Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday Food News

The biggest food news this week is, of course, the peanut butter contaminated with salmonella. There are now almost 300 cases in 39 states that have been tied (via DNA analysis) to the bad peanut butter. More curious is the as-yet unknown source of the problem. The peanuts are cooked during processing, which kills all bacteria. The CDC can't figure out how the salmonella snuck in after that. It's not like they have legs to walk in.

Right now, I don't have much more to say about this, because I'm more interested in the process and what went wrong than the story.

A new study states that moms who eat more fish (12 ounces a week) while pregnant have smarter babies. That's not terribly surprising, because fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which make up a large percentage of the matter in our brains. Furthermore, fish are the only major source of omega-3 fatty acids--you just can't get them anywhere else. The trick becomes balancing the need to eat fish for the good stuff while avoiding the negatives from fish. Fish that live in polluted water concentrate those pollutants in their bodies; eating the fish introduces the pollutants in our bodies. The study's authors recommend avoiding large predatory fish (shark, mackerel, swordfish), and limiting tuna consumption. Other ocean fish are fine, and canned fish with bones (anchovies and sardines) also provide extra calcium. Freshwater fish are fine, and farm-raised catfish and tilapia are especially good, because farmers don't dump mercury and PCBs into their farm tanks. Finally, eat a mix of fish--that keeps you from getting a high dose of any individual pollutant.

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