Tell me what I already know: Social media and organic food risks

With the increased popularity of organic food production, new information about the risks attached to food products has become available. Consumers need to make sense of this information, interpret the information in terms of risks and benefits, and consequently choose whether to buy these products or not.

social-media-willyIn this study, we examined how social media mediated interaction with another person impacts risk perception and sense-making regarding eating organic food. Specifically, we investigated how risk perception and sense-making are influenced by the specific message frame, the identity of the conversation partner, the perceived similarity and expertise of this partner, and the initial attitude of individuals.

An online interaction experiment, including a simulated chat in which we manipulated the message frame (gains vs losses vs uncertainty) and the conversation partner (expert vs peer vs anonymous) was conducted using a representative sample of Dutch internet users (n=310). Results showed that chatting with partners who were perceived to be expert was associated with lower levels of risk perception, while chatting with partners who were perceived to be similar was associated with higher levels of information need, intention to take notice, and search for and share information. Results also showed that initial attitude had a strong effect.

The more positive consumers were about eating organic food, the lower their risk perception and the higher their need for information, intention to take notice of, search for and share information following the chat. Implications for authorities communicating on food (risks) are discussed.

Social media mediated interaction with peers, experts, and anonymous authors: Conservation partner and message framing effects on risk perception and sense-making of organic food

Food Quality and Preference, DOI:

F Hilvera, M Kuttschreuter, E Giebels

Actors, sportsthingies, real housewife of somewhere: Don’t build bridges, don’t advise on vaccines or food

I learned to roll my own cigarettes in jail, because tobacco in a pouch was about 90 per cent cheaper than TMs (tailor-mades).

organic-cigs-delpyI was so terrible at it, I spent a couple of my hard-earned jail dollars on a contraption that would roll them for me

That was 1982.

The New Zealand Herald reports that young people are labouring under the false impression roll-your-own cigarettes are healthier than manufactured ones because they are more “natural”, when they could actually be at least as hazardous and more addictive, researchers say.

A study by Smokefree researchers at the University of Otago also found some people would find roll-your-own(RYO) cigarettes less appealing if the rolling papers were a mustard yellow colour.

Otago’s professor of public health, Richard Edwards, published a letter in medical journal BMJ in 2014 saying evidence showed RYO cigarettes “are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette” and pointing to animal research suggesting they were more addictive.

“Any notion that loose tobacco is more ‘natural’ is severely undermined by evidence that the concentration of additives is higher in loose tobacco, at about 18 per cent of dry weight, compared with 0.5 per cent for factory made cigarettes,” he wrote in his letter.

“Some of these additives, including sweeteners such as honey, sugar, dextrose, and sorbitol, often at much higher concentrations than in factory-made cigarettes, potentially make the product more acceptable to children. The high concentration of other additives would probably surprise RYO cigarette smokers.”

The researchers at Otago published their findings in the international journal Tobacco Control.

Prevent E. coli before church

Looks like former U.S. undersecretary for food safety, Richard Raymond, is losing his religion.

richard.raymondIn a column he wrote for MeatingPlace, Raymond confesses, “Members of a church I used to belong to decide to start a community garden plot. I volunteered to be on the planning committee. The first item out of the gate was that the garden had to be organic. I asked what they considered to be organic. The main emphasis was no artificial fertilizer could be applied, meaning the fields would have to lie idle or grow legumes periodically to recharge the soil.

“It also meant they intended to spread cow manure on the field, a great way to turn an organic garden plot into an E coli O157:H7. Field of Nightmares.

“I resigned.”

Good on ya.

People are sick: Michigan cheesemaker recalls 10 tons of organic product after STEC discovered

Jim Harger of MLive reports that Grassfields Cheese LLC, is conducting a recall of about 20,000 pounds of organic cheeses due to possible contamination with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

Grassfields CheeseThe company is voluntarily recalling the cheeses “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a recall notice issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

“The potential for contamination was identified during an ongoing investigation of seven cases of human illnesses occurring between March and July 2016 caused by a same type of STEC,” according to the recall notice.

The department’s Geagley Laboratory confirmed the presence of STEC bacteria in a sample of Grassfields cheese collected by state food and dairy inspectors, according to the announcement.

The recall involves all types and sizes of organic cheeses manufactured by Grassfields between Dec. 1, 2015 through June 1, 2016 including: Gouda, Onion ‘n Garlic, Country Dill, Leyden, Edam, Lamont Cheddar, Chili Cheese, Fait Fras, Polkton Corners and Crofters. The cheeses were sold as wheels, half wheels, and wedges of various sizes.

grassfields-cheese-50b115a61d45e028a800028aThe recalled cheeses were sold from the firm’s retail store at 14238 60th Ave., Coopersville MI 49404, to wholesale and retail customers, and to consumers nationwide via sales through the firm’s website:

Owned by the same family since 1882, Grassfields Cheese switched from confinement farming to grass-based pasture farming in 1991. They added artisan cheeses and a farm store in 2002. And in 2007, they were certified as an organic dairy.

Salmonella from organic sprouts, grown in China, sickened people in Finland

Two new cases of Salmonella enteritidis are being investigated in Finland after an earlier outbreak linked to imported organic mung bean sprouts.

Bean_sproutsAccording to the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis in Finland appears to be caused by organic mung beans sprouts from China, via the Netherlands

The sprouts have been withdrawn from the market.

More details can be found in the Food Quality News article.

Salmonella in organic shake: Gift that keeps on giving

A confirmed case of Salmonella in Wisconsin likely resulted from consumption of an organic shake and meal replacement that was recalled earlier this year, state officials said Friday.

Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal ReplacementThe recalled product, Garden of Life RAW Meal, has been acquired by consumers from Internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

People should not consume the product if it is from the lot codes listed in the previous recall announcements found on the FDA Recall website .

Consumers should dispose of the product or follow the instructions given in the original recall notices found on the FDA website.

Jessica Alba sued over ‘unsafe’ baby food

Taking nutritional advice from a celebrity is like driving over a bridge constructed by an “alternative, all natural engineer.”

Jessica-Alba-Interview-About-Honest-CompanyBut, people do.

So it’s ironical that D-lister Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company is facing fresh legal action over organic baby food – from the Organic Consumers Association.

OCA filed a complaint at Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month on “behalf of the general public” claiming The Honest Company bosses have been falsely labelling their Organic Premium Formula as organic, according to New York gossip column Page Six.

OCA lawyers claim the product contains 11 substances which are prohibited from organic foods under federal law.

On their website, they also state, “Some of the ingredients are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one is irradiated. And some have not even been assessed as safe for human foods, much less for infant formulas.”

The group want the company to be prohibited from selling the product as organic, and to cover their legal fees.

News of the legal action comes as Jessica was named as the first-ever recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year prize at the 2016 Webby Awards for her natural lifestyle firm, which she founded four years ago.


27 now sick from Salmonella in 20 states linked to organic shake and meal products

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports nine more ill people have been reported from eight states linked to RAW Meal products. The most recent illness started on March 13, 2016.

raw-mealFive ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC are the likely source of this outbreak.

As a result of this investigation, Garden of Life, LLC voluntarily recalled several lots of RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products, available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai, on January 29, 2016 (initial recall) and February 12, 2016 (expanded recall).

I pity the fool: Flax & chia seed powder recalled due to Salmonella contamination

Health Matter America, based in New York state, is recalling specific lots of Organic Traditions Sprouted Flax Seed Powder & Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia & Flax Seed Powder because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. affected products were distributed nationwide in flexible plastic bags.

Included are the following products:

Organic traditions SPROUTED FLAX SEED POWDER, NET WT. 8 oz./227g, UPC barcode 854260006261; Lots AHM626151103 Exp. 09/2017, AHM626151229 Exp.10/2017 (lot number located near UPC barcode on back of bag);

Organic traditions SPROUTED CHIA & FLAX SEED POWDER, NET WT. 8 oz./227g; UPC barcode 854260006216; Lots AHM621151217 Exp. 10/2017; AHM621151229 Exp. 10/2017 (lot number located near UPC barcode on back of bag);

chia.seed.powderOrganic traditions SPROUTED CHIA & FLAX SEED POWDER, NET WT. 16oz./454g bag, UPC barcode 854260005479; Lot AHM547151217 Exp. 10/2017 (lot number located near UPC barcode on back of bag).

No illnesses have been reported to date. The company says random samples taken by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) from retail stores in Canada tested positive for Salmonella.

Jersey, this is a bad idea: Green anole lizard found in salad greens from store becomes class mascot; science teacher says it proves organic is safe

I’ll leave this to others to comment (and thanks for the contributor who sent it in):

salm.lizard.jan.16Sally Mabon and her kindergartener, Faye, found an unexpected surprise last week when they unwrapped a bundle of tatsoi greens: a 3-inch lizard.

It was cold and lifeless after having survived in the refrigerator for days, but is now thriving after some warmth and moisture.

The following day, Faye brought the critter to Riverside Elementary School, where it has become a mascot of sorts for teacher Mark Eastburn’s science lab.

“Interesting things can happen when you’re working as a science teacher,” he said. “We set up a little cage for it. It really came back amazingly well.”

While some of his fellow teachers were disgusted to hear that a lizard might be lurking in their salad greens, Eastburn said the lizard can teach them a couple of lessons: that organic food is safe for even the smallest of creatures, and that during the cold months, fresh fruits and vegetables need to come from warmer regions.

He said green anole lizards live in the southeastern United States, from Texas to North Carolina.

The lizard, nicknamed “Green Fruit Loop” by the kindergarteners, traveled from Florida.

“It probably has some moderate adaptation to the cold which is why it made it through,” Eastburn said.

Mabon bought the tatsoi from Whole Earth Center, a Princeton natural foods store whose produce is 100 percent organic (marketed that way).

Mike Atkinson, the store’s produce manager, said the lizard’s survival is a testament to organic food, which is generally grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

“I don’t think the lizard would’ve made it in a conventional, non-organic box,” he said. “It might normally surprise or freak out conventional shoppers, but the majority of organic shoppers realize that produce is grown on a farm and there’s lots of bugs and animals that live on a farm too. It shouldn’t be a surprise that one here and there makes it to the produce shelf.”

Eastburn has been teaching about DNA so he said it makes sense that the green anole lizard — the first reptile to have its genome sequenced — has now found a new home in the lab.

“It’s a really fitting mascot for our science lab,” he said.