Americans put a lot of faith in the government when it comes to food regulation. They trust that their meat is pathogen-free, and that raw fruits and vegetables won’t make them sick. They tend to believe that something labeled “all-natural” comes from a small farm that uses no chemicals. And they tell ourselves that the FDA and USDA would never pull the wool over their eyes if something were amiss.
Unfortunately, food laws are significantly more complicated than that.
Here are some shocking facts that will make you think twice about the safety of your food system.
Poop And Bugs In It. And That’s Cool With The FDA.
Ever open a fresh bag of cereal and notice something a little… off about it? That is likely not just your imagination. According to the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook, a number of foods can legally contain up to “maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use,” including “insect filth,” “rot” and “Mammalian excreta.”
The FDA Has NEVER Safety Tested Genetically Engineered Foods
According to the Organic Consumers Association, the United States is the only developed country that does not require testing for safety of GE foods.
Your Meat Takes An Ammonia Bath Before Hitting Grocery Store Shelves
Ammonia, a main ingredient in fertilizer and household cleaners, is apparently an appropriate way to kill bacteria in meat. Sure, it may be corrosive and can cause severe injury, but according to a USDA official, “it eliminates E. coli to the same degree as if you cooked the product.”
The FDA And Monsanto Have A VERY Close Friend In Common
Michael R. Taylor has had quite the colorful career path. Bouncing between the FDA and Monsanto, Taylor is the poster boy for the government’s controversial “revolving door” issue. The FDA’s current Deputy Commissioner of Food is responsible for the substantial equivalence policy, which is used as a weapon against the “right to know” argument for GMO labeling.
The Government Is All For Feeding Animals Arsenic
This past September, the FDA ordered a number of arsenic-based drugs to be withdrawn from farm animal feed, an ingredient that had been used since the 1940s. While it might seem like a step in the right direction, consider this: The FDA only passed down the decision after food groups threatened to sue the agency. Before the ban, about 70 percent of U.S. poultry were being fed arsenic-based drugs, and even with the new legislation, one of the 4 banned drugs can still be fed to turkeys.
The Orange Stuff On Your Favorite Cheesy Snack Is A Known Carcinogen
Red #40, the most widely-used food dye, and Yellow #6, the third most widely-used food dye, are linked to hyperactivity, migraines and possibly cancer. Although some of these colorings have already been banned in Europe, the FDA is still refusing to take them off the U.S. market.
Whole Grain’ Foods Are Often Completely Processed
You might think that “whole grain” foods are exactly that — completely untouched, full-fledged grains. However, the FDA says that as long as the naturally occurring nutrients and parts are added BACK into the food at the end, you can take them out along the way and add in a number of other additives and flavorings. So a processed breakfast cereal with tons of sugar can bear the “whole grain” mark as long as the same nutrients have (artificially) ended up back in the product.
Food Containing Trans Fats Can Still Bear A ‘Zero Trans Fats’ Label
Think those chips are free of harmful trans fats? Think again. If a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, the label can claim it has “0 grams of trans fats.” Although the FDA recently began a campaign to claim that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer GRAS (generally recognized as safe), legislation has yet to be made against them. If you consume a number of these foods per day, you could be racking up dangerous fats without even knowing.
The FDA Is A Big Ol’ Softie When It Comes To Criminal Prosecution
In 2010, the FDA agreed to crack down on misdemeanor crimes after a governmental report found the agency to be too soft on corporations that break the rules. Congress found that the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations fell short in comparison to similar agencies, in response to which the FDA admitted they were working on “developing meaningful performance measures.”