Archive for the Government Regulations Category

High Quality H2O

Posted in Government Regulations, Health, Water on July 13, 2009 by Powered By Produce

In 2003, Americans alone spent more than $7 billion on bottled water at an average cost of more than $1 a bottle. Is the price of bottled water really worth it?

In 2004, it was discovered that Coca Cola’s Dasani water (labeled “pure, still water”) was actually just tap water. This uncovered a common practice amongst the bottled water industry. A four year study performed by the National Resources Defense Council, in which researchers tested more than 1,000 samples of 103 brands of bottled water, found that, “an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not.”

In one case, a brand of bottled water advertised as “pure, glacier water,” was found to be taken from a municipal water supply while another brand, flaunted as “spring water,” was pumped from a water source next to a hazardous waste dumping site.

While “purified tap water” is arguably safer and purer than untreated tap water (depending upon the purification methods), a consumer should expect to receive something more than reconstituted tap water for the exceptional prices of bottled water.

Bottled water is regulated by the FDA, while tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), which operates under much stricter regulations. The EPA mandates that municipal water systems must test for harmful microbiological content in water several times a day, while bottled water companies are required to test for these microbes only once a week. Similarly, public water systems are required to test for chemical water contaminants four times as often as bottled water companies. And, due to loopholes in the FDA’s testing policy, a significant number of bottles have undergone almost no regulation or testing.

The National Resources Defense Council found that 18 of 103 bottled water brands tested, contained, “more bacteria than allowed under microbiological-purity guidelines.” Also, about one fifth of the brands tested positive for the presence of synthetic chemicals, such as industrial chemicals and chemicals used in manufacturing plastic like phthalate, a harmful chemical that leaches into bottled water from its plastic container. In addition, bottled water companies are not required to test for cryptosporidium, the chlorine-resistant protozoan that infected more than 400,000 Milwaukee residents in 1993.

Bottled water companies, because they are not under the same accountability standards as municipal water systems, may provide a significantly lower quality of water than the water one typically receives from the tap.

Well, at least bottled water tastes better than tap water, right? Wrong. Obviously, taste is subjective, but in a blind taste test conducted by Showtime, they found that 75% of tested New York City residents actually preferred tap water over bottled water.

And let’s not forget the effect of bottled water on the environment. According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are expended each year due to bottled water. And the less obvious effect on the environment is the energy required to manufacture and transport these bottles to market, which uses a significant amount of fossil fuels.

Because tap water is not completely free from contaminants, filtered tap water provides the healthiest & most economical option. Try using a Britta or Pur filter and a Nalgene bottle, for your health, pocketbook, and the environment.


Breakfast: Bean & soy cheese taco

Lunch: Spinach burrito from California Tortilla

Dinner: Spaghetti


Rules And Regulations

Posted in Government Regulations on June 17, 2009 by Powered By Produce

To address a question I received…

How can the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) possibly allow crap-filled meat to enter the market?

Well, the meat industry is regulated by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), not the FDA. And unfortunately, the USDA is operating under a conflicted mission: to promote the sale of American beef on behalf of U.S. meat producers and, at the same time, guarantee its safety.

The USDA is also a very incestuous organization, employing former meat and dairy executives, then expecting them to regulate their former co-workers, friends, and cash cows (pun intended). In a 2004 article, “The Cow Jumped Over the USDA.,” Eric Schlosser wrote that, “you’d have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by the industry it was created to regulate.”

Even worse, the USDA has a “voluntary recall” policy in which the Federal Government does not have the authority to recall meat. Yes, you read that right. Our government can recall everything from car parts to toys, but not tainted meat. Instead, the USDA can make a recommendation to a supplier that its meat should be recalled and the supplier must recall its own product – and just how often do you think that happens?

Oh, and don’t forget that the USDA is severely underfunded. Even if they wanted to uphold legitimate safety standards, they are unable to provide enough inspectors to thoroughly check all of the meat-packing plants, and they’re using out-dated technologies to test for contaminations.

Coincidentally, there a food safety bill going through Congress right now which would give the FDA the authority to recall meat. Obviously, the meat industry is against it.

Colin Woodall, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said “meat producers are concerned about the precedent this bill could set in giving the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over the industry, which is currently watched over by the Department of Agriculture.” The cattlemen’s group takes issue with mandatory recalls and says voluntary recalls work better. “The industry worries that the bill would require government inspectors on farms,” Woodall said. We can only hope!!

“There is no need to have FDA inspectors come on farms or cattle operations,” Woodall said. “There are too many other processes and steps between the time it leaves the farm and gets to the consumer, including the way the consumer handles the product when they get it home. It would give a false sense of security to the consumer.” A false sense of security is what we already have. What we need now is some real security, starting with FDA inspectors in our meat-packing plants.

Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said his group has a number of concerns about the legislation, with on-farm inspections being among the top. “FDA doesn’t not have the personnel, and it doesn’t have the expertise,” he said. Ya, I’m sure he’s very concerned about the personnel issues at the FDA.

The meat industry makes VERY LARGE campaign contributions to Congressmen which, unfortunately for us, have been paying off for them. We’ll see what happens this time…
Breakfast: We had a “waffle-fest” at work this morning!
Lunch: Chipotle burrito bowl. If you get it meatless, you get FREE GUAC!
Dinner: Spaghetti and meatless-meatballs (from Trader Joe’s)