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USDA study says that one in eight Americans are eating pizza on any given day, and young males are the most likely consumer
We don’t know anyone who dislikes pizza.
We have some very important news: it seems that the USDA has confirmed that Americans eat a lot of pizza. According to a study released this year on American pizza-consuming habits (because that was obviously a very important study to be undertaken), on any given day, 13 percent of Americans — that’s one in eight — consume a piping-hot pizza pie. Pizza, in this instance, is defined by the USDA as “a bread product topped with sauce, cheese and other toppings.”
It also seems that the most frequent pizza eaters are males between the ages of 6 and 19; every day more than one in four boys in this age bracket savors some ‘za. Overall, white Americans are more likely to be eating pizza, than their black or Hispanic counterparts. Plus, if you’re an adult you’re more likely to consume pizza for dinner, while kids prefer pizza for lunch.
Whichever your preferred method of pizza consumption (for lunch or dinner), and whether you eat your beloved slice every day, or a couple of times a year, all pizza lovers should check out The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Pizzas in America. How many have you tried?
For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on [email protected]
What Food Says About Class in America
For breakfast, I usually have a cappuccino&mdashespresso made in an Alessi pot and mixed with organic milk, which has been gently heated and hand-fluffed by my husband. I eat two slices of imported cheese&mdashDutch Parrano, the label says, "the hippest cheese in New York" (no joke)&mdashon homemade bread with butter. I am what you might call a food snob. My nutritionist neighbor drinks a protein shake while her 5-year-old son eats quinoa porridge sweetened with applesauce and laced with kale flakes. She is what you might call a health nut. On a recent morning, my neighbor's friend Alexandra Ferguson sipped politically correct Nicaraguan coffee in her comfy kitchen while her two young boys chose from among an assortment of organic cereals. As we sat, the six chickens Ferguson and her husband, Dave, keep for eggs in a backyard coop peered indoors from the stoop. The Fergusons are known as locavores.
Alexandra says she spends hours each day thinking about, shopping for, and preparing food. She is a disciple of Michael Pollan, whose 2006 book The Omnivore's Dilemma made the locavore movement a national phenomenon, and believes that eating organically and locally contributes not only to the health of her family but to the existential happiness of farm animals and farmers&mdashand, indeed, to the survival of the planet. "Michael Pollan is my new hero, next to Jimmy Carter," she told me. In some neighborhoods, a lawyer who raises chickens in her backyard might be considered eccentric, but we live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a community that accommodates and celebrates every kind of foodie. Whether you believe in eating for pleasure, for health, for justice, or for some idealized vision of family life, you will find neighbors who reflect your food values. In Park Slope, the contents of a child's lunchbox can be fodder for a 20-minute conversation.
Over coffee, I cautiously raise a subject that has concerned me of late: less than five miles away, some children don't have enough to eat others exist almost exclusively on junk food. Alexandra concedes that her approach is probably out of reach for those people. Though they are not wealthy by Park Slope standards&mdashAlexandra works part time and Dave is employed by the city&mdashthe Fergusons spend approximately 20 percent of their income, or $1,000 a month, on food. The average American spends 13 percent, including restaurants and takeout.
And so the conversation turns to the difficulty of sharing their interpretation of the Pollan doctrine with the uninitiated. When they visit Dave's family in Tennessee, tensions erupt over food choices. One time, Alexandra remembers, she irked her mother-in-law by purchasing a bag of organic apples, even though her mother-in-law had already bought the nonorganic kind at the grocery store. The old apples were perfectly good, her mother-in-law said. Why waste money&mdashand apples?
The Fergusons recall Dave's mother saying something along these lines: "When we come to your place, we don't complain about your food. Why do you complain about ours? It's not like our food is poison."
"I can't convince my brother to spend another dime on food," adds Dave.
"This is our charity. This is my giving to the world," says Alexandra, finally, as she packs lunchboxes&mdashorganic peanut butter and jelly on grainy bread, a yogurt, and a clementine&mdashfor her two boys. "We contribute a lot."
According to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 percent of Americans&mdashmore than 50 million people&mdashlive in households that are "food insecure," a term that means a family sometimes runs out of money to buy food, or it sometimes runs out of food before it can get more money. Food insecurity is especially high in households headed by a single mother. It is most severe in the South, and in big cities. In New York City, 1.4 million people are food insecure, and 257,000 of them live near me, in Brooklyn. Food insecurity is linked, of course, to other economic measures like housing and employment, so it surprised no one that the biggest surge in food insecurity since the agency established the measure in 1995 occurred between 2007 and 2008, at the start of the economic downturn. (The 2009 numbers, released last week, showed little change.) The proportion of households that qualify as "hungry"&mdashwith what the USDA calls "very low food security"&mdashis small, about 6 percent. Reflected against the obsessive concerns of the foodies in my circle, and the glare of attention given to the plight of the poor and hungry abroad, even a fraction of starving children in America seems too high.
Mine seems on some level like a naive complaint. There have always been rich people and poor people in America and, in a capitalist economy, the well-to-do have always had the freedom to indulge themselves as they please. In hard times, food has always marked a bright border between the haves and the have-nots. In the earliest days of the Depression, as the poor waited on bread lines, the middle and upper classes in America became devoted to fad diets. Followers of the Hollywood 18-Day Diet, writes Harvey Levenstein in his 1993 book Paradox of Plenty, "could live on fewer than six hundred calories a day by limiting each meal to half a grapefruit, melba toast, coffee without cream or sugar, and, at lunch and dinner, some raw vegetables."
But modern America is a place of extremes, and what you eat for dinner has become the definitive marker of social status as the distance between rich and poor continues to grow, the freshest, most nutritious foods have become luxury goods that only some can afford. Among the lowest quintile of American families, mean household income has held relatively steady between $10,000 and $13,000 for the past two decades (in inflation-adjusted dollars) among the highest, income has jumped 20 percent to $170,800 over the same period, according to census data. What this means, in practical terms, is that the richest Americans can afford to buy berries out of season at Whole Foods&mdashthe upscale grocery chain that recently reported a 58 percent increase in its quarterly profits&mdashwhile the food insecure often eat what they can: highly caloric, mass-produced foods like pizza and packaged cakes that fill them up quickly. The number of Americans on food stamps has surged by 58.5 percent over the last three years.
Corpulence used to signify the prosperity of a few but has now become a marker of poverty. Obesity has risen as the income gap has widened: more than a third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children are obese, and the problem is acute among the poor. While obesity is a complex problem&mdashgenetics, environment, and activity level all play a role&mdasha 2008 study by the USDA found that children and women on food stamps were likelier to be overweight than those who were not. According to studies led by British epidemiologist Kate Pickett, obesity rates are highest in developed countries with the greatest income disparities. America is among the most obese of nations Japan, with its relatively low income inequality, is the thinnest.
Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, has spent his career showing that Americans' food choices correlate to social class. He argues that the most nutritious diet&mdashlots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, and grains&mdashis beyond the reach of the poorest Americans, and it is economic elitism for nutritionists to uphold it as an ideal without broadly addressing issues of affordability. Lower-income families don't subsist on junk food and fast food because they lack nutritional education, as some have argued. And though many poor neighborhoods are, indeed, food deserts&mdashmeaning that the people who live there don't have access to a well-stocked supermarket&mdashmany are not. Lower-income families choose sugary, fat, and processed foods because they're cheaper&mdashand because they taste good. In a paper published last spring, Drewnowski showed how the prices of specific foods changed between 2004 and 2008 based on data from Seattle-area supermarkets. While food prices overall rose about 25 percent, the most nutritious foods (red peppers, raw oysters, spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce) rose 29 percent, while the least nutritious foods (white sugar, hard candy, jelly beans, and cola) rose just 16 percent.
"In America," Drewnowski wrote in an e-mail, "food has become the premier marker of social distinctions, that is to say&mdashsocial class. It used to be clothing and fashion, but no longer, now that 'luxury' has become affordable and available to all." He points to an article in The New York Times, written by Pollan, which describes a meal element by element, including "a basket of morels and porcini gathered near Mount Shasta." "Pollan," writes Drewnowski, "is drawing a picture of class privilege that is as acute as anything written by Edith Wharton or Henry James."
I finish writing the previous paragraph and go downstairs. There, in the mail, I find the Christmas catalog from the luxury retail store Barneys. HAVE A FOODIE HOLIDAY, its cover reads. Inside, models are covered&mdashliterally&mdashwith food. A woman in a red $2,000 Lanvin trench has an enormous cabbage on her head. Another, holding a green Proenza Schouler clutch, wears a boiled crab in her bouffant. Most disconcerting is the Munnu diamond pendant ($80,500) worn by a model who seems to have traded her hair for an octopus. Its tentacles dangle past her shoulders, and the girl herself wears the expression of someone who's stayed too long at the party. Food is no longer trendy or fashionable. It is fashion.
Tiffiney Davis, a single mom, lives about four miles away from me, in subsidized housing, in a gentrifying neighborhood called Red Hook. Steps from her apartment, you can find ample evidence of foodie culture: Fairway, the supermarket where I buy my Dutch cheese, is right there, as is a chic bakery, and a newfangled lobster pound. Davis says she has sometimes worried about having enough food. She works in Manhattan, earning $13 an hour for a corporate catering company (which once had a contract with NEWSWEEK), and she receives food stamps. She spends $100 a week on food for herself and her two kids. Sometimes she stretches her budget by bringing food home from work.
Davis is sheepish about what her family eats for breakfast. Everybody rises at 6, and there's a mad rush to get the door, so often they eat bodega food. Her daughter, Malaezia, 10, will have egg and cheese on a roll her son, 13-year-old Tashawn, a muffin and soda. She herself used to pop into at Dunkin' Donuts for two doughnuts and a latte, but when New York chain restaurants started posting calories on their menus, she stopped. "I try my best to lessen the chemicals and the fattening stuff," she says, "but it's hard."
Time is just part of the problem, Davis explains, as she prepares Sunday dinner in her cheerful kitchen. Tonight she's making fried chicken wings with bottled barbecue sauce yellow rice from a box black beans from a can broccoli and carrots, cooked in olive oil and honey. A home-cooked dinner doesn't happen every night. On weeknights, everyone gets home, exhausted&mdashand then there's homework. Several nights a week, they get takeout: Chinese, or Domino's, or McDonald's. Davis doesn't buy fruits and vegetables mostly because they're too expensive, and in the markets where she usually shops, they're not fresh. "I buy bananas and bring them home and 10 minutes later they're no good&hellipWhole Foods sells fresh, beautiful tomatoes," she says. "Here, they're packaged and full of chemicals anyway. So I mostly buy canned foods."
In recent weeks the news in New York City has been full with a controversial proposal to ban food-stamp recipients from using their government money to buy soda. Local public-health officials insist they need to be more proactive about slowing obesity a recent study found that 40 percent of the children in New York City's kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms were either overweight or obese. (Nationwide, 36 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds are overweight or obese.) Opponents of the proposal call it a "nanny state" measure, another instance of government interference, and worse&mdashof the government telling poor people what to do, as if they can't make good decisions on their own. "I think it's really difficult," says Pickett, the British epidemiologist. "Everybody needs to be able to feel that they have control over what they spend. And everybody should be able to treat themselves now and again. Why shouldn't a poor child have a birthday party with cake and soda?"
But Davis enthusiastically supports the proposal. A 9-year-old boy in her building recently died of an asthma attack, right in front of his mother. He was obese, she says, but his mom kept feeding him junk. "If these people don't care at all about calorie counts, then the government should. People would live a lot longer," she says.
Claude Fischler, a French sociologist, believes that Americans can fight both obesity and food insecurity by being more, well, like the French. Americans take an approach to food and eating that is unlike any other people in history. For one thing, we regard food primarily as (good or bad) nutrition. When asked "What is eating well?" Americans generally answer in the language of daily allowances: they talk about calories and carbs, fats, and sugars. They don't see eating as a social activity, and they don't see food&mdashas it has been seen for millennia&mdashas a shared resource, like a loaf of bread passed around the table. When asked "What is eating well?" the French inevitably answer in terms of "conviviality": togetherness, intimacy, and good tastes unfolding in a predictable way.
Even more idiosyncratic than our obsession with nutrition, says Fischler, is that Americans see food choice as a matter of personal freedom, an inalienable right. Americans want to eat what they want: morels or Big Macs. They want to eat where they want, in the car or alfresco. And they want to eat when they want. With the exception of Thanksgiving, when most of us dine off the same turkey menu, we are food libertarians. In surveys, Fischler has found no single time of day (or night) when Americans predictably sit together and eat. By contrast, 54 percent of the French dine at 12:30 each day. Only 9.5 percent of the French are obese.
When I was a child I was commanded to "eat your eggs. There are starving children in Africa." And when I was old enough to think for myself, I could easily see that my own eaten or uneaten eggs would not do a single thing to help the children of Africa. This is the Brooklyn conundrum, playing out all over the country. Locally produced food is more delicious than the stuff you get in the supermarket it's better for the small farmers and the farm animals and, as a movement, it's better for the environment. It's easy&mdashand probably healthy, if you can afford it&mdashto make that choice as an individual or a family, says the New York University nutritionist Marion Nestle. Bridging the divide is much harder. "Choosing local or organic is something you can actually do. It's very difficult for people to get involved in policy."
Locavore activists in New York and other cities are doing what they can to help the poor with access to fresh food. Incentive programs give food-stamp recipients extra credit if they buy groceries at farmers' markets. Food co-ops and community-garden associations are doing better urban outreach. Municipalities are establishing bus routes between poor neighborhoods and those where well-stocked supermarkets exist.
Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, says these programs are good, but they need to go much, much further. He believes, like Fischler, that the answer lies in seeing food more as a shared resource, like water, than as a consumer product, like shoes. "It's a nuanced conversation, but I think 'local' or 'organic' as the shorthand for all things good is way too simplistic," says Berg. "I think we need a broader conversation about scale, working conditions, and environmental impact. It's a little too much of people buying easy virtue."
Even the locavore hero Pollan agrees. "Essentially," he says, "we have a system where wealthy farmers feed the poor crap and poor farmers feed the wealthy high-quality food." He points to Walmart's recent announcement of a program that will put more locally grown food on its shelves as an indication that big retailers are looking to sell fresh produce in a scalable way. These fruits and vegetables might not be organic, but the goal, says Pollan, is not to be absolutist in one's food ideology. "I argue for being conscious," he says, "but perfectionism is an enemy of progress." Pollan sees a future where, in an effort to fight diabetes and obesity, health-insurance companies are advocates for small and medium-size farmers. He dreams of a broad food-policy conversation in Washington. "The food movement," he reminds me, "is still very young."
Berg believes that part of the answer lies in working with Big Food. The food industry hasn't been entirely bad: it developed the technology to bring apples to Wisconsin in the middle of winter, after all. It could surely make sustainably produced fruits and vegetables affordable and available. "We need to bring social justice to bigger agriculture as well," Berg says.
My last stop was at Jabir Suluki's house in Clinton Hill, about two miles from my home. Suluki has toast for breakfast, with a little cheese on top, melted in the toaster oven. He is not French&mdashhe was born and raised in Brooklyn&mdashbut he might as well be. Every day, between 5 and 7, he prepares dinner for his mother and himself&mdashand any of his nieces and nephews who happen to drop by. He prepares food with the confidence of a person descended from a long line of home cooks&mdashwhich he is.
Both Suluki and his mother are diabetic. For them, healthy, regular meals are a necessity&mdashand so he does what he can on $75 a week. "To get good food, you really got to sacrifice a lot. It's expensive. But I take that sacrifice, because it's worth it." Suluki uses his food stamps at the farmers' market. He sorts through the rotten fruit at the local supermarket. He travels to Queens, when he can get a ride, and buys cheap meat in bulk. He is adamant that it is the responsibility of parents to feed their children good food in moderate portions, and that it's possible to do so on a fixed income.
For dinner he and his mother ate Salisbury steak made from ground turkey, with a little ground beef thrown in and melted cheese on top "because turkey doesn't have any taste" roasted potatoes and green peppers and frozen green beans, "heated quickly so they still have a crunch." For dessert, his mother ate two pieces of supermarket coffeecake.
Suluki thinks a lot about food, and the role it plays in the life of his neighbors. He doesn't have soda in his refrigerator, but he opposes the New York City soda proposal because, in light of the government's food and farm subsidies&mdashand in light of all the other kinds of unhealthy cheap foods for sale in his supermarket&mdashhe sees it as hypocrisy. "You can't force junk on people and then criticize it at the same time." Suluki is a community organizer, and sees the web of problems before us&mdashhunger, obesity, health&mdashas something for the community to solve. "We can't just attack this problem as individuals," he tells me. "A healthy community produces healthy people." That's why, on the weekends, he makes a big pot of rice and beans, and brings it down to the food pantry near his house.
Kraft also said: "As a publicly traded company, we believe our suppliers that help us make our quality Oscar Mayer products are a competitive advantage over other brands. As such, we don’t give out supplier lists. We purchase the meats used in our products rather than raise cattle, pork, or poultry. We require our suppliers to comply will all government regulations and industry guidelines."
Food Away from Home
Consumption of food prepared away from home plays an increasingly large role in the American diet. A number of factors contributed to the trend of increased dining out since the 1970s, including a larger share of women employed outside the home, more two-earner households, higher incomes, more affordable and convenient fast food outlets, increased advertising and promotion by large foodservice chains, and the smaller size of U.S. households. ERS economists examine factors influencing this trend as well as:
- Nutritional quality of food away from home,
- Effect on overweight and obesity,
- Economic assessment of a food-away-from-home nutrition labeling policy, and
- Effect of dietary knowledge on food and nutrient intakes.
ERS research comparing nutritional quality of food prepared at home and away from home has been used to develop Federal dietary guidelines, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
ERS researchers have examined the growing availability of food away from home (FAFH) in a new report which presents research on food choices and availability nutrition and diet quality and food policies, including menu labeling and food assistance programs. The report also examines how FAFH choices relate to diet quality and sociodemographic characteristics. See:
USDA Clarifies What 'Sell By' And 'Best If Used By' Food Labels Really Mean
In issuing a recent guidance document, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made clear that . [+] "sell-by" or "expiration" dates on eggs are not a federal regulation. However, some state laws may either require or prohibit using a "sell-by" date. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Do you know what the heck "best by" means? No, not the store that sells electronics but the label on food that is followed by a date. How about labels that say "best if used by June 20, 2017" or "sell by " June 20, 2017 "? What are you supposed to do with the food after June 20, 2017 ? Eat it, smell it, cook it or toss it? Do you find such labels to be confusing? Well, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA’s) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) does and is trying to do something about it.
Deciding whether to eat something before these printed dates is probably fairly easy. Hungry? Yes. Like food? Yes. Do not currently have something in your mouth? Yes. Then OK to shove into mouth. (Unless it's raw meat, then you should cook it.) But what if you're already past these printed dates. which is often the case? Unless you live on Aisle 2 inside a supermarket, you undoubtedly face the "use versus toss" decision many, many times. What have you done when food is past this date? Eaten it anyway? Cooked it for hours? Fed it to your significant other? Or thrown it in the garbage?
Labels would certainly be clearer to consumers if they said "use or vomit by this date." Or "diarrhea starts here." Or "if you try eating after June 3, you will die of food poisoning." Or "after this date, feed only to people whom you do not like." Of course, such dates are almost impossible to predict to such an exact degree. Bacteria and other microbes are like really bored, really small people who have no plans but like to party. Once enough of them enter a food item, they start a rave and then take over. Predicting exactly when the nightclub will transform into a rave is difficult.
Of course, food poisoning is very common, with approximately 48 million cases in the United States each year (which is probably an underestimate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and therefore an important consideration. A number of microbes can cause food poisoning, including the aptly named B. cereus. ("Really, you are missing work because of vomiting and diarrhea? B. cereus.") Making sure that food is either consumed or tossed before microbes have had time to rave is one way to avoid food poisoning (here are some others). However, the printed "best by" or "use by" dates tend to occur well before this time.
Food date labeling currently mainly accounts for the many steps and time involved in getting food . [+] from its source to where it is sold. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
How about a more conservative "toss by," "discard by," "do not use by," "not in your mouth by" or "you are stupid if you eat this by" date? That would certainly be more straightforward. But right now, most food labeling is voluntary with the exception of baby formula (although some states have food labeling regulations). When food manufacturers decide to put a date on food, they focus mainly on what happens prior to the food reaching the store. Remember that food takes a journey to reach a store. In most cases, the cows, farms and any other food origin isn't located on the supermarket premises. Instead food has to travel from its source through a complex series of processing plants, storage locations, vehicles, personnel and steps to get to the point of sale. Therefore, the date on the package is typically not really an expiration date for eating and just accounts for all the steps that brought the food to the store. These labelled dates help the stores know when to pull items from the shelves or mark down prices to get rid of them.
Do food suppliers and retailers currently have incentives to put real expiration dates for food, similar to those for baby formula? At first glance, not really. Determining true expiration dates can be somewhat challenging. People do all kinds of silly and not-so-silly things with food that can contaminate and shorten the lifetime of food such as sneeze and touch the food and leave the food out in the open. Suppliers and retailers may worry that expiration dates may open up opportunities for lawsuits, such as people getting sick from eating food prior to their expiration dates. Therefore, "expiration dates" may need accompanying qualifiers such as "if the product has been stored and handled properly" or "if the product has remained refrigerated" or "toss by December 20 unless you left this in the car for a while because you had to run to the bathroom after getting back from the store and then forgot about the groceries for a day while YouTubing."
In fact, the conservative and somewhat vague "best if used by" dates probably result in people tossing out a lot food before its time, which from the retailers' and suppliers' perspective simply means you have to buy more food. So, as long as you are willing to fork up the cash to buy more food, everything's peachy, right? (By the way, you can keep peaches in the pantry for a few days until ripe, up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator once ripe, and up to a year in freezer.)
Not exactly. Tossing food before its time is literally throwing money into the garbage. The average American household spends over $2,000 annually on wasted food. That's over 330 Star Wars figurines that you could have bought each year. (Your number of figures may vary depending on the retailer and the specific figurines that you want. Jar-Jar Binks figurines are less desired, objects of ridicule and cheaper.) Studies have shown that 20% of consumer food waste occurs because people are confused by date labels, and 84% of American consumers report that they discard food close to or past the date on the package. Think you don't do this? Well, then you have lots of company. As Marie Spiker, MSPH, RD, from the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) and a Center for a Livable Future Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found, "In a nationwide survey, 75% of Americans thought that they wasted less than the average American. These numbers clearly don't add up." This study authored by Roni Neff, PhD, MS, Spiker and Patricia L. Truant, MPH, CPH, appeared in the journal PLoS ONE. Think you are better than most Americans? Maybe not.Food waste also affects everyone. well, at least, everyone who pays taxes. As ReFed explains, "Today, the United States spends $218 billion a year growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten." According to a publication in the USDA-ERS Economic Information Bulletin, almost a third (31%) of the U.S.'s post-harvest food supply goes to waste at the retail and consumer levels, which translates to 133 billion pounds of food each year, or 141 trillion calories per year, or 1,249 calories per person per day. In technical terms, that's a bleeping lot of food. and money. There are also many environmental issues, as food production and waste leads to pollution and social equity issues because people are tossing food while many people can't even get food. But we won't delve into these issues because no one cares about them these days, right? (The study by Neff, Spiker and Truant found that consumers are much more motivated to reduce household food waste by the prospect of saving money than they are by saving the environment).
What's the USDA doing about the food labeling and food waste issue? In a press release, Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, explained that the USDA has issued new guidance: “In an effort to reduce food loss and waste, these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy. This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.” Most of the new guidance focuses on making clear that these labels are indicators of "quality" rather than "safety," except in the case of infant formulas. For example, the FSIS is now recommending using “Best If Used By” instead of words such as “Sell by” and “Use by” to lesson any misunderstanding that this has anything to do with safety. The USDA also re-emphasizes that for all foods besides infant formula, it does not require or regulate such labels.
It's OK to eat food beyond the "sell-by" or "best if used by" date. Use other guidance and your own . [+] inspection to determine if food is safe. (Photo: Shutterstock)
So, remember you can safely eat food past the “Best If Used By” date. To evaluate the safety of food, instead use other calculations and observations . For example, if you know that you have about seven days after the "best if used by" date on a bag of spinach, then try to eat it within a week. Whenever you have a suspicious piece of food in your refrigerator (meaning one that has been there for a while, not one that may have wronged you), search the Internet for how long you can actually keep that fruit. beyond the “Best If Used By” date. Stick to reputable websites, because. surprise, there are fake websites out there.
Also, learn to inspect food yourself and for clues that tell you about safety and not "quality," whatever quality really means. Eating is not a beauty pageant. You don't have to always have the best-looking piece of food. As Spiker explains: "In anticipation of our desire for perfect-looking produce, substantial amounts of food are discarded by retailers or are never harvested at all." Sounds a bit like some people and dating.
Food waste is, well, such a big waste. The ongoing and growing problem eats at your and all taxpayers' wallets. Therefore, if you want to save money, get everyone to understand and heed this new USDA guidance as soon as possible. best if done by today.
If You Have This Meat in Your Fridge, Throw It Away Now, USDA Says
The popular food may have been contaminated with potentially dangerous foreign materials, experts say.
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
If you love meat, you might want to check that the food you've got in your fridge is safe to eat this week. The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) just announced a massive recall on a popular type of sausage, so read on to discover if you have the affected products in your fridge. And while you're cleaning out your kitchen, If You Have These Chips at Home, the FDA Says Check Them Immediately.
On Jan. 21, the FSIS announced the recall of approximately 4,200 pounds of Bob Evans Italian Sausage due to potential contamination with thin pieces of blue rubber. The recalled pork sausage, which was sold at stores in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, comes in one-pound packages bearing a use/freeze by date of Jan. 31, 2021. The packaging is also marked with lot code 0352 and establishment number EST. 6785.
Anyone with one of the affected packages of sausage at home is "urged not to consume them," the FSIS reports. Instead, the agency recommends throwing the recalled products away or returning them to the store from which they were purchased.
Bob Evans isn't the only company that's had to pull their products from the market this winter read on to discover which other foods have been recalled recently. And if you're purging your crisper drawer, If You Have This Vegetable in Your Fridge, the FDA Says Get Rid of It.
MSPhotographic / Shutterstock
On Jan. 15, the FSIS announced the recall of approximately 762,615 pounds of Premium Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pockets due to potential contamination with glass or hard plastic. The affected batches expire in Feb. 2022 and are printed with EST. 7721A and lot codes 0318544624, 0319544614, 0320544614, and 0321544614. If you have the contaminated Hot Pockets at home, the FSIS recommends tossing them or returning them to the store from which you purchased them.
DonNichols / iStock
Before you pour yourself a glass of chocolate milk, make sure the carton in your fridge isn't contaminated. On Jan. 17, Hiland Dairy Foods announced the recall of its half-pint 1 percent low fat chocolate milk due to potential contamination with food-grade sanitizer. The milk in question, which was sold in Oklahoma and Texas, is marked with a Jan. 27, 2021 sell-by date, as well as UPC 72060-00156-3 and plant code 4025. And if you want to play it safe, The FDA Is Urging You Not to Eat This One Type of Yogurt.
You may think those vegetables in your fridge are good for you, but that's not the case if they're contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria. On Jan. 14, Publix Super Markets Inc., announced that it would be recalling its Publix Steam In Bag Green Bean Butternut Squash, Publix Steam In Bag Season Butternut Medley, and Publix Steam In Bag Butternut Brussel Pecan meals due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, which can "cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems," the recall notice reports. The recalled meals, which were sold between Jan. 3 and Jan 14, are marked with GTN codes 002-24887-00000, 002-25399-00000, and 002-25677-00000, and can be returned to your local Publix for a full refund. And for the latest recall news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
That tub of ice cream in your freezer could be hiding a very unpleasant surprise. On Jan. 10, the FDA announced the voluntary recall of 10,869 48-oz. cartons of Weis Quality Cookies and Cream Ice Cream due to potential metal contamination. The recalled ice cream, which is printed with UPC number 041497-01253 on the packaging, can be returned to the store you bought it from for a full refund. And for more recalls that you should know about, check out If You Have This Spice in Your Pantry, the FDA Says Check It Immediately.
Food Waste FAQs
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This estimate, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on society:
- Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
- Land, water, labor, energy and other inputs are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.
What causes food loss and waste?
Food loss occurs for many reasons, with some types of loss—such as spoilage—occurring at every stage of the production and supply chain. Between the farm gate and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras (See Buzby et al (2014)).
Does the U.S. have a goal to reduce food loss and waste?
In 2015, the USDA joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a goal to cut our nation’s food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.
What baseline estimates of food loss and waste will be used to measure progress in reaching the 50 percent reduction goal?
The United States currently does not have a single baseline estimate of food loss and waste. Instead, two very different measures describe the amount of food loss and waste in the United States:
- : 2010 was selected as a baseline at 218.9 pounds of food waste per person sent for disposal. The 2030 FLW reduction goal aims to reduce food waste going to landfills by 50 percent to 109.4 pounds per person. : amount of food loss and waste from the food supply at the retail and consumer levels: in 2010 food loss and waste at the retail and consumer levels was 31 percent of the food supply, equaling 133 billion pounds and almost $162 billion.
Neither estimate provides a comprehensive evaluation of food loss and waste in the United States. However, reductions in both these estimates will provide evidence of progress in reducing food loss and waste and the serious environmental impacts associated with landfilling food. A variety of other data collection efforts across the country will help provide information on other segments of the supply chain.
How is food loss and waste defined in the context of the U.S. reduction goal?
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) defines food loss as the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason. It includes cooking loss and natural shrinkage (for example, moisture loss) loss from mold, pests, or inadequate climate control and food waste. For the reduction goal, USDA is adopting the convention of using the general term “food loss and waste” to describe reductions in edible food mass anywhere along the food chain. In some of the statistics and activities surrounding recycling, the term “waste” is stretched to include non-edible (by humans) parts of food such as banana peels, bones, and egg shells.
What are some ways to reduce food loss and waste?
The best approach to reducing food loss and waste is not to create it in the first place. Waste can be avoided by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling, and cooking methods. If excess food is unavoidable, recover it to donate to hunger-relief organizations so that they can feed people in need. Inedible food can be recycled into other products such as animal feed, compost and worm castings, bioenergy, bioplastics and clothing.
USDA and EPA created the food recovery hierarchy to show the most effective ways to address food waste.
What is the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion program?
Launched by USDA and EPA in 2016, U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions are businesses and organizations that have made a public commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2030. Note: The U.S. Food Waste Challenge group has been retired. Companies and organizations that had joined the Food Waste Challenge are encouraged to become U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.
How does a company become a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion?
To join the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, organizations complete and submit the 2030 Champions form (PDF, 242 KB), in which they commit to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations and periodically report their progress on their website.
Does USDA or EPA verify the Champions’ food loss and waste reduction estimates?
The exact definition of food loss and waste could vary by country, business and consumer. U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions are encouraged to consult the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for information on defining and transparently measuring food loss and waste. It is at the Champion’s discretion whether to calculate the 50 percent reduction on an absolute or per customer/consumer basis.
What is the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge?
EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge offers participants access to data management software and technical assistance to help them quantify and improve their sustainable food management practices. Participants enter goals and report food waste diversion data annually into EPA’s data management system. They then receive an annual climate profile report that translates their food diversion data results into greenhouse gas reductions as well as other measures such as “cars off the road” to help participants communicate the benefits of activities implemented. EPA provides on-going technical assistance to EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge participants to encourage continuous improvement.
Businesses that are not ready to make the 50-percent reduction commitment but are engaged in efforts to reduce food loss and waste in their operations can be recognized for their efforts by joining the Food Recovery Challenge.
Surprise! USDA drops plan to test for Monsanto weed killer in food
Everyone should spell Monsant0 with a zero, it allows rational discussion without the Monsant0 shills showing up..
Meh, tomorrow they'll have added it to their list as an alternate spelling.
Nice one, i have often thought we should have a bunch of different words to confuse ai also.
That is not clever or meme worthy, I just call them monstersanto, it is much more catchy and highlights that like all companies it is not value neutral. In the case of monstersanto, we are talking about a very value negative company for humanity.
There aren't enough shills, we need more. Chemtrails are hurting the world's populations. Chemtrails. Geoengineering.
Honestly, I think we're fucked. They have NO idea what the long term effects of this stuff, and others like it, are. But independent studies aren't looking good. They also just got busted ghost writing studies to try and prove its safety. Monsant0 is corrupt to the core, and human health is the last of its concerns.
Here's how we win. We need to crowd source some test for these poisons that allows people to purchase a reasonably price tester kit. Then we can start putting foods tested results in an open source decentralized database for all people to read, thereby circumventing the USDA which is crooked and corrupted and owned by Monsatan.
Our fucked up healthcare shitstem wants this. More future earnings. The sicker the populace, more "fake" treatments to use tax payer money. Murica wtf
Why is anyone surprised. Agent Orange is causing birth defects in grand children of Vietnam vets and Round Up is Agent Orange with some tweaks and a new name.
VA began recognizing diseases associated with herbicide exposure in Vietnam beginning in 1991, naming 15 diseases as presumed to be related, including Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, type-2 diabetes mellitus, light chain amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease, chronic B-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and spina bifida in offspring of veterans.
Wow the piece reads like a Monsanto paid Public Release. But see they are proud it's Agent Orange chemical in a new formulation and got the EPA to rubber stamp it. EPA is our worst enemy folks because they give legitimacy to poisons and take bribes and job offers to sell us out. Same as happened with military and Agent Orange. Perfectly safe, breathe it in as you gas the Vietnam jungles. oh yeah 25 years later we will shrug and say it may cause health problems but it's an honest mistake. Mutating DNA in offspring is just an added bonus.
Our Food-Safety System Is A Patchwork With Big Holes, Critics Say
An FDA field inspector in Los Angeles checks imported shrimp, February 2009. More than a dozen federal agencies play a part in keeping food from making Americans sick. Critics say that leads to a lack of coordination, a patchwork of rules and holes in the system. FDA hide caption
An FDA field inspector in Los Angeles checks imported shrimp, February 2009. More than a dozen federal agencies play a part in keeping food from making Americans sick. Critics say that leads to a lack of coordination, a patchwork of rules and holes in the system.
Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour, and the smell of fresh-baked apple-cinnamon muffins floats in the air.
Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods — from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. That means business manager Mark Zink has to answer to both of the main U.S. food safety regulators, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
The product being made determines which agency is in charge. Apple-cinnamon muffins fall under the authority of the FDA. A cheese burrito or cheese pizza is also the FDA. But a beef burrito or pepperoni pizza has to meet USDA guidelines — rules formed by a totally different agency.
"[The USDA has] jurisdiction over anything with raw meat, cooked meat, anything that touches meat product," Zink explains.
The general rule of thumb: Make something with meat and the USDA is in charge. Otherwise, it's FDA.
Seafood complicates the rules, though, as the FDA has authority over seafood. But not catfish – catfish actually falls under USDA regulation.
The agencies work differently. Before Zink runs a batch of beef burritos, he has to call a USDA inspector to be on-site while the food is prepared. A USDA official will stop by at other times during the year to check in. He doesn't hear from the FDA so often.
"FDA is a once-a-year thing," Zink says. "They pop in and do their inspection and they're gone."
A patchwork of more than a dozen federal agencies plays a part in keeping food from making Americans sick. Critics say the system has holes, and some think we would all be safer if food safety at the federal level were brought under one roof.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has been a leading critic of the fragmented food-safety system, for years labeling it a high-risk area in need of reform. The GAO's Steve Morris says the food-safety system is one recall away from a crisis.
Altogether, 15 federal agencies play a role in food safety, from the EPA to the Centers for Disease Control. Food processors are subject to a dizzying array of regulations, spending time and money to prove their products are safe.
Each year, 1 in 6 Americans comes down with listeria, E. coli, salmonella or some other foodborne illness. According to the CDC, 3,000 people die annually. For years, critics have said a streamlined system would be safer. Even President Obama has called for the creation of a single food-safety agency in his 2016 budget.
Heartland Gourmet's Zink says after 25 years in the business, he has no trouble navigating the system. But there's no denying it's complex.
"And it ends up just being a gigantic mess in terms of a comprehensive approach to food safety," says Courtney Thomas, who studies political science and food safety at Virginia Tech University.
Thomas says the system looks fractured today because it was cobbled together from the start. The first food-safety laws, passed in 1906, put the USDA in charge of meat quality because the agency already worked with meatpackers. The FDA was created to ensure purity in other foods.
"Right out of the gate there were two different laws, two different legislative mandates that were given to two completely different agencies in the federal government," Thomas says. "And from there it only spiraled."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has been a leading critic of the fragmented food-safety system, for years labeling it a high-risk area in need of reform. The GAO's Steve Morris says the food-safety system is one recall away from a crisis.
One longstanding issue is that the various agencies tend to keep a narrow focus and work on small slices of oversight.
"Right now, what you have is fairly limited coordination," Morris says. "So the consumer and the Congress basically lack this comprehensive picture of what the national strategy is."
That's a big problem, because there are challenges ahead that cut across all agencies. For instance, 16 percent of the food Americans eat is imported, and that number is rising. Steve Taylor, a food scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says regulators are already behind in inspecting foreign food facilities.
"And if you got to the right people in a lot of big corporations in the United States involved in food processing, they'd say that's one of their biggest worries, too," Taylor says.
One agency could be more efficient checking-in on foreign suppliers.
But Virginia Tech's Thomas says the chances are pretty low that Washington will adopt a single food-safety agency any time soon.
The U.S. food system is currently one of the safest in the world, and some say federal time and money is better spent elsewhere. Most food companies would prefer a complicated but familiar system over an unknown overhaul. And with multiple agencies involved, more politicians have oversight of food safety, which they might not want to give that up.
"There's no easy fix to this problem," Thomas says. "What you're talking about is a legal, a regulatory, and a cultural shift. A political shift that we haven't seen in this country in the last 100 years."
And without an immediate crisis, it seems there's not much political appetite for shaking up the system.
Grant Gerlock reports from Lincoln, Neb., for NET News and Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production issues.
Decreased risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Again, cheese has been included in healthy diet plans because of the dairy intake.
"The DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) is rated year after year as one of the best eating plans and the key to this diet is the portions of each of the food groups recommended," Smithson says, adding that a recent study showed consumption of dairy products reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
All in all, it's OK (and even healthy!) to enjoy cheese in moderation in your diet because of the potential benefits it yields. Just don't over-consume in one sitting or over time to avoid long-term health issues or complications that can arise if you eat too much cheese.