It’s convenient. It’s cheap. It’s usually rock hard and sprinkled with frost.
Cold-weather cultures have been freezing food to preserve it for consumption later for many years, but the discovery of flash freezing to retain texture and flavor is credited to Canadian Clarence Birdseye.
The Frozen Food Digest reported last year that U.S. retail sales of frozen foods and beverages through all retail channels totaled $52 billion in 2008.
These days, many people depend on TV dinners, frozen french fries, frozen pizzas, and even frozen fish for a large percentage of their diet. But any product that markets itself as cheap and easy is usually hiding something undesirable behind all positive advertising.
Here are three chilling facts should consider before grabbing dinner on ice:
Too Much Fat, Too Few Calories
Many frozen foods manufacturers tout their product as the perfect meal for someone trying to control their portion sizes and lose weight. However, an article on WebMD points out that not all low-fat, low-calorie claims are giving consumers an accurate picture of the real nutritional content of a TV dinner.
“Some low-cal, low-fat dinners provide only about 250 or 300 calories. And if that’s truly a third of your daily caloric intake (given three meals a day), that totals less than 1,000 calories — not nearly enough food even if you are trying to lose weight.”
An evaluation from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also found that the four or five grams of saturated fat listed in most of these “low-fat” meals doesn’t sound too alarming, until you consider the fact that this makes up almonst 20 percent of the calories.
The CSPI study also found that frozen dinners tended to include high levels of sodium, and skimpy portions of vegetables.
Supermarket Freezers Are Big Greenhouse Gas Emitters
A recent study by Environmental Investigation Agency – an international campaigning organization – claims that greenhouse gases used in large freezers and fridges by supermarkets are as harmful to the environment as plastic bags.
In the 1990′s HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) were introduced to replace ozone depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs hydrochlorofluorocarbons). However this switch to refrigerants that do not damage the ozone layer brought in a generation of chemicals with a greenhouse effect thousands of times stronger than CO2 (Guardian).
The Guardian states that chemicals released by fridges account for 30 percent of supermarkets’ direct emissions, yet only 0.5 percent of stores have been fitted with greener equipment, according to the EIA’s report, called Chilling Facts.
Waffles Taste Better With Syrup, Not Sewage
If you’ve cruised the frozen food aisle of your favorite grocery store lately looking for a quick breakfast option, you might have noticed that the loveable Eggo Waffles were suspiciously missing. What the “we’re sorry this product is out of stock” sign didn’t tell you is why.
The Food Safety Network reports that “on a routine inspection of the Kellogg’s frozen food manufacturing facility on Bucknell Road in Atlanta, last Aug. 31st, the Georgia Department of Agriculture found Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of buttermilk Eggo waffles.”
Although this initial inspection caused Kellogg’s dispose of an entire shipment of waffles and recall some of it’s other Eggo products, it was assumed that closing the Atlanta plant down for “hygienic restoration” would have taken care of the problem.
But when the FDA inspected returned to the plant in October 2009, taking a variety of samples of both finished and in-process samples and environmental swabs for its own testing, those results were also positive for Listeria.
A Jan. 27 letter from the FDA pointed out that inspectors also found “significant deviations” from current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations at the Kellogg’s plant. FDA’s Acting Atlanta District Director LaTonya M. Mitchell, said Kellogg’s violations mean products from the Atlanta plant are “adulterated.”
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