This week, horsemeat is still in the news, school lunches in Philly get an etiquette overhaul, sugar is conclusively linked to diabetes, and sequestration (a.k.a automatic spending cuts) has everyone worried about the future of food safety — and rightly so. Oh, and did we mention there is another dubious meat product to worry about in Britain?
Arguably the best part of shopping at IKEA is being rewarded with Swedish meatballs after mind-numbing hours of trying to locate dressers, nightstands and lamps. But for European shoppers the meatball light at the end of the Swedish furniture tunnel is no longer an option now that IKEA has recalled the dish across Europe after finding traces of horsemeat in one batch.
If this weren’t a big enough blow to European meat eaters, UK consumers also have reason to be suspect of their sausage, thanks to a BBC report on the presence of a product called mechanically separated meat (MSM), which legally cannot be counted as meat in the UK. The BBC writes that several major sausage producers in the UK pass off the low quality MSM as meat in their products by selling it under different names.
On the subject of transparency (or lack thereof), International development organization Oxfam launched a new initiative called “Behind the Brands” that aims to expose the social and environmental practices of the world’s top 10 food companies, including General Mills and Coca Cola. So far the companies’ policies are proving less than impressive.
In health news, a new study conclusively links sugar consumption to diabetes (or rather, as Mark Bittman points out, as conclusively as possible without controlling the diets of thousands of people for decades). Yet another reason to eat your vegetables. And as, Michelle Obama argues, in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, healthy food can be as beneficial to businesses as it is for consumers, making it a win-win.
While Mrs. Obama convinces businesses to embrace nutrition, Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri, is working on schools. Vetri launched a healthy school lunch program in Philly called “Eatiquette” that focuses on sharing, communication and etiquette by serving healthy food family-style, which he is looking to expand from four schools to 10.
In agriculture, Secretary Tom Vilsack urges farmers to aggressively combat further climate change by using sustainable farming methods. Meanwhile NPR’s The Salt writes that USDA economists are predicting a record harvest in corn this year, assuming there is no devastating drought this year.
And while there may be more corn this year, shoppers will certainly have other food challenges to face if sequestration causes budget cuts to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Food Safety News reports that despite the USDA’s best efforts, sequestration would force furloughs that would impact the meat supply.