May 22nd, 2014
12:15 AM ET
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The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service on Wednesday named retailers in nine states that may have received tainted beef.

Two days earlier, the FSIS announced that 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products were being recalled on fears that they could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The federal agency named five stores in nine states. They are as follows:
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Filed under: E. coli • Food Safety • Meat • Recalls • Tainted Food


Kraft recalls 1.2 million cases of cottage cheese
May 19th, 2014
12:45 AM ET
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Kraft is recalling 1.2 million cases of cottage cheese that could spoil prematurely and cause illness.

The recall, announced Saturday, includes the Knudsen, Breakstone, Simply Kraft and Daily Chef brands.

Ingredients used in nearly three-dozen cottage cheese products weren't properly stored in a California facility, Kraft Foods Group said.
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Filed under: Dairy • Food Safety • Health News • Recalls • Tainted Food


May 2nd, 2014
08:15 PM ET
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CNN Exclusive by CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates

BOLINAS, CALIFORNIA – Bill Niman’s name has long been synonymous with high-quality, humanely raised beef - featured on menus and store shelves across the country. So it was something of a shock when his beef was caught up in a massive recall earlier this year.

In January, Rancho Feeding Corp. started recalling nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat. Federal officials tell CNN that inspectors believe the Petaluma, California, slaughterhouse was buying cancerous cows and processing them when government inspectors weren’t looking.

But Niman said he only used the plant to slaughter his own BN Ranch cattle, not old, cancerous dairy cows. In fact, he said, either he or his employees were with the cattle during inspections and slaughters, so there's no way his cattle and the cancerous cows could have been mixed up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture disagreed, saying it couldn’t guarantee that Niman’s beef wasn’t swapped with or contaminated by the cancerous meat.

Niman calls the USDA’s logic “preposterous,” arguing that the difference between his cattle and the cows Rancho was buying is obvious - “the difference between a motorcycle and an automobile.”
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May 2nd, 2014
08:13 PM ET
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CNN Exclusive by CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates and CNN National Reporter Shannon Travis. 

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA - Earlier this year, a dusty little slaughterhouse in Northern California was ground zero for one of the biggest meat recalls in years. Rancho Feeding Corp. had called back nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat from thousands of unsuspecting stores across the country.

The story of how millions of pounds of bad meat – products the U.S. Department of Agriculture called “unfit for human food” - made it out into the world and triggered a criminal investigation is one of staggering deception and cancerous cows, federal officials familiar with the investigation tell CNN. And the plant where it all went down was also the setting for an illicit romance, according to documents obtained by CNN.

Federal investigators started surveillance on the California facility after getting a tip from a former Rancho employee. In January, federal marshals raided the Petaluma plant and seized the company's records. Days later, the first recall notice went out, officials said.

Investigators now believe that Rancho was buying diseased dairy cows and processing them when government inspectors weren’t there. After the cows were killed, employees would hide the warning signs of cancer by trimming off diseased parts, using a fake stamp of approval or even replacing the heads of sick cows with ones from healthy animals. It’s unclear which employees were involved, officials said.
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March 6th, 2014
01:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Josh Grinker is the executive chef at Stone Park restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. He has previously written about five things chefs don't want you to know.

The New York City Department of Health has outdone itself by giving a "C" health inspection grade to Per Se, one of the finest - and most expensive - restaurants in the world, because of violations of the department's arbitrary and punitive letter-grading program.

The grading system and presence of grade cards in the window, required since July 2010, “provides diners with easily interpretable information" and "gives restaurants the incentive to maintain the highest food safety practices," according to Thomas Farley, the former Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

While clarity and food safety are certainly laudable goals, consumers should realize that these "A," "B" and "C" letters are poor indicators of a restaurant’s cleanliness and the quality of its operation.
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February 19th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.

If it seems food safety issues are on the rise, that's because they are. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At any given time the FDA is responsible for watching over some 167,000 domestic food facilities or farms, and another 421,000 facilities or farms outside the United States, according to FDA officials. But there are only about 1,100 inspectors to oversee these facilities, officials told CNN in 2012.

There is a third party audit system, where farms or facilities hire auditors to inspect their premises and provide scores. But some say the audit system is full of conflicts of interest. For instance, shortly before Jensen Farms in Colorado caused a listeria outbreak that killed 30 people, a private inspection company’s auditor gave them a “superior” grade, even after noting that they had no anti-microbial solution in place to clean their cantaloupes.

Sometimes, food slips through the cracks and makes it to the consumer marketplace, as in the recent case of the 8.7 million pounds of meat from Rancho Feeding Corporation (and their associated products like Hot Pockets) that were recalled due to "adulteration." Here's what that means.
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February 19th, 2014
05:00 AM ET
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Nestlé USA has issued a recall of two varieties of Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets because they may contain meat that has already been recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The two brands are Hot Pockets brand Philly Steak and Cheese in three different pack sizes, and Hot Pockets brand Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese in the two pack box.
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Filed under: Food Safety • Meat • Recalls • Tainted Food


Bugs, sand and other stuff in your food (on purpose)
February 10th, 2014
10:15 AM ET
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Anyone who's ever read a nutrition label knows that our food supply is full of hard-to-pronounce chemicals. Most are generally recognized as safe, as the Food and Drug Administration likes to say, but a few have given scientists cause for concern.

Azodicarbonamide, for instance. Subway announced last week that it would be removing the controversial chemical from its bread. Generally used for strengthening dough, azodicarbonamide is also found in yoga mats and shoe soles, according to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest. One of the breakdown products is a recognized carcinogen.

Though Subway is going to remove azodicarbonamide, there's a long list of other chemicals used in its bread: calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, potassium iodate and ascorbic acid, according to the restaurant's website (PDF).

And Subway certainly isn't alone. What other chemical additives are commonly found in your food? Here are seven, picked at random as good practice for the upcoming CNN Spelling Bee (just kidding).
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February 10th, 2014
09:15 AM ET
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Some 8.7 million pounds of meat from a Northern California company have been recalled because they came from "diseased and unsound" animals that weren't properly inspected, a federal agency announced Saturday.

The recall affecting Rancho Feeding Corporation products - as detailed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service - marks a significant expansion of one announced January 13, when just over 40,000 pounds of the company's products were recalled.

According to the U.S. agency, Rancho Feeding "processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection."
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