Most people are aware of typical environmental contaminants that are produced as a result of modern human activity, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. Residents of larger cities may even be familiar with the visible smog that can engulf a skyline as a result of these air pollutants.

Aside from the common ones, other toxic contaminants exist in the environment that may be lesser-known by the general population, but can be just as harmful to humans. The word, “dioxins” refers to a group of compounds that includes dioxins, furans, and certain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These structurally similar compounds are produced inadvertently as a result of large scale combustion activities such as incineration, thermal metal processes, and car exhaust. PCBs were actually intentionally produced during the mid twentieth century to be used in transformer oil, coolant fluids, carbonless copy paper, and plasticizers, until their manufacture was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1979. Continue Reading

Though it probably takes a back seat to taste, color is an important factor when consuming food. Society has assigned what we consider the “ideal color” for various food items. For example, consider the produce section in the grocery store, where you may find yourself attracted to particular items with the most desirable color. Those colors are desirable because you equate them to a fresher, more ripe, or higher quality product. You grab the bright yellow bananas and leave the green ones behind (unless you’re willing to wait for the green ones to ripen at home). Continue Reading

Late in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of cumin samples for undeclared allergens. Adventitious presence of allergens is common, and the agency has conducted frequent recalls in this category. The number of allergen-related recalls that year was 34%, surpassing recalls of products caused by microbiological issues (30%).[1]

This small-scale recall soon snowballed into a widespread series of allergy-related recalls since the 2006 passage of the U.S. Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act. A single Pennsylvania company recalled more than 35,000 pounds of its chili products; another company recalled more than 500 of its spice products from shelves nationwide. [2] Continue Reading