Tag Archives: Diet

PINK SLIME, THE SEQUEL: beef scraps and connective tissue, ammonia hydroxide and the national school lunch program

The media provided fairly extensive coverage of the fast food industry’s use of “pink slime.”  The obnoxious substance consists of fatty beef scraps and connective tissue that are treated with ammonia hydroxide to remove pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli.  The concoction is put in a centrifuge to isolate those parts that contain protein, which transforms the scraps into a gelatinous substance that bears a striking resemblance to a certain anti-diarrhea medication.

Once the process is complete, it is used as a filler for commercial ground beef used by fast food restaurants and sold by grocery stores.  Gerald Zirnstein, formerly employed as a scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture, claims that around 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets contains the pink slime.

Let the outrage commence.  The media reports, coupled with significant grassroots efforts, served only to fuel a public outcry against the use of fatty beef fillers treated with ammonia hydroxide. Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver led the charge, using his television show as a soapbox and declaring:

[b]asically, we’re taking a product that would be sold at the cheapest form for dogs and after this process we can give it to humans.

McDonald’s decided to stop relying upon the substance.  Taco Bell and Burger King discontinued its use.  H-E-B, Whole Foods, Publix and Kroger won’t touch the filler.  Craig Wilson, the Vice President of Quality Assurance of Costco, explained that

[a]nything we sell at Costco, we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef… I just don’t know how to explain that.

For whatever its worth, Safeway has yet to commit to removing the ingredient and is instead “reviewing the matter at this time.”

Safeway may be late to the party, but its commitment to review the matter at least suggests that the company is well ahead of the federal government.

Earlier this week, the media reported that the USDA now plans to use approximately 7 million pounds of meat containing ammonia-treated scraps for the national school lunch program.  Around 6.5% of ground beef consumed by children in the school lunch program will therefore be treated with ammonia hydroxide.

Loosely translated, the federal government wants our children to consume a substance that has been flatly rejected by the fast food industry.  You really can’t make this stuff up.

##

Save the date, and don’t forget to honor the everlasting joy of chocolate biscuits and cream

Break out your party hats and grab a cake, because today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Oreo Cookie.  The biscuit-and-cream concoction originated in a small bakery in New York and has evolved into a cultural mainstay.  More than 95 million Oreo Cookies are now sold to consumers in more than 100 countries every day. These sales account for around $1.5 billion in annual global revenue.

In other breaking news, scientists are still trying to determine the underlying cause of the increasing obesity epidemic.

Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties and… the Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bar?

They came, they saw, they conquered.  And now they’re gone.

We’re all too aware that Girl Scouts only sell their cookies during select times each the year. Still, the seasonal nature of the product isn’t necessarily a bad quality: the troops haven’t yet embraced my proposal to sell salads and yogurt, so snacking on their desserts may take a bit of a toll on the ‘ol waistline.  Their Peanut Butter Patties run about 5.2 calories per gram and the aptly-named Thin Mints cost around 5 calories per gram.  By way of comparison, a 3 Musketeers Bar weighs in at around 4.3 calories per gram, a Snicker’s Bar contains just under 4.8 calories per gram and a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar consists of about 4.9 calories per gram.

In other words, anyone strictly counting calories may want to at least consider deleting the Official Girl Scout Cookie Finder App and instead heading straight to the candy aisle.  The Girl Scouts may have been selling cookies for around a hundred years, but I’m pretty sure that they’ve never sold Almond Joy, Milky Way or Kit Kat candy bars.

My, how things change.

Later this year, the troops will be promoting the Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bar, which appears to be the offspring of a chance encounter between a Nestle Crunch candy bar and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.  These creations are now being described as “dark chocolate cookie wafers and mint chocolate creme, topped with airy crispies.”  Josh Ackley, a media relations contact and spokesperson for the organization, could barely contain his excitement:

We are thrilled with the positive response to the Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bar.  The product photo is a retail sales sample and not available for sale at this time. Look forward to some very exciting news in June.

I’m guessing that Girl Scout Cookies are one of the few sugary snacks that may actually recognize a reduction in calories when mixed with a candy bar.  And that’s probably part of the plan, because the organization’s leadership is committed to fighting childhood obesity and actively promoting healthy eating habits:

Starting with our youngest members, the Girl Scout organization promotes a healthy lifestyle for its girl members, which includes a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Our health and fitness programs encourage girls to adopt healthy fitness and eating habits early in life and continue them into adulthood. Girls are also taught to consider ingredient contribution to their overall diet and portion size when choosing snacks.

Tune in next time, after the Girl Scouts announce Frosted Peanut Butter Patty Cupcakes, Glazed Caramel deLite Donuts – with and without sprinkles – and Hot Fudge Savannah Smiles Sundaes.

##

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: deadly birds, succulent swine and a heaping helping of high fructose corn syrup

Barack Obama, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and the election of a president.  John Bryson, Tim Geithner and the state of the national economy.  John Roberts, Ruth Ginsburg and civil rights and liberties.  Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin and the continued fascination with athletic drama.

Yeah… I’m starting to realize that the issues described in this blog will always take a backseat to the mainstream media’s coverage of more important and pressing subjects.  It happens.  I get it.  But what the heck – consider this posting an update on a few newsy issues may somehow become lost in the shuffle of the daily cycle.

Earlier this month, we posted an article that described a few strange facts about the surprisingly relationship between candy and a handful of professional athletes.  The article also discussed a new nutritional initiative by Mars, Inc., to reduce the caloric value of its candy to less than 250 calories per serving.

That’s a good thing, right?  Not so fast.  WebMD is carrying a user-created blog that is skeptical of Mars’ commitment, and its author explains that the entire initiative may well be illusory.  The specific wording of the company’s strategy suggests that Mars may well be able to implement this healthy plan without making any substantive changes to its marketing or its products – simply by changing the serving size reflected within the nutritional label of its products.  Definitely a good read.

You may not recall a previous article about a growing cult-like fractionation with bacon, but your arteries certainly can’t forget the surreal recipe for the Bacon Explosion, greasy goodness of the Bacon Pie, and the sandwich that may have killed Elvis Presley.  It’s once again time to celebrate the gut-busting glory of BaconMania.  ‘tis the season, and all that stuff.

Last weekend, the Iowa State Fair hosted the Fifth Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, subtitled BACONPOCALYPSE NOW: I love the smell of bacon in the morning.  The “Iowa Bacon Board” and the “Bacon Ambassadors” welcomed a sold-out crowd of 4,400 attendees, who were provided with the opportunity to taste bacon, watch a film about bacon, listen to songs about bacon and hear a couple of folks pontificate about bacon as part of the “Bacon Lecture Series.”  Did you hear that, PETA?  Sounds like a challenge.

Do you remember when Michael Stipe and REM sang a little song that told us that it was the end of the world as we know it, but they felt fine?  Do you remember a handful of recent articles that described a new man-made version of the H5N1 avian flu that may be capable of creating a pandemic that could result in the deaths of tens or hundreds of millions of people?  Well, Michael Stipe, REM and infected birds have a heck of a lot in common.

I won’t spend too much time exploring the details – you can read the previous articles here, here and here if you’re interested in learning about a somewhat tongue-in-cheek possibility of the end of the world.  Last week, however, attendees at a closed-door summit called by the World Health Organization announced a surprisingly and unexpected agreement to publish details of the research.  The agreement constituted a sharp rejection of the official position of our country and did little to alleviate concerns that the publication of the details could serve as a blueprint for terrorist groups and hostile countries to develop a biological weapon capable of killing millions of innocent people.

Around the same time, the price of remote land deep in the heart of Montana skyrocketed.

##

EXTREME SPORTS: have unusual diets, candy bars and sugary nuggets of bliss resulted in record-breaking success?

Herschel Junior Walker was a heck of a football player. He set a high school record by scoring 86 touchdowns and added another 5,259 rushing yards during three seasons at the University of Georgia. He was a set 10 NCAA records, was a three time All American, won the Heisman Trophy and was later named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Herschel also enjoyed a productive and successful professional football career, busting tackles and dodging defenders in both the United States Football League and the National Football League, where he played for the Dallas Cowboys, the the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.

The man has appeared on the cover of nine editions of Sports Illustrated. Nine! Enough said.

You’d think that Herschel would have adhered to a restrictive diet complimented by enough supplements to make the average person radiate a glowing hue of chartreuse. Not so. In fact, at one point while he was steamrolling through the collegiate ranks, he ate nothing but candy bars. Herschel recently described how Snickers, being packed with peanuts and other junk, really satisfies:

I remember when I was at the University of Georgia, I started eating Snickers bars. I actually loved candy bars and I ate Snickers bars. For almost a month and a half, that was my one meal of the day was Snickers bars. And I was fine. Nothing ever changed. I worked out. I had the energy… I went out and did what I was supposed to do and I don’t know whether you’re naive or stupid, that God just takes care of you because I wasn’t thinking about all the cholesterol, all the calories, all this. All I was thinking about was getting my job done… It was probably about ten Snickers bars. My one meal was probably about 10 of them. So it wasn’t just one, I had a bunch of ’em.

Still, there’s more to the story. When he was a teenager, Herschel adopted a mostly vegetarian diet and began eating only one meal a day. The diet has remained consistent, and his single daily meal now mainly consists of bread and soup or a salad. That’s it.

Most folks would likely suffer increases in total cholesterol or problems with blood pressure or glucose. Surprisingly, though, eating only one meal each day has apparently worked for him. Herschel has since represented the United States in the 1992 Winter Olympic two-man bobsled team, now carriers fifth degree black belt in Taekwando, and has competed in professional mixed martial arts. He won his first match at the age of forty seven, defeating Greg Nagy. Forty Seven! Not a typo!

The world may, however, never see another athlete like Herschel Walker… and we can blame Snickers for the loss. Mars, Inc., the corporate manufacturer of Snickers, is slimming down the candy bar. The company has announced that it plans to restrict its sales to candy bars that do not exceed 250 calories by the end of the year, meaning that the king-sized and super-jumbo-turbo models will disappear from the shelves in the fairly near future.

Mars Spokeswoman Marlene Machut said the plan was part of the company’s’ “broad-based commitment to health and nutrition.” According to Mars’ website, this commitment is a component of a systematic plan to promote wellness while still peddling chocolate, caramel and that odd coarse nougat that conquered the three musketeers. Again, according to the website, the Mars is globally committing to:

  • Not to buy advertising time or space if more than a quarter of the audience is likely to be under 12 years of age; nor will we advertise on websites aimed at those under 12
  • To implement Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labeling on the majority of our chocolate and confectionery globally by year-end 2011 and will continue to roll out GDA across our entire food portfolio
  • Not to ship any Mars chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013
  • To reduce sodium levels in all Mars Food products globally by 25 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline. We are doing this by participating in government initiatives and agreeing to voluntary reduction commitments in different regions.

Hershel Walker is not happy, but the NBA’s Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard and the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch are breathing a collective sigh of relief. They’re obsessed with Skittles. Even though these candies are manufactured by The Wrigley Company, which is owned by Mars, the nutritional initiative will not affect them. Skittles aren’t chocolate products, and therefore Mars doesn’t plan to take any action that will affect the health, wellness or nutrition of consumers of the little drops of hydrogenated palm kernel oil, modified corn starch, titanium dioxide, carnuaba wax and yellow 5 coloring.

Whew.

##

%d bloggers like this: