AC Alert for September 11, 2012 About Susan's Shopping List

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 11:30am

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Our friend Susan is an incredibly organized food shopper. She clips coupons from the newspapers, downloads sale specials from web sites, and always carries a "running" shopping list and hand held PDA with her as she browses through the aisles of her favorite supermarket. She is also a strong advocate of buying organic products whenever such a choice exists. Susan feels they are healthier for her growing family. 

Indeed there is a perception that "organic equals healthy" even though the price for organic products will frequently be higher than non-organic alternatives. That perception took a major hit this month with the release of a study authored by Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, an instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine and a physician-investigator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, both in California.

The study found that organic foods are usually more expensive than their conventionally produced counterparts -- but they aren't necessarily healthier or more nutritious. According to the journal article, "17 studies in humans and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in foods met inclusion criteria for the study. The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods." (Source: Annals of Internal Medicine). 

These are important findings, especially in view of the increasing number of expensive organic alternatives now being offered to shoppers at many supermarket chains. Are organic foods really better for us? Or are we paying extra money for unproven benefits.

Important information such as this is included every day in AC's Hot Topic Focus on Food Safety. AC editors believe there is a natural connection between food, trust and provider accountability. There is heightened interest in food safety and food quality issues on the part of consumers and their advocates; government officials at the federal, state and local levels; the healthcare community; media; and food, retailing and restaurant industries. And within the agricultural community of the USA. 

This sampling of recent articles from our Hot Topic Focus on Food Safetydemonstrates the wide variety of issues which are included in this section of AC:

Climate Change and the Food Supply
(Source: New York Times) This article explores the possibility that climate change is already functioning as a drag on global food production.

Recall of nearly a million Daniella brand mangoes from food markets
(Source: Examiner) The CDC reports that nearly a million mangoes are being recalled because they may be tainted with salmonella. The Daniella-branded mangoes were grown and harvested in Mexico and sold in the United States between July 12 and August 29. The mangoes were sold as individual fruit with the sticker brand "Daniella."

Organic Foods Not Healthier or More Nutritious, Study Says
(Source: US News and World Report) A new study has found that organic foods are almost invariably more expensive than their conventionally produced counterparts but they aren't necessarily healthier or more nutritious. Scientists found no consistent differences in vitamin content between organic and conventional foods and few significant differences in health benefits.

Two health groups sue US for failure on food safety
(Source: Christian Science Monitor) Two US health and environment organizations have sued the federal government for what the groups say is a failure to implement and enforce a new food safety law that could help prevent thousands of deaths caused by food-borne illnesses each year. The groups said government officials had repeatedly missed mandatory deadlines for issuing final regulations required by the Food Safety Modernization Act.

AP source: NY investigating energy drink industry, targeting 5-Hour Energy, Monster, AMP
(Source: Washington Post) High-octane energy drinks including 5-Hour Energy and Monster that promise healthy bursts of energy are being investigated in New York State. Attorney General Eric Schneidermanhas issued subpoenas to the drinks’ makers. The probe is examining how the drinks are made, often loaded with caffeine and sugar, along with what critics say is a mostly useless amount of Vitamin B, and how they are marketed at sports events and sometimes in bars.

California slaughterhouse gets USDA approval to reopen
(Source: San Jose Mercury News) Central Valley Meat Company of Hanford, California, a slaughterhouse at the center of a food safety and cruelty investigation has resumed operations after federal officials approved its plan to improve treatment of animals.

New data frustrate food safety advocates
(Source: San Francisco Chronicle) Little progress has been made in combating many types of food-borne illnesses in recent years, according to new federal data. The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the rates of infections linked to four out of five key pathogens it tracks - salmonella, vibrio, campylobacter and listeria- remained relatively steady or increased from 2007 through 2011. The exception is a strain of E. coli, which has been tied to fewer illnesses over the same time period.

The AC Hot Topic Focus on Food Safety is designed to present timely and useful news and information, a range of commentary, and reports on research on food safety topics.  Our objective is to improve and expand the public dialogue and contribute to the goal of safer food sources, processing and monitoring for all citizens.  As always, we are interested in your comments on this important topic. Do you agree with findings of the recent investigation pertaining to organic foods? Do you feel our food chain is safe? You can submit comments or suggestions to

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.

Keywords: Media & Communications | Accountability | Accountability Central | Governance & Accountability Institute | esg | food safety | sustainability

CONTENT: Newsletter