Discover the acceptable levels of filth in your favorite foods

Looking for an appetite suppressant? The U.S. Food & Drug Administration can help. Just stop by FDA's Defect Levels Handbook to learn how many insect legs and rodent hairs are acceptable in various foods sold to the American public. Read the rest

That sea salt you bought probably has microplastics in it

Congratulations to humanity for contaminating sea salt! A new study found all but one of 17 commercial sea salt brands from eight different countries contained microscopic plastic particles. Microplastic: it's what's for dinner! Read the rest

That '100% pure' Parmesan Cheese you're enjoying may contain wood pulp

Who cut the cheese? FDA inspectors investigating that very question raided a popular parmesan cheese supplier, and discovered they had indeed been cutting the cheese liberally with wood pulp. Read the rest

Chipotle will close Feb. 8 for a companywide meeting on food safety

Business is bad for Chipotle as a result of a string of food poisoning outbreaks last year. According to the Chicago Tribune, the share price has dropped 40% and sales have dropped 30%. I believe it. On Saturday night, around 8:30, Carla and I went to the Chipotle on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA for some tacos. It was nearly empty inside. Only one customer was there when we walked in. He left and a party of two came in. No one else came. I felt sorry for the half dozen people working there. They had nothing to do. (I think they might have been eating peanut butter sandwiches in the back room because Carla and I could both smell it.) Last year at this time, it would have been hopping.

Chipotle has announced that it is closing every one of its 1,900 locations for a few hours on Monday, February 8 to "thank our teams for all of their hard work, to discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety, to talk about the restaurants role in all of that and to answer questions from employees," said a Chipotle spokesman.

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After E. coli and norovirus outbreaks, Chipotle founder promises new food safety practices

After multiple food illness outbreaks, Chipotle's founder is promising new food safety practices.

"This was a very unfortunate incident and I'm deeply sorry that this happened, but the procedures we're putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat," Chipotle founder and co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said on NBC's "Today" program.

He was responding to this week's news that 80 people became ill with norovirus after dining at a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc restaurant in Boston. Earlier this year, Chipotle restaurants in nine states made 52 people sick, causing the closures in some locations.

From HuffPo:

Ells said the affected Boston restaurant would reopen after being completely sanitized and having all of its employees tested for norovirus, which is highly contagious and spread easily through contaminated food and surfaces.

More than 120 people in the northeastern U.S. city reported symptoms.

Regarding the E. coli outbreak, Ells said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has still not found an exact source for the bacteria, which can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.

He said Chipotle's new food safety procedures will put it 10 to 15 years ahead of industry standards.

"We're doing a lot to rectify this and to make sure this doesn't happen again."

No wonder there weren't many people in the Los Angeles Chipotle my wife and I ate at yesterday! Above,

a photo my wife took of the same Chipotle restaurant the day after reports of ChipotlE. Read the rest

Edible barcodes to prevent food fraud

The idea of "spray DNA" sounded very sci-fi when I first read it, until further investigation showed me how behind-the-times I was. Read the rest

Making egg nog for the British

Did you know you can enjoy raw eggs relatively fearlessly in the UK? As an American often found hiding out in England, I was surprised to learn that they don't have egg nog here. Read the rest

Corporate executives indicted for willfully endangering public health

Officials from the Peanut Corporation of America are being indicted for their roles in a 2009 salmonella outbreak that killed at least nine people. It's rare for this kind of prosecution to actually happen, writes Maryn McKenna at her Superbug blog. But, in this case, there's mounds of evidence that executives circumvented safety testing, ignored positive salmonella results, and pressured their employees to send out product even though it might be tainted. Here's the money quote, from PCA's former president, revealed in an email recovered by the prosecution: "Shit, just ship it." Read the rest

Honey, we have a problem

UPDATE: Hey guys, I screwed up on this one. NPR points out that the story I wrote about here is pretty heavily biased, produced by a website that's run by a law firm specializing in food poisoning cases. And the claims made here don't line up with evidence. Apologies. I normally manage to avoid being suckered in by stuff like this, but we all have bad days. Thanks to those in the comments who pointed out the flaws.

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