Monthly Archives: July 2016

Canned Food Brands

It wouldn’t be an astound if most canned sustenances in your storeroom are bundled in BPA-lined jars. While BPA-containing linings are utilized as a part of most canned nourishments, some sustenance brands have intentionally been free of them.

Canned foods are convenient, simply because they’re ready to use, with no washing, peeling, etc., required. However, the downside is that they have a component of polycarbonate plastic called bisphenol A. This estrogen-like chemical is present in the epoxy resin lining of tin cans, which is used to prevent bacterial growth in canned foods. However, this chemical leaches into the food and then enters our bodies.

Various laboratory studies have linked exposure to bisphenol A to breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, and a plethora of other diseases like diabetes, obesity, etc. This means your canned soups, juices, beans, cranberry sauce, tuna, etc., aren’t actually healthy. The red flag raised hasn’t quite managed to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban it from canned foods, which is why it is important for us to be on the lookout for the same. Consumer pressure and moral obligation have caused certain food brands to voluntarily do away with the chemical.

Canned Food Brands without BPA

With so many canned food brands out there, which are the ones that offer products in BPA-free can linings? Let’s take a look.

EDEN FOODS

EDEN FOODS (BPA free since 1999) has been the first brand to offer BPA-free canned beans. They replaced their bisphenol A containing can linings with an oleoresinous c-enamel to deliver BPA-free canned products. So, if you want to stock up your kitchen cabinets with canned beans for all those busy days, make sure you purchase EDEN ORGANIC KIDNEY BEANS. Besides their kidney beans, their rice and bean combos, and chillis are also available in BPA-free linings. However, their canned tomatoes are still packaged in linings with BPA. Tomatoes are highly acidic in nature, thereby, causing the tin to rust, which is why they are still canned in cans with BPA-containing linings.

Note: EDEN FOODS offers crushed tomatoes in amber glass jars, which can be a good alternative to buying canned tomatoes with BPA-lined cans. They have metal lids, but the amount of BPA leaching into the tomatoes will be lesser than that in the canned version.

TRADER JOE’s

TRADER JOE’s is a company that believes in modesty! Their canned corn, beans, pumpkins, fruits, meat products, fish (except oysters, clams, crabs, sardines, and albacore tuna), and even canned tomatoes are all packaged in BPA-free cans. However, you won’t find the proclamation on their labels, which can make it quite confusing. Even their website makes no specific mentions. Their canned soups, stews, baked beans, mandarins, chillies, etc., are still packaged in cans with BPA-lined cans. So, with no specific BPA labelings, choosing a TRADER JOE’s product can be difficult. Sometimes, too much modesty isn’t a good thing, especially when it comes to food safety.

Note: TRADER JOE’s LIGHT COCONUT MILK is also free of BPA. So, if you’re planning to make a healthier version of Piña Colada this summer, purchase this brand!

Bionaturae

Bionaturae, touted as Italy’s premier line of organic foods, offers a whole range of products from pastas to olive oils to tomato-based products. Their crushed, diced, and whole-peeled canned tomatoes have been packaged in BPA-free cans, making them safe for consumption. These products are clearly labeled as BPA-free, and a quick look at their website will also verify this for you. Bionaturae’s tomato products are known for their superior flavor as well. So, if you’re looking to purchase canned tomatoes, this is definitely the brand to opt for.

Wild Planet

This California-based company is known for its sardines that have been ‘sustainably caught’ along the Californian coast. Besides being low in mercury content, their sardines are also packed in BPA-free cans. A quick visit to their online store will confirm their BPA-free seafood products.

Note: Wild Planet’s canned salmon, tuna, or shrimp products are free of BPA.

NATIVE FOREST

A brand of Edward & Sons, NATIVE FOREST is the first food brand to offer the canned version of Hearts of Palm. Their canned fruits like pineapple, peaches, mandarin, mango, and tropical fruit salad, etc., are packaged in BPA-free cans. Moreover, their smooth and creamy coconut milk cans are also BPA-free. Their baby corn, bamboo shoots, Hearts of Palm, asparagus, etc., are also packed in BPA-free cans. Again, their labels do not indicate so; hence, it can get confusing.

Note: NATIVE FOREST’s mushrooms do not come in BPA-free cans. So, be careful what you pick up!

Trident SEAFOODS

Harvester and marketer of Alaskan seafood, Trident SEAFOODS tout some of the finest seafood products available. According to the information obtained from the company’s website, no BPA has ever been used in their can linings, making their products naturally free of BPA. Their Alaskan salmon, albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, and other canned fish products are deemed free of BPA. Again, you won’t find a BPA-free label on their products.

Amy’s

As per the company’s website, from March 1, 2012 onwards, Amy’s has moved on to using BPA-free can linings to package their products. This includes their whole range of canned soups sold under its brand umbrella. However, random tests do indicate low levels of BPA in its food products, which according to the company is attributed to BPA from sources other than its lining. The company is still working on this issue.

FARMER’S MARKET

This food brand touts some of the freshest and superior-tasting canned fruits and vegetables available in the market. They confidently state that all of their products, including canned pumpkin products, canned butternut squash products, etc., are packaged in BPA-free cans. They also have ‘BPA Free’ printed on their labels, making it easier for consumers.

HENRY & LISA’S NATURAL SEAFOOD

Frozen within hours of harvesting, their seafood products are touted to be of premium quality. From the wide array of seafood products they have to offer, their Solid White Albacore Tuna is packaged in BPA-free cans. Since the tuna canned is of smaller size, it has less mercury contamination. Moreover, it also has no added salt, making it a healthier choice to consume. Their Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon also comes in BPA-free cans. This information is available on the company’s website.

The status of many food products may change with time. Since many food brands fail to clearly mention if their food products are BPA-free or not, deciding upon a canned food brand can be difficult. Stick to the ones that clearly state that they are free of BPA. If you really want to know, contact the company directly for first-hand information. The best way to ensure minimal BPA exposure is by consuming more of fresh beans, sauces, soups, etc. Avoid canned food, and opt for that which is stored in glass bottles, cartons, etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Freeze-drying Food

Solidify drying is a procedure to safeguard nourishment, while holding every one of the supplements and flavors. This procedure is extremely effective, however has its downsides also.

Science has made storage and preservation of food very easy. It is now possible to carry frozen food, and quickly heat it before consuming. Ready-to-eat meals are an instant hit, as they have saved our efforts and time.

It is also a huge advantage for astronauts, hikers, and campers; they don’t have to carry excess loads or worry about food spoiling. It has also helped to preserve certain seasonal fruits, and make them available all year around.

Two very commonly used procedures to preserve food are dehydration and freeze-drying. This Buzzle write-up describes the process of freeze-drying, or lyophilization, and lists its advantages and disadvantages.

What is Freeze-drying?

It is a process in which food is first flash frozen, and then placed in a vacuum. The food to be freeze dried can be cooked or raw. When it is placed in a vacuum, all the ice sublimes; thus the moisture is removed. Almost 98% of the moisture is removed, which significantly reduces the weight of the food. Then, the food is sealed properly and stored. Freeze-drying is not restricted to food only; it is also used to store pharmaceutics like vaccines or other injections.

Commonly freeze-dried foods
Instant coffee is the most popular freeze-dried food. Vegetables in soup packets or fruits in noodles are usually freeze dried. Herbs, spices, food-flavorings, fruits, and meat can be freeze dried as well. Astronauts eat freeze-dried food, when in space. Many campers and hikers prefer to carry it as well.

Advantages

✔ Since all the moisture is removed from the food, its weight decreases making it easier to carry or transport.

✔ All the nutrients and flavors are retained when food is freeze dried. Even the aroma is not lost.

✔ The food does not shrink or its texture does not change when it is freeze dried. This makes it a better option than dehydration.

✔ Since, the ice sublimes, it leaves small pockets in food. Thus, when the food is reheated, it hydrates evenly all over. It takes only 10 minutes to rehydrate.

✔ It has a very long shelf life and can be quickly rehydrate as well. This makes it ideal for backpackers or hikers to carry.

✔ Freeze-dried foods can stay edible for up to 25 years if unopened. Fruits or ice creams can be eaten without hydrating them. This makes it a very convenient food option.

Disadvantages

✘ The biggest disadvantage of freeze-drying is its cost. It is extremely costly, and may not be cost-effective for certain foods.

✘ The equipment required to freeze-dry foods is very costly, and obviously it’s not possible to freeze-dry food at home.

✘ Not all foods can be freeze dried, some may get spoiled when freeze dried; others may need pretreatment to retain color or flavor.

✘ Additives may be used when freeze-drying food.

✘ Canning or dehydration is cost-efficient compared to freeze-drying.

✘ Along with the water, other liquids like vinegar can sublimate, leading to spoilage of food or change in taste in some cases.

✘ Airtight and moisture-control storage is absolutely necessary to ensure that the food does not spoil. Even slight exposure to humidity can easily spoil the food.

✘ Dehydrated food is more common, freeze-dried food may not be easily available everywhere.

Freeze-drying food has many advantages and is very useful. The other disadvantages are minor, only the cost factor can be a problem for most people.

Tips to Identify Whether Plastic

BPA (bisphenol A) has been found to bring about a scope of wellbeing issues, right from corpulence to the feared growth, which has prompted a spurt sought after for sans bpa plastic. Be that as it may, what does sans bpa mean? We answer this question and lets you know how to distinguish sans bpa plastic, by taking a gander at the names, appearance, other than different techniques.

BPA is a building block in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic items like reusable water bottles, plastic sippy cups, food and beverage containers, and sports drink bottles. The reason why plastic manufacturers use BPA is the durability, clarity, stain and odor-resistance that it gave the final product, which obviously increases customer satisfaction.

Plastics with BPA courted controversy in 2008, when research proved that BPA leaches out of containers due to overuse, high temperature, or acidic conditions. Upon entering the body, it disrupts the hormonal system, causing reproductive problems, heart conditions, cancer, asthma, and a range of other issues, including fetal damage in the womb. As a result of this finding and the negative publicity it caused, plastic manufacturers began to replace their products with BPA-free ones.

BPA-free items are those that are made of plastics like acrylic, styrene acrylonitrile (SAN), melamine, and polypropylene, which do not contain BPA. Since some plastic articles do not have the required labeling, identifying them can be challenging. Keeping this in mind, a variety of methods to identify BPA-free plastic are given here.

How to Identify BPA-free Plastic

By Labels

● Look at the bottom of the item for the recycling code. This is a single-digit number written inside a triangle made of arrows. If the number is 7 or 07, the item may or may not contain BPA. This number indicates the other category of plastics, including polycarbonate (which is made with BPA). However, the presence of the number 7 does not confirm that the item contains BPA. Items with this code include 5-gallon reusable water bottles, sippy mugs, some items of Tupperware, clear plastic cutlery.

Recycling code

● Plastic articles which bear the recycling numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5 are safe, and do not contain BPA.

● If the recycling code displayed is 3, then the item may contain BPA. This number is an indication for the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) category of plastics, and certain soft items in this category are known to contain BPA as an antioxidant. If the item is rigid, such as a pipe, then it is surely BPA-free.

BPA code

● Observe the packaging of the item for the words ‘BPA-free’, though only some plastic articles, such as toys, come with this kind of label.

● If any item is not labeled ‘BPA-free’, look at the care instructions. If it includes the terms ‘Hand-wash’ or ‘Top-rack Dishwasher-safe’, then it is an acrylic article. Labellings like ‘Dishwasher-safe’ and ‘Microwave-safe’ are present on SAN articles, but both SAN and acrylic articles are never labeled ‘unbreakable’. These can break, unlike polycarbonate.

● Avoid any items that display the abbreviation ‘PC’. This indicates that they contain polycarbonate, and are not BPA-free.

● Clear, glass-like items carrying the labeling ‘Unbreakable’, ‘Dishwasher-safe’, and sometimes ‘Microwave-safe’, but without ‘BPA-free’, are surely made of polycarbonate, and contain BPA.
By Appearance

Polycarbonate sheet
● Items that are hard with a clear or tinted appearance, and bear resemblance to glass, are probably made of BPA-containing polycarbonate. Any object which has a cloudy appearance and is flexible in nature is certainly BPA-free.

Milk bottle
● Any opaque item of a solid color is most-likely BPA-free. These are commonly made from melamine or polypropylene, and marked ‘Not for Microwave Use’. Any item with a rubbery feel is also likely to be made of polypropylene.

Other Methods
● Since the current laws do not make it compulsory for manufacturers to display the recycling numbers, a container without one can be used, but only for non-edible items, like paper clips, crayons, etc.

● When buying tableware and food containers, look for recently-made products, especially those made after 2010, as these are most-certainly BPA-free.

● If none of the above labellings are visible on the product, or if you are unsure about the type of plastic used, you could try asking the manufacturer.

The best way to avoid plastics with BPA is to avoid all polycarbonate products, especially food and drink containers. Having said that, it is also important to note that recent findings have indicated that BPA-free plastics are not completely safe either. These products leach out harmful chemicals, which disrupt hormonal activity, just like BPA, which they claim to avoid. So, it is advisable to minimize the use of plastic altogether, and instead opt for glass and stainless steel items whenever possible.

How To Keep Food Safe In Refrigerator

Refrigeration keeps sustenance new, and keeps it from ruining. All things considered, would you accept, when we say there are sustenances you ought not keep in your fridge? Know which nourishments make this rundown and why.

The best way to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is to get them fresh from the market every week. But, since we all run low on time, almost every other day, keeping food fresh has a technical solution, and with that we mean the invention that created history is the world of food science―the refrigerator.

It keeps food from going bad. True. But, it certainly is not the one-stop store for all the edibles you get from the market. Every fruit or vegetable has a distinct taste and shelf life. And, we all have grown up with rules or lessons, about what stays on the kitchen counter, and what moves to the cold storage unit; the refrigerator. Apart from traditionally evolved rules about dumping food in the fridge, there are certain foods that are an exception, which are not to be stored in the fridge, and yes, we have science to back it all up, as to why should it not be kept in the cold.

Know that the fridge is definitely not a place for anything and everything related to food. Here is the list of the foods that you should not refrigerate.

Foods You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Fridge

Potatoes

A world favorite and staple, this vegetable is best stored at room temperature. So, you might want to skip dumping these in the fridge. And why? Well, when potatoes are exposed to cool temperatures, it causes the starch in them to turn into sugar more quickly. This affects the texture, and most importantly, the flavor of potatoes, which becomes not-so-relishing, oddly sweet. Keeping them at room temperatures, at cool places, is best for them. Place them in a paper bag, as it helps them breathe, and will prevent them from rotting easily.

Tomatoes

When refrigerated, this juicy vegetable, technically considered a fruit, becomes too mushy. In cool temperatures, the tomato will lose the retention in its skin. This happens because, the membranes in the cell walls of tomatoes get damaged with cold storage. They may lose on their rich, fresh flavor. It is advisable to store them at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat, which may also cause them to ripen, but spoil quickly.

Bread

Bread? And how many times have we stored this savior, in the fridge? Almost every time. Bread may spoil quickly, so refrigeration is an easy option, but do you know that it may spoil the taste of bread? Cool temperatures will cause the bread to lose moisture. It will stale more quickly, than stay fresh. It is best to keep bread at room temperatures, and eat them quick, until they are fresh.

Onion

Just like the good potato, it is wise to avoid storing onion in the fridge. With low temperatures, the onions may go bad, in terms of texture. They may become soft, and may no longer have the desired crispness, to enhance their flavor. Onions may also impart their aroma and flavor to other food items in your fridge. Always keep onions in dry places, at room temperature.

Garlic

Most people do not refrigerate garlic. It is also best to store it at room temperature. If you need to store the bulbs, always do so in a dry pace at room temperature. Storing bulbs in the cold may encourage sprouting. Refrigeration may also encourage mold on the garlic. So, store them in wired containers or mesh baskets, in a dry place. However, peeled garlic may be stored in closed containers in the fridge. But, a fresh and strong flavor comes only with freshly peeled garlic at room temperature.

Basil

Basil may not need a very cold setting, that requires storing in the fridge. Just like fresh-cut flowers need room temperature for a good shelf life, basil too, when stored in water, like flowers, tastes the best at room temperature. It may not need refrigeration, at least when you intend to use it in a few days. Store basil in a cup of water, change the water once in two days. Keep basil away from direct sunlight.

Bananas

Never store bananas in the fridge. They may not spoil from the inside, but the skin may become black and mushy. Avoid refrigeration especially if the bananas are not ripe; store them at room temperature.

Coffee

For fresh aromatic coffee, it is best to avoid storing it in the fridge. In very cold settings, the coffee loses its flavor. This happens because of the condensation that takes place, which affects flavor, both in ground and whole coffee beans. For the best tasting coffee, always place it in a cool place in an airtight container.

Avocado

Unripe, hard avocados do not require refrigeration, which may slow the ripening process. Always store them at room temperature until they are ripe.

Eggs

Well, as per regulations in many countries, washed eggs must be refrigerated. However, washing depletes the protective layer on the shell, and increases the risk of contamination. But farm fresh eggs (unwashed) need no refrigeration. They stay well at room temperature for a few weeks’ time. Always check if the eggs are washed or not, before deciding whether they should be stored on the counter or in the fridge.

Oils

Except for nutty oils, there is no need to refrigerate oils. They may get cloudy in texture, with cold storage. However, this does not affect the flavor.

Honey

Honey is a natural produce, and well, it does not require refrigeration. It will stay well and fresh on your shelf for a long time. Cold storage may freeze it, and make honey thicker in texture.
It is also advisable to keep root vegetables, like carrots, at room temperature. Always buy fresh produce, and try to use it immediately. Though, buying fresh produce every day may not be practically possible, try to use it at least within one week of purchase. The above was a short list of foods that may not need refrigeration. Every food has a different shelf life and storage requirements. So, make sure you store them in the proper way, with or without refrigeration.