Food Health Risks

This Topic Covers: 
What are the health risks in our food? Learn what to eat (and what not to eat) to avoid an over burden of toxins, chemicals, hormones and pesticides. 



Introduction © Food & Water Watch

Everyone wants the food they feed themselves and their families to be safe. But it seems like almost every day we hear about another food scare: meat contaminated with e. coli, peanut butter and chicken carrying salmonella, listeria in cantaloupe and other food-borne illnesses.

While these immediate threats to the safety of our food get the most headlines, long-term, systemic food safety problems are just as serious and are often tied to the same industrialized practices. Exposure to chemical residues in food, antibiotic resistance, artificial growth hormones and questionable technologies, like genetic engineering and irradiation that have not been studied for long-term impacts, could have serious consequences to our health and environment. 

There are a lot of factors that impact food safety, including:

  • Federal rules and standards, and whether or not government regulators (such as the FDA and USDA) have the resources and political will to enforce them.

  • Transparency and Consumer Information. 

  • Where our food comes from. Foods imported from countries with lax safety standards bring their own safety concerns.

  • How our food is grown and raised. Factory farmed meat, poultry, dairy and eggs raise troubling health concerns, and genetically engineered (GE) food has yet to be studied for long-term impacts. In addition, factory farms and GE foods on the shelves now can affect our health in the future, through antibiotic resistance, artificial growth hormones, and chemical residues. © 2014 GRACE Communications Foundation

Learning about sustainable food and the problems with factory farming can be daunting, but with a little effort you can quickly learn enough to make the safest and wisest food choices for you and your family.

Here, we introduce you to the major issues surrounding sustainable agriculture and factory farming. Below we’ve provided simple overviews of the issues – click on the headers to read the full report!

Additives - Much of the food we find at today’s supermarkets is highly processed and contains numerous food additives. These substances are used to change the way food tastes and looks (altering the color and texture), to improve the nutritional quality of foods (adding vitamins and minerals), and to increase the food’s shelf life to prevent spoilage.

Eat Local, Buy Local, Be Local - Most meals travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to reach your dinner plate. By eating food produced locally, you are helping yourself, the environment and your community.

Environment - Agriculture has an enormous impact on the environment, but whether the impact is good or bad depends on the type of agriculture used. Sustainable agriculture puts back what it takes from the environment, while factory farming pollutes our air, water and soil.

Factory Farming - Meat and dairy production in the United States has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Small family farms have been replaced by huge livestock facilities, where animals suffer horribly, workers are mistreated, the environment is being destroyed, and where rural communities are falling apart.

Family Farms - are being forced out of business at an alarming rate, and hundreds of small farmers sell their land every week. The dramatic expansion of industrial agriculture has made it increasingly difficult for small family farmers in the US, but many small family farms have found hope within the sustainable food movement.

Feed - Animals on industrial farms are fed the cheapest grains and waste products in order to fatten them quickly. This leads to widespread health problems, so low doses of antibiotics are also added to the feed. The result is unhealthy animals and unhealthy food for consumers.

Food Irradiation - is used to increase the shelf life of the food so it can travel longer distances and keep for as long as possible. This processing method has not been properly tested for safety and it depletes the vitamin content of food.

Food Safety - The significant corporate consolidation of global food production has created a food system that values quantity over quality. Every single decision a farmer, or corporation, makes about growing or raising a certain kind of food affects the final product. Cutting corners on the quality of animal feed, waste management, level of training for farm workers, processing methods and distribution all contribute to the safety of our food.

To read in


Alarming Statistics 

Arsenic is added to poultry feed for the purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. A 2006 IATP report estimated that more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens raised for meat are fed arsenic, and testing of supermarket bought and fast food chicken found that much of it contained some level of arsenic. © Environmental Working Group

Fully 87 percent of store-bought meat collected by federal scientist in the most recent round of test was contaminated with both normal and antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus bacteria, evidence that most of this meat likely came in contact with fecal matter at some point. To be safe, consumers should treat all meat as if it may be contaminated, mainly by cooking thoroughly and using safe shopping and kitchen practices (see EWG’s downloadable Tips to Avoiding Superbugs in Meat)

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group has determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat published  February 5, 2013 detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

  • Ground Turkey – 81%

  • Pork Chops – 69%

  • Ground Beef – 55%

  • Chicken (Breast, wings or thighs) – 39%

www.centerforfoodsafety © CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered, as are 80 percent of soybeans.  It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients... www.centerforfoodsafety Reports,

...only 1% – 2% of all the food imported from China is ever inspected by the FDA. This is a huge problem; especially when you consider the fact that most of these Chinese imports are filled with disturbingly high levels of chemicals, pesticides, toxic substances and heavy metals… Reports,

Now experts are warning that the overuse of antibiotics in poultry farms around the world is creating a generation of superbugs that are resistant to treatment by virtually every drug in the medical establishment’s armoury.

With up to 80 per cent of the raw chicken on sale in some countries carrying these resistant bacteria, they can be transferred to humans during the handling of infected meat or the eating of undercooked produce. - Copyright 1995-2014 American Medical Association

Foodborne illnesses are extremely common diseases. An estimated 325,000 serious illnesses resulting in hospitalizations, 76 million cases of gastrointestinal illness, and 5,000 deaths each year have been attributed to food-associated dangers. Substantial progress made in the past in preventing certain foodborne illnesses such as typhoid and cholera has led to decreased national attention on foodborne illness. This, coupled with recent changes in human demographics and eating behavior, technology and industry, international travel and commerce, microbial adaptation, economic development and land use, and the lack of funding for updating public health measures, has resulted in new and reemerging foodborne illnesses. - 2013/02/18 epa-approved-gmo-insecticide-responsible-for-killing-off-bees-puts-entire-food-chain-at-risk

New information has come out that links an insecticide approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to killing off millions of Bees and puts food chain at risk. - 2013/05/03 - why-are-bees-dying-the-u-s-and-europe-have-different-theories

The mysterious collapse of bee colonies around the world has turned into a real crisis. In the United States, domesticated bee populations have reached a 50-year low and keep dwindling. The situation is just as dire in many other countries.

And that’s bad news for all those crops that depend on bees. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that “out of some 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated.”

...The link between pesticides and bee die-offs is still subject to some dispute. So, in the face of uncertainty, the European Commission is erring on the side of the environment — voting to ban neonicotinoids for two years just in case they really are to blame for the bee collapse...The United States, meanwhile, is erring on the side of certain economic interests — it’s still not clear that neonicotinoids are to blame, and pesticides are a billion-dollar industry, so regulators are moving slowly in setting restrictions.


Superbugs in Our Food - © Environmental Working Group

Not surprisingly, superbugs spawned by antibiotic misuse -- and now pervasive in the meat Americans buy -- have become a direct source of foodborne illness. Even more ominously, antibiotic misuse threatens to make important antibiotics ineffective in treating human disease. In the past, people who became ill because of contact with harmful microbes on raw meat usually recovered quickly when treated with antibiotics. But today, the chances are increasing that a person can suffer serious illness, complications or death because of a bacterial infection that doctors must struggle to control.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses special dangers to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

Among the most worrisome recent developments:

The federal tests published in February determined that 9 percent of raw chicken samples and 10 percent of raw ground turkey sampled from retail supermarkets in 2011 were tainted with a superbug version of salmonella bacteria. Antibiotic resistance in salmonella is growing fast: of all salmonella microbes found on raw chicken sampled in 2011, 74 percent were antibiotic-resistant, compared to less than 50 percent in 2002. These microbes, frequently found on chicken and turkey and occasionally on beef and pork, commonly cause diarrhea and in extreme cases can lead to arthritis.

In the same federal tests, a superbug version of the Campylobacter jejuni microbe was detected on 26 percent of raw chicken pieces. Raw turkey samples contained numerically fewer of these microbes, but 100 percent of those examined were antibiotic-resistant. The Campylobacter jejuni pathogen is a common cause of diarrhea and in severe cases can trigger an autoimmune disease that results in paralysis and requires intensive care treatment.

In 2006 FDA scientists found superbug versions of a particularly troublesome strain of E. coli, responsible for more than 6 million infections a year in the U.S., on 16 percent of ground turkey and 13 percent of chicken. Fully 84 percent of the E. coli bacteria identified in these tests were resistant to antibiotics.

In its own tests of raw pork, published last January, Consumer Reports magazine found that 63 percent contained a superbug version of Yersinia enterocolitica, a microbe that can cause long-lasting bouts of diarrhea.

In 2011 tests, researchers at Northern Arizona University and the Translational Genomics Research Institute found that 74 percent of store-bought raw turkey samples were tainted with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria resistant to at least one antibiotic. Of these staph bacteria, 79 percent were resistant to three or more types of antibiotics. Staph can cause skin infections in exposed cuts or produce toxins that cause foodborne illness.

A significant contributor to the looming superbug crisis, according to scientists and health experts, is unnecessary antibiotic usage by factory farms that produce most of the 8.9 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. every year. Industrial livestock producers routinely dose their animals with pharmaceuticals, mostly administered with limited veterinary oversight and frequently without prescriptions, to encourage faster growth or prevent infection in crowded, stressful and often unsanitary living conditions.

Overuse of antibiotics in people, often for colds and other viral illnesses, has contributed to antibiotic resistance, too, but responsible doctors generally take care not to prescribe them unnecessarily.

Pharmaceutical makers have powerful financial incentives to encourage  abuse of antibiotics in livestock operations. In 2011, they sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for use on domestic food-producing animals, up 22 percent over 2005 sales by weight, according to reports complied by the FDA and the Animal Health Institute, an industry group. Today, pharmaceuticals sold for use on food-producing animals amount to nearly 80 percent of the American antibiotics market, according to the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming. Pew calculates that the market for antibiotics for treatment of people has been flat for some years, hovering at around 7.7 million pounds annually.


How to Protect Yourself from Food Superbugs © Environmental Working Group

EWG recommends that consumers assume that all meat is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. They can avoid superbugs in meat by eating less factory-farmed meat, by buying meat raised without antibiotics and by following other simple tips in EWG's downloadable Tips to Avoiding Superbugs in Meat.

When shopping, look for:

  • Grass-fed or pasture-raised meat. It has fewer antibiotics and hormones and in some cases may have more nutrients and less fat; livestock live in more humane, open, sanitary conditions.

  • Lean cuts: less fat will likely mean fewer cancer-causing toxins in your body.

  • No antibiotics or hormones: reduces unnecessary exposure and helps keep human medicines effective.

  • Certified organic: keeps pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetically modified foods off land, out of water and out of our bodies.

  • Humane Certifications: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership and Food Alliance Certified ensure that animals were raised humanely with enough space for natural behaviors and without growth hormones or antibiotics.

  • Unprocessed, nitrite-free and low-sodium: avoid lunchmeats, hot dogs, prepackaged smoked meats and chicken nuggets.

  • Seafood: avoid air freighted fish and most farmed salmon. Consult Monterey Bay Aquarium’s list of the most sustainable seafood choices.

At the Store - Bag raw meat before it goes in the grocery cart—keep away from children. Be especially careful with ground meats. They harbor more bacteria because they have more surfaces where bacteria can lurk.

In the Kitchen - store meat on the lowest rack in the fridge, away from fresh produce. Thaw in fridge. Use separate cutting boards for meat and produce. Don’t wash meat – splashes spread bacteria. Use a food thermometer.

Be label-savvy. Labels can be misleading:

Most Reliable – USDA Certified Organic, Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership.

Less Reliable - American humane Certified, Raised without antibiotics, No antibiotics, No antibiotics ever, No antibiotics added, No antibiotics administered

Be Wary - No antibiotic Residues, antibiotic Free, No antibiotic Growth promotants. No hormones or steroids added, Natural or Kosher - don’t tell you anything about antibiotic use.


Understanding & Decoding Meat Labels © Environmental Working Group

Natural - The USDA defines a natural product as one that contains “no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.” Processing must not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a specific explanation such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed.” All fresh meat qualifies as natural. This term does not require that animals be raised in sufficient open space or indicate that antibiotics have been used prudently. It does not bar growth hormones. It does not mean organic. The term can mislead consumers to believe that the product is healthier and more humane than it is.

Free-range - In the United States, this term applies only to poultry and is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. It indicates simply that the animals have been “allowed access to the outside.” The USDA does not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.

Grass-fed - This term technically refers only to animals fed a diet of natural grass and other forage, not grain, but it often includes other healthier farm practices not associated with industrially produced meat, such as local butchering, more range time for livestock and less crowded conditions. The three leading “grass-fed” labels, certified by the Food Alliance, the American Grassfed Association or the USDA, require that animals eat a diet exclusively of forage. Some companies that market their meat as “naturally raised” or grass-fed actually feed their animals grain for significant periods. USDA’s grass-fed marketing standard requires only that animals “must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.” It does not necessarily mean that the animals spent their entire lives in pastures or on rangeland. Some cattle marketed as USDA grass-fed actually spend part of their lives in confined pens or feedlots.

Certified Humane - This label was set up by Humane Farm Animal Care, a non-profit, with endorsements from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and other humane organizations. It certifies that animals were never confined in cages or crates, that poultry were not subjected to de-beaking and that animals were slaughtered according to specific requirements designed to minimize suffering. This certification is not granted to producers who use growth hormones. Antibiotics can be used only to treat sick animals as directed by a veterinarian. The label does not require that the animals have access to pasture or range. Unlike "Animal Welfare Approved," “Certified Humane” is available to corporate farms.

Organic - Food labeled organic must be third-party certified to meet USDA’s criteria. Organic foods cannot be irradiated, genetically modified or grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals or sewage sludge. Organic meat and poultry cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics (sick animals must be treated but cannot be sold as organic) and must be fed only organically grown feed (with no animal byproducts). Organic meat animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants must have access to pasture. There are two ways to identify organic fruits and vegetables: by the “100% organic” or “organic” label and by the unique Price Look-Up (PLU) code sticker. Instead of a 4-digit number beginning with a “4,” organic produce has a 5-digit number that begins with a “9.”

rBGH-free - These products are from animals not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). rGBH is a genetically engineered hormone approved by the FDA in 1993 that when injected into cows artificially increases milk production by 10 to 15 percent. There are health concerns for both cows and humans exposed to the drug. Buying organic dairy products is another way to avoid rGBH since its use does not meet the organic criteria.

Nitrates/Nitrites - Processed meats such as ham, bacon, lunch meats and hot dogs often contain nitrates or nitrites–often in the form of sodium nitrate–added to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, to enhance color or add a smoky flavor. Eating meat treated with nitrates may increase the risk of cancer and other health problems through the formation of nitrosamines.

Hormone-free/No added hormones - This means that the animals were never given hormone treatments. To boost profits, some farmers give hormones to beef cattle and sheep to speed their growth and to dairy cows to increase milk production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow hormones to be used in chickens, turkeys or hogs. The European Union does not allow hormones in any meat. The extensive use of hormones (see rBHG–free below) in meat and dairy may increase the risk of cancer in humans and result in higher rates of infection in animals. Products labeled “organic” cannot come from rGBH–treated cows. There is no specific hormone–free certification, though organic and grass–fed labels as well as many humane certifications do not allow hormone use. The label does not indicate whether antibiotics were used appropriately in animals.

Kosher - refers to foods acceptable for those of the Jewish faith who observe dietary laws prescribed in the Torah. For meat, a kosher label indicates that a trained professional called a “shochet” slaughtered the animal in a specific manner. Kosher guidelines do not restrict growth hormones, pesticides in feed or antibiotics.

Farmed Fish - This refers to the rapidly growing industry that raises and feeds fish for human consumption in tanks or large wire pens anchored in coastal areas or other large bodies of water. Also called aquaculture, fish farming is expanding to offset the global decline in the wild fish catch. Fifty percent of seafood sold in the U.S. is now farmed. Ironically, feeding carnivorous farmed fish such as salmon requires harvesting millions of tons of smaller wild fish, such as anchovies and sardines, to produce fishmeal and fish oil. Catfish and other farmed fish are fed mostly soybeans and corn, while farmed tilapia eats a variety of algae, seaweeds and other aquatic plants. The use of open ponds and net pens or cages allows ocean water to flow freely through them. These enclosures pollute local waters with fish waste, excess feed and antibiotics and spread disease and parasites to sensitive wild marine species. The rapid growth of farmed shrimp ponds has led to deliberate destruction of thousands of coastal acres of mangrove forests that serve as fish nurseries, protect against storms and provide local economic livelihood.

Wild-caught/Wild Fish - The “wild fish” label indicates that the fish was spawned in the wild, lived in the wild and was caught in the wild. “Wild-caught fish” may have been spawned or lived some part of their lives in a fish farm before being returned to the wild and eventually caught. For sustainable fish, consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s list of the most sustainable seafood choices, or look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.


Food Health Risks - Animal cloning - © CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY

A non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy membership organization established in 1997 by its sister organization, International Center for Technology Assessment, for the purpose of challenging harmful food production technologies and promoting sustainable alternatives.

Animal cloning is a new technology with potentially severe risks for food safety. Defects in clones are common, and cloning scientists warn that even small imbalances in clones could lead to hidden food safety problems in clones' milk or meat.

In January 2008, the FDA essentially told the public that the meat and milk from cloned livestock are safe for human consumption... The approval also goes against the will of Congress, who voted twice in 2007 to delay FDA's decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies can be completed, and ignores the feelings of the American public, 150,000 of whom wrote to FDA opposing the approval during last year's public comment period. What's worse, FDA will not require labeling on cloned food, so consumers will have no way to avoid these experimental foods. To read in it’s entirety -  animal-cloning

CFS's True Food Network is a resource for anyone interested in learning more about important food issues and voicing their opinion!


Food Health Risks - Genetically Engineered Food - Copyright ©  The Institute for Responsible Technology

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are one of the most dangerous and radical changes to our food supply. These largely unregulated ingredients found in 60-70% of the foods in the US, are well worth the effort to avoid them.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are the result of laboratory processes which artificially insert foreign genes into the DNA of food crops or animals.  Those genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.  GMOs are not safe, but have been in the food supply since 1996.  Most Americans say they would not eat GMOs if labeled, but the U.S. does not require labeling.

Many consumers in the US mistakenly believe that the FDA approves GM foods through rigorous, in-depth, long-term studies. In reality, the agency has absolutely no safety testing requirements. Instead the agency relies on research from companies like Monsanto, research that is meticulously designed to avoid finding problems…

…The overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists was that GM foods were quite different and could lead to unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems.

Did you know... since 1996 Americans have been eating genetically modified (GM) ingredients in most processed foods.

Did you know... GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. And the inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses, that have never been in the human food supply.

Did you know... genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not safe. They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals…

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

But haven't growers been grafting trees, breeding animals, and hybridizing seeds for years?

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks. In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile. A horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

  • Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
  • Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
  • Jellyfish genes lit up pigs' noses in the dark.
  • Arctic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.
  • Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
  • Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

Current field trials include:

  • Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
  • Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
  • Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
  • Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
  • Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
  • Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)


Reference -   SeedsDeception.pdf

View (PDF) handout on the health risks of genetically modified foods

www.centerforfoodsafety  © CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered, as are 80 percent of soybeans.  It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients...


GMOs and The Christian Perspective

GM Foods: The Christian Perspective - Christian theologians and scholars find themselves conflicted on the issue of GMOs. Not surprisingly because one of the tenets of Christianity is to help those in need and to feed the hungry. However, certain of the Church’s Social Teachings, found in scripture, in theological reflection, in ecclesiastic documents and in the witness of individuals and communities, stress respect for human rights and respect for the environment. Because there are unknown risks with GMOs with respect to health and the environment, and because there are many other considerations such as corporate ownership and control of the GM seeds that many say will enslave poor farmers to the GM companies, many Christian theologians either advocate following a precautionary principle or reject the use of GMOs entirely.  Read in entirety… - GMO and Christian Faith Theological and Ethical Aspects

Abstract: The advance of natural science in Western countries of the past 250 years can, to some extent, be traced to a positive attitude of the mainstream Judeo-Christian intellectual heritage to physical creation. Christian theologians and secular thinkers (including scientists), though, are divided as to how far science, or in this case the GMO research can go before humans start defying the Creator. Their bioethical reflection is being conditioned by their respective worldviews. Many Christian thinkers tend to view any genetic manipulation as an illegitimate tampering of the human “creative genius” in the marvelous and “essentially (genetically) complete” work of the Creator; most of the secular scientists, on the other hand, consider their Christian counterparts as “seriously uninformed” at best, or “superstitiously conservative” at worse, with no ability or desire to contribute to the progress of human society.

Their respective prejudices are expressed in an atmosphere of suspicion and contempt for the other, thus confusing the minds of the general public. The differences in reasoning between the GMO scientists (among others) and Christian theologians, however, can become a creative tension that will enhance authentic search for meaning (i.e. sustainable ethical values and goals of human endeavor) and truth (including the economic and social prospects of the new discoveries) if the alienated camps learn to communicate and respect each other. Those Christian theologians, who properly understand the Christian theology of creation, might be able to perceive the field of genetics, including genetic engineering, as a legitimate expression of human intellectual capabilities and creative potential and as a specific realization of God’s invitation to partnership in His creative work within the creation continua. The latter can be maintained, however, only provided that the scientific research goes hand in hand with the research of the ethical implications of such endeavors in their complexity – including the sociological, environmental, economic, medical, and other aspects. To ensure this, an open, honest, and competent public discussion of these issues is necessary. Read in its entirety…


GMO's Safety Concerns © NON-GMO PROJECT

Are GMOs safe? - Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment. ©  NATIONOFCHANGE - Reports,

Following the groundbreaking French study that graphically linked the lifetime consumption of Monsanto’s GMO corn in rats to massive tumors and direct organ failure, Russia’s premiere consumers rights organization has suspended both the importation and use of Monsanto’s GMO corn within the nation’s borders.

It seems that France has become somewhat of a consumer health watchdog in more than just one area, simultaneously tackling the issue of pesticide contamination as well. It was even announced that the French government was seeking to ban crop dusters in all areas possible, aiming to reduce the amount of obesity-linked pesticides within the food supply.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is continuing to stick to its tired statements regarding the ‘safety’ of its GMO crops and Roundup herbicide. Instead of discussing not only the French study finding that the company’s GMOs led to horrendous tumors that led to rats literally dragging them along the ground as they walked, they claim that the information ‘does not warrant’ any concern at all from European officials. Just as Monsanto (and the US government) ignored evidence linking Roundup to DNA damage and infertility, it appears they intend to do it once more and hope that it all goes away. Unfortunately for Monsanto, it’s not going away this time.

With Russia now acting to secure food safety, many other nations will surely follow. While the United States may continue to ignore the issues surrounding GMOs and Monsanto’s blatant disregard for human health (they were caught running ‘slave-like’ working rings, after all), many foreign nations will not. Countries like PolandPeru, and Hungary have already taken action in banning or removing Monsanto’s GMO crops.

And even in the United States grassroots movements have spawned bills like Proposition 37 –the monumental bill in California that seeks to label GMOs…

Retrieved From - - American Academy of Environmental Medicine

Despite these differences, safety assessment of GM foods has been based on the idea of "substantial equivalence" such that "if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food."However, several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill's Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility.The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.2,6,7,8,9,10,11 

In spite of this risk, the biotechnology industry claims that GM foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. However, a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12 academic studies and indicates otherwise: "The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn."12 However, it was further stated that this increase is largely due to traditional breeding improvements. 

Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements.13 The most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."13 

Another often used definition originated from an environmental meeting in the United States in 1998 stating: "When an activity raises threats to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof (of the safety of the activity)."13 

Call to Action: With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks

  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.
  • Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.
  • Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.
  • For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary for the health and safety of consumers.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment? © NON-GMO PROJECT

Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled. Link to Environmental Toxins for Additional Information.


How to Safeguard Yourself from GMO's

Portable pocket shoppers' guide - Our revised Non-GMO Shopping Guide has features over 150 brands currently enrolled in the Non-GMO Project. This purse/pocket-sized guide will help you identify and avoid foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) foods while you shop. DOWNLOAD GUIDE

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization with a mission of protecting the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice. We offer North America’s ONLY third party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance (for more info, click here). Our strategy is to empower consumers to make change through the marketplace. If people stop buying GMOs, companies will stop using them and farmers will stop growing them. Please click here to download the Non-GMO Project verified product code spreadsheet (07/16/2014)


How Can Consumers Avoid GMOs? © NON-GMO PROJECT

Are GMOs labeled? - Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements? - Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2012 Mellman Group poll found that 91% of American consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs? - In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Click here for a current list of GMO risk crops.

How can I avoid GMOs? - Choose food and products that are Non-GMO Project Verified! Click here to see a complete list and follow the following tips:

  • Buy Organic - Certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients. Buy products labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can be doubly sure if the product also has a Non-GMO Project Verified Seal.

  • Avoid at-risk ingredients - If it’s not labeled organic or verified non-GMO: Avoid products made with ingredients that might be derived from GMOs (see list). The eight GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash.

  • Sugar - If a non-organic product made in North American lists “sugar” as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.

  • Dairy Products - may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for labels stating No rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones.

  • Download Non-GMO Shopping Guides - The Non-GMO Shopping Guide has features over 150 brands currently enrolled in the Non-GMO Project. This purse/pocket-sized guide will help you identify and avoid foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) foods while you shop.

  • Look for Non-GMO Project Seals - Products that carry the Non-GMO Project Seal are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to providing consumers with clearly labeled and independently verified non-GMO choices. Look for dairy products labeled "No rBGH or rBST,” or “artificial hormone-free.”

What does “Non-GMO Project Verified seal” mean?

The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through our verification process. Our verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:

What about the other products that I see on the store shelf that claim they are “GMO free?” While you may see other claims regarding GMO status (e.g. “GMO free”), these are really not legally or scientifically defensible, and they are not verified by a third party. The Non-GMO Project is the only organization offering independent verification of testing and GMO controls for products in the U.S. and Canada. Buying products that are verified by our program is the best way to support the sustained availability of non-GMO choices in North America.

Are products bearing the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal GMO free? Unfortunately, “GMO free” and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology.  In addition, the risk of contamination to seeds, crops, ingredients and products is too high to reliably claim that a product is “GMO free.” The Project’s claim offers a true statement acknowledging the reality of contamination risk, but assuring the shopper that the product in question is in compliance with the Project’s rigorous standard. The website url is included as part of the Seal to ensure that there is transparency for consumers who want to learn more about our verification. While the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal is not a “GMO free” claim, it is trustworthy, defensible, transparent, and North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.

How do GMOs affect farmers? - Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.


Food Health Risks - Pesticides, Chemicals, Additives and Hormones - Center for Science in the Public Interest

Summary Listing and Detail Explanation of the Safety of All Additives. View food additives to determine their safety, rated as follows:

  • Safe - The additive appears to be safe.

  • Cut Back - Not toxic, but large amounts may be unsafe or promote bad nutrition.

  • Caution - May pose a risk and needs to be better tested. Try to avoid.

  • Certain People Should Avoid - May trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance, or other problems.

  • Avoid - Unsafe in amounts consumed or is very poorly tested and not worth any risk. Copyright ©  The Institute for Responsible Technology

It was “supposed” to be harmless to humans and animals—the perfect weed killer. Now a groundbreaking article just published in the journal Entropy points to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and more specifically its active ingredient glyphosate, as devastating—possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.” 

That’s right. The herbicide sprayed on most of the world’s genetically engineered crops—and which gets soaked into the food portion—is now linked to “autism … gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, cachexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, among others.” Reports,

Top 12 Foods to Eat Organic: Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic. The solution? Focus on just those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones.


Let Your Voice Be Heard

When a comprehensive two-year study showed that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn, and even Roundup by itself, caused massive tumors, organ damage, and early death of rats, Monsanto’s minions jumped into high gear with a shoot-the-messenger, kill-the-study campaign. Now the study’s lead author, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, is fighting back. He’s filed a libel lawsuit against some of the “so-called scientist” attackers.

A global petition has been launched demanding that approvals of GM foods be frozen until studies proving long-term safety are conducted and verified. Sign the petition and visit this terrific new website: that completely shreds the biotech industry’s arguments. A bottom-line summary of the study’s findings is: Definitely Avoid Eating GMOs. 


Rocket Fuel In Food, Milk and Water - factsheets - perchlorate

Sources of Perchlorate and How are People Exposed

  • Perchlorate is a chemical most commonly used in rocket fuel. The chemical is also used in explosives and fireworks. A combination of human activity and natural sources has led to the widespread presence of perchlorate in the environment.
  • People are exposed to perchlorate by drinking water or eating food containing perchlorate or by working in the manufacture of products containing perchlorate. - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Perchlorate has been found in food, including cow’s milk, and in water. Human exposure to perchlorate is expected to occur through the ingestion of food and milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently estimated that the US population ingests from 0.08-to 0.39-μg/kg/day perchlorate from food items.

Human exposure to perchlorate also can occur through the ingestion of water, as it has been found in drinking water supplies, tap water samples, and groundwater at some locations. Efforts are being made to determine the relative contribution of perchlorate from food and water.

Sources of perchlorates include rocket fuel, flares, gunpowder, temporary adhesives, electrolysis baths, batteries, drying agents, etching agents, oxygen generating systems, matches, chlorine and chlorine based cleaners, and pool chlorination chemicals.

Toxicokinetics:  Perchlorate appears to be readily absorbed by the digestive system after oral exposure and enters the bloodstream within a few hours of ingestion.

Perchlorate is rapidly taken up into the thyroid gland by an active transport mechanism.

Perchlorate does not appear to be modified in the body, either by degradation or covalent binding.

Perchlorate is rapidly eliminated from the body in the urine with half-times of approximately 8-12 hours in humans.

However, recent studies have shown widespread exposure to low levels of perchlorate by the general population, so exposure may be frequent.

Routes of Exposure
  • Ingestion (drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food including milk).
  • Inhalation (breathing dusts or suspended particles).
  • Dermal (contact with contaminated soil).

Perchlorate in the Environment – Where Does It Come From

Perchlorate has been found in food, including cow’s milk, and in water. Factories that make or use perchlorates may release them. Perchlorate entered the environment where rockets were made, tested, and disassembled and from fireworks, explosives, flares, and similar products. Also, perchlorate is an impurity in certain industrial and consumer products, such as cleansers and bleaches, which also may result in its discharge to the environment.

Perchlorate also occurs naturally in the environment. Perchlorate released to the environment is deposited in soil or water (rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds) and can leach into groundwater from soil.

Perchlorate has been found in a wide variety of foods including eggs, milk, vegetables, and fruits.

Perchlorate will persist in water and soil for several years, but may eventually be degraded by microorganisms.

Environmental Levels - Food

Perchlorate has been found in a wide variety of foods consumed by the U.S. population. The FDA’s Total Diet Study revealed that 74% of the foods analyzed had at least one sample of detected perchlorate. Estimation of dietary intake showed the lowest intake to be 0.08–0.11 μg/kg/day for males aged 25–30 years and the highest intake to be 0.35–0.39 μg/kg/day for children 2 years old.

The majority of the perchlorate estimated intake by infants 6-11 months comes from baby foods, such as infant formula and dairy foods. Dairy foods contribute about half of the total estimated daily intake of perchlorate by children 2, 6, and 10 years old. Vegetables and dairy foods combined account for between 46% and 59% of the total estimated intake of perchlorate by teenagers and adults.



Health Risks Effects of Perchlorates

The main target organ for perchlorate toxicity in humans is the thyroid gland. Perchlorate inhibits the thyroid’s uptake of iodine. Iodine is required as a building block for the synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormones regulate certain body functions after they are released into the blood. These include metabolism, growth and neurological development in children.

Exposure of people to excessive amounts of perchlorate for a long time may lower the thyroid activity, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism. The prevalence of hypothyroidism is about 5% in the general population of the United States, but there is no evidence that any of this percentage is due to perchlorate exposure.

Because thyroid hormones play a critical role in the neurological development of the fetus, there is concern that hypothyroidism (maternal and fetal) during pregnancy could result in neurodevelopmental effects.

It is relevant to point out that other chemicals in the diet and in tobacco smoke also can affect the thyroid gland in ways similar to perchlorate.

Children’s Health

The most sensitive population is fetuses of pregnant women who might have hypothyroidism or iodide deficiency.

Infants and developing children may be more likely to be affected by perchlorate than adults because thyroid hormones are essential for normal growth and development.

Health Risks from Perchlorate

Human exposure to sufficiently high doses of perchlorate may disrupt how the thyroid gland functions. In adults, the thyroid plays an important role in metabolism, making and storing hormones that help regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. In fetuses and infants, thyroid hormones are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system. Perchlorate can interfere with the human body's ability to absorb iodine into the thyroid gland which is a critical element in the production of thyroid hormone.


Health Risks of Farm Raised Salmon


Retrieved From - - Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany

In the most comprehensive analysis of farmed and wild salmon to date, researchers analyzed toxic contaminants in approximately 700 farmed and wild salmon (totaling 2 metric tons) collected from around the world to be representative of the salmon typically available to consumers. The study, which was sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, examined salmon produced in eight major farmed salmon producing regions and obtained from retail outlets in 16 major North American and European cities.

The study found that concentrations of several contaminants associated with serious health risks from neurological effects to cancer are significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon.

The authors concluded that concentrations of several cancer-causing substances are high enough to suggest that consumers should consider restricting their consumption of farmed salmon. In most cases, consumption of more than one meal of farmed salmon per month could pose unacceptable cancer risks according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methods for calculating fish consumption advisories.

In General:

Total PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene were consistently and significantly more concentrated in the farmed salmon as a group than in the wild salmon.

Farmed salmon from Europe were more contaminated than farmed salmon from North or South America. The most contaminated farmed samples came from Scotland and the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. The least contaminated farmed samples came from Chile and Washington State in the U.S. But these still had significantly higher contaminant levels than wild salmon.

Store-bought samples from Frankfurt, Edinburgh, Paris, London, and Oslo were generally the most contaminated. Samples from stores in New Orleans and Denver were the least contaminated. Store-bought samples from Boston, San Francisco, and Toronto had contaminant levels approaching those found in European cities. (Most of the salmon sold in Europe is produced on European farms. More salmon sold in the U.S. is produced in Chile or Canada with lower contaminant levels.)

The large difference in farmed and wild salmon contaminant concentrations is likely due to diet. While wild salmon eat a large variety of aquatic organisms where they feed such as krill, zooplankton, and small fish, farmed salmon consume a formulated high-fat feed primarily of other fish ground into fishmeal and fish oil. As a result, farmed salmon consume and concentrate in their fat tissue more of the contaminants typically found in other fish…summary of the study is available here.

Retrieved From -

In 1999, the World Health Organization raised food safety concerns over fish farming, including salmon, 1 warning that this growing practice posed risks to public health. Artificial coloring, toxic by-products, and cancer causing contaminants have all been found in factory farmed salmon. The United States currently imports approximately 200,000 tons of farmed salmon annually, 2 but very little of it is ever tested for diseases or chemical contaminants. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered testing farmed salmon for antibiotics, pesticides, or possible carcinogens—all of which are used by many overseas salmon farms—those plans are on hold.3

Artificial Color - Industrial salmon farms use artificial color to make farmed fish—whose flesh is typically grayish white—appear a more appetizing “salmon” pink. Market research found that consumers “buy with their eyes” and put a premium on color. Since 1982, the use of artificial coloring in farmed salmon has more than tripled.4 One of the most commonly used dyes, Canthaxanthin, has been linked to human eye defects and retinal damage.

Lower Nutritional Value in Farmed Salmon vs. Wild - A close reading of supermarket labels shows that some wild salmon, high in “heart-healthy,” Omega-3 fatty acids, contain less than 1 percent fat. In contrast, factory farmed fish can be as high as 27 percent fat and contain 15 percent less protein. Despite efforts by governments and international agencies to limit antibiotics, harmful chemicals, and toxic substances in farmed salmon, the danger persists. Millions of fish—raised in close confinement, eating an unvaried artificial diet, and constantly exposed to their own wastes—mean inevitable exposure to harmful chemicals. - Copyright  Environmental Working Group.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2005 The Washington Post reports that half the fish consumed worldwide will be farm-raised instead of wild-caught by the year 2025, exposing Americans to more fish with plenty of healthy omega-3s and dangerous levels of toxic PCBs…

The Environmental Working Group conducted studies on farmed salmon from grocery stores and found on average 16 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in wild salmon. Farmed salmon is likely the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the U.S. food supply. PCBs cause cancer and were banned in the United States in 1976.

Recommendations to Protect Yourself:

Retrieved from - - Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany

  • Farmed salmon should be consumed in limited amounts. Consumers should be aware that consumption of even one or two meals of farmed salmon per month may exceed acceptable contaminant levels;

  • Farmed salmon should always be clearly labeled as "farmed;" and

  • The country of origin of all farmed salmon should be clearly identified.

  • Further studies of contaminant sources, particularly on feeds used for farmed carnivorous fish species such as salmon, are needed.

  • Given the overall contaminant levels identified in the study, EPA and many state consumption advisories would suggest that consumers restrict their consumption of farmed salmon to on average no more than one meal per month. However, consumers need to be aware that in some cases even that could exceed advised contaminant exposure levels.

  • Consumers should be aware that the word "Fresh" on the label does not mean the salmon is wild-caught from the ocean.

  • Any salmon labeled "Atlantic" in the U.S. is almost always farmed. Salmon labeled "Atlantic" in other countries is most likely farmed.

  • Since contaminants build up in the fatty tissue of the fish, consumers may be able to reduce their consumption of contaminants in farmed salmon by following the recommendations of many state governments and the federal government to remove as much skin and visible fat as possible. However, it is difficult to determine how much of the contaminant load can be removed in this way.

Find additional information at © Food & Water Watch

  • Always ask where seafood comes from and whether it was wild-caught or farmed?  For example, choose wild-caught, or otherwise sustainably produced, domestic shrimp over imported farmed shrimp. Even if the person you ask does not know, your question will help encourage the establishment to become more knowledge about seafood sourcing.

  • Tell the FDA to increase inspection of imported seafood.

  • Ask Congress to increase funding and oversight for the FDA’s seafood import inspection program.

  • Tell the USDA to expand country-of-origin labeling so that it includes processed seafood and includes every store and restaurant.


Food Health Risks Mercury in Fish


Reference - Copyright ©  Environmental Defense Fund. Used by permission. 

Mercury is released into the air primarily from industrial sources, falls to the ground in rain or snow and is deposited into water bodies, where it is converted into another highly toxic form of mercury (called methyl mercury). Methlymercury then builds up in the tissues of fish and other animals, and in high concentrations can pose serious health risks to people who frequently eat contaminated fish. Based on the available data on mercury concentrations in fish tissue, Environmental Defense recommends limited consumption of certain fish (see chart).


What Are the Health Risks Associated With Consuming Mercury-Contaminated Fish?


Reference - Copyright ©  Environmental Defense Fund. Used by permission. 

Mercury targets the nervous system and kidneys. Developing fetuses, infants and young children are at the highest risk from mercury exposure, since their brains and nervous systems are still forming. Fetuses can absorb mercury directly across the placenta, and nursing infants can get it from their mother's breast milk. This is why it is so important for women of childbearing age to minimize their consumption of fish with high mercury levels. It can take 12-18 months for women in their childbearing years to significantly rid their body burden of methylmercury.

Children exposed to mercury before birth may exhibit problems with mental development and coordination, including how they think, learn and problem-solve later in life. These neurological symptoms may appear similar to cerebral palsy. Developmental and neurological damage can be irreversible for fetuses and young children, but as children get older, the risk associated with mercury exposure decreases.

Mercury exposure can also harm adults. Symptoms can include numbness, burning or tingling of the extremities (lips, fingers, toes); fatigue; weakness; irritability; shyness; loss of memory and coordination; tremors; and changes in hearing and blurred vision. Extremely high mercury levels can permanently damage an adult's brain and kidneys, or even lead to circulatory failure.

How Can I Reduce the Risks of Eating Seafood Contaminated With Mercury?

Since methylmercury binds to proteins, it is found throughout fish tissue, including muscle tissue that makes up fish steaks and fillets. Therefore, cleaning and cooking methods that can reduce amounts of other contaminants (like trimming fat and removing skin and organs) are not successful in reducing mercury levels in fish.

The best way to reduce exposure to methylmercury is to moderate or eliminate your consumption of predatory or long-lived fish (such as swordfish, shark, orange roughy and tuna). Refer to Health Alerts to see which species are known to have high levels of mercury. Be especially conservative if you are a woman of childbearing age or are feeding young children.

What Fish Should I Avoid?

Fish low in contaminants are an important part of a healthy diet. That's why Environmental Defense recommends limited consumption of certain fish because of their elevated mercury levels.

Content provided from - fish advice.pdf

Environmental Protection Agency - Mercury Update: Impact on Fish Advisories – EPA Fact Sheet:
The purpose of this fact sheet is to summarize current information on sources, fate and transport, occurrence in human tissues, range of concentrations in fish tissue, fish advisories, fish consumption limits, toxicity, and regulations for mercury. To read more… - fish advice.pdf   Find Best and Worst Seafood Choices - Pocket Guides at

Carry the pocket guide that’s right for your region to help you choose ocean-friendly seafood wherever you live or travel. Click on your state on the map below to determine the pocket guide that’s right for you. If you live near a boundary between two regions, we suggest that you look at both pocket guides and pick the one that lists the seafood items commonly found where you live.

(Download and print here -  

Smart Seafood Downloadable Pocket Guide - Whether it’s from the Gulf or the Pacific, New England or the South, get smart about the seafood you’re eating.

Food & Water Watch has analyzed over 100 different fish and shellfish to create the only guide assessing not only the human health and environmental impacts of eating certain seafood, but also the socio-economic impacts on coastal and fishing communities.

The Seafood Guide addresses the following questions, which we encourage you to ask before making a seafood purchase:

  • Is it caught or farmed locally?

  • How is this fish caught?

  • How is this fish farmed?

  • Is this seafood associated with any contaminants?

Guide also recommends safer, more sustainable options based on your personal tastes and priorities. Print out the card version, which can fit in your wallet, to always have these valuable tips on hand when you’re shopping.

Seafood Recommendations for Consumers



Food Health Risks – Aspartame © Demand Media, Inc

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that was discovered in 1965. It is currently marketed under various trademark names, such as NutraSweet, Equal and Canderel and is used in many diet soda beverages. There is an ongoing controversy over the safety of using aspartame, with some claiming symptoms of aspartame use includes fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis symptoms, headaches, dizziness, brain cancer and menstrual problems. However, the FDA has approved the use of aspartame and proponents of aspartame claim it is safe.

Risks 1:  Stop using aspartame if you have Phenylketonuria.  Phenylketonuria is a rare metabolic disease that can cause retardation. Aspartame is considered an additional source of phenylalanine, and those with PKU are susceptible to dangerous levels of phenylalanine collecting in the body.

Risks 2: Avoid if you have advanced liver disease. Damage to the brain can result with high levels of amino acid phenylalanine in body fluids. Amino acid phenylalanine is a component of aspartame. Those with advanced liver disease and pregnant women with hyperphenylalanine do not effectively metabolize this amino acid. Therefore these people should avoid aspartame.

Risks 3: Consider headaches a possibility. Headaches can result for some who consume aspartame. Although the aspartame website insists there is no concrete proof that aspartame can trigger headaches in some users, it is a commonly held belief that some people are sensitive to aspartame, and headaches can result. 


Chemical Makeup of Aspartame – The Facts

Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into residual chemicals, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, and further breakdown products including formaldehyde,[16] formic acid, and a diketopiperazine. There is controversy surrounding the rate of breakdown into these various products and the effects that they have on those that consume aspartame-sweetened foods.

Aspartic Acid is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CO2H. The carboxylate anion of aspartic acid is known as aspartate.

Phenylalanine is an α-amino acid with the formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2C6H5, which is found naturally in the breast milk of mammals and manufactured for food and drink products and are also sold as nutritional supplements for their reputed analgesic and antidepressant effects. Phenylalanine is structurally closely related to dopamine, epinepherine (adrenaline) and tyrosine.

Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical compound with chemical formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable, toxic liquid with a distinctive odor that is very similar but slightly sweeter than ethanol (drinking alcohol). At room temperature it is a polar liquid and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethanol. It is also used for producing biodiesel via transesterification reaction.

Formaldehyde (IUPAC name methanal) is a chemical compound with the formula H2CO. It is the simplest aldehyde. Formaldehyde exists in several forms aside from H2CO: the cyclic trimer trioxane and the polymer paraformaldehyde. It exists in water as the hydrate H2C(OH)2. Aqueous solutions of formaldehyde are referred to as formalin. "100%" formalin consists of a saturated solution of formaldehyde (roughly 40% by mass) in water, with a small amount of stabilizer, usually methanol to limit oxidation and polymerization. It is produced on a substantial scale of 6M tons/y.

In view of its widespread use, toxicity, and volatility, exposure to formaldehyde is significant consideration for human health.

Biological Occurrence – The Facts

Formaldehyde (and its oligomers and hydrates) are rarely encountered in living organisms. Methanogenesis proceeds via the equivalent of formaldehyde, but this one-carbon species is masked as a methylene group in methanopterin. Formaldehyde is the primary cause of methanol’s toxicity, since methanol is metabolised into toxic formaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase. Formaldehyde is converted to formic acid in the body.

Formic acid is readily metabolized and eliminated by the body. Nonetheless, it has specific toxic effects; the formic acid and formaldehyde produced as metabolites of methanol are responsible for the optic nerve damage causing blindness seen in methanol poisoning.[4] Some chronic effects of formic acid exposure have been documented. Some animal experiments have demonstrated it to be a mutagen, and chronic exposure may cause liver or kidney damage. Another possibility with chronic exposure is development of a skin allergy that manifests upon re-exposure to the chemical.

Formic acid (systematically called methanoic acid) is the simplest carboxylic acid. Its formula is HCOOH or CH2O2. It is an important intermediate in chemical synthesis and occurs naturally, most notably in the venom of bee and ant stings.

In nature, it is found in the stings and bites of many insects of the order Hymenoptera, mainly ants and is also present in stinging nettles. It is also a significant combustion product resulting from alternative fueled vehicles burning methanol (and ethanol, if contaminated with water) when mixed with gasoline.[

Phenylalanine Possible Interactions

Reference Source - - University of Maryland Medical Center

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use phenylalanine without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Antidepressant Medications, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Phenylalanine may cause a severe increase in blood pressure in people taking MAOIs (such as phenelzine, tranylcypromine, pargyline, and selegiline). This severe increase in blood pressure (also called "hypertensive crisis") can lead to a heart attack or stroke. For this reason, individuals taking MAOIs should avoid foods and supplements containing phenylalanine.

Baclofen: The absorption of baclofen, a medication used to relieve muscle spasms, may be reduced by phenylalanine. Therefore, it is best to avoid taking this medication with a meal, especially one that is high in protein content, or with phenylalanine supplements.

Levodopa: A few case reports suggest that phenylalanine may reduce the effectiveness of levodopa, a medication used to treat Parkinson's disease. Some researchers speculate that phenylalanine may interfere with the absorption of this medication. Therefore, phenylalanine should not be taken at the same time as levodopa.  

People with PKU and women who are lactating or are pregnant should not take phenylalanine supplements

Doses in excess of 5,000 mg a day may be toxic and can cause nerve damage. High quantities of DL-phenylalanine may cause mild side effects such as nausea, heartburn, and headaches.


What Are The Dangers of Aspartame? Are they real?

Retrieved From -

…A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison." As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.

Aspartame can be found in thousands of products such as:

  • Instant breakfasts
  • Breath mints
  • Cereals
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Cocoa mixes
  • Coffee beverages
  • Frozen desserts
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Juice beverages
  • Laxatives
  • Multivitamins
  • Pharmaceuticals and supplements, including over-the-counter medicines

  • Shake mixes

  • Soft drinks

  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Tea beverages
  • Instant teas and coffees
  • Topping mixes
  • Wine coolers
  • Yogurt
  • Milk drinks

Reference Source -

The 1976 Groliers encyclopedia states cancer cannot live without phenylalanine. Aspartame is 50% phenylalanine. The structure of aspartame seems simple, but what a complicated structure aspartame really is. Two isolated amino acids in aspartame are fused together by its third component, deadly methanol. In this structure, methanol bonds the two amino acids together, but when released at a mere 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the methanol becomes a poisonous free radical.

Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde, embalming fluid. Methanol is a dangerous neurotoxin, a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage in the eye, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects…


Why Diet Pop and Colas Make You Fat and Sick  

Reference Source -

Diet pop is very acidic, with a pH of 1.5 to 2.5 - that is 100,000 times more acid that your body wants to be. Aspartame has a pH of 1.5! All life dies at a pH of 4.5.

Because of this your body creates fat cells to store the extra acid or in this case Aspartame. This is why people who drink diet pop just get fatter.

Your kidneys are the prime pH balancing organs in your body. The body wants to have a general pH of about 7. So when you drink pure water with pH of about 7 or a little higher - you are balancing the pH in your kidneys, and balancing the general pH in the body. When the pH is right the body can release and dispose of stored acids, which are filling the fat cells; This is why some clients have had such drastic weight reductions in such a short amount of time, just drink water.

Why is pH so important? If your pH is correct you will have a much less chances of contracting a chronic condition, such as cancer, arthritis, or even the common cold. There is a direct correlation between pH and your immune system. The Immune system works at its most optimal level, when the body pH is 7.0 - or slightly alkaline.

So when you drink just one diet pop - you drive your pH down, shutting down the immune system, and setting yourself up for a disease to take hold. Drink just one diet pop or cola, you will then have to drink 32 glasses of water with a pH of 7 or more to balance your pH.

Scientists have found that healthy people have body fluids that are slightly alkaline, 7.1 to 7.5 pH. Scientists and doctors have also found that over 150 degenerative diseases are linked to acidity, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, gall and kidney stones, and many more. All diseases thrive in an acidic, oxygen poor environment.

Keep in mind that a drop in every point on the pH scale is 10x more acidic than the previous number--i.e. from 7 to 6 is 10x, from 7 to 5 is 100x etc. From 7 to 2 is 100,000x more acidic, colas are in the approximate 2.5 pH range. Almost no soda (pop) is higher than 3.0. Diet sodas are the worst as they have the highest acid content. Actually diet sodas cause you to gain weight because they alter the blood chemistry, making changes in your metabolism, leading to a slower metabolic rate. The best liquid to drink is water.

Most degenerative diseases we call "Old-Age Diseases" like memory loss, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, and many more are actually life style diseases caused by acidosis, the lack of supplements, what acids we ingest, what nutrients we don't ingest, or toxins we don't properly eliminate.

So What Is An Alternative?

Reference Source -

Stevia is an herb that has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. It is calorie - free, and the powdered concentrate is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Is widely used all over the world. In Japan, for example, it claims 41% of the sweetener market, including sugar, and was used in Japanese Diet Coke until the company replaced it with aspartame to "standardize" worldwide. There have not been any reports of toxicity with stevia, which is consumed by millions of people daily.

What To Do If You Think You Have Aspartame Poisoning?

Here is a link to a page with a list of vitamins, herbs and minerals with the dosages to take to counter and cleanse the effects of aspartame.


Antibiotics in Food  


Content provided from Life Extension Magazine (Death by Medicine) Report

Agger contends that overuse of antibiotics results in food-borne infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Salmonella is found in 20% of ground meat, but the constant exposure of cattle to antibiotics has made 84% of salmonella resistant to at least one anti-salmonella antibiotic.

Diseased animal food accounts for 80% of salmonellosis in humans, or 1.4 million cases per year. The conventional approach to countering this epidemic is to radiate food to try to kill all organisms while continuing to use the antibiotics that created the problem in the first place.

Approximately 20% of chickens are contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni, an organism that causes 2.4 million cases of illness annually. Fifty-four percent of these organisms are resistant to at least one anti-Campylobacter antimicrobial agent.

Denmark banned growth-promoting antibiotics beginning in 1999, which cut their use by more than half within a year, from 453,200 to 195,800 pounds. A report from Scandinavia found that removing antibiotic growth promoters had no or minimal effect on food production costs. Agger warns that the current crowded, unsanitary methods of animal farming in the US support constant stress and infection, and are geared toward high antibiotic use.


Antibiotics and the Animal Industry ©  GRACE Communications Foundation

Modern industrial livestock operations are an example of how rampant overuse of antibiotics threatens to increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These industrial farms have been mixing antibiotics into livestock feed since 1946, when various studies showed that low levels of antibiotics (too low to actually fight disease) seemed to help animals grow faster and put on weight more efficiently, thus increasing profits for meat producers. iv When antibiotics are used like this - for purposes other than treating an illness - it is called non-therapeutic use.

Aside from promoting growth, the routine use of antibiotics is also necessary for preventing disease in conventional industrial farming systems. Modern industrial farms are ideal breeding grounds for germs and disease. Animals live in close confinement, often standing or laying in their own filth, and are under constant stress, which inhibits their immune systems and makes them more prone to infection. Because of these conditions, about half of the antibiotics used by farms are mixed into the feed of healthy animals in order to prevent disease. v

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) estimates that the quantities of antimicrobials administered to livestock and poultry far outweigh the amount of antibiotics used on humans. According to UCS estimates, humans use approximately 4.5 million pounds of antibiotics annually for medical treatment and in topical creams, soaps, and disinfectants. In comparison, antibiotic use in beef, pork, and poultry production is estimated at 24.6 million pounds annually—approximately five and one half times the amount used in human medicine. Thus, the use of antibiotics in livestock agriculture accounts for 84% of total antimicrobial use in America. vi

Large livestock operations produce an enormous amount of waste—over 1 billion tons annually—that often contains intact and undigested antibiotics, as well as antibiotic-resistant fecal coliforms (bacteria that live in the intestines). It is estimated that as much as 80-90% of all antibiotics given to humans and animals are not fully digested or broken down and eventually pass through the body and enter the environment intact through waste. Thus, these antibiotics are released into the environment where they may encounter new bacteria and create more resistant strains. vii Many of the antibiotics used on livestock and poultry farms are identical or similar to those used in human medicine, meaning that bacteria from farms can infect people with diseases that can not be treated with common antibiotics. viii

Antibiotic Resistance and Public Health - The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a major public health crisis because infections from resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to treat. Already, an estimated 14,000 Americans die every year from drug-resistant infections, and the National Academy of Sciences calculates that the increased health care costs associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria exceed at least $4 billion annually ix – a figure that reflects the cost of additional antibiotics and longer hospital stays, but not lost workdays or human suffering.

Sustainable Alternatives - On industrial farms, animals are administered antibiotics on a routine basis – through feed, water, or injection. But not all animals are raised in such a manner. Ending or minimizing the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is both feasible and potentially beneficial to consumers. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, if the U.S. were to ban the non-therapeutic administration of antibiotics to livestock, the average consumer's total food costs would only increase by $4.85 to $9.72 per year. The study suggested that this ban would not affect the profits of farmers who utilize good management practices. Furthermore, the ban would be expected to decrease health care costs. xiv

Many small, sustainable producers do not use antibiotics at all, in large part because they don’t have to compensate for unhealthy conditions. On sustainable farms, animals are raised in a clean, natural environment that is not a breeding ground for bacteria. Other sustainable farmers will use antibiotics to treat animals only when they become sick, and they will make sure the antibiotics have passed out of the animal’s system before using its meat, eggs or milk.


What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Federally regulated organic standards prevent antibiotics being used in the production of certified organic meats. In the Eat Well Guide, farmers who never administer antibiotics to their animals carry the label “no antibiotic use.” Some sustainable producers will use antibiotics to treat animals that fall ill, and in this case, food from those animals cannot be sold as “USDA certified organic” or with the label “no antibiotic use.” Eat Well Guide producers who only use antibiotics when an animal becomes ill carry the label “no routine antibiotic use.” In these instances, a suitable amount of time must pass after an animal is treated and before its meat, milk or eggs can enter the food supply.

Some consumers prefer to buy meat from animals that were never given antibiotics; other individuals are not concerned about medically-necessary antibiotic use. The key is to avoid animals that were fed low doses of antibiotics on a regular basis either to promote growth or prevent disease. Not only does this greatly increase the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our environment and food supply, it also indicates that the animals were probably housed in crowded, unhealthy conditions which make them prone to sickness.

  • Farmers’ markets are popping up all over the U.S. and Canada as their popularity continues to grow. If you can’t make it to the farm, farmers’ markets are a great alternative. Usually the farmer or someone who works on the farm is available and more than happy to answer your questions about antibiotic use and how the animals were raised.

  • Buy local. When you buy locally produced fruits, vegetables and meat products, you support your local economy. Community Supported Agriculture programs, Farmers’ markets and Co-ops are good options for doing this.

  • Advocate for change. Individual consumers can help bring about broader policy change by urging the government and industry to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in animal agriculture.

Link for in-depth Information on the Facts about Antibiotic Resistance


Food Health Risks - Partially Hydrogenated Oils ©, Inc


Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process used to make a perfectly good oil, such as soybean oil, into a perfectly bad oil. The process is used to make an oil more solid; provide longer shelf-life in baked products; provide longer fry-life for cooking oils, and provide a certain kind of texture or "mouth feel." The big problem is that partially hydrogenated oil is laden with lethal trans fat. 

There are four kinds of fats: monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are the "good" fats. It is generally accepted that consumption of saturated fat should be kept low, especially for adults. Trans fat (which means trans fatty acids) is the worst kind of fat, far worse than saturated fat.

Top nutritionists at Harvard have stated as follows:

"By our most conservative estimate, replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the U.S. diet with natural unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent approximately 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year, and epidemiologic evidence suggests this number is closer to 100,000 premature deaths annually."

Content provided from

Dr. Joseph Pizzorno writes about food and health, natural and integrative medicine, environmental toxins and living a healthy lifestyle.

Trans fats – the chemically altered fats found in partially hydrogenated oils – are just plain bad. Stick margarine, shortening, and processed snack foods are the most common sources of trans fats, but you’ll also find partially hydrogenated oils in an astounding number of packaged foods, often labeled as “cholesterol free.” Read ingredient labels! Trans fats, even as a small proportion of the diet, are bad for you. They can raise your “bad cholesterol” (LDL), lower your “good cholesterol” (HDL) and raise your total cholesterol. They also appear to contribute to arterial disease and diabetes risk. - Copyright American Medical Association

Banning the use of artificial trans fats is a life-saving move that can help keep the public healthy, and the American Medical Association strongly supports the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to eliminate one of the most harmful fats in our food supply.

The FDA’s recommendation aligns with AMA’s strategy to prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes and to improve outcomes for those suffering from these diseases. With proper intervention, the effects of these conditions can be dramatically reduced, leading to a healthier nation and reducing health care spending.

Eating foods containing trans fat significantly increases the risk for heart disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol, while lowering levels of good cholesterol. Healthier fats and oils should be substituted when trans fats are removed from foods. Healthier options, such as extra virgin olive oil, could prevent 30,000 to 100,000 premature deaths each year.

Retrieved from -

There is now a lot of interesting work going on regarding the health effects of trans fats, and what is clear is that trans fats appear to be doing many nasty things. Besides affecting the LDL and HDL, trans fats increase triglycerides, and they increase the dysfunction of the endothelium in arteries, that layer of cells lining blood vessels, which increases risk of heart attack. Lp(a) is now recognized as an independent lipid risk factor for coronary heart disease, and trans fats compared to saturated fats do raise Lp(a). Again, that's also something we don't really understand. - The Trans Fats Dilemma and Natural Palm Oil by Gene A. Spiller


Foodborne Illness - Copyright American Medical Association

Foodborne illnesses are extremely common diseases. An estimated 325,000 serious illnesses resulting in hospitalizations, 76 million cases of gastrointestinal illness, and 5,000 deaths each year have been attributed to food-associated dangers. Substantial progress made in the past in preventing certain foodborne illnesses such as typhoid and cholera has led to decreased national attention on foodborne illness. This, coupled with recent changes in human demographics and eating behavior, technology and industry, international travel and commerce, microbial adaptation, economic development and land use, and the lack of funding for updating public health measures, has resulted in new and reemerging foodborne illnesses.

How to Protect Yourself from Foodborne Illness - Copyright  American Medical Association

Avoid food-borne illness - The US food supply is among the safest in the world, but organisms that you can’t see, smell, or taste - bacteria, viruses and tiny parasites - are everywhere in the environment. These microorganisms - called pathogens - can invade food and cause illness, sometimes severe and even life-threatening illness, especially in young children, older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems. In pregnant women, food-borne illness can endanger their unborn babies.

The most common symptoms of food-borne illness are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, head- or muscle-aches, and fever. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food but may occur between 30 minutes and 4 weeks later. Most people recover within four to seven days without needing antibiotic treatment. 

Who is at risk - If you are among those at high risk, you need to be aware of and follow the most current information on food safety. Young children, pregnant women, older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for food-borne illness. Immune systems may be weakened by medical treatments, such as steroids or chemotherapy, or by conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, or diabetes. You are also at increased risk if you suffer from liver disease or alcoholism or if you have decreased stomach acidity (due to gastric surgery or the regular use of antacids). 

If you face a higher risk of food-borne illness, you are advised not to eat:

  • Raw fish or shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops

  • Raw or unpasteurized milk or cheeses 

  • Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese (Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt need not be avoided) 

  • Raw or undercooked eggs or foods containing raw or lightly cooked eggs, including certain salad dressings, cookie and cake batters, sauces, and beverages such as unpasteurized egg nog (Foods made from commercially pasteurized eggs are safe to eat) 

  • Raw or undercooked meat or poultry 

  • Raw sprouts (Alfalfa, clover, and radish) 

  • Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juices (These juices will carry a warning label)

Everyone should follow these four simple steps to food safety:

  1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
    Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. Here’s how to Fight BAC!™: 

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. 

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. 

  • Important: Rinse raw produce in water. Don’t use soap or detergents. If necessary, use a small vegetable brush to remove surface dirt.

  1. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
    Cross-contamination is the word for how bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be spread from one food product to another. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, so keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Here’s how to Fight BAC!™:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator. 

  • If possible, use a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood products. 

  • Always wash hands, cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. 

  • Use separate plates for cooked food and raw foods.

  1. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.

  • Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful pathogens that cause food-borne illness. The best way to Fight BAC!™ is to:
  • Use a clean thermometer that measures the internal temperature of cooked food to make sure meat, poultry, and casseroles are cooked to the temperatures in the chart at right. 

  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. If you use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked, use pasteurized eggs. 

  • Fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. 

  • When cooking in a microwave oven, make sure there are no cold spots where pathogens can survive. For best results, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. 

  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to at least 165°F.

  1. Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
    Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful pathogens from growing and multiplying. So, set your refrigerator no higher than 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. Check these temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer. Then, Fight BAC!™ by following these steps:

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within two hours or sooner. 

  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. 

  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator. 

  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator. 

  • Don’t pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

See Clean vs. Sanitize vs. Disinfect

See How to Sanitize Your Food


Ten Worst Foods to Avoid - Center for Science in the Public Interest

10 Worst and Best Foods - Learn all about the worst foods to avoid, because What Not to Eat: 10 Worst Foods has been conveniently compiled just for you. And we don’t only tell you “Don’t eat these foods.” You’ll discover exactly why each food makes the list – what makes each item so unhealthy.