Proper Food Safety

Proper food safety is critical to good health. There are major problems with our food safety Canada, the USA and throughout the developed world. Threats to food are many and we'll only be able to cover a few here.

You’ll see more on the RDA below in the section on Why You need Nutritional Supplements (opens new window).

But for now we’ll quickly state a few key points.

To get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of essential nutrients


• 6-12 grains/day

• 5-10 fruits or veggies/day

• 2-4 dairy/day

• 2-4 protein/day


Less than 3% … US Dept Agric survey of 27,000 Americans in a random sample

About 1% of B.C. women!! David Anderson, M.D. White Rock, B.C.

About 1% of U.S. children!!! Pediatrics 1998; 101S; 518-525

fruits and veggiesSo in part the issue is us and the personal choices we make. But even if North Americans suddenly woke up and radically improved their eating habits there would still be major issues with proper food safety and the food supply. The biggest challenge would be to grow and market enough FRESH fruits and vegetables.

In the next page we’ll cover in more detail the significant issues raised by the extensive use of pesticides and herbicides. For now let’s just remember that they have a detrimental effect on proper food safety and the quality of our food supply.

Processing, Storage and Transportation of Food

This has changed dramatically since WW II and again in the last 30 years. Increasingly we are more divorced from our food supply. Not only are we more urbanized and thus growing less in individual households, our urbanization has eaten up a lot of the best agricultural lands, the areas that were first settled because they were good agricultural lands.

BeforeConsequently we have to ship food further and longer in reefer trucks like this to get to the national distributor, wholesaler, to storage, to the regional distributor, to the local store and ultimately to the consumer – you and me.

Longer shipping means longer between the picking and the consumption. Therefore to keep food from ripening before it gets to you, food has to be picked “green” before it is ripened – so it gets fewer nutrients.

Many fruits and vegetables are sprayed with post-picking pesticides because in the long route from the field to your mouth various pests have an opportunity to try to get their own nutrition from them. But this does not contribute to proper food safety.

And then there’s processing. So here’s a brief summary of these issues.

• Colgan New NutritionQuoting from the RDA Handbook 1989

• The tocopherol (Vitamin E) content of food varies greatly depending on processing, storage, and preparation procedures during which large losses may occur (p. 101)

• Vitamin C may be considerably lower because of destruction by heat and oxygen (p. 117)

• Vitamin B6 : 50-60% is lost in processing meats, and 50-90% is lost in milling cereals (p. 144)

• As much as 50% of folic acid may be destroyed during household preparation, food processing and storage (p. 150)

• More than 80% of magnesium is lost by removal of the germ and outer layers of cereal grains (p. 189)

• Germ and outer layers of grains are removed in making all white and “enriched” flours

• Quoting from other sources (p. 189)

• Stored grapes lose up to 30% of their B Vitamins in cold storage

• Tangerines stored for 8 weeks can lose almost half their Vitamin C

• Asparagus stored for a week loses up to 90% of its Vitamin C

• At least one half of chickens and eggs sold carry drug-resistant strains of salmonella

• In 1988 one-quarter of all milk samples tested were contaminated with the antibacterial drug sulfamethazine, a known carcinogen

• Colgan New Nutrition 12-19. His books are excellent - check them out.

Has the Nutrient Value of Food Changed? – You bet.

Even if you do your best to eat well, picking organic choices when possible, will you have optimal nutrition? Or have other practices like growing for size and appearance modified the food supply so that vegetables have fewer nutrients? There is some evidence that this is indeed happening.

A study headed by Dr. Donald R. Davis of the Biochemical Institute, University of Texas (Austin) also involving a research scientist and an MD from the Bio-Communications Research Institute (Wichita, Kansas) evaluated changes in 43 garden crops between 1950 and 1999 using U.S. Department of Agriculture data about nutrient content levels for 13 nutrients. They calculated median and geometric mean R-values for the 13 nutrients and water. They found that:

“As a group, the 43 foods show apparent, statistically reliable declines (R<1) for 6 nutrients (protein, Ca [Calcium], P [Phosphorus], Fe [Iron], riboflavin and ascorbic acid [vitamin C], but no statistically reliable changes for 7 other nutrients. Declines in the medians range from 6%for protein to 38% for riboflavin [B2].” J.Am Coll Nutr 2004; 23(6):669

The study authors suggest on the same page “that any real declines are most easily explained by changes in cultivated varieties between 1950 and 1999, in which there may be trade-offs between yield and nutrient content”. In further explaining this economically induced phenomenon they note:

“During the past 50 years in developed countries, there have been many changes in the way vegetables and other crops are grown and distributed [see above on processing, storage and transporta-tion all of which cause further decline in nutrients]. Changes include cultivated varieties (cultivars) used, cultural practices (fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation), the location of major production, and distribution methods.”

Earlier studies have also found nutrient decline.Br Food J 1997; 99:207-211 While some might argue that declines in nutrient values don't really relate to proper food safety, we would argue that it depends on your meaning of safety.

Since the alternatives available to you are related in part to dealing with pesticides and herbicides, we’ll cover alternatives in the next page.

Continue to Pesticide Produce

Return from Proper Food Safety to 10 Ways to Protect Your Major Asset – Your Body

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