GNC Holdings Inc. and Vitamin Shoppe Inc. plunged Tuesday on plans by the Justice Department, the Food and Drug Administration and other U.S. agencies to announce criminal and civil enforcement actions over the advertising and sale of dietary supplements.
Dozens of Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon are temporarily closing due to an outbreak of E. coli. Health officials have linked 19 cases in Washington and three in Oregon to Chipotles in those states. Eight people have been hospitalized: Seven from Washington, one from Oregon.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, though the outbreak appears to be connected to food served at Chipotle, the specific source of contamination has yet to be determined and is still under investigation. The restaurants have closed voluntarily while awaiting updated information.
In a statement, State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist implored anyone who thinks they may have fallen sick from eating at Chipotle within the past three weeks should consult a healthcare provider, particularly “the elderly and very young children,” who “are more likely to become severely ill from this kind of E. coli infection.”
The investigation is being conducted by local and state health officials along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Washington State Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Monday, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced “there is convincing evidence” that eating bacon, salami, hot dogs, and other processed meats can increase the risk of cancer in humans.
Sadly, that ushered in a lot of sloppy journalism and needless panic. Some news outlets are suggesting that processed meat is now considered just as bad for you as cigarette smoke. That is wildly false.
The main thing the IARC established was a casual link between eating processed meat and certain types of cancer in humans, chiefly colorectal cancer. But the actual risk is quite modest — and far, far smaller than the cancer risks from smoking. Munching on the occasional bacon strip simply isn’t that dangerous.
The trouble is that the IARC uses a very confusing scale for classifying carcinogens. The group first examines various substances — from sunlight to alcohol to various chemicals — and then reviews all scientific evidence to see whether these substances can be linked to any type of cancer in humans. The group then classifies these substances based on the answer to this question. Here’s a chart:
Flickr/Andres RodriguezGo for a juicy pastrami burger in Utah.
From sea to sea, America is jam-packed with amazing foods and local specialties.
From regional delicacies to to-die-for dishes, we found the one food you should eat in every US state.
We chose the most iconic and famous dishes, taking local recommendations into consideration, and picking items you simply can’t get anywhere else.
Whether you have a sweet tooth, a preference for spice, or love biting into a succulent piece of steak, we’ve got you covered.
If you are looking for proof that Americans’ vegetable habits lean towards french fries and ketchup, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has it: Nearly 50 percent of vegetables and legumes available in the U.S. in 2013 were either tomatoes or potatoes. Lettuce came in third as the most available vegetable, according to new data out this week.
And while the USDA’s own dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, the agency’s researchers found that only 1.7 cups per person are available.
“The dietary guidelines promote variety,” Jeanine Bentley, a social science analyst at the USDA’s Economic Research Service, tells The Salt. “But when you look at it, there isn’t much variety. Mostly people consume potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce.” (The data technically tally domestic production and imports, then subtract exports, but researchers commonly use them as a proxy for consumption.)
The federal dietary guidelines do not recommend relying primarily on potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce for most of our vegetable needs. They prescribe a varied mix that includes dark leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables, and beans—along with those potatoes and tomatoes. And they want us to eat them because they help reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers as well as help keep us at a healthy weight.
So the vegetables that are available don’t really match what we’re supposed to be eating. What about what we are actually eating?
Some 87 percent of adults failed to meet the vegetable intake recommendations during 2007-2010, according to recent survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey found a lot of variation state to state — with 5.5 percent of people in Mississippi getting enough vegetables to 13 percent in California meeting the recommendations.
Most people are likely to be eating tomatoes and potatoes, but as the USDA has noted, we often get them in the not-so-nutritious forms of french fries and pizza. About one-third of potatoes, and two-thirds of tomatoes, were bound for processing — think chips, sweetened pizza sauce and ketchup.
All these numbers beg some questions: Do our lopsided habits mean that Americans are merely eating what’s on offer, a kind of supply-side theory of diet? Or are all those potatoes and tomatoes crowding out spinach and Brussels sprouts because they’re what consumers demand?
“We have a serious disconnect between agriculture and health policy in our country,” said Marion Nestle, a leading nutrition researcher and author at New York University. “The USDA does not support ‘specialty crops’ [like vegetables] to any appreciable extent and the Department of Commerce’ figures show that the relative price of fruits and vegetables has gone up much faster than that of fast food or sodas.” So while Americans are told to eat fruits and vegetables for their health, the government has meanwhile mostly just subsidized other crops that end up in cheaper, less healthy processed food. “Price has a lot to do with this,” she adds.
Although this week’s USDA report focuses on the limited variety of vegetables available to American shoppers, other agency data suggest that the country simply doesn’t offer enough vegetables, period. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimated that the U.S. vegetable supply would need to increase by 70 percent — almost entirely in dark leafy greens, orange vegetables and legumes — in order for Americans to meet recommended daily allowances at the time.
With a dietary landscape like that, it’s entirely possible that Americans are choosing potatoes and tomatoes, at least for now, says Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, a food systems and health analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“What I see here with lots of potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce … [is] that people are used to these items, and habits are hard to break,” says Maslow, adding that relying mostly on the potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce “doesn’t cut it,” nutrition-wise.
Still, she says, “If more Americans got used to eating more fruits and vegetables they might be demanding more of it,” she says. “But it’s really hard to demand something you’ve not grown up with.”
That’s why behavioral economists are so keen to figure out how to nudge kids to try and develop a taste for more vegetables — they’re researching everything from financial incentives to arranging food differently on the lunch line. And there’s some hopeful news in that department: The CDC recently reportedthat, since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, there’s been a big increase in the number of schools serving two or more vegetables and whole grain-rich foods every day.
Most interesting of all, that food isn’t just on kids plates: It’s getting eaten, too. A Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity study of kids’ lunch habits following the passage of the bill found that kids ate more fruit, threw away fewer vegetables and ate more of their now-healthier entrees, too.
Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating, a New York Times bestseller, and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. You can follow her on Twitter @tmmcmillan.
My curves brought me nothing but trouble, so I decided to cash in. How bad could Hooters be? Turns out: Really bad
In high school, I prided myself on the ability to roll a joint while also driving stick. The cops caught on my senior year, slapping me with a possession charge and a $1,200 fine, a small fortune to a teenager who could barely scrounge $2.75 from the family change drawer for a pack of Camel Lights.
“You’re paying me back for this,” my mother told me. “Every last cent.”
That was going to be a problem: I’d blown off my previous occupation as a lifeguard in favor of a pot habit, which was basically free when you dated the dealers. Every job application I filled out seemed to present the same problem: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than a traffic violation?” I didn’t have the balls to sell drugs, nor the dancing skills to swing around a pole without landing in someone’s lap (at least not in an good way). I knew of one place—and one place only—that would look straight past my pot addiction and direct its gaze elsewhere: Hooters.
The story of how I got a job at Hooters actually starts when I was about 10 years old. I wore a training bra in fifth grade, and like all training bras, mine got snapped. Before then, I was a miniature athlete. I played soccer, collected enough first-place swimming ribbons to fill a cork board, and even perfected a back flip off the high dive. But in adolescence, I noticed my rectangular-shaped body morphing into more of an oval. Participating in sports that required a Speedo induced more anxiety than endorphins.
The more I began to dislike my body, the more I punished myself with the guilt of overeating. In the mid-’90s, packaged food was the name of my game: Pop Tarts, Chips Ahoy, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. By 15, I was 20 pounds overweight and would do anything to gain acceptance. That included sneaking out to meet boys and drink beer. My parents caught me one night when my radio alarm clock blasted Bon Jovi at 2 a.m., revealing the bloated pillow dummy I’d carefully staged before slipping out the side window. As punishment, they forced me to get a job at McDonald’s in order to impart some moral lesson that I never quite learned. Instead I felt humiliated, swishing around in polyester pants and a maroon visor as I doled out free fries to upperclassmen.
The reauthorization of the popular legislation could be overshadowed by other bills on the docket.
Congress must reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act quickly, or students around the nation will no longer have access to free or reduced-price lunches.
A slate of child nutrition programs — including in-school breakfast and lunch, summer meals, and a supplemental nutrition program for impoverished women and children — is at risk as Congress comes back in session next week.
Lawmakers have only 10 days in September for an extended debate on the Iran nuclear deal and must find a way to fund the government by Sept. 30. But they also must reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act (also known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act), which provides more than 20 million free or reduced-price lunches and more than 11 million free or reduced-price breakfasts for students each day. That’s more than 5 billion meals each school year.
If they don’t, millions of children stand to lose access to meals during the summer months when schools are not in session.
Originally passed in 1966, the act would now provide meals to a record number of children. Those in families with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty rate qualify for free lunch (the reduced-lunch threshold is 185 percent the poverty rate), and while child poverty has declined slightly since 2010, nearly 16 million children live in food-insecure homes.
In 2010, Congress introduced new nutrition standards that are now in effect in 95 percent of schools in the U.S., according to an August report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.