Quality Progress - March 2013 - (Page 44)
BY Peter Merrill
Seize the opportunity
Who will improve food safety?
i was waiting at the departure gate at
the Tampa airport and started browsing
quences, putting food safety at great risk.
heart disease. Microwaving food in plastic
For example, we focus on accidental
containers breaks down that same chemical and contaminates food.
through the magazine stand. A copy of the
contaminants in the food chain2 without
Scientific American caught my attention.
necessarily addressing the deliberate con-
In my engineering days, it had been a
taminants. There is a long list of deliberate
colored sweets and candies are designed
regular read, and I recalled the long lapse
contaminants designed to make a food
to appeal to the very young with their
of time since I last read the journal.
product easier to process or easier to sell
bright colorings—but they are derived
without necessarily paying attention to
from coal tar. Tests with mice and rats
you—the person eating that food.
have revealed brain, gland, thyroid and
I bought a copy and skimmed through
the articles during my flight until I came to
Michael Webber’s, “How to Make the Food
System More Energy Efficient.”1
One of the great innovations of the
industry is the use of the humble bread
It goes without saying that artificially
kidney tumors caused by these chemicals.
The cattle industry has engaged in the
He had my attention.
crumb. One manufacturer alone has more
use of growth hormones to increase speed
The article was packed with data
than 2,000 flavors of breadcrumbs. The
to market. The hormone diethylstilbes-
presented in an easy-to-read and logical
breadcrumbs coat the food you are about
trol, which is found in 85% of U.S. meats,
format, but the bottom line of his argu-
to eat and are your first contact with that
causes breast cancer and cancer of re-
ment was that we use 10 units of fossil
food. They makes you salivate and titillate
productive organs. In cattle, recombinant
energy to produce one unit of food energy.
your taste buds. As those breadcrumbs
bovine growth hormone has been linked
His argument in British thermal units
slip over your tongue, you are consuming
to breast cancer.
captured my chemical engineering mind.
chemicals such as monosodium glutamate,
He also captured my innovative mind: 10%
partially hydrogenated oils and trans-
focused innovation mean that your body is
efficiency—what an opportunity.
butenedioic—all designed to excite your
loaded with a list of horrific toxins.
As you may well know, opportunity is the
These examples of short-term, inwardly
taste experience. Unfortunately, many na-
start of the innovation process. Looking at
tional regulators do not require disclosure
The social aspect
the 10:1 energy inefficiency ratio shows the
of the chemical content of breadcrumbs as
Innovation in the food industry, as with
food industry has an enormous opportunity
it is not regarded as a constituent part of
any other industry, also has been driven by
for innovation. The inefficiency of convert-
the food you will eat.
social change. Probably the most signifi-
ing sunlight to plant growth to animal feed
As your teeth sink into the food, you
cant change in our eating habits was the
to human consumption presents an innova-
may be consuming sodium nitrite, which
tor with an opportunity that—to use food
preserves the food from decay but also
language—should make you salivate.
mixes with your stomach acid and leads
in the 1920s in the U.K. with the legend-
to the formation of carcinogenic nitrosa-
ary fish and chips. West Yorkshire was the
mines in your body.
home of fish and chips. Cod from the North
Innovation in the industry has been driven
If you are eating fish as the healthy
development of fast food.
The first significant example of this was
Sea was landed in Hull and potatoes were
by the use of fossil fuels and fertilizers to
alternative, was it farmed or fresh caught?
harvested in Lincolnshire. Industrial West
increase food production. Unfortunately,
Fresh-caught tuna and swordfish, as we
Yorkshire fried this food in beer batter and
we are well aware of the negative effect
know, contains high mercury levels and
served it wrapped in newspaper. This was
these chemicals have, causing pollution
so we avoid them. However, farmed fish
incredibly resourceful and cost effective,
and global warming.
often are fed “innovative” polychlorinated
and the secret was the beer batter, which
biphenyls, which we, of course, eat.
gave the magical grease flavor. Fast for-
Much of the innovation in the food industry has been driven by manufacturer need
Packaging is also a villain. Cans are
ward 30 years and the McDonald brothers
rather than consumer need. It has often
coated on the inside with biphenyl-A,
began servicing a variation on this meal.
been executed with ignorance of the conse-
which is associated with diabetes and
Fish was not as abundant, but beef was,
44 QP • www.qualityprogress.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - March 2013
Mr. Pareto Head
The Right Ingredients
Before the Fact
Apples to Oranges?
Five at the Forefront
Measure for Measure
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - March 2013