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Beware! 5 Depressing Stories About Food in the News This Past Week

As we continue to manipulate nature in detrimental ways to ensure our comforts, we put one of our great needs at risk.

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Consumer Reports has demanded that the EPA phase out pesticides and fertilizers containing arsenic and that the Food and Drug Administration ban feeding of arsenic-containing drugs to animals. In the meantime, the group stated that consumers should test their water for arsenic, lessen their rice intake and switch from brown rice to white, which contains less arsenic. Rinsing rice thoroughly until water is clear also lessens arsenic intake.

3. Popcorn Can Cause Respiratory Problems

When Wayne Watson, 59, went to the doctor after having trouble breathing, he was shocked when she asked him, “Have you been around a lot of popcorn?” Watson had. In fact, he had been eating two bags of microwave popcorn a day for the past ten years. The doctor diagnosed him with “popcorn lung,” a respiratory disease in which small airways of the lung become scarred and tighten up, making it difficult to breathe. Workers at plants who inhale diacetyl, an artificial flavoring that gives popcorn its buttery taste, are usually the victims of the disease. A recent study even linked diacetyl to Alzheimer’s.

Watson was recently awarded $7 million in damages, with the popcorn’s manufacturer, Glister-Mary Lee Corp., being 80 percent at fault. The jury stated the supermarket where he purchased the popcorn was 20 percent at fault.

Watson said he barely eats popcorn any more.

He said: “Occasionally we'll pop some on the stove the old fashioned way."

4. Mercury in School Lunches

Do you like your tuna sandwiches? Well, they may contain something not so delicious. A council of consumer groups are now urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get tuna out of school lunches after studies show tuna may contain high levels of mercury. The Vermont branch of the Mercury Policy Project, an organization that raises awareness about the health and environmental threats of mercury, tested 59 canned tuna samples sold to schools in 11 states. The Project found highly variable levels of mercury, even among tuna that came from the same can; the average methylmercury content ranged from 0.02 to 0.64 parts per million in light tuna, and between 0.19 and 1.27 parts per million in albacore tuna.

Methylmercury is a more hazardous type of mercury, formed after bacteria contacts the mercury in fish. Fish become contaminated with mercury due to industrial pollution. Because albacore live longer than other species of tuna, they accumulate more mercury in their bodies and are therefore more dangerous to consume. According to the EPA, even tiny levels of methylmercury have been linked to learning disabilities in children. They limit methylmercury intake to a tiny amount. The Project stated that a 44-pound child who eats merely two ounces of albacore tuna might already be consuming 47% of the limit.

Pregnant women should also be concerned, as studies have shown the EPA’s recommendation for pregnant women — of eating fish no more than two meals a week — may still be too high. The Project is urging schools to limit tuna servings to twice a month and then phase it out.

5. Atlantic Ocean Fish on Decline

Besides tuna, it may still be safe to eat fish — but what happens when there’s no more fish to eat? According to the environmental publication, Grist, something (not very) fishy is happening in the Atlantic Ocean this year. In their new video, reporters traveled to Gloucester, Mass. to talk to people in the fishing business about how climate change is affecting their work.

They spoke with Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, which works to protect and promote the Gloucester, New England fishing industry. Sanfilippo talked about the bizarre happenings in the Gloucester Harbor.