Danger Alert

Peanuts, Prison, and POV of a Food Scientist – Food Science in the News

Former executives from the Peanut Corporation of America are going to jail for their actions during a Salmonella outbreak. Food Business News has more than a few articles covering the events of the trial, but I wanted to throw my two cents in to the food safety perspective that consumers may not have considered.

Quick Green-Eyed Insight on the food safety aspect of the executives from the PCA going to jail.

More than once, I’ve had to negotiate with an ingredient supplier who does not want to test their ingredient for salmonella, Listeria or E coli. They might say, “But we’ve been testing for 10 years and we’ve never had a problem. So we started testing every OTHER lot… or every OTHER *month**…”

Guess what, you won’t have a problem until you DO.

You can’t use “3 outta 5” for pathogen testing. You also shouldn’t use a teaspoon from one box to represent a whole truck’s worth of supply. That’s like flying into LAX and assuming all the cars in the parking lot are black because of the 3 you saw parked on the roof. Now if you took multiple snapshots throughout the whole parking structure, you’d get a better representation, but you may still miss the one rainbow colored school bus parked in the back corner of Level 2.

It’s not just whether or not you test, but for what, how, and how often.

Some ingredients like salt, butter, sugar, beta alanine seem like impossible environments for bacteria to grow. But certain bacteria can grow in thermal vents in the ocean floor. Some bacteria love to grow in salt. And salmonella can grow in something as oily as peanut butter.

I hope this case brings more light to the importance of microbial testing and gets more people talking about food safety. Something to think about / ask about next time you see an energy drink sold only online or a story about the “toxic chemicals” in our foods.

Food Business News: Peanut Corporation of America executives indicted

Related Story: Consumers fear some ingredients more than pathogens

More Resources:

Fight Bac

Food Science Meets FitGurus: 5 Fitness Additives that Don’t Deserve the Hype

In this post we review five ingredients used in sports supplements which are currently the target of “clean label campaigns”, removed in favor of simpler, more consumer-friendly food additives. We discuss the safety concerns and why consumers should not believe the hype and gripes.


Silicon Dioxide and Silicate Salts.

Vanillin and Vanilla Flavor

Titanium Dioxide

Acesulfame Potassium (“Ace-K”)


Danielle Robertson aka the “Green-Eyed Guide” is a food biochemist, former gymnast, and the author of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”. She enjoys adding gymnastics modifications to her weight training workouts, blogging to demystify food science, and discussing anything caffeine or Harry Potter related. Learn more at GreenEyedGuide.com or take on any of her workouts for FREE HERE!


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Panera Know-No List — Part V: Meet the Texture Modifiers

Soggy spinach, crunchy chips, moist bread – texture is as important as flavor in consumer acceptance. For the fifth and final part of the Panera KNOW-No project, we review the food science of the texture modifiers on the No-No List.

In May 2015, Panera published a list of ingredients that would be removed from their food. Several other companies have made similar commitments to simplify their ingredients, but it’s rare these announcements address why the ingredient was in the food in the first place. This is a missed opportunity to celebrate the food science. Thus, this was my inspiration for this project. For each ingredient, you’ll find a brief explanation of its purpose, safety concerns if any, and whether a natural counterpart can perform as well or better. [For Part I, Overall Response, Part II, Sweeteners, Part III, Color/Flavor Enhancers, and Part IV, Preservatives, see previous posts].

Part V of V – Texture Modifiers (and remaining miscellaneous ingredients)

[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.] Ingredients discussed in this post are red. Continue reading

Protect Your Meat – Food Science on FitGurus

BHA, BHT, and TBHQ are synthetic antioxidants used to preserve meat from degradation and lipid oxidation. We review the problem, the solution, the synthetic/artificial strategy, the natural strategy, and the watch-outs for future use of natural antioxidants.

Protect Your Meat :

Click HERE to read the Green-Eyed Guide article on FitGurus:

 Did You Know…

Green-Eyed Guide articles are now featured on FitGurus.com — it’s Food Science meets fitness!

Here’s what we’ve been talking about lately:

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Energy Drink (Alternative) of the Month – September 2015

I’ve been reviewing the Energy Drink of the Month for over two years now and each month I’ve appointed a product that beats the stereotype. For the first time, I am compelled by nerdy fascination to nominate something non-liquid for this award.

20150914_133457The Energy Drink (alternative) for the Month of September is EliteOps Energy Strips.

Thus far, only Fierce Arctic Mint flavored strips are available, but this product is brand-new! As of this review, the product is available online, in South Florida, and is scheduled to launch nationally in October 2015.

To truly appreciate this product, let’s review (1) The Brand and Its Values; (2) Who and what this is for and (3) What’s in it.

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