Food Unfit for an Ogre


Shrek, the plump green animated character, may lose a lucrative endorsement deal by the end of 2008. Facing a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, the Kellogg Company has agreed to strict nutrition standards for foods advertised to children: no more than 200 calories, 230 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of sugar, and zero grams of trans fat per serving. It will also not use licensed characters as pitchmen for such products that exceed the limits. Alas, sugar— a whopping 15 grams of it per one-cup serving— is the very first ingredient listed in Shrek's namesake Kellogg's cereal (it appears a little before marshmallow bits), which could explain the friendly ogre's well-rounded physique.

Tainted Tomatoes

It's been years since I purchased a fresh tomato from a grocery store. My reason was taste, or rather, utter lack thereof. I wait until the real thing becomes available in local markets or, better yet, my garden. Now I have another reason to avoid mass-produced tomatoes: They can be hazardous to my health. In response to more than 1,800 confirmed cases of Salmonella traced back to fresh tomatoes over the last decade, the USDA has just launched a Tomato Safety Initiative that will start with commercial growers in Virginia in July and expand into Florida during next winter's growing season. (The two states produced most of the tainted tomatoes.) The agency will examine irrigation techniques, possible effects of livestock operations near fields, and handing methods, among other possible disease vectors. While they're at it, they might want to look into what happened to that little thing called flavor.

We Warned You

As I pointed out, June 9 was the court-ordered deadline for the National Organics Standards Board to agree on 38 non-organic agricultural products (everything from intestines used as sausage casings to hops used in beer) that could legally be added to supposedly "organic" goods. The deadline has come and gone, and the agency responded in the best bureaucratic tradition— it did absolutely nothing. Under the terms of the judge's ruling, that means organic producers should not use any of the 38 substances. Among the loudest yowls of complaint came from the Organic Trade Association, a business group. The association whines that some "organic" products may be no longer available unless they can be adultered by non-organic ingredients. Is it just me, or is there a flaw somewhere in that argument? Green GrubB. R. Guest, the management company that runs a dozen restaurants (Blue Fin, Ruby Foo's Times Square, Fiamma Osteria…) in New York and has outposts in Las Vegas and Chicago, recently secured green certification for its NYC locations from the rigorous standards of the Green Restaurant Association.

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