insecure and vain is now facing truthiness from the mainstream like People – calling the kettle black, or something derogative – and is under fire from watchdog group Truth in Advertising for “deceptive” health claims on over 50 of their products.

Truth in Advertising (TINA) announced Tuesday that they’ve investigated Goop’s marketing tactics, and found that “the company claims, either expressly or implicitly, that its products (or those it promotes) can treat, cure, prevent, alleviate the symptoms of, or reduce the risk of developing a number of ailments,” according to a press release.

“The problem is that the company does not possess the competent and reliable scientific evidence required by law to make such claims,” the release says.

TINA says that they initially contacted Goop about their “unsubstantiated, and therefore deceptive, health and disease-treatment claims” on Aug. 11, and because the company did not make enough changes to their site in the 11 days since, TINA has filed a complaint letter with the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force.

A spokesperson from Goop tells PEOPLE that they wanted to work with TINA to correct the wording on their site, but the timeframe given was too limited.

“Goop is dedicated to introducing unique products and offerings and encouraging constructive conversation surrounding new ideas. We are receptive to feedback and consistently seek to improve the quality of the products and information referenced on our site. We responded promptly and in good faith to the initial outreach from representatives of TINA and hoped to engage with them to address their concerns. Unfortunately, they provided limited information and made threats under arbitrary deadlines which were not reasonable under the circumstances.”

“Nevertheless, while we believe that TINA’s description of our interactions is misleading and their claims unsubstantiated and unfounded, we will continue to evaluate our products and our content and make those improvements that we believe are reasonable and necessary in the interests of our community of users.”

Oh, fuck off.

 

 

Can blockchain reduce foodborne illness (and save cash for retailers)?

A consortium of big-food types including Dole, Unilever, Walmart, Golden State Foods, Kroger, Nestle, Tyson Foods, McLane Company, and McCormick and Company – along with IBM, has announced plans to cut down on the time it takes to pinpoint the source of foodborne illness and eradicate it.

But, according to Coin Desk, unlike many other blockchain groups that have launched over the years, the consortium is formally launching with a fully integrated enterprise-grade platform, according to Walmart’s vice president of food safety, Frank Yiannas.

“IBM has spent a lot of time coding and creating a real product that you can start using,” said Yiannas. “There’s legitimate framework and substance in terms of the product, the technology that’s available. It’s substantial and real.”

If successful, the project, which will extend Walmart’s own custom blockchain proof-of-concept for food safety and traceability to the other partners, stands to cut down on the time it takes to track down dangerous food from weeks to just seconds.

Drawing on multiple IBM pilots in production, the consortium then aims to identify and prioritize different ways that distributed ledger tech can save global food suppliers money via increased traceability of their products.

The resulting efficiencies could not only reduce the revenue lost from unnecessarily pulling of safe food from shelves, but also spur a drop in the number of deaths blamed on toxic food in the first place.

“We’re all in the business of trying to improve the quality of life of people that we serve around the world,” he said. “So, on these issues, it’s pre-competitive.”

But while there’s a philanthropic element to the work, the result of delays in identifying dangerous food can also hit deep into a food supplier bottom lines.

During a demo of the enterprise-grade application, IBM’s vice-president of blockchain business development, Brigid McDermott, broke down into three categories what she said were the global financial costs of current supply-chain tracking inefficiencies.

The first, which drives the most cost, is the human loss of health and life.

For example, earlier this month, a salmonella outbreak traced back to contaminated papaya fruit was blamed for infecting 173 people, leading to 58 hospitalizations and one death, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. On average, 420,000 people die each year from food poisoning, according to the World Health Organization.

The second and third costs of supply-chain inefficiencies result from the potential threat to the health of consumers, according to McDermott.

Specifically, she said the cost of recalling a tainted good is typically footed largely by the offending producer. But when identifying the dangerous items can take weeks, prices can drop and people will frequently stop buying the product altogether, resulting in a financial cost to the proprietors of even the safest products.

These losses can be so costly that recent estimates on the total economic impact of foodborne illnesses on the U.S. economy alone have varied between as low as about $4.4 billion per year to as high as $93.2 billion.

Following what was largely deemed a successful test of tracking pork sales in China and mangos in the U.S., Yiannas realized the limits of being able to identify dangerous food within its own supply chain, if others were still using the traditional system to trace the food to its origin.

While competitors and even other members of the same supply chain took weeks to identify the source of the problem, global prices of the food frequently plummeted, resulting in losses to the entire industry that could sometimes take years to fully recover from.

So, after the early Walmart tests were complete, IBM Blockchain general manager Marie Wieck said she was contacted by the company with a new problem: to help form a collective of industry players, representing more than just different aspects of the supply chain, but potentially competing aspects of the supply chain.

Wieck explained how crucial the wider network is if you want to do more than just identify the source of the problem, adding, “You need the entire industry network to start engaging in order to be able to do both the proof that you can trace back to the farm, but then have the entire supply chain address it.”

Yiannas added, “If you’re a food safety guy who’s been doing this for 30 years, the power of how much information is at your fingertips is really impressive and exciting.”

If it’s not chickens, it’s eggs

In a risk communication fiasco reminiscent of the 1999 dioxin-in-chicken-feed scandal in the EU, millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe after contamination with a banned insecticide.

On July 19, 2017, the government of Belgium said that fipronil had been found in eggs produced there, one month after the fipronil was actually detected. The contamination is thought to have been caused by the mixing of the insecticide with a cleaning agent used at chicken farms to control blood lice.

Dutch health authorities admitted that they had received a tip about fipronil being used in barns against blood lice as early as November 2016.

After initially poo-pooing the threat, things picked up in early Aug. as more countries found eggs with fipronil, and more supermarkets pulled eggs.

Dutch police arrested two individuals they say could be accountable for allowing the insecticide Fipronil to be used inside Dutch poultry farms.

A joint Dutch-Belgian task force conducted raids at eight poultry farms in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch prosecution service.

The investigation “focused on the Dutch company that allegedly used Fipronil, a Belgian supplier as well as a Dutch company that colluded with the Belgian supplier,” according to the prosecutor.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the UK Food Standards Agency said: “Our advice remains clear – there’s no need to change how you buy or consume eggs. We are responding very quickly to any new information, to ensure that any products left that contain egg from the affected farms is withdrawn immediately. We’re doing this because Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals, not because we are concerned about any risk to health.”

No risk messages are risky.

So is commercial exploitation.

Robert Chapman, who packs four million eggs a week under the Farmlay label from his West Cockmuir farm at Strichen, Aberdeenshire, urged buyers to learn a lesson from the incident, adding, “Price is obviously a major factor why so many imported eggs come into Britain, but the fact that so many have been found to be contaminated is a major issue. Surely processors and retailers will take this on board and source more eggs from UK producers whose standards are second to none.”

British Free Range Egg Producers Association chief executive Robert Gooch said, “British egg producers follow stringent production standards to ensure that what they produce is perfectly safe and nutritious for consumers to eat.”

Until it isn’t.

961 sick with Salmonella: About those chicks, stop kissing them

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that since the last update on July 13, 2017, 172 more ill people have been reported. The most recent illness began on July 31, 2017.

CDC and multiple states are investigating 10 separate multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections in people who had contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.

These outbreaks are caused by several DNA fingerprints of different Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella Braenderup, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i-, Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Litchfield, Salmonella Mbandaka, Salmonella Muenchen, and Salmonella Typhimurium.

The outbreak strains of Salmonella have infected a reported 961 people in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to July 31, 2017.

215 ill people have been hospitalized. One death has been reported.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link the 10 outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries.

In interviews, 498 (74%) of 672 ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before illness started.

Contact with live poultry or their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean, with no sign of illness.

Hong Kong fairytales: More Vibrio: Suspected food poisoning outbreak in tour group

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a suspected outbreak of food poisoning in a tour group, and hence urged the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent food-borne diseases.

Because all foodborne illness is caused by poor personal hygiene, and not contaminated product.

Not

The outbreak affected six members of the tour group, comprising two men and four women aged from 44 to 80, who developed abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting 14 to 40 hours after their lunch buffet in a restaurant in a hotel in Macau on August 13 arranged by a travel agent in Hong Kong.

Among them, three sought medical attention in Hong Kong and required no hospitalisation. All affected persons have been in stable condition.

The stool specimen of one patient tested positive for Vibrio parahaemolyticus upon laboratory testing.

 

Cyclospora: Back to the future

During the summers of 2015 and 2016, the United Kingdom experienced large outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in travellers returning from Mexico. As the source of the outbreaks was not identified, there is the potential for a similar outbreak to occur in 2017; indeed 78 cases had already been reported as at 27 July 2017. Early communication and international collaboration is essential to provide a better understanding of the source and extent of this recurring situation.

Cyclosporiasis in travellers returning to the United Kingdom from Mexico in Summer 2017: Lessons from the recent past to inform the future

Eurosurveillance, vol. 22, issue 32, 10 August 2017, DFP Marques, CL Alexander, RM Chalmers, R Elson, J Freedman, G Hawkins, J Lo, G Robinson, K Russell, A Smith-Palmer, H Kirkbride, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.32.30592

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22854

Going public fail 2-in-1 day: Tainted eggs were known about for months

I hate the phrase, food scare.

Hate is a strong word, but when it comes to food poisoning outbreaks that kill little kids and others, it’s not a scare, it’s real.

A scare implies former scream-queen Jamie-Lee Curtis flogging yoghurt that makes people poop.

That’s a food scare.

See how many times the N.Y. Times can use the word scare in its opening paragraphs:

The European Union on Monday notified the food safety authorities in Britain, France, Sweden and Switzerland to be on the lookout for contamination in eggs after a food scare in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a European Commission spokeswoman, said, “We do not know if the eggs are contaminated or not, but because of these notifications, it’s now up to the national authorities to check.”

The scare over contaminated eggs, which began in Belgium, has led supermarkets there and in Germany and the Netherlands to clear shelves of the product as the crisis entered its third week.

The removal of eggs from shops was prompted by the discovery of the insecticide fipronil in some shipments. The contamination is thought to have been caused by the mixing of the insecticide with a cleaning agent used at chicken farms. The scare began July 19 when the government of Belgium said that fipronil had been found in eggs produced there.

Major supermarket chains in Belgium, including Delhaize and Colruyt, have stopped selling eggs from affected farms. In the Netherlands, one poultry producer declared bankruptcy on Friday as a result of the insecticide scare, according to an industry group.

 The Dutch consumer safety authority has published a guide on identifying the tainted eggs through a 10-digit serial number stamped on the shells. The country’s biggest supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, stopped selling many eggs last week, but the company said that eggs were back on sale as normal on Monday. In the Netherlands, an estimated nine million chickens from about 180 farms have been affected.

In Germany, the supermarket chain Aldi withdrew all eggs from sale after the authorities said that about three million eggs imported from the Netherlands had been affected. Since then, fipronil contamination has been found at four farms in the German state of Lower Saxony.

Fipronil is toxic in large quantities and can damage kidneys, liver and lymph glands. The Belgian and Dutch authorities are investigating how the contamination happened.

The Dutch poultry association said that farmers had no idea that cleaners were using the substance. Aalt den Herder, the group’s secretary, said the risk had been overstated.

“It was never an issue of human health, it was an issue of consumer confidence,” he said.

Yeah, except, as explained by the Irish Examiner:

Belgian authorities have now admitted they began investigating pesticide contamination in eggs in early June – several weeks before the public was made aware of a food safety scare affecting several European countries.

Kathy Brison, of the Belgian food safety agency, said on Sunday that a Belgian farm alerted authorities to a possible contamination in June, and they began investigating and alerted Belgian prosecutors.

German authorities are frustrated by the apparent delay in informing European neighbours.

German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt plans to speak to his Belgian counterpart about the issue on Monday.

And where would a risk communication failure be without the UK Food Standards Agency, who today reported, “We have no evidence that eggs laid in the UK are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in the UK. 85% of the eggs we consume in the UK are laid here.

“The number of eggs involved represents about 0.0001% of the eggs imported into the UK each year. Our risk assessment, based on all the information available, indicates that as part of a normal healthy diet this low level of potential exposure is unlikely to be a risk to public health and there is no need for consumers to be concerned. Our advice is that there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs or products containing eggs.”

Sounds good if they’re all getting “laid here.”

Once again:

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public.

Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.

Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions.

There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

Going public fail: 14 sick with E. coli linked to raw milk in Virginia, 2016

The general public didn’t have access to the suspect food, so there was no point in unnecessarily alarming the public.

I’ve heard that paternalistic crap for 30 years now, and it never turns out well.

Coral Beach of Food Safety News reports that Virginia officials did not alert the general public to an E. coli outbreak in March 2016 that sickened at least 14 people — a dozen of them children.

This week, 17 months after the outbreak, public health officials expect to complete their report on the incident, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health. The implicated milk was from Golden Valley Guernseys (free samples delivered for $4) dairy, which sent a letter to members of its herd-share operation alerting them to the illnesses at the time.

Of the 14 confirmed E. coli victims, half had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Three developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The state health department’s Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District office did not make a public announcement about the outbreak at the time because the general public did not have access to the milk, District Director Dr. Wade Kartchner told Food Safety News.

“Consideration was given to putting out a broad public notice, but the nature of the herd-share programs are such that we were confident that we would be able to effectively reach those who were truly at risk of illness,” Kartchner said. “… it is not quite the same situation as a restaurant outbreak where the public at large may be exposed.”

This is so wrong.

Others, even mere mortals, learn from outbreaks: How did this happen? How dangerous was the outbreak? And what kind of foods to avoid, like raw fucking milk.

In the absence of public announcements, it also makes it harder for mere scientists to make a case that a certain food may be risky.

Going public is the new normal for foodborne outbreaks, and some day, admin-types may catch up.

Facebook, tweets, calls to lawyers like Marler, going public is any agency’s best defense.

And it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve published about this before, and as I said at the time, I’ve had different versions of this paper running through my head for 25 years.

It started as a rebel-without-a-clue teenager, and led to questions about mad cow disease in 1995 (or earlier) when the UK government knew there were human victims but said nothing until March 1996.

Yet the job of public health, no matter how many political assholes, no matter how many impediments, and no matter how many dog bites you have to investigate, is to protect public health.

If people are barfing, it’s time to go public.

That doesn’t always happen.

Anyone can search barfblog.com under the phrase “going public” and find hundreds of incidents of people acting like shits.

But this is important shit, because credibility depends on transparency and trust and truthiness (at least in my idyllic world-view).

Public health is under siege.

The science is there, the outbreaks are there. Go public.

Or at least explain the process so the rest of us can understand.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public.

Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.

Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions.

There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

Science is my faith; the arena is my church: Hucksters, buskers and Kato Kaelin

It was a visit to the Wizard of Oz museum in Kansas that solidified my belief in the hucksters and buskers ruining the dream of America.

I was willingly living in Kansas with a girl I fell in love with – still am — and two of my Canadian daughters were visiting in 2007, so we decided to travel down the road from Manhattan, Kansas, to Wamego, KS, home of the Wizard of Oz museum.

If there’s genius in David Lynch, it’s predicting things before they happen – the elevated hairdo in Eraserhead made popular by Lyle Lovett, the Dr. Amp personified by radio-talk shrill Alan Jones.

Even John Oliver has had a go at Dr. Group, the unfortunately-named chiropractor and Kato-Kaelin–lookalike who shrills science with the veracity of a Kardashian.

Which reminds me, I gotta tell Chapman to shorten his bio.

In academia, when starting as an assistant professor, most  feel a need to put everything they farted out that passed peer review into their bio, including boy scout leader, and hockey coach.

As time goes on, the bio becomes shorter, because you’ve earned that full prof title, and even you don’t give a shit about repeating everything you’ve toiled over for the past 40 years – you also correctly reason that no one else gives a shit either, and if they do, google it.

Check out the degrees behind Dr. Group.

The struggle to confirm who is legitimate and why, continues, and is often laid bare in the fanciest of university-type institutions.

Do these people really care about learning, or are they just there, to make a paycheck, get their retirement and go through the motions.

I won’t go into the latest details about Gwenyth preaching that livers and kidneys can be detoxed by handstands, why Canada’s Dr. Jen Gunter has taken on debunking her Gwenythness, or why a top uni in Spain scraped homeopathy — because it’s nonsense.

Instead I give you the wisdom of John Oliver.

Seafood safety, roses and writing

Chapman is a shitty writer.

How he got a staff member named Katrina Levine, who can write, is beyond my grasp.

But, I’m content to be amazed at the world, not think too much about it, and be grateful for the beauty in a rose or an MPH who can put a couple of sentences together.

Katrina (whom I’ve never met) writes:

I’ve never been one who likes attention, but I’ll admit that during the 15 minutes of fame that came with the publication of Evaluating Food Safety Messages in Popular Cookbooks in the British Food Journal, I got a little excited every time someone wanted to interview me. Terrified, but excited.

During the 2 week media buzz that followed the press release, I did approximately 6 interviews, one of which was for Consumer Reports. Unlike most of the interviews, which were focused on our row with Gwyneth Paltrow or how her cookbook could give you food poisoning, the nice journalist I spoke with wanted my professional opinion on how to choose and prepare seafood safely.

As I said before in an earlier barfblog post, the media attention from this paper gave us an opportunity to share what we know about safe food handling while people were listening. So when this journalist asked me to talk about seafood food safety, share I did – for about 45 minutes.

The messages I shared ranged from safe thawing methods, such as running raw seafood under cold running water, to determining doneness using a thermometer or opacity. Sari Hararr of Consumer Reports writes:

In a hurry? For safe seafood, thaw frozen fish and shellfish under cold running water in a sealed plastic bag, then cook it right afterward, says Katrina Levine, M.P.H., a registered dietitian and an extension associate in food safety and nutrition at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

For thicker fish such as a salmon steak, you can slip the thermometer into a side of the fillet, Levine says. But because it’s almost impossible to use a thermometer on shellfish or a delicate fillet of sole, the USDA notes that it’s also considered safe to cook fish until the flesh is opaque and separates or flakes easily with a fork. Cook crabs, lobster, and shrimp until the flesh is opaque and pearly; clams, mussels, and oysters until their shells open; and scallops until they are milky white or firm and opaque.

Although seafood does not need to reach an internal temperature as high as some foods like ground beef – 145°F compared to 160°F for ground beef and 165°F for poultry – it’s not any less risky. Outbreaks of norovirus and Vibrio have been linked to raw or undercooked seafood.

We know that using a thermometer to check internal temperatures is the best practice for knowing when food is done. Yet, people are even less likely to use a thermometer on fish than on meat or poultry, and cookbook recipes are also less likely to include safe endpoint temperatures for fish. While raw or undercooked seafood may be trendy (sushi and raw oyster lovers – you know who you are), getting foodborne illness isn’t.