Reading List: Pepsi Drops Out of School, Lead in Spices & Sanitation Report Cards

In this week’s nutrition news: A new study finds lead in spices, Pepsi stops selling its sugary drinks in schools and an already-obese woman is on a quest to reach 1,000 pounds.

In this week’s food news: A new study finds lead in some packaged Indian spices, Pepsi stops selling its sugary drinks in schools and an already-obese woman has a mission to reach 1,000 pounds.

Pepsi Is Dropping Out

Health activists have been urging schools to ban the sale of sugary drinks in the hopes of curbing growing rates of childhood obesity. In a voluntary move, PepsiCo just announced that it will remove its high-calorie drinks from all primary schools by 2012 (this includes grade schools, middle schools and high schools). The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) applauds this decision. Coca Cola, meanwhile, has only stopped selling to middle schools.

Sanitation Report Cards Hit New York Restaurants

Every time I'm in Los Angeles, I'm happy to see restaurants displaying their sanitation “grade” in front windows (it's a state requirement). If a restaurant scores a 90% or higher in an inspection, they get an A; 80 to 89% gets a B; between 70 and 79% receives a C and anything below 70%, well, definitely skip that place. (I only go for the A-level places myself.) Now New York City restaurants must also post their grades. As a food safety instructor and consultant, I know how important it is for restaurants to follow all safety guidelines and, if they aren't, re-train employees immediately. Let's hope publicly posted grades come to your area soon.

Arabic Cuisine Invades Marine Camp

For the past nine years, more than two million soldiers have been deployed to the Middle East. Many are sent out to areas where they get to sample local cuisine -- foods like shawarma (slow-cooked lamb or chicken) or pita and falafel (fried chickpea balls) -- and some miss those dishes when they return to the U.S. In response to high demand, the well-known Camp Pendleton near San Diego now hosts Dede Med’s Shawarma House, a restaurant opened by a local Muslim couple. Let me tell you, nothing beats an old-fashioned shawarma with pita, hummus and lots of pickled veggies on the side!

Woman Sets Goal to Reach 1,000 Pounds
Most people are trying to lose weight, but not this 42-year-old New Jersey woman. Already 604 pounds, she wants to gain a few hundred more pounds to reach a whopping 1,000. To get there, she plans to down 12,000 calories a day (her weekly food bills have been topping $750). She’s already the heaviest woman to give birth -- she weighed 532 pounds when she delivered her daughter in 2007. Seems that she missed the reports on obesity and severe health issues — or she just doesn’t care. How do you think this story will end?
Lead Lurking in Spices

Most people think tainted paint when you mention lead poisoning. According to a new study, you might want to think Indian spices, too. After they received reports of lead poisoning in a few Indian children near Boston, researchers took a closer look at Indian spices used in their meals. They visited 15 Indian specialty stores and found that 25% of the powders and spices purchased contained a small amount of lead. If kids are repeatedly exposed to certain levels of lead (via food and other environmental sources), it can lead to cognitive damage and behavioral problems.

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