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No Ode To Joy From Food Scientists Over New Edition

April 15, 1998

CHICAGO--The new edition of Joy of Cooking did not put smiles on the faces of food scientists, according to the Back Page column in the April 1998 issue of Food Technology.

"Food science was betrayed by a longtime friend when the new edition of Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker was published by Plume in December 1997," said the column's author, Christine M. Bruhn, Ph.D., director, Center for Consumer Research, University of California at Davis.

The new Joy of Cooking includes the following scientific inaccuracies and modern myths (corrections provided by Bruhn underneath):

Joy: Food additives lower the nutritive value of food and are used to mask cosmetic defects.
Fact: Food additives are used to improve nutritive value (through fortification), lower fat content, maintain freshness, reduce food spoilage, or enhance food texture, flavor, or color. Nutritive value is not determined by the number of additives.

Joy: Common food allergens include chicken and citrus fruits.
Fact: On the contrary, these foods rarely generate allergic reactions, unlike peanuts and eggs, which were omitted from Joy of Cooking's list of common food allergens.

Joy: Pesticide residues on fruit are at unacceptable and hazardous levels.
Fact: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that pesticide residues on infant and adult foods are almost always well below tolerance levels. In its 1996 Total Diet Study, in which it analyzed fruits and other foods purchased from supermarkets, the FDA found no residues in infant or adult foods over levels allowed by the FDA or Environmental Protection Agency.

Joy: Organic produce is pesticide-free.
Fact: According to unofficial national organic standards, organic farmers can use naturally-occurring pesticides, such as sulfur, on produce. In fact, most organic farmers use such pesticides.

Joy: Organic produce does not need to be washed.
Fact: All produce is susceptible to dirt, insects, and harmful microorganisms; thus, all fruits and vegetables, regardless of growing method, should be washed well before eating.

Joy: Non-organic produce should be washed with water and a few drops of pure soap.
Fact: Washing food with soap or detergents is not recommended by the FDA or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) because little is known about the health effects of eating soap or detergent residues. Moreover, it is not known if soap is effective in ridding pesticide residues from produce.

Joy: Modern animal production has reduced the quality and safety of meat and poultry.
Fact: Raw animal foods have always had the potential to contain pathogenic bacteria, regardless of where or when the animals were raised.

Joy: It is okay to use raw eggs in no-cook recipes.
Fact: It is not safe to use raw eggs in any recipe that does not include thorough cooking.

Joy: A cooking temperature of 155 F is high enough to kill Escherchia coli O157:H7 in ground beef.
Fact: A cooking temperature of 155 F may kill E. coli O157:H7 depending on the duration this temperature is held and on the bacteria levels in the beef. However, for a greater margin of safety, the USDA and FDA recommend a cooking temperature of 160 F.

Joy: Buying top-grade beef, grinding it to order, or home grinding it can reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination.
Fact: No studies support these recommendations, and the opportunity for cross-contamination increases markedly with home grinding.

For a copy of Bruhn's column, "No Rejoicing with Joy of Cooking," contact Angela Dansby.

Founded in 1939, IFT is a non-profit scientific society of 28,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia, and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussions of food issues.

Institute of Food Technologists

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