I find the slew of recalls filling up my inbox curious for what is lacking, kosher products, the absence of which, has peaked my curiosity. Are Kosher products as susceptible to contamination? To answer this question I reviewed my list of recent recalls and from my, admittedly limited, perspective, I have been not been able to find many, so it would appear not. The most recent concerned possible traces from the latex of rubber gloves used in handling meat at an Australian Kosher butcher’s minced meat. The company issued a beef recall this past June.
Kosher cuts are from the more sanitary body parts, torso and above only, which implies decreased incidence of e. coli bacteria. In addition, feed composition must also be void of non-kosher ingredients, likely a heathier, less contaminated, lethal diet for livestock. Even produce must be washed more stringently because ingestion of bugs is against Kosher dietary laws. Now, that’s an easy commandment to abide by: Thou shall let no bug, nor vermin cross thy lips!
Logically I conclude that all this stricter supervision ups the integrity quotient of the goods. I’m not alone in that conclusion; 85% of customers purchasing Kosher products are not kosher observant, but include Vegan/Vegetarian, food allergic/intolerant, Organic, and Halal observant, who account for 16% of kosher product sales. This infrequent recall rate among kosher products makes me wonder why the FDA hasn’t made such supervision standards law, it would greatly enhance the safety and integrity of our food supply.
I read the Princeton study about high fructose corn syrup in the NY Times blog today and have to remind myself that often researchers miss the forest for the trees, as the saying goes. The author’s column was about how HFCS was being maligned, in the opinion of manufacturers, when sugar was just as bad for the public. As a solution to this undeserved reputation, members of the Corn Refiner’s Association were considering changing the name of the ingredient to corn sugar. But here’s the distinct difference, sugar is not processed, and corn syrup is “heavily processed using enzymes to turn cornstarch into glucose and then fructose” . This process, and the fact that its subsidized so more profitable to peddle, has afforded its status as the manufacturers’ sweetner of choice, and they pour it into 50% of the products on store shelves. The study measured only obesity, but we are seeing other side affects worthy of study; a large number of our subscribers are ‘corn allergic”, something almost unheard of 25 years ago.
While I can’t shed light on what in HFCS causes such reaction, I can attest that it is on the rise, likely due to its inclusion in so many products, making it very difficult to avoid, and the fact that corn is often genetically modified/altered. Too bad the researchers did not find that relevent, nor did they choose to isolate one of the many “processing enzymes” in any of the control groups. But the real danger in this study or debate is not determining which sweetner is worse; they both lead to obesity in mass quantities, but that its a distraction from the real culprit, the amount of sweetners manufacturers add to our products. Just as Joe Camel’s cartoon image was struck from airwaves and billboards for fear of exploiting children, similar measures must be taken with cartoon “pushers”of addictive sugar products.