Chipotle: Food safety idiots

Rather than focus on the things that make people barf – which Chipotle should know all about – they are now claiming it is the only national restaurant brand without added colors, flavors or preservatives on its entire menu.

l“We have always used high quality ingredients and prepared them using classic cooking techniques,” Steve Ells, Chipotle’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“We never resorted to using added colors or flavors like many other fast food companies do simply because these industrial additives often interfere with the taste of the food. However, commercially available tortillas, whether they are for us or someone else, use dough conditioners and preservatives.”

Chipotle now says it uses only local and organically grown produce as well as meats from animals raised without hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics. None of the 51 ingredients in the restaurant’s foods have been genetically modified but the company still sells soft drinks that contain GMO-containing ingredients.

The company has even released a visual ingredient statement – allowing customers to see exactly what’s being used to create their Chipotle dishes. 

Good luck with that.

Like many other food safety types, I will continue to avoid. Chipotle’s emphasis on marketing bullshit – 21st century snake-oil — rather than safety shows how much they have jumped the shark.

If Chipotle thinks corn, or any of their other ingredients, isn’t genetically modified, then they’re drinking their own jello.


Surveys still suck: Australians identify ingredients hate list, so retailers can make a buck

Nielsen research has found almost half of Australian consumers wish there were more “all natural” food products on supermarket shelves.

trump-snake-oilA reflection of the way the question was asked.

Would you like all natural food products that contained dangerous microorganisms?

Probably not.

The findings from the Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey show Australians are adopting a “back-to-basics mindset”, focusing on simple ingredients says Nielsen.

Close to nine in 10 respondents said they avoid specific ingredients because they believe them to be harmful to their own or their family’s health, while six in 10 consumers said they are concerned about the long-term health impact of artificial ingredients in their diet.

“Informed and savvy consumers are demanding more from the foods they eat and are happy to pay more if they believe it is better for them,” said Michael Elam-Rye, associate director – retail at Nielsen.

They are not informed; they are responding to what grocery stores, TV, the Internet and friends tell them.

But in a Donald Trump era, it’s a fact-free world.

Trump won because he told people what they wanted to hear.

People embrace natural foods and are anti-vaccine because someone is telling them what they want to hear.

It’s seductive.

And it’s big bucks for the purveyors of food porn – farmers, processors, retailers – especially retailers – and media outlets that make a buck telling people what they want to hear.

I get it. I’ve always said – since I was about 20-years-old – getting attention in the public domain is a mixture of style and substance. Scientists can work on their style, everyone else can work on their substance (and just because you eat does not make you an expert).

But substance has to win out, about 60-40.

It’s a peculiarity that society expects bridges and other engineering feats, along with medicine, to be exceeding current and revolutionary, yet many expect to produce food as in the old days.

trump-special-kind-stupidIt’s not peculiar: it’s advertising, messaging and manipulation.

John Defore writes about a new documentary Food Evolution, which defends the place of genetically engineered food in agriculture.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – who seamlessly blends the 60-40 suggestion of substance over style – and director Scott Hamilton Kennedy challenge enviro-activist orthodoxy, much in the same way I’ve been doing for 30 years.

But they’re more skilled at the style.

Food Evolution sounds on paper like it might be one of those hack-job rebuttals in which moneyed right-wing interests disguise propaganda as a documentary. Many on the left will likely dismiss it as such, which is a shame … the movie makes an excellent case against those who seek blanket prohibitions against genetically modified organisms — and … against those of us who support such bans just because we assume it’s the eco-conscious thing to do.

[I]t investigates the motives of some prominent anti-GMO activists — like those who are “very entrepreneurial,” finding ways to make money off fears the film believes are baseless, or like researcher Chuck Benbrook, whose work was financed by companies making billions from customers afraid of GMOs.

Hope bridges don’t start falling down because people want them more natural.

The folks who did the survey say, “This presents an opportunity for food manufacturers to increase share by offering and marketing products that are formulated with good-for-you ingredients, and an opportunity for retailers to trade consumers up with more premium priced products.”

snakeoilTell lies. Bend rules. Make a buck.

Trump is the embodiment for the times.

Top 10 ingredients Australian consumers avoid:

Antibiotics/hormones in animals products


Artificial preservatives

Artificial flavours

Artificial sweeteners

Foods with BPA packaging

Artificial colours


Genetically modified foods


I avoid dangerous microorganisms, which sicken 1-out-of-8 people every year.

That’s a lot of barfing.

And it’s not on the list.

21st century snake oil: Rough week for homeopathy

Over the counter homeopathic remedies sold in the U.S. will now have to come with a warning that they are based on outdated theories ‘not accepted by most modern medical experts’ and that ‘there is no scientific evidence the product works.’

jagged-little-pillFailure to do so will mean the makers of homeopathic remedies will risk running afoul of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The agency argues that unsupported health claims included in the marketing for some of these remedies are in breach of laws that prohibit deceptive advertising or labelling of over the counter drugs.

The body has released an enforcement policy statement clarifying that homeopathic drugs are not exempt from rules that apply to other health products when it comes to claims of efficacy and should not be treated differently. In order for any claims in adverts or on packaging not to be ‘misleading’ to consumers it should be clearly communicated that they are based on theories developed in the 1700s and that there is a lack of evidence to back them up, the statement says.

It adds that the FTC will ‘carefully scrutinise the net impression of [over the counter] homeopathic advertising or other marketing … to ensure that it adequately conveys the extremely limited nature of the health claim being asserted’.

Timothy Caulfield of the University of Alberta urges Canadians to follow the U.S. lead, which states homeopathic products – which are, to be absolutely clear, nothing more than water or sugar pills – “must be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence” or the label must say “there is no scientific evidence that the product works.”

This is a ridiculously sensible move. Homeopathy, a practice meant to treat disease symptoms through non-existent doses of substances that (allegedly) produce similar symptoms, has become a multi-billion dollar industry, is one of many popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products that have been thoroughly and consistently debunked.

dehydrated-waterThere is no credible evidence that homeopathy works for any health condition. More important, homeopathy is scientifically preposterous .

Bottom line: Homeopathy doesn’t work and there is no way it could work, at least beyond producing a placebo effect. It is pure quackery.

Due to Health Canada’s relatively lax regulations, many pharmacies sell homeopathic products that make claims of therapeutic benefit that would clearly infringe the new FTC policy.

Indeed, a recent study led by my colleague Ubaka Ogbogu found that a significant number of pharmacists recommend homeopathic remedies.

In addition, provincial governments have done much to facilitate the spread of unscientific CAM services. In Ontario, for instance, there is a College of Homeopaths – an entity created and surreally legitimized by provincial legislation. In addition, homeopathy is one of the most common services provided by naturopaths, a CAM practice that has enjoyed a recent uptick in provincial support.

A quick scan of websites for Canadian naturopathic clinics finds numerous examples of misleading claims about the efficacy of homeopathy and other bogus services. Worse, many of the claims made on these websites relate to the use of a homeopathic product as an alternative to vaccination.

Let’s reverse this trend. Let’s take steps to ensure that the Canadian public gets scientifically accurate information about the healthcare products and services they are buying.

There are numerous regulatory tools that can be used, right now, to help curtail the spread of misleading health information.

So, Canada, let’s all follow the FTC lead and stop the tolerance and facilitation of homeopathic bunk.

Food: Hucksters and snake oil

While the Food Babe may have gotten some less than glowing press from the N.Y Times, two Australian food porn types have been thoroughly routed and lost their book deals.

SnakeOilIf only people wouldn’t initially fall prey to 21st century snake oil.

The paleo cookbook Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way was due for release last week, but has now been cancelled by publisher Pan MacMillan in NZ and Australia amid health concerns over a recipe for babies.

The book apparently advocates baby milk formula based on liver and bone broth.

But co-author Pete Evans, who penned the book with blogger and actress Charlotte Carr, appears unperturbed by the news, taking to Facebook to announce: “Our nurturing new book ‘Bubba Yum Yum’ will also being [sic] released in the next week or two, so we’ll keep you updated [sic].”

Enthused about the project, which he wrote with Wes Carr’s wife Charlotte and naturopath Helen Padarin, he ended the post with: “We surly [sic] all are part of something very, very special… good things are coming! Good things are here!”

We have close to a 1000 people coming to the Melbourne town hall tomorrow for our Paleo Way Tour. I am so excited to share the stage with such truly inspiring, open hearted people!

Fresh off filming the sixth season of My Kitchen Rules, Pete is currently busy touring his Paleo Way cooking class through the country.

The tour is an offshoot his Pete’s TV show of the same name, which the Daily Telegraph reported has been green-lit for a second season.

Aussie mum Kim Reddy wrote an open letter to Pete Evans, asking him to “stop being a jerk and go back to being a chef.”

Simultaneously, publishing giant Penguin will pull Belle Gibson’s debut cook book after the author failed to defend accusations of falsely claiming to have cancer and explain why she withheld charitable donations.

The publisher has previously admitted never fact checking Ms Gibson’s story, which claims healthy living and natural therapies helped her treat multiple terminal cancers.

imagesMs Gibson has so far offered no evidence to support her claims of surviving cancers after rejecting conventional treatment. Former friends and leading medical experts have cast strong doubt over her story and purported diagnoses.

“Despite our best endeavours, Penguin Books has not received sufficient explanation from Ms Gibson, author of The Whole Pantry recipe book, in response to recent allegations,” a spokeswoman said.

“As such, we have been left with no other option but to stop supplying the book in Australia. We remain hopeful that we will receive the formal assurances we have requested in the coming days.”

It comes as next month’s overseas release of The Whole Pantry also is in doubt, with major US publisher Simon & Schuster confirming it will investigate Ms Gibson’s biography and charitable donations.

Global tech company Apple, which heavily promoted Ms Gibson’s app as one of the first to be made available on the Apple Watch device, has remained silent for almost a week despite mounting accusations and repeated requests for comment. Apple refuses to say whether it stands by Ms Gibson.

Gibson recently encouraged her followers to drink raw cow’s milk and discussed investing in a co-op.

She is facing criticism for ignoring the Victoria State government move to further restrict raw milk sales after one child died and four became seriously ill after consuming ‘cosmetic milk’ products.

Using her private Instagram handle of @onlybelle she told her followers to go #vegan, #notmilk, #rawmilk or #nomilk.

On an image showing a fridge of raw milk products she wrote: ‘Raw Milk is Not for Human Consumption!” with “F*** the government. Hahaha’

The 23-year-old has told her followers to avoid vaccinating their children.

The doctor video below from Jimmy Kimmel is fairly good (NSFV).

Snake oil: Whole Foods Market still peddling hucksterism

There is no definition for natural foods in the U.S. Yet, Whole Foods applies the label to so many products, it is close to meaningless. 60-60168_MECHAlan McHughen, a botanist at the University of California, Riverside, told The Economist that the whole industry is “99% marketing and public perception,” reeling people in through a fabricated concept of a time when food, and life in general, was simple and wholesome. They used to be called snake oil sale thingies. Why not brag about excellent microbial food safety standards instead, you know, the things that make 48 million Americans sick every year, rather than pseudoscience?

Pet food porn

With an appeal to the simplistic, Barbara Laino says, “We know processed foods are wrong for us. It has to be wrong for them. If you can feed yourself healthily and your children, then you can feed your pets healthily, too. It really isn’t that hard.”

Laino is talking about the standard recipe she uses to feed her Alaskan malamute, another dog and three cats in her house for around 10 days: grind 40 pounds of pasture-raised chicken necks with another 20 pounds of chicken giblets. To this, she adds five pounds of carrots, a whole cabbage and several other fruits, all from the organic fields of Midsummer Farm, Ms. Laino’s farm in Warwick, N.Y. Finally, she blends the mix with herbs and supplements.

She tells the New York Times in a piece of pet food porn that she wants for her pets what she wants for herself: a healthy diet of unprocessed organic foods. And now she teaches others.

Cesar Millan, host of the television show “The Dog Whisperer,” says, “The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life. Organic has become a new fashion, a new style of living.”

Cesar got the lifestyle bit right, because that is all it is; as for microbiological safety, the cross-contamination risks alone in the food prep sound daunting.

Nancy K. Cook, the vice president at the Pet Food Institute, a trade association for commercial pet food makers, cautions pet owners that it is hard to create a balanced diet at home, since dogs and cats have specific nutritional requirements.

Joseph J. Wakshlag, a clinical nutritionist at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University, said that if pets are not fed the correct balance of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, they can experience several health disorders, including anemia, broken bones and loss of teeth from lack of calcium.

Korinn Saker, a clinical nutritionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, who treats animals at the school’s teaching hospital, said she was not against people cooking for their pets, but that if it was not done correctly, the consequences could be harmful.

She has seen several dogs with adverse effects from unbalanced homemade pet food diets, including a German shepherd puppy “who was walking on its elbows because it had no strength in its bones,” she said. The dog, it turned out, was not getting enough calcium.

Dr. Saker, asked to analyze the recipe from Ms. Laino’s workshop, found that it was lacking in a number of nutrients recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

Ms. Laino said she rejects the standards recommended by the feed association, and suggested that her recipe might be richer in certain nutrients because the ingredients are organic.

Hucksterism is alive and well for Barbara Laino and the N.Y. Times.