Beware PCBs in Fish Oil; Salmonella in Processed Food
As food gets more manufactured, we need to be ever more vigilant about what we eat. Our health depends upon it.
[Be patient… story in the video starts after a 15 second ABC commercial.]
IT SEEMS that news of food contamination has spiked recently. Every other month it’s some sorta meat that’s contaminated, hormone-filled, swimming in anti-biotics; or perhaps spinach or some other vegetable tainted with salmonella. And now it’s time for fish oil supplements and various snack foods to take their turn.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl compounds) are the carcinogenic culprit in the fish oil supplement case, and good ole salmonella makes it’s repeated visit to spread itself all over a wide range of processed foods – including soups, snack foods, dips and dressings -via a flavor-enhancing ingredient.
So, I’m going to flesh out these two stories just a bit, and — as ever — encourage you to start reading labels, forgo the processed food, and wash your veggies. First up, fish oil.
PCBs in Fish Oil
Small fish eat PCBs. Big fish eat the small fish. You eat the big fish, or supplement with the oil extracted from them. Various watch groups test for PCB in fish, but — despite the industry’s declaration of stringent standards — unhealthy levels of PCBs have been found in lab tests of ten fish oil brands marketed by ten reputable supplement companies.
PCB has an infamously storied career. It has sickened thousands of people and is considered a voracious carcinogen. According to California law, people should not be exposed to more than 90 nanograms of this carcinogen a day. But the results of tests of all ten fish oil supplements contained 90 nanograms, all more. These companies include GNC, Omega Protein, Rite Aid, CVS, TwinLab, Now, NatureMade, etc.
(Read statements made by these companies here.)
The doctors interviewed about PCB and fish oil are recommending that those with heart disease, or prone to it, continue with fish oil supplementation. Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil have been clearly demonstrated to support heart health. (Watch the video above.)
Those with healthy hearts might revisit the benefits of taking fish oil. I fit into that category. My intention is to redouble my effort in finding the purest source for omega-3. The kill oil and cod liver oil I take seems to be OK, based on the Internet research I did after this story broke.
Now to the salmonella story.
Salmonella in Processed Foods
Regular readers of this blog are well aware of my penchant for wailing against processed foods (“non-foods”). They’re so prevalent that some kids can not identify most fruits and vegetables. Well, here’s yet another story presenting yet another reason to eat what farmers grow, rather than what food factories create.
Over the last few days, there’s been a major recall of hundreds of processed foods where salmonella contamination has been discovered. We’re talking soups, snack foods, dips, dressings and other processed foods that have one thing in common: Salmonella was found in the hydrolyzed vegetable protein used as a flavor-enhancing ingredient.
The good news is that the risk to health is relatively small, particularly since the salmonella is destroyed from heat when cooking the food it’s in.
The bad news, in my opinion, is that this s just the tip of the iceberg. The Food and Drug Administration finds only a small amount of the offenders, and the processing processes will only continue to add risk to this type of “food”.
Which bring me to my usual exhortations to focus on real food, hopefully grown locally, that you wash, cook minimally and eat with gusto. It’s not so hard. Check out these posts: Diet 101 and The Basics — My Approach to Health.